First-of-its-Kind Process Joins Steel & Plastic for Lightweight Auto Parts

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  have developed a process that joins significantly different materials - like aluminum with steel or steel with polymers - to create a super bond for making lightweight vehicle parts without the use of rivets, bolts, or adhesives. It is one of seven 2017 R&D 100 Award finalists for PNNL. This process could enable direct replacement of steel components with aluminum, to achieve a mass savings of more than 40 percent, while maintaining the form and function of existing steel components. The process, called "Friction Stir Scribe Process for Joining Dissimilar Materials," will help auto manufacturers make more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. The innovation also has applications for aerospace, defense, marine, and consumer electronics industries.