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BYU Professors Find New Way to Bond Aluminum to Steel

BYU Professors Find New Way to Bond Aluminum to SteelMany young students are just starting to see the possibilities that manufacturing can open up to them by participating in this summer’s MAKE magazine Maker’s Camp. But even if that isn’t enough, there’s been a lot of news recently that should encourage students and their parents that innovation in manufacturing is still very possible.

Just within this last week, two professors at Brigham Young University in Utah have discovered a new technique for bonding aluminum to high-strength steel. The new technique uses friction rather than welding, and was developed in light of federal mandates dictating fuel efficiency, which will require automakers to significantly lighten their vehicles by 2025.  

This technique is so significant because the ability to join aluminum and high-strength steel–which refuse to be welded together–could have a huge impact on how much automakers will be able to lighten their cars. The combination of aluminum and steel in a car frame can make vehicles lighter and stronger, which was starting to get more difficult as EPA regulations continue to get more stringent.

This friction technique has been in development since 2006 when Michael Miles, a professor of manufacturing engineering technology, and Kent Kohkonen, a retired BYU professor, began working on a new solution to this age-old problem. And while there are still some kinks to work out–friction joining currently requires human operators and is not yet automated–the developers of the technique think that the process could become economical and automated some time in the near future.

The good news in all of this for anyone interested in a future in manufacturing is that innovation is happening every day. Manufacturing here in the U.S. is more technical than ever, and at the current rate, it shouldn’t start to slow down any time soon.

So if you have any concerns about manufacturing’s future, constant innovations like these ought to reinforce the fact that manufacturing truly is here to stay.

Image courtesy of BYU.

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