Thursday, February 3, 2011

No. 237: A new light weight material for cars and railway rolling stocks (February 3, 2011)

A new light weight material for cars and railways rolling stocks has been developed by Kobe Steel. Called foamed aluminum material, it is a thin plate processable to various shapes as hard as steel plate for cars, and it is cheaper than carbon-fiber composite. Two 1.5 mm thick aluminum plates sandwich resin foam between them. If it is heated up to 200 degrees centigrade, it hardens because many bubbles are created inside the resin to become a 3 cm thick plate. It is lighter than iron and aluminum, and it will be made lighter than carbon-fiber composite in the near future. It has the same rigidity as the standard steel plate and aluminum plate currently used for cars. The point is that it needs to be fabricated using rivets because it does not allow for weld. It will be used for the floor and interior materials of cars and window panes and ceiling of railways rolling stocks. With is new material, auto body can be lighter for better fuel consumption. It will be priced at 1,500 yen per square meter. Although it is more expensive than iron priced at 1,000 yen and aluminum priced at higher than 2,000 yen, but the company is confident that its new product is very competitive in price. Production will start coming April.

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