Aluminium Welding? No Problem!
74 million spots per year on Ford F-Series pickups.
Since 2015 FORD’s best-selling vehicle, the North American F-150 pickup, relies on an all-aluminium body.
Use of this high-strength, military-grade aluminium alloy resulted in weight savings up to 700 lbs, compared to the previous generation. It also posed serious challenges in terms of body assembly.
The intrinsic properties of aluminium, variety of grades, importance of surface condition and the combination of adhesives, require particular attention when it comes to resistance welding. This scenario is well known in the industry, drastically limiting its use for aluminium assembly. To overcome this, riveting is often favoured despite the serious constraints linked to rivet distribution and cost.
But change came about when FORD decided to implement resistance welding on some of its aluminium sub-assemblies. However conventional resistance welding proved incapable of delivering the robustness required in automotive mass production, so FORD opted for a specific and innovative ARO weld solution on which they developed dedicated weld schedules.
The ARO solution for robotic aluminium welding involves very high force servo guns with built-in force sensor and dedicated process controllers (iBox). The ability to freely program and synchronize force and current profiles opens up whole new possibilities in material assembly, and provides robust solutions for aluminium welding. It has for example been proven that high squeezing and forging forces significantly improved weld quality repeatability, nugget structure, along with other benefits.
FORD, after extensive laboratory testing, has finally implemented 80 ARO stations into the F-Series production lines. Now in their third year of operation, this equipment welds over 74 million spots per year with an impressive quality record.
If resistance welding of aluminium has been and still is challenging for most car makers, FORD clearly demonstrates that it is possible to reach extremely high weld quality and robustness under severe mass production conditions by using ARO equipments, whilst at the same time enjoying drastic cost savings compared to riveting.
About Ford Motor Company
Founded by Henry Ford in 1903, the Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 202,000 employees and 62 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. To expand its business model, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities with investments in electrification, autonomy and mobility. For more information regarding Ford and its products and services, please visit www.corporate.ford.com
ARO is widely regarded as the world leader in resistance welding to the automotive industry. The ARO group is headquartered near Le Mans, in France, with regional locations in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, the UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil and China. The company was founded in 1949 and today employs over 500 people. ARO is a member of the British engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings PLC