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PNNL technology closes the 'lid' on Chevy Malibu Maxx



A technology first optimized at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been applied by General Motors to the liftgate of the 2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx. Quickplastic forming (QPF), a revolutionary metal forming process, allows greater styling, reduced weight and lower manufacturing time for aluminum sheets used in automobiles. The QPF process permits automakers to use just one sheet of metal to construct car body pieces, rather than the usual two joined pieces of metal and plastic. This single-step process allowed GM to cut the weight of the liftgate on the Malibu Maxx from 39 pounds down to 20 pounds, and cut manufacturing time while maintaining exceptional safety ratings. GM may apply the process to other high-volume car models in the future. The process, which blows high-pressure air streams at the metal to form it to a die, earned its researchers a Federal Laboratory Consortium award in 2000.

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