Alcoa unveils new RSR joining system for next generation light-weight vehicles

RSR resistance spot riveting technology solves longtime automotive challenge of joining dissimilar materials

Detroit—Light-weight metals company Alcoa Inc. announced a breakthrough in resistance spot riveting called the RSR joining system, a high-performance joining solution for multi-material vehicles. RSR technology can join dissimilar materials using the same equipment as conventional spot welds but offers automakers the flexibility to switch between it and conventional welds, depending on the material.

“Our RSR technology is going to be a powerful tool in the array of joining options for the automotive industry,” said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa’s chief technology officer and executive vice president. “As automakers continue to design vehicles using multi-material combinations, RSR technology is the ideal joining solution. It can easily accommodate stack up changes on the assembly line and it leverages existing welding robots outfitted with our automatic feeding systems.”

In addition to partnering with several customers on the RSR technology, Alcoa recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to work with Honda R & D Americas and Ohio State University to continue to demonstrate the use of RSR joining on a prototype scale. Ultimately, the goal is to enable multi-material automotive body structures that achieve an additional 10-20 percent weight reduction over those made from conventional high strength steel.

“We are working with Alcoa on advanced alloys and the RSR joining technology in conjunction with the Department of Energy because we are optimistic about the new value these advanced technologies will enable us to deliver to our customers in terms of performance and fuel efficiency,” said Eric Boettcher, technical leader, Advanced Body Design of Honda.

Responding to the growing trend of using multi-materials in vehicles to achieve light-weighting objectives and improved performance, Alcoa developed the RSR technology to enable automakers to join a variety of dissimilar materials, including conventional aluminum, high-strength aluminum, steel, high- strength steel, ultra-high strength steel, magnesium and composites. It can be used in nearly any application, including frames, floors, closeout panels, pillars, roofs, seats and intrusion beams.

Automakers can use Alcoa’s RSR technology with minimal modifications to existing production lines. Conventional spot welding equipment and robotic automation can be adapted for use with RSR technology, which can easily shift between material combinations and fastener types.

Alcoa expects the first commercial application for the RSR technology by 2018.



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