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Interesting steel developments.

Cracking was a major problem facing Trim Trends, Inc. (Farmington Hills, MI) as it developed a high-strength steel (tensile strength: 1200 N/[mm.sup.2]) battery mounting unit for Ford's Escape Hybrid. The surprisingly simple and elegant solution was to eliminate the problem by letting the 7-kg sheet float in the die. Next, the team worked to find a suitable method of welding securing wedges-formed from offal resulting from the one-hit stamping process-under the battery tray by eliminating heat concentration. These wedges let it slide up rails located behind the rear seatbacks without encroaching on the passenger compartment in a collision.


Aluminum and magnesium were investigated by Grammer S.r.l. (Monsano, Italy) before it settled on high-strength steel for its latest lightweight bus seat design. The seat bottom is a hollow section made from ultra-high-strength cold-rolled two-phase steel with a minimum tensile strength of 800 N/m[m.sup.2]. A tubular cold-rolled two-phase steel with a minimum tensile strength of 600 N/[mm.sup.2] is used for the remainder of the frame. In the most common double-seat version with integral three-point seatbelts, the seat is capable of withstanding an impact of more than two tons.


Fainsa (Barcelona, Spain) also has developed a new bus seat design made from high-strength steel and featuring integral three-point belts. The main backrest member is a hollow section that includes integrated whiplash protection, and the legs and brackets are made from ultra-high-strength steel. Fainsa claims the new frame is 30% lighter than previous designs, can be adapted to the seats it builds for trains, and may lead to the company entering the aircraft market.


Ortic AB (Borlange, Sweden) and Bemo Systems (Eningen, Germany) have created a new method for roll-forming high-strength steel into previously impossible curved sections. Dubbed "Monroe," the process shapes the sheet gradually over computer-controlled electric motor-driven rollers that adjust both continuously and individually. The Monroe process has been used to produce cladding for buildings, but the companies say it is ideal for the high-volume production of high-strength steel vehicle roof pillars, bumper beams, and side impact bars.


Another interesting aspect: all of these developments won awards from Swedish steel company SSAB Tunnplat, sponsor of the Swedish Steel Prize. The company also introduced Dogal 800 DPX, a hot-dip galvanized high-strength steel that can be re-bent without cracking. Which makes it a prime candidate for stronger, more compact vehicle reinforcing beams that are formed in fewer operations.


The VEK Project, a program to stronger, lighter energy-absorbing vehicle components, has developed a stainless steel bumper system that claims to be 26% lighter than existing designs. The greatest weight savings was achieved in the design of the collision boxes, which use an ultra-high-strength stainless steel called "HyTens." Developed by Outokumpu Stainless AB (Stockholm, Sweden), the properties and weights of components formed using this special steel grade can be optimized by interactively controlling the strength when the component is shaped.

By Christopher A. Sawyer, Executive Editor
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Title Annotation:THE TECHNOLOGY
Author:Sawyer, Christopher A.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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