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Products and solutions, 2006-09-19, 11:01 AM

Thyssen Engineered Blanks® for Fiat Ducato

The market leader for light commercial vehicles is putting its faith in products from ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks. The new Fiat Ducato, also marketed under the names Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Jumper, features inner panels made from Thyssen Engineered Blanks® on the driver and passenger doors. This is the first time Fiat has used tailored blanks in a commercial vehicle. The main advantage is lower cost, as the company has one part fewer to produce. ThyssenKrupp Steel will be showing the Ducato door in hall 17, booth B05.

The Fiat Ducato has been on the market for 25 years. The new model, unveiled in Milan in May 2006, is the third generation of this van and is intended to continue the great success of its predecessors. To produce the new model, Fiat expanded capacity at its Sevel plant near Pescara (Abruzzo region) by 30 percent to allow it to turn out 1,300 Ducatos per day. The prospects look good: in July 2006, the Ducato was named top imported vehicle in the German "CEP Van of the Year" competition staged by Stuttgart-based publishing company ETM. CEP stands for courier, express and parcel service.

The Engineered Blanks used for the door inner panels comprise two steel sheets - one 1.5 millimeters thick, the other 0.8 millimeters thick - joined by laser welding. In the finished component, the thicker part of the Engineered Blank is in the area of the door hinges, which is subjected to significantly higher loads than the other parts of the door. If the inner panel were made by conventional methods from a single steel sheet, additional reinforcements would be needed in the hinge area. Fiat has now eliminated this operation and the associated costs. A special feature of the blanks made for Fiat is that during cutting of the individual sheets prior to welding, the edges of the thicker sheet are flattened at three points to even out the difference in thickness in the welded tailored blank. Seals are fitted at these points on the finished door.

The Thyssen Engineered Blanks® are produced at the Tito Scalo plant of ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks S.r.l. near Naples. The company is a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH and operates a further Italian plant in San Gillio near Turin. Thyssen Engineered Blanks are a variant of Thyssen Tailored Blanks, which were developed by the former Thyssen Stahl AG in the early 1980s. These blanks comprise individual steel sheets of different thickness, strength and finish which are joined together by laser welding. They are subsequently formed into body or chassis parts in automotive stamping shops.

The advantage of tailored blanks is that they can be adapted from the outset to the actual stresses in the finished part. While Thyssen Tailored Blanks always feature straight welds, Thyssen Engineered Blanks® can also be made using non-linear welds, allowing them to be tailored with even great precision.

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