Dana's patented magnetic-pulse welding process for joining ferrous to non-ferrous materials allows the welding of alternative materials to traditional ones in components such as driveshafts.
An intense magnetic field is generated by large amounts of electric current through special coils. This causes an aluminum tube to collapse inward and weld itself on to another component, such as an end fitting.
No heat is applied, there is no shielding gas and there is no relative movement of one part to the other. Dana's Structural Products Group will use magnetic-pulse welding at its facility in Bristol, Virginia, USA, starting in mid-2001.
The process solves a major problem with the use of aluminum -welding it to traditional materials such as steel is difficult because of the differences in the two materials' melting temperatures. By creating a molecular bond between the two materials, magnetic-pulse welding overcomes this problem.
Jim Duggan, chief engineer of advanced design for Dana's Spicer Driveshaft and Structural Products Group, says: 'The biggest benefit is that you can use steel in areas where you want small diameters and [where] only steel has the ability to handle that kind of stress level - and then you can combine it with aluminum for maximum weight reduction.'