Products and solutions, 2001-09-11, 02:00 AM
Tailored blanks with double-digit growth rates
Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG expands capacities
Tailored blanks, one of the most successful product developments to come out of the steel industry in the past 20 years, will once again be at the center of numerous presentations at this year`s IAA show - in their own right on the ThyssenKrupp Steel booth, and concealed as components in many of the cars on show. One example is the new BMW 7 series, which will be premiered at IAA: the front door inner panels of the German carmaker`s flagship are made of tailored blanks from Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG, while the rear door inner panels are made of Thyssen Engineered Blanks®, an advanced development based on the tailored blank.
First developed in 1983 by Thyssen Stahl AG, as the company was then known, tailored blanks are now used in virtually all automobile models. They are made by laser welding together sheet metal blanks of different grade, thickness and surface coating, allowing designs to be matched to the load conditions on the finished part. Tailored blanks can reduce the weight of an automobile by 20 to 40 percent when used, for example, as liftgates, doors or floor assemblies by providing maximum strength at the point of maximum load. The tailored blanks and Thyssen Engineered Blanks® used for the door inner panels of the new BMW 7 series each comprise a combination of two steel blanks, one 0.8 millimeters thick, the other 1.8 millimeters. Whereas standard tailored blanks are always joined with straight-line welds, Thyssen Engineered Blanks® can be welded with non-linear seams and thus matched even more precisely to the load conditions to which the finished part will be subjected. Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG subsidiary Thyssen Fügetechnik GmbH is the first manufacturer in the world with the facilities to offer volume production of these blanks.
The company is world market leader in tailored blanks, for which demand is growing in double figures. In Europe alone, current consumption of 600,000 metric tons is expected to rise to around 1.6 million tones by 2005. Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG is well prepared to meet this demand: it presently has four tailored blanks facilities in Germany with a combined annual capacity of around 241,000 tons. The most recent addition is Thyssen Fügetechnik Nord GmbH in Wolfsburg, which was inaugurated in September 2000 and will produce some 7.6 million tailored blanks in the current fiscal year. The plant will achieve its ultimate capacity of around eight million parts next year, when a new line will be installed for the production of both tailored blanks and Thyssen Engineered Blanks®.
In Italy, Thyssen Tailored Blanks S.r.I. was recently established in Turin to supply tailored blanks both to Fiat and to other southern European carmakers and automotive suppliers. There is a joint venture for tailored blanks in Spain. And Thyssen Krupp Stahl has also taken its tailored blank operations beyond Europe, with joint ventures in the USA and Brazil, and Thyssen Tailored Blanks S.A. de C.V. in Puebla, Mexico, which will start production in December. The new Mexican plant will supply tailored blanks to VW de México for the New Beetle and Bora models among others.
Thyssen Fügetechnik GmbH also occupies a leading position in terms of technology and quality, as evinced by the certification of all its German facilities both to the international ISO 9001/2000 quality standard and to the new ISO/TS 16949 standard introduced by the international automobile industry - proof positive that the company has an extremely efficient quality management system, for which certification to this level is not actually stipulated until 2004.
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