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Structural Navigation: Optimizing Materials Selection in Automotive and Aerospace

Meeting rising energy demand while minimizing environmental impact is one of the most important issues of this century, and enhancing operating efficiency in transportation by using lighter structural materials will play a critical part. Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) each has its own set of cost, availability, manufacturing, and performance characteristics that affect adoption in automotive and aerospace. Since material requirements are dependent on a part's location and functional role, the analysis of best-fit materials needs to be conducted at the component level. To help automotive and aerospace companies and guide suppliers and material developers to the best opportunities, we have conducted decision-tree analyses that indicate which materials flourish where - now and in the future.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Landscape
    • The Transportation Sector Needs New Materials to Strive for Greater Efficiencies
    • Each Lightweighting Option Has Advantages and Disadvantages
      • Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) Looks Like a Near-Term Leader
      • Aluminum Is the Next Step Down the Lightweighting Path
      • Mg Alloys Are Lesser-Known but Have a Unique Set of Advantages
      • Ti's Impressive Performance Comes at a Steep Price
      • CFRPs Continue to Tempt Vehicle Designers
    • Diverging Aerospace and Automotive Industry Dynamics Affect Optimal Material Choices
      • Aerospace Is Decades Ahead of Automotive in CFRP Deployment and Industry Partnerships
    • Landscape Conclusions
  • Analysis
    • Advanced Structural Material Choices are Component Dependent
    • AHSS, Al, Mg, and CFRP Vie for Dominance in Automotive
      • Body and Exterior Rely Heavily on Steel and Al - Now and in the Future
      • Interior's Laxer Specs Present Some Opportunity, but Also Mean Materials Needn't be Advanced
      • Powertrain Components Have a Different Set of Needs, Creating an Opening for Mg
    • AHSS, Al, Ti, and CFRP Battle it Out in Aerospace
      • Primary Structural Materials Depend on Geometry and Thermal Stability, Secondary More Flexible
      • Al and CFRP Dominate Skins
  • Outlook
  • About Lux Research
  • Endnotes
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