Lou Kren Lou Kren
Senior Editor

Great Designs in Steel 2021—All in on Steel in Vehicles

April 1, 2021

Reportedly the longest-running automotive materials conference in the world, Great Designs in Steel (GDIS) is going all-virtual in 2021. Sign up for GDIS 2021, where automotive engineering, design, technology and academic leaders provide insight on the latest trends and material applications in new cars and trucks. The all-day, three-track program, produced by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and structured much like past live events, will feature 30-plus presentations on advanced high-strength steel (AHSS)—especially third-generation (Gen 3) varieties—future mobility, automotive advancements and manufacturing technologies while also discussing the lightweighting, durability and sustainability benefits of steel.

Great Designs in SteelMetalForming magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the event, geared toward those from automotive OEMs, Tier One suppliers, automotive and material R&D departments, and academia. It features moderators for each track who also will moderate live Q&A after each set of presentations.

GDIS 2021 attendees also have access to sponsors and exhibitors via the online event platform, where they can interact, and view and download various content. The platform will remain active for an entire year and enable email-messaging capability between attendees and exhibitors, and provide face-to-face virtual booth hours during the event.

 Great Designs in Steel 2021

  • May 19, 2021
  • Presented by the American Iron and Steel Institute
  • For information and to register for this free event highlighting R&D as well as implementation of automotive steels, visit http://greatdesignsinsteel.com.

And, the Automotive Excellence Award, presented yearly at Great Designs in Steel and will be again in 2021, recognizes “individuals or teams from automakers, suppliers or the academic community who embrace innovation and make significant contributions to the advancement of steel in the automotive market,” according to AISI officials. Chosen by previous GDIS event speakers, candidates are rated in several categories, including challenges and benefits associated with cost, mass reduction and performance; overall contribution to the advancement of steel; and implementation in production.

Big Focus on Gen 3 Steels, BEVs

“I believe that every one of the automotive-OEM presentations will discuss versions of Gen 3 steels that have gone into their vehicles,” says John Catterall, vice president of AISI’s automotive program. After roughly a decade of R&D and hints at what may come, Gen 3 steels most definitely have arrived and have made production inroads. 

“A long-awaited overnight success,” is how Catterall summarizes this material segment, with Gen 3 steels recently showing up in Ford Broncos, GM Cadillac Escalades and in other vehicle platforms. 

GDIS 2021 Keynote—John McElroy

Long-time automotive-industry thought leader John McElroy will open the virtual-only Great Designs in Steel 2021 as keynote speaker.

As president of Blue Sky Productions, McElroy leads Autoline, a website that portals to various media channels and is self-described as “dedicated to reporting on, discussing and dissecting the inner workings of the auto industry and the products that it makes.”

A journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur, McElroy created “Autoline Daily,” a webcast covering automotive-industry news and analysis. He also hosts “Autoline This Week,” an Emmy Award-winning, weekly television program featuring automotive executives and journalists. And he co-hosts “Autoline After Hours,” a weekly live webcast that focuses on new cars and technology. The show can be seen online at www.Autoline.tv.

McElroy also broadcasts three radio segments daily on WWJ Newsradio 950, the CBS Detroit, MI, affiliate. He writes a blog for Autoblog.com and a monthly op-ed article for Ward’s Auto World. Prior experience includes five years as Detroit editor for Road & Track, and as the American correspondent for World Cars, published by the Automotive Club of Italy. He spent most of his career at the trade magazine Automotive Industries where he ultimately served as editorial director. He has appeared routinely on television and radio network news shows as an automotive expert.

GDIS 2021, adds Catterall, “also will cover efforts by enablers to get Gen 3 steels into vehicles—joining, formability, etc.—and how to predict their material properties for use in crash models.”

With battery electric vehicles (BEVs) gaining traction and predictions of more BEVs hitting the road in coming years, look for GDIS 2021 presentations on this hot topic, according to Catterall.

“We will be reflecting this trend, with presentations on BEV platforms, and others focusing on BEV subsystems, such as integrating the battery box into a vehicle, innovative designs for side rings and more,” he says.

Continuing the BEV theme, GDIS 2021 offers a presentation on Steel E-Motive, the current new-vehicle engineering program from WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association. The program seeks to demonstrate the benefits of steel for global Mobility as a Service (MaaS), characterized by fully connected and autonomous electric vehicles. Steel E-Motive’s work gears toward the 2030+ timeframe, but with ideas and solutions that may be adapted at any point along the way. 

MetalForming provided details on Steel E-Motive and MaaS in its February 2021 digital-only issue via an extensive interview with program project manager George Coates.

Automotive-steel stakeholders “continue to target mass efficiency, as full integration of a battery pack into a BEV requires protecting it from side and front impacts,” says Catterall, hinting at additional GDIS 2021 presentations. “We believe that steel, with its inherent strength, provides the ability to create essentially a safety cage around the battery. Just as we discuss safety cages for occupants, we need a safety cage around the battery pack to prevent damage to the pack…and we know what can happen if there is damage.

“Steel has a big advantage in this respect,” he continues, “and also in package efficiency, because steels provide greater strength in a smaller section. GDIS 2021 will expand on these advantages.”

Where previous GDIS events focused on mandates for increased mileage standards, GDIS 2021 takes environmental impact in a new direction, with discussions of total sustainability that reach far past fuel efficiency ratings.

“We are hearing the term ‘sustainability,’ which represents another step forward beyond lightweighting and fuel savings,” offers Catterall. “How much CO2 is generated during the manufacturing phase? We have steel companies working on reducing their CO2 footprints, and the idea moves into the vehicles as well. BEVs remove vehicle emissions, essentially moving them to where the electricity is being generated. We’ll be hearing more from OEMs and suppliers about sustainability and the move toward carbon-neutral.”

Collaboration Driving Innovation

A BEV, with no emissions, opens the door to achieving carbon-neutral. But doing so requires work along the supply chain. This is why Catterall sees AISI’s collaboration with the auto industry, and events such as GDIS, which highlights collaboration efforts and achievements, as so important.

“Even throughout this pandemic, collaboration and development has continued,” he says. “These collaborations, through AISI programs, and the Auto/Steel Partnership, and with the steel producers and automotive OEMs, did not stop and we continued to enable implementation of Gen 3 steels and the like. All of these efforts are starting to show up in the products that now are available commercially.

“A good chunk of GDIS programming features this collaborative work, including presentations from our steel partners and from partners such as the University of Waterloo,” Catterall concludes. “Collaboration represents one of the key strengths of the steel industry. We perform collaborative work, and we present it as collaborative work. I think that this is very reassuring to the automotive OEMs—knowing that we can work with them on a regular basis to develop solutions. This level of collaboration is, I think, the key to steel’s success in automotive.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Download, Point
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See also: American Iron and Steel Institute

Technologies: Materials


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