03 November 2014
Corporate News
Tata Steel's breakthrough XPF range opens up new potential for lighter vehicles
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Tata Steel has unveiled a new range of breakthrough steels1 aimed at helping car makers reduce the weight of undercarriages and increase fuel efficiency.

The new suite of hot rolled sheet steel products – XPF steels (eXtra Processing Formability) – are to become commercially available in early 2015. They were developed by Tata Steel’s research and development teams at the company’s IJmuiden plant in the Netherlands, where the products will also be manufactured.

XPF steels offer vehicle manufacturers the opportunity to make chassis components that are 10 per cent lighter and to reduce component manufacturing costs by up to 50 per cent2. This is because the ease with which they can be formed3 is combined with strength to an unprecedented degree. The XPF range addresses the known challenges of current high-strength steels in terms of forming and manufacturing by combining the mechanical strength and fatigue resistance that chassis designers require with a formability that provides even greater freedom to reduce both parts count and cost as well as vehicle weight.

Henrik Adam, Chief Commercial Officer of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “The XPF range is a further demonstration of Tata Steel’s focus on providing advanced products for all vehicle applications.

“These new steels will enable designers to be even more innovative in creating the next generation of vehicles and we believe they promise a major breakthrough in automotive structural materials technology.”

The best of modern steelmaking is dedicated to constantly bringing new products to market with improved characteristics that give customers competitive advantages. In recent decades there has been an increasing proliferation of enhanced, sophisticated steels – High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA), Dual Phase (DP) and Hot Forming steels to name just a few. Tata Steel’s XPF range represents a significant new contribution to this trend. Automakers need new steels that reduce vehicle weight while maintaining high safety levels in order to help increase fuel efficiency.

New steel products combining strength and formability have helped carmakers significantly reduce weight in the structural and external areas of car bodies. Engineers have been able to reduce the number of parts used (lowering manufacturing costs) and the weight of the parts across multiple component assemblies. XPF steels are now poised to take these enhancements into the area of vehicle chassis without compromising vehicle safety or compliance with environmental standards.

Tata Steel will be the first company in Europe able to supply chassis manufacturers with steels offering the superior manufacturing characteristics needed to significantly reduce chassis weight.

XPF steels have superior forming and joining capabilities, property homogeneity, fatigue resistance and processing consistency.4 Chassis makers using XPF steels will be able to reduce component weight by 10 per cent compared with using equivalent advanced steels without sacrificing safety or performance and without needing enhanced manufacturing capability.

Ashley Wilkinson, Tata Steel’s European Sales Director for Automotive, said: “The new XPF steel family is a strong example of our range of advanced products that enable automotive manufacturers to find their preferred balance between performance, weight and cost. 

“As already proven in body-in-white with products like MagiZinc® and HyperForm® and in seating with dual-phase steels ranging up to 1000MPa, Tata Steel has the expertise to offer the lowest Total Cost of Ownership5 in the chassis area.”

 

-ends-

Notes to Editors

1 XPF steels are novel because of their microstructure (a single-phase ferrite microstructure with a nano-precipitate-reinforced matrix).

2 For example, a chassis lower control arm whereby two “clam shell” welded stampings can be replaced with one single deep-section component, resulting in the potential to reduce processing costs by up to 50 per cent.

3 Formability: the ability of metal to undergo plastic deformation without being damaged.

4 A key measure of the formability of steel is hole expansion capacity (HEC) – how far the material around a hole will stretch before fracturing. XPF steels combine the hole-expansion performance associated with martensitic and bainitic steels with the elongation characteristics of DP and HSLA steels. The novel nature of XPF steels’ microstructure yields several benefits over other steel grades typically found in chassis applications: they are at least as strong as equivalent HSLA grades and advanced multi-phase Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS), but improve on both in terms of HEC; they are at least as easy to weld as HSLA steels and easier to weld than AHSS; and they provide increased product homogeneity compared to multi-phase AHSS. XPF steels’ microstructure also makes them ductile, so they have excellent fatigue characteristics. The new XPF650 and XPF800 products have been demonstrated to have superior fatigue characteristics to multi-phase AHSS; XPF800 is even suggested to have benefits over conventional HR-HSLA with regards to endurance limit.

5 In the automotive industry the challenge is to balance weight, performance and cost. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) includes all costs over the value chain. Understanding the true costs, direct and indirect, their relative importance and how they can be contained, is critically important.

For further information, contact Bob Jones on +44 (0)207 717 4532 or bob.jones@tatasteel.com

About Tata Steel’s European operations

Tata Steel is Europe's second largest steel producer, with steelmaking in the UK and Netherlands, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies products and services to the most demanding markets, including construction, automotive, packaging, rail, lifting & excavating, energy & power and aerospace. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with a steel capacity of 29 million tonnes and 80,000 employees across four continents.

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