Honda Motor Co. Ltd. will implement a new welding system it has developed in order to join steel to aluminum, so that the light metal can be used to build outer door panels of the 2014 Acura RLX. That new model becomes available in North America in March 2013. The new method will be extended to cover production of other Honda and Acura models in the future.

This new technique follows a Friction Stir Welding method that Honda introduced in 2012 for continuous welding of dissimilar metals (e.g., steel to aluminum) in the production of vehicle subframes.

General Motors Corp. also introduced a steel-to-aluminum joining process in 2012, a resistance spot welding technology it developed involving a patented electrode design. Like the new Honda method, GM’s development will allow it to incorporate aluminum in automotive exterior panels for doors, or hoods, lift gates, etc.

Honda noted that welding steel and aluminum for external panels called for simultaneous advances in different joining technologies, including methods of preventing electrical corrosion that results from the reactions of different materials, and controlling the thermal deformation that results from the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum.