Kobelco Receive Award for Ultra High Strength Steel for Automotive Applications

Kobe Steel, Ltd. and voestalpine Automotive, Inc. will receive the 2006 SAE/AISI Sydney H. Melbourne Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Automotive Steel Sheet for a technical paper submitted to the SAE. The authors of the paper will be presented the award at a ceremony on April 17 during the 2007 SAE World Congress in Detroit, Michigan.

The recipients are Kenichi Watanabe and Mie Tachibana, researchers at Kobe Steel, and Marcus Wiemann and Dieter Frankenburg of voestalpine Automotive. The award-winning paper is titled "Vehicle Side Structure Concept using Ultra High Strength Steel Sheet and Rollforming Technology" (SAE Paper No. 2006-01-1403).

Ultra high strength steel (UHSS) sheet, with tensile strengths of 1,180MPa to 1,470MPa, is generally difficult to press form. Over a three-year period, Kobe Steel and voestalpine Automotive conducted research on rollforming UHSS sheet into parts for a new side structure concept to reduce vehicle weight. The steel sheet was rollformed into such parts as the pillars, roof cross member, floor cross member, and side sills.

Rollforming is an operation by which steel strip is passed through rolls that gradually bend the sheet into a cross-section form. This process is commonly used in making round pipe, a construction material.

The new side structure concept satisfied IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) side impact test criteria. In addition, the weight of the side structure module was reduced by roughly 25%, a savings of 14.4 kg, in comparison to the same structure made of stamped parts in the reference vehicle. This concept could promote the application of automotive structural parts made of rollformed cross-sections.

Established in 1997, the SAE/AISI Sydney H. Melbourne Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Automotive Steel Sheet recognizes authors who effectively demonstrate ways of further utilizing steel sheet in automobiles. The award honors the late Sydney H. Melbourne, a director of market development and product application at Dofasco, Inc. Melbourne is widely recognized for his contributions to the steel and automotive industries.

The SAE World Congress is the top technical program in the world for automotive engineering interests. The Kobe Steel-voestalpine technical paper was chosen from over 1, 200 technical presentations at the 2006 SAE World Congress. This is the first time in eight years that employees of a Japanese company have been selected for this award.

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