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    From shoe shanks to car bumpers

The MartINsite® success story: from shoe shanks to car bumpers - by Debanshu Bhattacharya

As the world’s leading steel and mining company, ArcelorMittal has up to 80 new grades of automotive steel under development at any one time - we believe the possibilities for steel are continuously evolving in the shape of new products, solutions and design partnerships. One such example is MartINsite® - first produced by ArcelorMittal legacy company Inland Steel in 1982 in MPa strengths of 900, 1100, 1300 and 1500.

In fact, the product’s genealogy goes back even further than that - it was invented in the 1970s on Inland Steel’s number two continuous annealing line, in the company’s former tin operations in the USA. Once engineers realised its potential for automotive applications (the original idea was to market it for shoe shanks - the supportive structure between the insole and the outer part of the shoe!), engineers and researchers created a more robust product for the automotive industry.

More than 30 years later, MartINsite® is still evolving as a range of steel products, and is in high demand from automotive customers. Since its launch, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of MartINsite® have been sold, not only to carmakers in the USA but increasingly in other regions too. Other steelmakers have recently developed similar martensitic steel grades too.

The most recent grade in this family of steels, MartINsite® 1700, was brought to market in 2011 - an important extension to the range, and developed in response to demand from a major US carmaker.  Separately, Shape - a tier one supplier to the automotive industry -  announced in Livonia, Michigan in 2012 that they had “produced the first bumper beams made out of the newly developed, 1700 MPa MartINsite® steel supplied by ArcelorMittal” at the Great Designs in Steel conference. 

Debanshu Bhattacharya is director of product research, global research and development, ArcelorMittal.

So what’s the big appeal to customers, in terms of martensitic steels (a very hard form of steel offering some of the highest strength levels available in the marketplace)? These types of advanced high strength steels (AHSS) provide maximum weight reduction while maintaining very good anti-intrusion (protection from side impacts) during a crash. Applications include: front and rear bumper reinforcement beams, door intrusion beams, side-sill reinforcements and roof cross members.

The MartINsite® range complements Usibor® and Ductibor® (hot stamped steels) and cold stamping steels such as Fortiform®, our new, third generation range of AHSS that is currently being produced at ArcelorMittal sites in Europe. Over the past decade, AHSS has become the fastest growing material for light vehicle construction. ArcelorMittal’s wide range of steel products helps carmakers to reduce the weight of cars, at a lower cost and with a lower carbon footprint.

And it doesn’t stop there. Our researchers work with OEMs years in advance in order to develop ever-more efficient, safer and lighter vehicles for the future. In addition, we are monitoring the market to prepare investments in all regions to follow customer demand.