Transatlantic collaboration on new welding technology for General Motors

Swerea and General Motors (GM) have joined forces to develop a next-generation welding technology for light vehicles. The technology gives GM environmental and production gains by reducing weight and cost for aluminium vehicle components.

With sales of ten million vehicles annually, GM is one of the world’s biggest automakers. Four years ago, Swerea and GM began collaborating on the next generation of welding technology for lightweight vehicles. 

Innovative joining technology reduces costs

GM has chosen to develop an innovative joining technology based on a proven cost-effective spot welding process. The new process uses a patented multi-ring domed electrode that can weld aluminium to aluminium in two or three layers, up to 10 millimetres thick.

Less vehicle weight and less factory space

By using this process, GM can eliminate riveting of aluminium body parts, such as hoods, tailgates and doors, thereby reducing vehicle weight and costs. In addition, the need for major new investment in production equipment and factory space is also reduced.

“The collaboration has facilitated a successful introduction of a GM-patented welding solution for aluminium in production. Together we have verified the newly patented joining solution, ensuring its capability in long term production”, says Paul Janiak at Swerea.

Transatlantic collaboration continues

Swerea researchers have worked on-site at GM’s R&D Center in Detroit for three months each year. The collaboration will continue through 2015.

“We find it advantageous to have someone with the education and training that Swerea personnel have, to work with  us side-by-side on critical issues since the path we eventually take may not be the one we initially planned and may require multiple iterations. That is the true nature of research and development, says Blair Carlson, GM manufacturing systems research lab group manager.