Corus has successfully developed an electric resistance-welded aluminium tube which is suitable for hydroforming, offering lightweight design and performance benefits for vehicle manufacturers. The aluminium tube product has received a full technical evaluation and is the result of over two years' research and development.

Although steel will continue to be the most widely used material for automotive body and chassis structures for mass production models, there is a growing demand from vehicle manufacturers for specific applications of aluminium in order to achieve weight savings thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Independent market studies anticipate that in certain vehicle segments, up to 25% of body structure and 20% of chassis parts could be made from aluminium by the end of the decade. Typical body and chassis applications for aluminium tubes will include rear sub-frames, engine cradles, suspension parts and bolt-on body components, such as the radiator support for sports utility and light truck applications.

The aluminium tube combines the lightweight benefits of aluminium with the recognised advantages of using a tubular product in conjunction with processes such as hydroforming, offering car makers design and cost benefits over existing traditional aluminium conversion technologies such as stamped and welded sheet, castings, forging and extrusions. As with steel, the increased design flexibility offered by a hydroformed aluminium tube product will provide vehicle engineers with an alternative solution for specific applications such as rear-sub frames and engine cradles, which pose particular design challenges.

Corus aluminium tube products will be made primarily from 5000 series alloys, which offer strong forming capabilities making it suitable for vehicle body and chassis applications. This not only includes the established 5000 series alloys, but also special grades developed by CARP Duffel.