General Motors is making excellent use of its inventions to build and equip cars and trucks. In fact, GM is using a patent for an industry-first aluminum welding process on the 2014 Corvette Stingray. GM is also using a lightweight shape memory alloy wire to open and close the Corvette Stingray’s hatch vent. According to The Patent Board, General Motors led the auto and transportation industries in patents granted for the 10th consecutive quarter covering July to September 2013.
GM received 1,672 US patents in 2013 applied to global product engineering, powertrain engineering, manufacturing, research and development and OnStar organizations. Toyota is close second, with 176 less than what GM received. “Breakthrough technologies like aluminum welding and shape memory alloys show how GM is leveraging its intellectual property for real-world applications,” said Jon Lauckner, GM chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures.
He said that commercializing patented inventions -- like game-changing vehicle features and manufacturing processes -- reflects GM’s commitment to innovation. Aluminum welding has allowed increased use of aluminum to trim vehicle weight, thereby helping improve fuel economy and boosting performance.
The Corvette Stingray uses 354 spot-welds that get rid of almost two pounds of rivets from body parts. The process features a multi-ring domed electrode head that conducts an electrical current to create intense heat that upsets the oxide on sheet, extruded and cast aluminum surfaces – leading to a stronger weld.
On the other hand, GM’s lightweight shape memory alloy wire replaces a heavier motorized actuator to open and close the hatch vent that releases air from the trunk – allowing lid to close easier than on the previous models. The Patent Board named GM No. 1 in Technology Strength, which a measure that tells the overall strength of the company’s patent portfolio holdings with a combined measure of quality and quantity. [source: General Motors]