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Advantages of laser welded blanks

 

Laser welded blanks (LWBs) enable carmakers to reduce the weight of a monolithic part. At the same time, the strength or safety performance of the part can be maintained or improved, depending on the combination of steels selected.

 

Material optimization

During the blanking step, laser welded blank shapes can be arranged to make maximum use of the steel. Known as ‘nesting’, this technique increases the number of parts that can be made from one sheet of material. Less steel is required, and less scrap is produced.

The right steel grade is in the right place, in the right thickness to create a tailor-made solution for each part.

Depending on the shape, scrap rates can be as low as seven percent. With lower scrap rates, cost efficiency is increased significantly.

Nesting can lead to significant material savings depending on the shape of the parts to be blanked

This compares very favorably to the scrap rate for monolithic parts which can be one third or higher.

More than one-third of the coil can be scrapped if monolithic blanks are utilized

ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks can work with an OEM’s design department to determine if a part is suitable for nesting. The assessment includes an assessment of the technical requirements for the part and a cost analysis to achieve the most economical solution.

 

Improved technical performance without increasing weight

Using LWBs, the technical performance of a part can be enhanced significantly without adding to the weight of the vehicle.
Examples of improved technical characteristics include:

  • Higher stiffness
  • Better energy absorption
  • Improved crash behavior

 

Simplification of the OEM's production processes

OEMs can simplify their production processes with LWBs thanks to:

  • Reduced number of parts
  • Reduction in the number of stamping and assembly tools required
  • Shorter manufacturing process

 

Weight and thickness reductions for the complete assembly

LWBs are a clever way to significantly reduce the mass of a part or the body-in-white of a vehicle. Thanks to the very high strength of modern automotive steels, very thin gauges can be utilized. Using some of the most advanced high strength steels, weight savings of 10 to 20 percent (or more) can be achieved for a single part.

The weight savings occur because:

  • The thickness of the steel used in a LWB part can be optimized to eliminate unnecessary weight.
  • The steel blanks are butt joined. Overlaps are reduced to a minimum, cutting weight significantly.

 

By ensuring the right material is in the right place, in the right thickness, LWBs can significantly reduce the weight of a part.

The following image shows the example of a door ring. The LWB solution on the right can be up to 20 percent lighter than the multi-part door assembly shown on the left.

By optimizing the thickness of each blank, the weight of a component can be reduced significantly

Case: Honda's Acura MDX features world-first single-piece door ring

Butt-joining to avoid overlaps

In traditional vehicle assembly, different parts were overlapped to ensure a strong join. With LWBs, overlaps are eliminated in many parts. Instead, the two parts are butt welded, reducing the amount of material used and the overall weight of the part. When combined with thickness optimization, excellent weight savings can be achieved.

By butt joining blanks, the additional weight of overlaps is eliminated

Safety improvements

The development of LWBs has had a direct impact on improving automobile safety since they were first introduced in the 1990s. This is because LWBs combine the energy absorption and anti-intrusion properties of different grades of steel in one part.

Evolution of LWB use:

  • In the 1990s, most vehicles on the road in Europe had a two-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The average vehicle included two LWB parts and comprised five percent advanced high strength steel (AHSS).
  • During the 2000s, the first vehicle to achieve a five-star Euro NCAP rating included 22 LWB parts and was comprised of 45 percent AHSS.
  • During the 2010s, the combination of LWB and hot stamping has further reduced the weight and cost of vehicles, and improved safety significantly. Of the 69 Euro NCAP ratings published in 2017, 44 vehicles (64 percent) achieved a five-star rating.
  • ArcelorMittal’s S-in motion® studies have demonstrated the safety benefits and weight savings LWBs can provide in today’s production vehicles.

 

 

Example: Improved crash performance with hot stamped LWB door ring

A new front and side body structure was designed to meet frontal small overlap crash requirements.

 

Example: Improved crash performance with hot stamped LWB door ring

Optimized laser welded blank shotgun solution with several Dual Phase steel grades leads to best compromise to cope with all frontal crash tests

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