Tata Steel has started supplying UK car makers with a British-made dent-resistant steel that helps to further reduce vehicle weight.
The product (known as Bake Hardening 260 or ‘BH260’) helps car manufacturers make doors and bonnets that are 7 per cent lighter, which improves cars’ fuel efficiency. The steel, which is being supplied to the UK market from Tata Steel’s South Wales operations, is made using a special strengthening technique which enables vehicles to retain their ability to withstand everyday knocks in the car park.
The BH260 product is one of two automotive grades that Tata Steel has recently made available for the first time from its UK plants (both are already made at Tata Steel’s plants on mainland Europe). They will initially be made at the Port Talbot works before being finished at the Zodiac line at Llanwern, Newport, which adds an anti-corrosive zinc coating to the steel sheet and was upgraded earlier this year. They come in the form of coated strip (steel sheet) and offer car makers the benefits of car bodies that combine greater strength with lighter weight.
The other is a grade of safety-critical automotive sheet steel called ‘DP800GI’. This addition to the range of Advanced High-Strength Steels available from Tata Steel in the UK is ideal for forming the crash structure of vehicles. Its strength means that thinner, lighter components can be used, offering manufacturers greater opportunity to meet vehicle emission targets and improve fuel efficiency, while maintaining necessary safety levels.
Henrik Adam, Chief Commercial Officer of Tata Steel, said: “Both these new products help car manufacturers achieve their top priority – producing lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Drivers, meanwhile, can enjoy lower fuel costs, safe in the knowledge that their cars continue to meet stringent safety standards.”
The BH260 dent-resistant steel is used in the exposed areas of car bodies, where it is critically important to minimise surface imperfections. Using BH260 steel enables lighter exterior panels to be made for car bodies while retaining the dent-resistant properties of thicker steel.
The product’s high strength is due to the physical and chemical properties of the steel. When vehicle components made with BH260 are painted and baked at around 170 degrees centigrade, the result is increased yield strength and therefore improved dent resistance. Due to the grade’s low alloy content, it can be readily welded and maintains good formability.
Henrik Adam added: “Localising product supply is just one example of how we are supporting our automotive customers. These and other automotive product developments are evidence of how we are upgrading our supply capability company-wide. We are achieving greater flexibility of supply by increasing the number of locations from which new products are available and by bringing to market products with enhanced properties and for multiple applications.”
The two new launches add to the growing number of specialist automotive steels available from Tata Steel’s plants in the UK and on mainland Europe. In March Tata Steel started supplying another new automotive grade – ‘DP1000CR’ – from the Port Talbot Continuous Annealing & Processing Line, which enhances the properties of steels through heat treatment. This very high-strength, cold rolled product is also ideal for use in vehicle seat structures as well as within car bodies where strength is at a premium and corrosion resistance is less critical.
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