The centre tunnel of the Ford GT, of which a total of 4038 were produced in 2004-2006, was friction stir welded. The centre tunnel of this car is a structural component that increases the rigidity of the chassis and is also used as a vapour-tight fuel tank. The location of the tank ensures good weight distribution and crashworthiness.
Aluminium spaceframe of the Ford GT
The mechanical components, including the fuel pumps, level sensors and steam control valves, are first mounted on a steel rail. Then a one-piece tank is blown around the rail. This "ship in a bottle" concept maximises fuel volume and reduces the number of connections to the fuel system.
Friction stir welds in the centre tunnel of the Ford GT (please click to enlarge)
Fixture for friction stir welding of the centre tunnel of the Ford GT using an ESAB SuperStir™ machine.
© Matthew J. Zaluzec