Dana Highlights Advances of Aluminum Space Frame

Jan. 12, 2005
Castings, hydroforming, extruding, stampings, and more in new Corvette

Dana Corp. will supply General Motors with an all-aluminum "ultra- lightweight" spaceframe for the 2006 Z06 Corvette, a model to be unveiled at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The spaceframe the skeletal form of a vehicle. Dana indicates its engineers designed this version using the latest manufacturing technologies and reduced the spaceframe mass by more than 30% from the original all-steel design.

The spaceframe design consists of about 90 aluminum components (excluding fasteners) -- fewer than the number of steel components in the original steel structure. Dana reports it combined various aluminum technologies according to GM's requirement for rigidity and federal crash and safety standards.

The forming technologies include aluminum hydroforming, extruding, castings, and stampings. Assembly technologies include self-piercing rivets, flexible machining, and laser welding.

Dana reports it achieved an industry breakthrough in laser welding technology by using material thicknesses that are nearly double that of the industry average. Advanced computer and robotic processes were used to match GM’s tolerances.

"This aluminum spaceframe represents a significant advancement due to the industry-leading technologies Dana used," states Dana chairman and CEO Michael J. Burns. "Dana's expertise in frames and metal-working spans more than a century. In concert with other Dana technologies, such as hydroforming and magnetic-pulse welding, this spaceframe demonstrates our commitment to pushing the boundaries of metal forming and joining to answer each customer's unique structural needs."

In addition to the frame, Dana provides powertrain sealing systems and piston rings for the Corvette, and two Dana joint ventures contribute tot he vehicle design: TREMEC, a Mexican subsidiary, provides the transmission, and the U.S. subsidiary of GETRAG, a German-based joint venture, supplies the rear axle.