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Innovative auto steel design solutions at Great Designs in Steel 2017

Carmakers showcase latest lightweight design innovations in steel at GDIS

Nearly 1,700 automotive and steel industry representatives gathered in Livonia, MI (USA) recently for the 16th annual Great Designs in Steel. GDIS is a one-day seminar hosted by Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), exploring and highlighting innovative steel design solutions for autos. Several of the latest design innovations in steel were on display at the event including Body-in-White (BIW) demonstrators featuring advanced high strength steel including the Cadillac XT5, BMW 7 Series, Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Ridgeline as well as the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey.

The day kicked off with ArcelorMittal Dofasco President and CEO and SMDI Chair, Sean Donnelly taking part in a keynote discussion with Andrew Humphrey, Tech Time host and reporter with WDIV TV in Detroit, MI. Sean highlighted the changes, challenges and opportunities in the steel industry over his 35-year career.

Following the keynote, SMDI President Lawrence Kavanagh presented the Automotive Excellence Award to the Volvo Car Corporation body structure team for its advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) innovations in the 2016 Volvo XC90. Volvo created a new generation architecture for the XC90, the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which achieved a stiffer, stronger, larger and lighter body structure to optimize driving performance through extensive use of AHSS including PHS. This achievement earned the vehicle a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2015 as well as North American Truck of the Year in 2016. Volvo’s vision is that no one should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020. Accepting the award, Matthew Winkler, Senior Purchasing Manager, Volvo Cars, said “To meet this goal, we have to invest in great technologies. Advanced high strength steel, which allows for a strong body structure with significantly less weight, will help us to meet this goal.”


Pictured above, from left to right: Sean Donnelly, President and CEO ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Chairman, SMDI CEO Group; Matthew Winkler, Senior Purchasing Manager, Volvo Cars; Lawrence Kavanaugh, President, SMDI; David Anderson, Senior Director, Automotive Technical and Long Products Program, SMDI

Vehicle innovation was the story of the day

The day featured three tracks and 31 presentations ranging from stamping to computational material engineering and adhesives and sealants.

Some highlights of the presentations on new model vehicles:

  • Steve Behm of Honda R&D Americas reviewed steel innovation in the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, which boasts a body structure composed of 55 per cent high-strength and ultra-high strength steel for a weight saving of 16 kg over the 2014 body structure design. This despite an increased wheelbase, SOT protection, increased stiffness and an increased bed size. The Ridgeline earned an overall 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+.
  • Jeff Tibbenham & James Truskin of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles presented a session on the advanced high-strength steel technologies in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Among the challenges to the design team was an overall mass reduction of more than 10 per cent along with a top pick and 5-star safety rating. The FCA body team utilized several design optimization tools to produce 113 kg of weight savings over the previous model using 49% advanced high strength steel (AHSS) to make it the lightest minivan on the road. That includes a 12 per cent reduction in the Body in White and 13 per cent reduction in the Total Body System. Key among the steel innovations in the vehicle is the world’s first five-piece hot-stamped laser-welded door ring developed by ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks which achieved a 10kg per vehicle weight save. The Pacifica earned the 2016 IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
  • Nic Goldsberry, Senior Body Design Engineer, Honda R&D Americas presented the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey. Nic said the new design features “high body rigidity improvement and big weight down”. This is the result of advanced material application which includes 52 per cent advanced high strength steel (AHSS) and resulted in a weight loss of 34kg from the previous Odyssey. The Odyssey earned an overall 5-Star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority and is a Top Safety Pick.

What ArcelorMittal presented

In addition to Sean Donnelly’s Keynote Conversation, there were three other ArcelorMittal presentations:

Bala Krishnan, Director Automotive Product Applications, said these achievements are in part due to ArcelorMittal’s intensive product development. “We have been accelerating the pace of new product development in automotive. This is due to the demands of consumers and policy makers for increasingly safer and sustainable vehicles. We’ve delivered steel grades that are stronger, lighter and more sustainable for more fuel-efficient vehicles that have a lower overall carbon footprint. Steel excels in all of these areas and we are far from finished in our innovation efforts.”


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