Advancements in aluminum alloy technology can improve durability and reduce a trailer’s overall weight, helping to improve operating costs for customers. Great Dane has partnered with Arconic, a leader in the development of aluminum alloy transportation products, to design an aluminum truck body door frame that weighs 24 percent less than a traditional stainless steel design, providing a savings of 84 pounds.
In terms of durability, Arconic reports that the aluminum alloy and temper chosen has the same strength as the steel currently being used. The temper of the aluminum alloy was optimized to achieve desired strength levels while maintaining good corrosion resistance required for the application. The thickness of the aluminum was increased compared to the steel door frame in order to meet stiffness requirements. The body building process involves a typical steel-to-aluminum conversion, which requires material science expertise and welding capabilities for the frame to be properly joined together.
The weight reduction leads to both fuel and freight efficiency benefits, and thanks to aluminum being more naturally corrosion-resistant than steel, it can be used without paint, which eliminates additional manufacturing and maintenance costs. In addition to fatigue analysis conducted by Arconic, Great Dane is currently conducting durability testing.