Auto innovation ahead

Speakers at the Lightweight Materials and EV Body Structures Manufacturing Technologies Summit give a preview of what to expect at the February event.


At the fifth annual Global Automotive Lightweight Manufacturing Summit: Lightweight Materials and EV Body Structures Manufacturing Technologies in February, leaders in the automotive industry will discuss the future of lightweight automotive design.

Topics will include advancements in manufacturing techniques, joining methods and forming processes for lightweight vehicles as well as innovative dissimilar material joining solutions and corrosion mitigation strategies. Additionally, speakers will discuss the ways in which the automotive industry can overcome the challenges they face surrounding the new wave of lightweight materials slated for use in large-scale manufacturing operations.

It’s important to add, however, that the conference, hosted by the London Business Conferences Group under GALM Intelligence, isn’t simply a platform for speakers to discuss their chosen topics. It also serves as a brainstorming session for attendees who, in past events, have taken every opportunity to chime in, ask questions and through those interactions, drive innovation even further.

At the 2017 Global Automotive Lightweight Manufacturing Summit in Detroit, attendees gather around examples of body-in-white structures, like the one shown here.

Hot-button topics

Although speakers will primarily focus on new innovations and advancements developed to address lightweighting needs, they’ll also ask the tough questions. They’ll discuss what materials, products and strategies may be left behind. One of those speakers, John Catterall, executive director at the Auto/Steel Partnership, will lead a panel discussion on the future of steel and whether it will still be relevant in years to come.

To get his take on what attendees can expect at the conference, he spoke with representatives from the London Business Conferences Group. Their exchange was shared with the team at Welding Productivity.

LBCG: What attracted you to the Global Automotive Lightweight Manufacturing Summit?

Catterall: The summit includes a diverse list of the subjects relevant in today’s automotive industry landscape. It covers a number of different materials, forming, joining and design for manufacturing technologies and processes. The two-day conference also attracts the appropriate subject matter experts to share their knowledge and discuss the topics being presented.

What are you expecting to learn from the 2018 event?

I am hoping to learn the current state-of-the-art technologies for manufacturing lightweight body structures and the emerging technologies available today. In addition, I’m interested in learning more about the materials, manufacturing techniques and design solutions being used for low- and high-volume vehicle implementation.


You will be chairing the significant Day 2 of the 2018 event focusing on the manufacturing processes of vehicle components. What are the important issues you wish to see addressed from Day 2 presentations and discussions?

It is good to see there will be two presentations on improving the efficiency of ultra high-strength steel hot stamping which is critical to the safety performance of vehicles. As the steady trend toward mixed material body structures continues with steel still being the largest percentage of the mix, the topics address galvanic corrosion issues, joining of mixed materials and differences in thermal coefficient of expansion, which are all critical to the industry moving forward.

In your opinion, how important is the use of steel for the future of lightweight vehicle manufacturing?

With the current fuel economy regulations, steel will continue to be a very important material for lightweighting. From its high strength to ease of conversion into components using current forming and joining technologies, steel will continue to lead cost-effective solutions that can be produced in high volumes. With the introduction of future generations of steels, the potential for additional weight savings will be enabled.

You’ve been to many automotive conferences around the world. What about the GALM series events still attracts you?

The GALM series of events is attractive because of its diversity of topics addressed and the fact that attendees cover a good cross section of the industry from R&D all the way to plant production.

Growing technologies

Paul Wolcott, applications engineer, additive manufacturing at General Motors, will also present at the summit on an exclusive 3-D manufacturing case study, which exemplifies the current trends in 3-D metal laser sintering. He also spoke with the London Business Conferences Group beforehand to talk about his presentation and his expectations for the summit overall.

LBCG: Can you give us a little background about yourself and your current role?

Wolcott: My background is in automotive metallurgy solutions as well as advanced manufacturing using additive manufacturing. In my early career, I was focused on advanced powertrain materials systems and lightweight alloys. My PhD work focused on metals additive manufacturing applications, including dissimilar material joining and embedded sensing. More recently, my role at GM has been focused on applications of additive manufacturing for automotive applications, including metallic components and tooling.

Presentations at the Global Automotive Lightweight Manufacturing Summit cover a broad range of automotive manufacturing while attendees represent the full scope of major automotive brands.

Your presentation is on assessing the current trends in 3-D metal laser sintering. How important do you see this to the future of the industry?

There has been a lot of development in the 3-D metal printing industry within the last five years or so. As the technologies develop and the applications are identified, I think there is some potential to change a lot of the conventional thinking in how we design and build vehicles. Current state is probably more focused on low-volume and tooling-type applications, but as technologies and cost structures improve, it could vastly change the way vehicles are designed and put together.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

The fortunate part of my job is that I get to work with a technology that is rapidly changing. I have to be flexible to new methods while also identifying applications that can be used in the here and now. Working to change the way we think about designing and building vehicles allows me to look at new projects just about every day.

What attracted you to the GALM Summit 2018?

I have attended previous GALM events and found them to be very informative. It’s been great to share ideas and collaborate on new ways of executing vehicles.

Without revealing the full details, can you describe your presentation and how it will help your fellow colleagues?

I’ll be presenting an outlook on the 3-D printing industry for metals applications and an overview of how current developments are shaping things moving forward. I’m hoping to provide some example uses of the technology as well as developments the industry will need moving forward to fully implement these technologies. Automotive applications have been somewhat limited due to the economics. However, as these technologies continue to rapidly develop, the automotive industry needs to be ready for implementation.

Global Automotive Lightweight Manufacturing Summit


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