Magna International

New Welding Technology May Benefit Everything From SUVs to Self-Driving Cars

Thermoplastic materials may help automakers to cut weight, emissions and costs.

Magna’s new twist on welding thermoplastic materials may help automakers to cut weight, emissions and costs, and help to integrate more automated features into vehicles.

Torsional welding joins plastic brackets to thermoplastic fascia with a high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to meld them together. Working with a technology partner, Magna became the first to use torsional welding for automotive fascias.

The innovative process currently is used for the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia, which is sold overseas. There are plans to use it on an unnamed 2019 vehicle for the North American market. More importantly, there may be applications for helping SUVs to reduce weight as well as adding features to self-driving cars.

Mark Pilette, Magna’s global product line director for exterior trim, describes torsional welding as “a simple solution for a complex problem.”

Typically, a fascia’s “skin” would have to be thickened to weld on a bracket that holds such things as a park-distance control sensor. But torsional welding bypasses that problem and enables users to join thinner materials, which aids lightweighting efforts.

The process eventually may be used on a number of car parts, including rocker moldings, door claddings, wheel flares and spoilers.

“Automotive fascias aren’t going to get lighter, they’re going to get heavier because of the integration of autonomous features,” Pilette said. “We need to get lighter on the skin and the brackets so we can start hanging more and more sensors and not dramatically impact the weight of the vehicle. We now have the technology that will allow us to do that.”

We seek every opportunity, from design and materials to enabling technologies, to help customers meet their lightweighting goals.”

Grahame Burrow

The Society of Plastics Engineers Detroit Chapter recognized Magna’s torsional welding process with an award at its TPO conference in Troy, Mich.

“We seek every opportunity, from design and materials to enabling technologies, to help customers meet their lightweighting goals,” said Magna Exteriors President Grahame Burrow. “We appreciate this recognition from SPE and look forward to expanding the use of this innovative process.”

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