More Steels, and Education Opportunities, On the Way
With the rapid adoption of newer AHSS, the Auto/Steel Partnership (A/SP), a consortium of SMDI’s Automotive Applications Council, FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., have undertaken a number of initiatives to continue research on newer stronger steels and possible automotive applications, and transferring the knowledge to work with them to tier suppliers.
“We are working on the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) project with the Dept. of Energy, which is developing the next (third) generation of AHSS that offer high strength and high formability,” Anderson offers.
Efforts to integrate next-generation steels extend to production systems, including education of tiers leading to greater incorporation of the aforementioned hot stamping, hydroforming and rollforming processes, as well as the use of tailor-welded and tailor-rolled AHSS blanks.
|Hydroforming is finding greater use in forming AHSS. Case in point is the 2015 Ford Edge, where DP 1000 grades are tube-hydroformed for roof rails.|
The A/SP is developing a training course that covers metallurgy of the newer AHSS, as well as “how to form and join them so that we can ease the transition from the mild and high-strength steels that the tier supply community has been using,” says Anderson. Expect such training to include discussions of tooling.
“We want people to understand how the use of AHSS affects tool design and performance,” he explains. “Tooling may be outfitted with inserts that can better handle these stronger materials and not wear as quickly, or if the inserts do wear, it’s only a matter of changing them out and not having to rebuild an entire die.
”The original implementation and use of AHSS occurred at the OEM level,” Anderson continues, “but due to the increased volume of material and applications, independent stampers and the Tier Ones and Twos have been introduced to these materials and must deal with a learning curve. Anderson and the A/SP, through training, hope to flatten that curve.
Looking forward, Anderson sees how the next generation of AHSS may allow for cold stamping to replace hot stamping in some applications while imparting the same advantages, but that’s at least a few years away.
Research and development of strong, low-carbon-equivalent steels, now underway at the A/SP, may ease forming and joining issues, thus delivering a welcomed improvement upon higher-carbon-content materials.
In the very short-term future, 2016’s Great Designs in Steel, May 11, in Livonia , MI, is expected to highlight a number of new and innovative AHSS automotive applications, including a redesign of Nissan’s full-sized pickup that features higher-strength-steel framing, and side structures incorporating 980 MPa steel. Attendees also will learn more about AHSS use in the 2016 Chevy Malibu, Lincoln Continental D544, Honda Civic and Volvo XC90. MF
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