2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Aluminum Spaceframe Design and Engineering Technology 2005-01-0466
The General Motors (GM) Corvette design team was challenged with providing a C6 Z06 vehicle spaceframe that maintained the structural performance of its C5 predecessor while reducing mass by at least 56 kg. An additional requirement inherent to the project was that the design must be integrated into the C6 assembly processes with minimal disruption, i.e. seamless integration. In response to this challenge, a collaborative team was formed, consisting of design engineers from General Motors, Alcoa and Dana Corporation. The result of this collaborative effort is an aluminum Z06 spaceframe that satisfies the high performance expectations of the vehicle while reducing the mass by approximately 62 kg.
The frame consists of aluminum extrusions, castings and sheets joined by MIG welding, laser welding and self-piercing rivets. The extrusions are 6XXX series alloys, the castings are permanent mold A356 while the sheet panels are formed from the 5XXX series of alloys. Of particular note are the hydroformed aluminum rails, designed to match the steel rails of the base C6 vehicle. Extensive FEA verification, combined with Alcoa's aluminum material processing knowledge, was utilized during the design phase of the program to place mass where it would best serve the structural needs of the vehicle. Performance, mass and cost were balanced to provide an optimized aluminum Z06 spaceframe design that enables the seamless integration of the Z06 into the C6 assembly processes at Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.