CHICAGO General Motors Co.s patent for an aluminum-welding process used on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is one example of how the automaker is driving more of its inventions into real-world applications.
GM is also using a lightweight shape-memory alloy wire instead of a heavier motorized actuator to open and close the Stingrays hatch vent, which allows the trunk lid to close more easily. The automaker calls both measures industry firsts.
The Detroit-based automaker led the auto and transportation industries in patents granted in the third quarter, according to Patent Board, a Westmont, N.J.-based consulting firm.
GM received 1,672 U.S. patents in 2013 that were applied to global product engineering, powertrain engineering, manufacturing, research and development, and OnStar systems.
"Breakthrough technologies like aluminum welding and shape-memory alloys show how GM is leveraging its intellectual property for real-world applications," said Jon Lauckner, GMs chief technology officer, vice president of global research and development, and president of GM Ventures LLC.
Aluminum welding enables increased use of aluminum to shave pounds, which helps to improve fuel economy. The Stingray has 354 spot welds that eliminate nearly 2 pounds of rivets from body parts. The process uses electrical current to create intense heat that disrupts the oxide on sheet, extruded and cast aluminum surfaces, enabling a stronger weld, according to GM.