Why use aluminium alloy in race car making business rather than steel?

There are many aluminum alloys such as 5182 aluminum alloy used for different cars including passenger cars, large vehicle and race cars. Why is aluminum sheet used for race car? Let’s have a look of its pros and cons.

1. Improve the strength of the body and increase safety. In terms of absolute strength, aluminum alloy is slightly inferior to steel plate, but low density gives aluminum alloy a greater advantage. The thickness ratio of steel plate and aluminum alloy of the same strength is 1:1.4, and the weight ratio is only 1:0.5. That is to say, it only takes half the weight to achieve the same strength. The 5xxx aluminium alloys are applicable for car making.

2. Improve maneuverability. Lightweight can reduce the body’s inertia and increase the thrust-to-weight ratio. The power performance can be greatly improved under the same power level. After increasing the body’s rigidity and torsion resistance, it is equivalent to adding the effect of strengthening the tie rod to the body, which can leave more space for suspension adjustment

3. Super corrosion resistance performance. Aluminum itself is not stable and oxidizes easily. However, aluminum oxidation will form a dense oxide layer on the surface, and it will be firmly combined with the substrate, which is very stable and can form a tight protection for the aluminum substrate. 5083 alu alloy sheet is applicable.

4. Aluminum alloy like aluminum 6061 has better plasticity. Aluminum alloys can shape extremely beautiful body surfaces, such as the aluminum body of Jaguar C-Type, D-Type, and the “most beautiful car” E-Type.

Although automotive aluminum has obviously dominant advantages, it is not commonly seen on the common passenger cars. Race car is its main application. On the one hand, the cost of pure aluminum smelting and aluminum alloy processing is higher than that of steel, and the price of aluminum alloy itself is higher; on the other hand, the processing technology is more complicated.

Generally, an all-aluminum body will use several or even all processes such as self-piercing rivets, hot-melt self-tapping screws, aluminum resistance spot welding, cold metal welding, laser welding, glued connection, etc. The complexity of the production process and the degree of automation are required much higher than the traditional body.