Ultra-Thin Steels Reducing Fuel Needs

March 02, 1999

Cars bodies made from the latest high strength, ultra-thin steels will be up to 20% lighter and so will reduce car fuel consumption but without compromising passenger safety. Car bodies made from the new steels are being tested for endurance on life size testing rigs that shake the bodies to simulate 40,000km of rocky road driving. The new lightweight cars will be in the showrooms within the next few years and represent the steel industry's answer to the increasing use of lightweight aluminium and composite materials by car manufacturers.

The new thin gauge steels and processes for their manufacture are being used in the ongoing Ultra Light Steel Auto Body (ULSAB) project, of which British Steel is a member. The material ranges in thickness from 0.7 to 2 mm compared with up to 4 mm thickness for traditional car steels. Manufacturers have also been able to develop new processes for producing the steel products that reduce production costs and improve the final product.

The latest work is an attempt to ensure that the fatigue properties of the products made using new technologies such as hydroforming and the new thinner, stronger steels, are good enough for use in service.

Notes For Editors 1. "Simulating the rocky road with fatigue testing", Materials World, Volume 7, Issue 3, p.139

2. Materials World is the journal of The Institute of Materials, the professional organisation of materials scientists and engineers working throughout the world in areas involving the use and application of plastics, rubber, steel, metals and ceramics.

3. Materials World is also available on the web: www.materials.org.uk

Institute of Materials

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