Ultragal® rolls out to the world
Environmentally friendly coating ensures new cars shine brightly
The stretched surface of ArcelorMittal’s Ultragal® coating is clearly visible on the left side of this hood. As a comparison, the right side is coated with Extragal®, another ArcelorMittal coating which offers high corrosion protection and surface quality to both visible and non-visible parts.
ArcelorMittal’s Ultragal® coating was fi rst developed to meet the demands of carmakers for an excellent paint appearance. Ultragal® limits any increase in waviness during deformation, providing a very stretched surface combined with proven corrosion protection. Ultragal® is also highly compatible with modern compact painting systems, enabling carmakers to improve the environmental performance of their operations.
Demand for Ultragal® began to grow when a leading German automaker decided to improve the paint appearance of their cars. They asked ArcelorMittal to develop an innovative coating which would also reduce costs and the environmental footprint of their painting operations.
Tailored for each OEM
“Other carmakers had similar requests or wanted to move from electrogalvanized steels to hot dip galvanized steels,” notes Azem Ozturk, customer technical director for ArcelorMittal Automotive Europe. “We were able to meet their expectations thanks to the knowledge and the know-how we acquired during the development of Ultragal®.”
Using Ultragal® as a base, Global R&D developed a tailored product to match the specifi c needs of each carmaker. “We continue to be fl exible and tailor the product to specifi c customer requirements,” says Azem Ozturk.
The Ultragal® coating is specifi cally recommended for visible parts in the automotive sector. It enables OEMs to limit waviness during stamping, while providing the quality surface and corrosion protection required on parts such as hoods, side panels and roofs. Ultragal® provides the smoothest possible surface for the fi nal paint layer. A major advantage is that carmakers can utilise compact paint processes which reduce the cost and environmental impact of painting.
This image shows two panels. The sample on the left has an Ultragal® coating. Note the reflection of the fluorescent light. Waviness in the panel on the right (treated with Extragal®) is evidenced by the distorted reflection.
Suitable for compact paint systems
Ultragal® is suitable for cold rolled automotive steels including drawing and bake hardened grades. “BH180 and BH220 are the most requested steels,” notes Cécile Pesci, a product developer for metallic coatings and surface treatments at ArcelorMittal. “We’re currently testing Ultragal® with our popular high strength dual phase grades to expand the options for automakers.”
With the shift to compact painting systems, demand for Ultragal® has grown around the world. ArcelorMittal Florange (France), where Ultragal® was first commercialised, could not meet the increasing level of orders. To ensure Ultragal® is available locally to OEMs, ArcelorMittal is rolling out the technology globally.
Today Ultragal® is produced at ArcelorMittal mills in Belgium, Spain and Germany as well as France. Ultragal® production facilities are also under development at ArcelorMittal sites in Brazil and Canada. The rest of the world is served by deliveries from Europe with full local support available in Asia, Europe and North and South America.
Tested at every step
“Ultragal® requires very strict process control and specific testing equipment,” explains Cécile Pesci. “We equip each line with the extra testing methods required to ensure the steel meets the requested waviness level after forming. Testing steel in an R&D lab is an everyday activity, but we need to do it on an industrial scale in a real-life production environment.”
The waviness criteria of Ultragal® was worked out in close consultation with automotive customers and tested on real-life projects. The result is a coating which can be used with existing stamping equipment. “Our customers do not need to adapt their processes at all,” says Azem Ozturk. “They just need to be ready for a better final product!”
Stamped Ultragal® samples undergo detailed waviness measurements as part of ArcelorMittal’s quality assurance process.