ArcelorMittal showcases the world’s first five-piece hot-stamped laser-welded door ring and b-pillar at SAE WCX17
Breakthrough technology found in 2017 Utility Vehicle of the Year, the Chrysler Pacifica
Leaders from ArcelorMittal’s technical and sales teams are in Detroit this week at WCX17: SAE World Congress Experience. Today through April 6 at Cobo Center, ArcelorMittal will showcase the world’s first five-piece hot-stamped, laser-welded door ring and b-pillar in booth #3806. The breakthrough technology is found in the 2017 Utility Vehicle of the Year, the Chrysler Pacifica.
ArcelorMittal and ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks (AMTB) began co-engineering work with FCA US LLC in 2012 to reduce the weight of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica while meeting or exceeding crash test requirements and minimizing costs to the consumer.
Together, the partners identified the side structure of the vehicle’s body-in-white, specifically the door ring and b-pillar, as the area of most opportunity for weight reduction and improved safety performance for this mainstream, high-volume family vehicle. After 36-months, 2,000 engineering hours and approximately 300 design iterations, the team agreed on one central concept – the world’s first five-piece hot-stamped laser-welded door ring and b-pillar.
“Our ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks team worked creatively and diligently with FCA US LLC to apply our steel products and industry-leading solutions to help optimize the vehicle’s design. The objective was to provide ultra high strength and crash energy absorption exactly where both attributes were needed while also delivering weight reduction. The solution was the five-piece door ring and b-pillar innovation that is found in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica,” said Brad Davey, chief marketing officer, ArcelorMittal North America and global automotive.
Through the use of ArcelorMittal’s patented and award-winning laser ablation process, the company was able to combine two high-strength steel grades - Usibor®, a hot stamping grade that supports weight reduction in advanced shapes that require higher tensile strength, and Ductibor®, an energy-absorbing grade designed specifically to complement Usibor® in hot-stamping applications and offer ductility – to better manage the crash energies. This marks the first time these two steels were used together in North America. During a small offset and side impact crash test, the energies could effectively be distributed around the passengers, while still maintaining a safe vehicle cabin.
This innovation supported a 250 lb. total weight reduction for the Pacifica, making it the lightest minivan on the road. Also, the design helped improve the vehicle crash performance.
From a product design standpoint, this innovation is the world’s most technically challenging, highly engineered laser-welded blank solution on the market today. The innovation features the following unique attributes:
- Combines two ArcelorMittal hot stamping steel grades, Usibor® and Ductibor®, in one solution
- Welds together five parts prior to hot stamping for impervious seams
- Offers one side structure solution by combining the door ring and the b-pillar
- Eliminates the need for an expensive side structure reinforcement used in the previous model
“ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks is proud to provide a bridge between the steel itself and the solutions our customers need,” said Todd Baker, president, ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Americas. “We know the consumer is looking for three important must-haves in their vehicle – safety, fuel economy and affordability. The outcome of this collaboration – the five-piece door ring and b-pillar - contributes to all three of those areas.”
Together, the partners were able to dramatically reduce the weight of the vehicle by 8.64 kg, or 19 lbs. This innovation supported a 250 lb. total weight reduction for the Pacifica, making it the lightest minivan on the road. Also, the design helped improve the vehicle crash performance, especially for the challenging narrow offset and side impact crash requirements. The Pacifica is the first vehicle in the minivan class to achieve an IIHS 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus award.
In order to meet the production needs for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and allow for production expansion to meet additional demand from other automakers for the product, ArcelorMittal invested heavily in the development of a dedicated, state-of-the-art processing facility in Woodstock, Ontario. This facility opened in 2015 and allowed for AMTB to amplify the central innovation and meet the high volume and productivity demands of the mainstream application.
“We know the consumer is looking for three important must-haves in their vehicle – safety, fuel economy and affordability. The outcome of this collaboration – the five-piece door ring and b-pillar - contributes to all three of those areas.”
Todd Baker, president, ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Americas
The facility’s current capacity will support the annual production of more than two million hot-stamped, laser-welded blanks using two state-of-the-art continuous ablation and welding systems and a dedicated quality lab. The facility has the ability to further expand to help absorb market demand.
Additionally, the new, more advanced quality inspection system that ArcelorMittal developed is “state-of-the-art” and able to inspect several different key process and product characteristics at the same time ensuring 100 percent inspection of every part. With the new system, AMTB can process over three million weld edges through continuous ablation edge preparation and weld about one to two million hot-stamped laser-welded blanks per year, depending on number of weld seams and shapes.
“ArcelorMittal is constantly in a state of technological revolution. We are developing new, advanced high-strength steels and solutions for automotive at a record pace. Steel’s strength has multiplied by almost 10 times over the past 20 years, from 270 to 1700 megapascals tensile strength,” said Brad Davey. “The advancements we’ve made enable carmakers to create safer, more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles than ever before.”