Shape Corp.’s work with Novelis is advancing the application of complex roll-formed aluminum components.

Pictured are two roll formed aluminum components produced by Shape Corp. and designed by Novelis with its advanced high-strength 6xxx series aluminum alloys. Featuring 1T bending radii, integrated fasteners, and formed in a T6 temper, the components are said to signal a new direction in efficient and sustainable auto manufacturing. (Photo: PRNewswire)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.—A collaboration between Shape Corp. and Novelis is reportedly yielding advancements in complex roll-formed aluminum applications for the automotive industry by addressing the demand for lighter, greener auto parts.

As a result of the collaboration, Shape can offer a portfolio of roll formed aluminum components that include rockers, battery tray cross-members, roof bows, and other structural members. The advancements represent a milestone in roll forming technology that “marks the beginning of a new era for high-strength aluminum applications in the automotive industry,” according to a release from Shape Corp.

A pioneer in roll forming technology, Shape Corp. is a global tier-1 supplier that specializes in the design and manufacture of high-quality automotive components. Novelis is a producer of sustainable aluminum products and provider of aluminum rolling and recycling services.

Shape said its engineers have spent years perfecting the method of roll forming ultra-high strength materials, as well as researching and developing complex geometries that bring value to structural automotive components. Shape’s new roll forming technology will use Novelis’s  full automotive product line, including fully tempered high-strength 6xxx series aluminum sheet alloys, according to the release.

As part of its commitment to meeting the needs of the evolving automotive marketplace, Novelis has developed a variety of high-strength aluminum alloys, including 6xxx series Advanz™ 6HS- s615, -s625, -s650 alloys, and the high-strength 7xxx series. These alloys have been developed to facilitate full circularity, as they can achieve high recycled content without loss of performance, the company said in the release.

Shape Corp. Product Manager Brian Oxley shared his insights on the benefits of using aluminum, including the Novelis 6xxx series aluminum sheet, in the roll forming process.

“Offering the ability to roll form complex shapes can be a game changer for automotive aluminum components,” Oxley said in the release. “By incorporating high-strength 6xxx series aluminum provided by Novelis, we are able to optimize the roll forming process, allowing us to create complex shapes, tight bend radii, and ultimately, more efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective automotive components. This collaboration has opened new possibilities for the industry and reinforced Shape’s and Novelis’s position as leaders in material innovation.”

Roll forming is said to simplify the OEM assembly process by replacing alternative methods that require multiple stampings and time-consuming assembly operations. The roll forming process minimizes the need for secondary operations by forming in higher-strength tempers (maximizing weight savings) with passivation coatings, and with pre-pierced holes and fasteners applied in-line. The ability to reuse tooling for part length variation also increases efficiency and reduces overall investment in production, according to Shape Corp.

Shape said that roll formed aluminum complements the company’s capabilities in roll forming high strength steels and producing high strength, tight tolerance aluminum extrusions. That’s  especially true when the aluminum extrusion application demands thin, constant wall thickness with geometries suited for roll forming, the company said.

By leveraging higher material strength levels, Shape engineers have developed a range of automotive applications that are said to demonstrate the full potential of roll formed high-strength steel and aluminum. Shape said its collaboration with Novelis has allowed the company to apply its deep experience in roll forming steel to developing complex roll-formed automotive products made of high-strength aluminum sheet.

“Novelis has identified new applications for our 6xxx series high-strength aluminum alloy sheet, which supports the mass production of lighter, low carbon automotive parts,” said Novelis Vice President, Global Automotive Jamie Zinser, in the release. “We are proud to be partnering with Shape at our Customer Solution Center in Novi, Michigan, where our new roll form line will expedite the development and market introduction of these applications.”