Are buses made of aluminium?

In today’s article, we will answer the following question: Are buses made of aluminium? We will explain how buses are made, and what are the pros and cons of using aluminium for buses. 

Are buses made of aluminium?

Yes, most buses are made of different aluminium alloys, which allows them to be more durable and less prone to corrosion. 

The buses have two basic structures:

  1. The chassis: particularly made on the basis of an aluminum alloy, with stringers and crossbars that cross these and with an outer frame, intended to receive floor plates running in the longitudinal direction. The chassis is the basis of the buses and its axles are used for the wheels that generally consist of an aluminium rim and a tire of rubber.
  1. The body: is the body of the bus and is where the passengers and the driver are going, so you should consider comfort and utility as part of its characteristics. The body of the bust can be manufactured from the following materials:
  • Steel: it is strong and also easy to weld, relatively cheap and has many other properties useful for the construction of bodies. One can recycle steel and its main component is iron. To make beams and other components of their support, the steel can be pressed into different profiles offering maximum structural strength.
  • Aluminium: it is lighter, but instead it has the strength of steel and is more difficult to weld. Aluminium production is energy-intensive, but this material can be easily recycled. Very few cars are made of aluminium. However, some may have the hood, doors and other components of the chassis made of aluminium.
  • Stainless steel: buses can be made of stainless steel, but the process is complicated and expensive. Stainless steel is difficult to press and weld.
  • Plastic – In some buses, the dash panels of the outer body are made of plastic, mounted on a steel structure. In these cases, fibreglass-reinforced polyester is used. Plastic can be used in some buses with steel bodies, for example for the hood. 

Most buses have parts of plastic exteriors (bumpers, protective mouldings, exterior side mirror cover, mud flaps, etc.). Protective fins are also installed in plastic interiors in a growing number of automobiles. It is recommended that all parts used by the automotive industry are identified to facilitate its recycling. Recycled plastic is already used to make buses. 

Is aluminium a good material for buses?

Aluminium is a good material for buses as it is resistant to corrosion by water and de-icing salt, making it a material of choice in the transportation industry. Aluminium components and structures resist corrosion as long as they are designed and manufactured correctly with the correct alloys. 

Aluminium is therefore presented as a material of choice in the transport sector. 

Aluminium is very reactive and oxidizes easily and quickly in the air; it is then coated with a thin transparent protective layer of aluminium oxide, which prevents any intrusion of oxygen and other gases or liquids. This layer is very strongly attached to the surface of the aluminium: it does not chip away to expose surfaces vulnerable to oxidation. And if this layer is damaged, it spontaneously reforms itself, which provides continued protection.

Some forms of corrosion can occur on aluminium vehicle components if general guidelines are not followed. For example, so-called galvanic corrosion can occur on contact between two dissimilar metals in the presence of an electrolyte, such as water. 

A common manifestation of this phenomenon is caused by the installation of steel fasteners on an aluminium part. The main preventive measure is to interpose another material to isolate the steel from the aluminium, thus eliminating direct contact between them. 

Advantages of aluminium in the automotive industry

The right material is the key to getting the results you want. Considering the properties of aluminium, it’s easy to see why it is one of the most popular materials in tool making.

  1. Costs. MoldMaking Technology mentioned that aluminium alloys are typically used for prototypes because it is a cost-effective solution. After all, what business wouldn’t want to take advantage of such cost savings? The added value of recycling a used prototype is a great way to be more competitive.
  1. Aluminium is also a durable material. Aluminium tooling components can last longer, with proper care and maintenance. Companies don’t want to continually invest money and resources in less robust work tools. With sustainable tools, companies can reduce costs, while maintaining high production, at a constant rate.
  1. Lighter weight. Another great quality of aluminium is its lightness. Less weight means less strain on equipment and machinery. So companies can buy lighter, faster machines that will cost less when it comes to cutting aluminium alloy plates. This is a practical benefit for businesses when they use aluminium for their tools and materials.

Disadvantages of aluminium in the automotive industry

While there are many benefits to using aluminium, the biggest challenge remains to find ways and designing uses that will optimize the efficiency of aluminium. If you believe your manufacturing business needs to cut the costs of certain projects, the shift to aluminium might be the solution you need to get there.

  1. Suppliers. However, you will need to find a supplier who can provide you with quality tools and aluminium. PCP Aluminum is recognized for its short delivery times and its “zero defect” guarantee. They offer a wide range of products that adapt to all types of applications. 

They can also cut our materials to measure, whether they are specific sizes or shapes, or even large format. These features set PCP Aluminum apart from the rest of the competition. 

Final thoughts

Modern aluminium alloys are a technically and economically viable alternative as a structural material in the manufacture of buses, coaches, wagons, etc. based on the result of a study that includes the following aspects:

  • Vehicle specifications (type, use, weight and maximum consumption, area of ​​operation, useful life, etc.).
  • Basic study of properties of the selected materials.
  • Design optimization.
  • Life cycle cost analysis (LCC).

Implicit in this shortlist of topics to consider is the importance of a selection of possible materials for the study consistent with the main requirements related to the vehicle. The subsequent phases of design and cost analysis are the fundamental ones to argue technically and economically the true possibilities of the compared materials and to choose the most suitable one. 

This cost evaluation is even more important if it is possible to demonstrate that the possible greater initial investment of the solution in parts manufactured from the aluminium coil, is compensated throughout the operation phase by the lower consumption and maintenance of the derived vehicle. of said solution.

Finally, it is convenient to expressly point out a factor that usually goes unnoticed and that is, on the contrary, decisive when considering possible replacement solutions in aluminium for complex applications such as transport vehicles. It is about adapted design, that is, the design made taking into account the characteristics of the chosen aluminium alloy and not those of the substituted material. 

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Are buses made of aluminium?

How is a bus made?

The buses have two basic structures: A chassis – particularly made of an aluminium alloy, with beams and cross members that cross them and with an outer frame, destined to receive floor plates that run in a longitudinal direction. And a body – made of aluminium, steel or plastic.

How is a bus measured?

The weight of passenger trucks and buses is measured by a measuring instrument known as a scale. In many places, it is used to control the weight of vehicles such as passenger trucks and buses in order to ensure safety on the journey

Where was the first bus created?

The journey distance was 5.8 kilometres. The world’s first bus was a line vehicle, which linked the city of Siegen with the towns of Netphen and Deuz. On March 18, 1895, at exactly 6:25 in the morning.


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