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Putting a Ding in the Universe

Alfred Spada

Netflix is addicting. I find myself scrolling through the movies it suggests for me in search of the next great Hollywood Blockbuster (or Hollywood Bust) I can sink my teeth into. Far from a movie snob, I am easily entertained by both the latest Transformers saga and the most recent Diane Keaton romantic comedy drama.

Case in point…I found myself intrigued during a recent viewing of Jobs, the biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs.  While this movie was not successful by anyone’s standards, I found it entertaining because I knew little about Jobs (or Apple for that matter), even though I have used their products religiously the last several years. Also, the way the movie portrayed Jobs as continuously focused on innovation and revolutionizing people’s lives was uplifting.

“I want to put a ding in the universe,” said Jobs.

This leads to one of our features this issue, “Emission Reduction Possibilities With Structural Castings,” on p. 28. Detailed in this article is the work conducted by metalcaster Magna International and Ford Motor Company as they partnered to completely redesign an existing vehicle (2013 Ford Fusion) to reduce its weight and then built that vehicle to demonstrate the possibilities. The team achieved a 23.5% weight reduction.

While the universe is still intact after this project, the auto market has greater food for thought on how to achieve significant weight reduction through the use of a variety of material and process combinations, including metal castings.

“Aluminum castings were integral to the design, and they were strategically placed for both stiffness and strength requirements,” said Jeff Conklin, Magna. “If we had used other processes, we wouldn’t have the stiffness and the weight reduction wouldn’t have been as significant.”

The aluminum castings were produced in the vacuum diecasting process, which allows the castings to be heat treated without blistering and achieve an average of 15% elongation vs. 3% in conventional diecasting. While still a niche casting process, vacuum diecasting opens doors for metal castings in safety-related auto applications—a large market that is key to vehicle weight reduction.

The idea of putting “a ding in the universe” and changing the world is at the fingertips of manufacturers and, specifically, metalcasters because this industry creates value.  Every time you help design and manufacture a new component, you have the opportunity to reduce weight, improve performance, reduce emissions, increase safety, lower cost and, most importantly, enhance someone’s life.

In most instances, the enhancement is valuable, but marginal to the typical consumer. In a select few instances, we actually can see the ding.