MaX: The new normal for ‘Body-in-White’
Starting in the 1990s and accelerating ever since the automobile industry has been defined by a revolution in innovation. From the internal combustion engine to the complete electric vehicle and the in-between hybrid, power train technologies are in a state of constant evolution. But innovation doesn’t stop with the engine.
^ MaX allows a 14% weight reduction, 25% fewer welding spots and a 75% reduction in investment costs due to a simplified production process. Image courtesy of Aperam
Article by Jesse Paegle, Aperam
New technologies, new regulations and new expectations require car manufacturers to think outside the box to find new ways to reduce weight, increase safety performance, and cut costs. To help manufacturers satisfy both current and future safety and emission requirements, Aperam decided it was time to disrupt the way it does Body-in-White (see box).
The result is MaX – the market’s only Advanced High Strength Stainless Steel (AHSSS) for Body-in-White applications. MaX wasn’t developed in a vacuum. Aperam worked directly with car manufacturers, an approach which allowed it to understand their challenges and create a solution that satisfied actual application needs. This collaborative approach continued to the production process. To produce MaX, Aperam partnered with market-leading companies including simulator, welding and component specialists.
This collaboration resulted in the creation of an ultra-high strength steel that has the lightweight performance of aluminium and the cost-effectiveness of carbon steel. The recent Body in MaX Project has provided data on how MaX stacks up against current market solutions.
Outperforming the baseline
Prior to this project, MaX was only evaluated in laboratory studies, which did not take into consideration issues such as cost, weight and performance benefits for its application in Body-in-White. In this project, the true potential of the MaX grades was evaluated in terms of performance, mass and cost optimisation, particularly as it compares to Body-in-White applications that are currently on the market.
It was found that in many cases, MaX matches - if not exceeds - baseline measurements, while offering the added benefits of reduced weight and lower costs. For example, in terms of NVH performance, MaX matches baseline measurements, and for crash resistance, MaX outperforms baseline measurements. The project also confirmed MaX’s superior formability, availability of thin gages and extremely high strength (1,500 MPa tensile strength).
However, MaX’s real benefits materialize when it is used in conjunction with such technologies and methodologies as Tailor Welded Blanks (TWB) and Patch Work Philosophy. The goal is to integrate the AHSSS reinforcements into one single part - and MaX represents a significant step towards accomplishing this. With MaX, manufacturers can go from working with 19 different parts to just 3, which can result in up to a 15% reduction in weight – all while maintaining the same properties.
This integration is made possible thanks in large part to advancements in the hot stamping process. As more ‘big lines’ come to market, it becomes possible to produce increasingly complex, large parts such as floors and dash panels. This simplified production process can cut investment costs by up to 75%. MaX helps manufacturers better leverage these advancements in hot stamping.
A new generation
The Body in MaX project confirms that the evolution of materials in Body-in-White is a reality and changes are happening fast. At the vanguard of this evolution is MaX - a new generation of AHSSS that can out compete conventional carbon steels in terms of weight reduction, safety performance and overall costs.
What is Body-in-White?
Body-in-White refers to the stage in automobile manufacturing in which a car body’s components have been joined together, using one or a combination of different techniques: welding, riveting, clinching, bonding, laser brazing etc.
About the Author
Jesse Paegle has worked in the automotive industry since 1997, including at Renault, ArcelorMittal, Gestamp and JWP. Today, he is responsible for the development of innovative automotive products at Aperam, a role that sees him researching new stainless steel applications outside the current well-known exhaust systems and decorative business.