Department manager Thomas Müller from SSAB Europe was one of the speakers at the International Automotive Body Congress (IABC) organized in Dearborn, Michigan by the Global Automotive Management Council. Müller used examples to show how advanced cold-forming techniques for AHSS enhance the ease of design in car body structures by, for example, increasing edge ductility and reducing bending radius.

Cold forming of AHSS is a cost-efficient alternative when producing lightweight structural parts for the automotive industry. Demand for AHSS with good formability properties is increasing because of the need for lighter vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions and for improved impact properties.

Knowledge Service Centers on hand to help

Customers are not alone in their pursuit of new solutions for strong, lightweight car parts. SSAB’s design and development experts at our Knowledge Service Centers are on hand to help. Going beyond traditional support, they collaborate closely with customers to develop products and processes that work for their specific business.

“We actually have two Knowledge Service Centers - one in SSAB Europe and the other in SSAB Special Steels. These Centers support our customers with their technical or upgrading projects. This is actually quite deep technical support, and of course we also tell customers about the advantages of SSAB’s high-strength steels at the same time,” says Thomas Müller.

“With new customers the most important thing is to help them to start using the right steel grades. Long-standing customers often contact us when they are planning a new product, and we then help them in forming or design. This expert service is definitely one of our competitive edges. With new customers it is always a question of the whole package – excellent quality, short delivery times, price, etc., but one aspect is also technical support,” says Müller.

Automotive segment is a focus area in the Knowledge Service Center

A typical automotive segment upgrading case takes an average of 3 months and the Center has approximately 60 automotive related cases a year. Since automotive growth is fastest in emerging countries, it is highly probable that this kind of work will continue to be needed also looking ahead.

“The congress in Dearborn is one way of keeping close contact with our customers.” Half of the audience is big American OEMs like Ford, GM, Chrysler and companies that produce seats, chassis or bumpers. “Many potential customers, including smaller companies and steel service centers, are not yet aware of our strengths and what we can offer them. Our steels are good for cold forming, which is a cost efficient and cheaper, faster and more sustainable option in many cases. Our high-quality automotive steels have advantages in forming and welding. This is particularly relevant in the automotive segment, where almost all the parts are formed,” continues Müller.

SSAB’s materials and design experts meet thousands of customers each year through technical seminars, courses and development projects. These interactions are a chance for us to learn more about how we can add to the value of customers’ products. We then tailor our support to each customer and solution. This makes it hardly surprising that more than 75% of our customers decide to work with us on development projects.

SSAB has had a very strong role in many car parts. Our Knowledge Service Centers help customers to greatly cut production costs and to identify ways they can make their applications easier to manufacture, last longer and require less maintenance.

“Our support and services span the entire development chain, from design to choice of material, wear calculations, workshop support and recommendations on how to improve production efficiency. Chassis parts are one area that opens up new possibilities and, for example, our Knowledge Service Center can help in suggesting welding solutions. We have new steel grades for chassis, including suspension, control arms and braking system. We even provide valuable training and support to help bring high-strength steel products to market with our co-branding programs,” tells Müller.

Knowledge Service Centers are supporting the goal of migrating SSAB’s product offering towards more advanced high-strength steels. Cars can contain 30-40 different steel grades and other materials. One trend is to combine different materials. This is a win-win situation for SSAB and our customers.

Knowledge Service Centers help with

  • Choice of material
  • Modeling, forming
  • Simulations 
  • Fatigue and wear calculations
  • Workshop support and recommendations
  • Production efficiency support 

Ways we support customers in prototyping and verification

  • Welding recommendations 
  • Forming recommendations 
  • Tooling advice
  • Workshop verification
  • Trial material

Ways we support customers in industrialization and production

  • Industrialization support and problem solving
  • Forming and joining recommendations
  • Advice on new production technologies

 https://gamcinc.com/conferences/body-congress/