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Shape Corp. Named Swedish Steel Prize 2019 Finalist

Monday, November 4, 2019

For its development of a “3D” roof rail tube for automotive, Shape Corp., Grand Haven, MI, has been nominated for the Swedish Steel Prize 2019, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Shape Corp, is one of the four finalists for this year’s prize, which will be awarded during a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on November 14 award ceremony, as part of a three-day event where hundreds of international participants take part in seminars and a site visit at SSAB, a Stockholm, Sweden-based steel producer.

 “In the mid-2000s, we developed bending technology that could bend in one direction in the same plane, in line with our roll forming process, “explains Brian Oxley, product manager at Shape Corp. We called it 1D bending, and over the next few years, this technology progressed to handling bending in two directions on the same plane, and then three directions. We call this 3D bending.”

In 2011, Shape Corp. approached Ford with the profile concept, resulting in 3D rollformed A pillars, made from cold-rolled 1700 MPa martensitic steel and currently used in several Ford vehicles, including the Ford Explorer and Ford Escape.

Traditionally, these types of automotive applications are hydroformed, but doing so can mean limitations in terms of material strength and production efficiency. Instead, the Shape tube is three-dimensionally bent after roll forming and laser welded into a sub-assembly for integration into the A-pillar and roof rail area in the vehicle’s safety cage for impact protection.

Thanks to 3D forming, the A pillars feature smaller profiles than traditional solutions, allowing for better driver visibility, more interior space as well as better packaging of airbags. The 3D formed A-pillars also have an improved strength-to-weight ratio of more than 50 percent, which has led to an overall mass reduction of 2.8-4.5 kg per vehicle.

“We have taken the highest strength steel on the market and combined it with the perfect application – a bit like pairing wine with food,” notes Oxley.


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