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Products and solutions, 2003-09-09, 02:00 AM

Further growth at ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks

Demand for tailored blanks is rising all the time and ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH, market and technology leader in these customized products for the auto industry, is expanding its capacities: on September 1 the company began installing manufacturing equipment in a recently completed production shop at Duisburg-Hüttenheim. The first item was a press which will be capable of handling two meter wide strip and will begin operation in mid-December. Two new laser welding units will also be operational at the beginning of 2004. Together with the equipment in the existing shop in Hüttenheim, the company will then have a total of two presses and seven welding lines for tailored blank production in the south of Duisburg.

With 16,000 square meters of floor space the new shop also offers room for further growth. Overall, ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH is investing around 55 million euros in Hüttenheim. The company`s second plant in Duisburg is also being expanded. In April 2003 an additional laser welding unit was added to the facilities in Duisburg-Bruckhausen.

In 2002, ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH delivered 37 million tailored blanks. Current forecasts show that the market needs additional capacities: the volume of tailored blanks used in cars in 2002 was 780,000 tons, but the forecast for 2007 is 1.2 million tons. ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH plans to produce 64 million blanks in 2007. This year the focus of production expansion is in Germany, but in previous years ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH has made moves to ensure it is well placed on the international markets as well.

In China for example, ThyssenKrupp Zhong-Ren Tailored Blanks Ltd. has been producing tailored blanks for the flourishing Chinese market in the city of Wuhan since October 2002. The company is a joint venture with Wuhan Zhong-Ren Rui Zong Auto Component Ltd. and has a capacity of 1.8 million blanks. Further measures are planned to expand activities on the Chinese market, such as a steel service center with tailored blank production facilities in the northern Chinese city of Changchun and similar production sites at Shanghai and Guangdong in the south.

In Mexico, ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks S.A. de C.V. has been supplying blanks for various car models directly to Volkswagen Mexico since late 2001. In Italy, Thyssen Tailored Blanks S.r.l. was founded in Turin in 2001 to supply Fiat and other car makers in southern Europe. In 2002 a further plant was set up in southern Italy to serve Fiat`s Melfi plant. There are also tailored blank joint ventures in the USA, Brazil and Spain.

Tailored blanks are made of sheets of different thicknesses, grades and coatings joined together by laser welding. In car plants they are formed into components such as doors, tailgates, floor panels and side rails. Tailored blanks as weight- and function-optimized components for car bodies not only display high weight saving potential, they also increase safety in the car, reduce the number of parts and help optimize component tolerances and reduce costs. Weight savings of 20 to 40 percent are possible using these innovative steel products.

ThyssenKrupp Stahl AG pioneered the development of tailored blanks: in 1983 the then Thyssen AG developed the first tailored blank exclusively for AUDI by laser welding two smaller fully galvanized sheet blanks into a large floor panel. Commercial production began in the 90s. Today, up to 25 percent of the body-in-white of a modern car is made of tailored blanks. The development of tailored blanks is far from over: Thyssen Engineered Blanks, i.e. blanks with non-linear welds, and Tailored Tubes, from which car components can be made by hydroforming, continue the process begun by ThyssenKrupp Stahl.

ThyssenKrupp Steel AG
Dietmar Stamm
Tel.: +49 203 / 52 - 2 62 67
Fax: +49 203 / 52 - 2 57 07

Bernd Overmaat
Tel.: +49 203 / 52 - 4 51 85
Fax: +49 203 / 52 - 2 57 07

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