Jan 13, 2014 | Detroit
Ford Uses High-Strength Steel Plus High-Strength, Aluminum Alloys on Toughest F-150 Ever
Ford engineers increased the use of high-strength steel in the all-new Ford F-150 frame from 23 percent to 77 percent to create a pickup frame that is stronger, more durable and structurally more rigid than the current F-150, while saving up to 60 pounds of weight
Thanks to its innovative, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body coupled with the high-strength steel frame, the all-new F-150 is nearly 700 pounds lighter, resulting in increased towing and hauling capability and even better efficiency
All-new Ford F-150 torture-tested for thousands of hours and more than 10 million miles in labs, at Ford proving grounds and with some of the truck’s most demanding customers to meet rigorous Ford standards for quality, durability and dependability
The all-new Ford F-150 brings a new meaning to Built Ford Tough, with cutting-edge materials and an industry-first frame design, making the truck tougher and more efficient than ever.
Starting with the signature fully boxed frame, Ford engineers increased the use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel – from 23 percent to 77 percent of the frame – to improve stiffness and durability while reducing weight. The new frame is up to 60 pounds lighter than the current frame.
“The frame is the backbone of the truck, and we delivered a frame that is stronger and more capable than before,” said John Caris, F-150 lead frame engineer. “Our frame team developed exclusive, industry-first engineering techniques to create a truck foundation that is lighter without sacrificing toughness. This F-150 frame is the toughest we have ever built.”
Ford engineers also increased the use of advanced materials in the F-150 body.
High-strength, aluminum alloys, already used in aerospace, commercial transportation, energy and many other rugged industries, are used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance, and also saving weight. Overall, up to 700 pounds of weight have been saved, helping the F-150 tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and contributing to efficiency. Ford engineers selected these high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys because of the metals’ unique ability to withstand tough customer demands.
“Our objective was to find materials that allowed us to design the truck to be as tough – or tougher – than the current model, yet could help it be hundreds of pounds lighter for better capability and fuel economy,” said Pete Friedman, manager, Ford manufacturing research. “Out of all the materials we tested, we carefully selected only certain grades of aluminum that met our high performance standards in all of our tests, while allowing us to trim hundreds of pounds from the truck.”
These materials were torture-tested to Built Ford Tough standards and exceed expectation..
The reduced weight of the high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys enables the F-150 to tow and haul more than ever while also improving acceleration, braking and handling performance. Adding to these benefits, aluminum alloys will not rust and are resistant to corrosion, helping enhance vehicle life.
Most tested F-150 ever proven to exceed customer demands
There’s a reason why Ford F-Series has more trucks on the road with 250,000 or more miles than any other brand: Ford designs, engineers and tests to tough customer demands.
The all-new Ford F-150 is the most tested F-150 in history; it will have undergone more than 10 million miles of testing by the time it goes on sale.
“We put the truck through some of our testing longer and further than we have ever done before,” said Ford development manager Peter Frantzeskakis. “All of this extra testing proved we were on the right track with our designs and our materials.”
The all-new F-150 endured salt sprays and acidified sprays to test for corrosion. Before production begins, it will have crisscrossed the country pulling trailers and hauling loads through deserts and over mountain passes in temperatures from 20 degrees below zero to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Even its components were battered by lab technicians to simulate miles of abuse.
“The testing has been fantastic from a durability perspective,” Frantzeskakis said. “The aluminum box exceeded our expectations in a lot of areas.”
Particular attention was paid to the new body panels and how they are fastened to the frame. One test simulated six years of use in six weeks. After a complete teardown and inspection, the team developed new ways to prevent scratching the e-coat corrosion protection on the frame and eliminated spots where water could settle.
A disguised all-new F-150 was further tested in one of the world’s toughest off-road races, the 2013 Baja 1000.
Ford Racing teamed up with Foutz Motorsports and entered an all-new F-150 disguised as a 2014 model year truck. Body panels were made of the new high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys atop the new tougher frame. Under the hood was the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost® engine. With the exception of racing shocks, springs with different rates and a 44-gallon fuel tank, all of the mechanicals were stock as specified for the all-new truck.
The automatic transmission had already been used in testing, but it was further tested in the Baja 1000. No extra oil or transmission coolers were added. Over the course of the 883-mile race, the only maintenance required was changing the stock air filter at every fuel stop. The truck performed flawlessly and did not even suffer a flat tire.
Real-world fleet testing
In addition to the Baja event and testing in the laboratory and at the track, F-150 engineers put a small fleet of the new beds into service with some of Ford’s most demanding customers. Six F-150 trucks with high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy cargo boxes were placed with a mining company, an energy utility and a construction firm to monitor performance.
The customers were told to drive and treat the trucks as they normally would in their daily working routines, but they were not told what parts of the trucks may have been different. After two years and more than 300,000 miles of abuse, teardowns and inspections resulted in new engineering tests and design changes to ensure the production box would be ready to handle customers’ demands.
“F-150 is tested to extremes because truck buyers want the best equipment to do the toughest work and perform under the toughest conditions,” said Frantzeskakis. “Severe testing that goes beyond customer expectations and thorough analysis of those results is how Ford makes F-150 the No. 1 truck.”