Stainless automobiles

The “Next Generation Vehicle” project, an alliance of leading stainless steel producers and automotive OEMs was launched at the end of 2004 with the aim of identifying potential for the use of stainless steel in auto construction. As part of the study, innovative materials were developed and tested for new applications – with groundbreaking findings. The automotive OEMs participating in the project were Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, General Motors/Saab and Ford/Volvo, while the stainless steel producers involved were ThyssenKrupp Nirosta, Outokumpu and ArcelorMittal Stainless. The study, drawn up by development and applications engineers from the companies involved, shows that the use of stainless steel in vehicle construction can be especially beneficial in crash-relevant structural parts. The major advantages of stainless steels, such as high strength and weight reduction, make their extensive use both practical and expedient in resource-conserving auto production. The aim of the “Next Generation Vehicle” project is to draw up processing guidelines for stainless steels as a prerequisite for their use. This was done with reference to B-pillars which were tested in crash simulations. The results were verified in collaboration with leading suppliers of simulation programs for metal forming which allow the crash performance of stainless steel to be simulated. These programs were developed further as part of the “Next Generation Vehicle” project. The project’s findings have been summarized in design and processing guidelines. The new software programs, which will also be available commercially in the future, meet a further requirement for the broader use of stainless steel. The “Next Generation Vehicle” project also developed a cost model in collaboration with the Boston MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) which allows the use of different production methods and materials to be compared directly and the optimum stainless steel solution determined. “Next Generation Vehicle” will continue its work in the coming months. 
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