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Honda develops new tech to join steel and aluminium

Monday, Feb 25, 2013

Seems that the all-new Acura RLX features more new tech than just the Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer, Jewel Eye LED headlamps and the AcuraLink cloud-connected ICE system mentioned in the gallery post earlier in the week.

The car also features the first application of a new technology developed by Honda, one that marries steel and aluminium in a far easier and better manner, and the result can be found on the RLX’s door. In this case, Honda has come up with a new aluminium outer door panel – which has conventionally been made of steel – and joined it to a steel inner door panel.

Anyone with a basic understanding of metallurgy will understand how pairing such dissimilar metals can be a bit of an arduous process. Here, in order to join the steel and aluminium, the company has incorporated several different technologies, including those to prevent corrosion (electrical corrosion) and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminium.

Core tech that has enabled adoption of aluminium for the outer door panel includes a ‘3D Lock Seam’ (3DLS) structure, where the steel panel and aluminium panel are layered and hemmed together twice.

Also on, highly anti-corrosive steel for the inner panel, and a new form that assures the complete filling of the gap with adhesive agent. As for the adhesive, that’s new too, and the composition has a low elastic modulus (translating to a better ability to ‘stretch’), allowing it to work well with the 3D Lock Seam.

The new technologies eliminate the spot welding process required to join conventional steel door panels, and also translate into weight savings – the RLX’s door panel is 17% lighter than it would be if it were a conventional all-steel structure.

In addition, the weight reduction at the outer side of the vehicle body concentrates the point of gravity further toward the centre of the vehicle, contributing to improved stability in vehicle manoeuvring. Honda of course has plans to expand the newfound application to other models.

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