ArcelorMittal’s Tailored Blanks division has introduced a new process which dramatically reduces the need for 3D laser cutting after stamping while maintaining the tight tolerances automotive customers require. The process also removes the need for blanking dies which brings design flexibility and reduces investment and process costs significantly.
The global automotive sector is increasingly embracing Laser Welded Blanks (LWB) technology to create high strength, low weight parts. When combined with hot stamping, LWBs ensure the right steel is in the right place for safety and strength. But once a part is hot stamped, it is no longer possible to use mechanical cutting to obtain the precise geometries required. To avoid this limitation, the part is typically trimmed using a three-dimensional (3D) laser. However, this is significantly more expensive than mechanical cutting.
LWBs combine different grades and thicknesses to create parts which ensure the right steel is in the right place for strength and ductility [© ArcelorMittal]
Fewer processing steps, tighter tolerances
Tailored Blanks’ new technology delivers the tight tolerances automakers need, without using dies or 3D laser cutting. “The process was developed by Tailored Blanks after a study of our processes, and the ones our customers use,” notes Niko Van Der Borght, director of programs and projects at Tailored Blanks. “We realised that it was possible to eliminate the initial blanking step which requires a die, and the OEM’s 3D laser cutting step after stamping. This reduces both processing and investment costs at the same time.”
The new process eliminates the blanking step at Tailored Blanks and the need for 3D laser cutting by the OEM
One of the most significant advantages of the new process is the tight tolerances that can be achieved as Rodolfo Ito, chief marketing officer for Tailored Blanks Europe explains: “Using dies we can achieve tolerances of ±2 mm, while Tailored Blanks can achieve ±0.2 mm with our new process. This adds value for OEMs and reduces the total cost of ownership for end customers.”
Eliminating dies reduces costs for OEMs
With the new process, there is no need for dies or hard tooling. This brings two advantages for OEMs: there is no need to invest in blanking dies and they have the flexibility to change the blank geometry without having to re-invest in dies. “Removing the need for dies enables manufacturers to change their part design easily,” notes Rodolfo Ito.
Using Tailored Blanks’ new process, the geometry of the final part is very accurate [© ArcelorMittal]
Reducing part-specific investments also tackles a growing need for the automotive industry to deliver more derivatives and different models with smaller volumes. Each version of a vehicle requires specific investments, so with different models costs are multiplied. “If we can eliminate the need of blanking dies, we reduce the level of investment OEMs need to make,” explains Niko Van Der Borght.
Tailored Blanks’ new process is already available for ArcelorMittal’s premier hot stamping grades Usibor® 1500 and Ductibor® 500. “It has been hugely popular with OEMs and the first lines to use the new technology are already filling quickly,” says Niko Van Der Borght. “Our next step is to refine the process so we can take advantage of our new Usibor® 2000 and Ductibor® 1000 grades which were released in 2017.”
The following table shows the in-use properties of Usibor® 1500 and Ductibor® 500.
For more information, visit Tailored Blanks pages
Rodolfo Ito, Chief Marketing Officer for Tailored Blanks Europe
Niko Van Der Borght, Director of Programs and Projects at Tailored Blanks