The steel industry is revving up to meet the technological
challenges needed on the drive toward a leaner, meaner and
cleaner North American automotive industry, evidenced at an
industry event this spring.
The Automotive Applications Council of the Steel Market
Development Institute (SMDI) held its eighth annual Great
Designs in Steel (GDIS) seminar in Livonia, Mich., providing
the more than 1,000 attendees a dramatic demonstration of the
advances being made in steel vehicle applications.
GDIS offered first-hand demonstrations highlighting steel
solutions ranging from product research to major original
equipment manufacturer applications. High-quality discussions
addressing key issues included technical presentations on the
environment and energy challenges impacting vehicle design.
The purpose of GDIS is to demonstrate how new advanced
high-strength steel (AHSS) technologies provide cost-effective
solutions to help automakers increase fuel economy, curb
emissions and improve safety.
During the day-long event, more than 25 technical
presentations were given by North American automotive and steel
industry experts on such topics as applications of AHSS in the
2009 Acura TL and 2009 Honda Pilot; the future of steel in the
21st Century; optimized steel solutions for roof strength using
AHSS; automotive lightweighting; upcoming energy climate policy
opportunities; and future steel vehicles, advanced powertrains
and the influence of material selection.
One highlight of the seminar was a live extrication
demonstration of an imaginary passenger in a crashed car
manufactured with ultra-HSS product. Firefighters from
McKinney, Texas, and Livonia showed how new rescue equipment
has been developed to help first responders free trapped
passengers from new HSS vehicles.
Among the vehicles displayed was a 2009 Ford F-150 Super Cab
cut-away exhibit that showed off the innovative use of new
steel, materials and processes. The F-150 Super Cab uses a
combination of AHSS and tube hydroforming to achieve the new
roof-strength standards recently implemented by the National
Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. According to Ford
Motor Co., the roof strength of the F-150 has increased by
nearly 75 percent compared with the 2008 model.
SMDI, part of the American Iron and Steel Institute, also
presented the GDIS Automotive Excellence Award to the BMW X6
Research and Development team, selected for its cost-effective
use of ultra-HSS products that meet new market demands for
safety, fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The award
recognizes individuals or teams from automakers, suppliers or
the academic community who embrace innovation and make
significant contributions to the advancement of steel in the
BMW used unique processing technologies and several complex,
ultra-HSS grades in its X6 design. The vehicle features a steel
structure and steel side frames, panels, rear and B-pillar
reinforcements and a longitudinal rear member. These parts
improve performance, reduce costs and weight and meet Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety side-impact crash test
GDIS provided a dramatic snapshot for seminar participants
this year of how the steel industry is positioning itself
through advanced technologies for the evolving North American
Ronald P. Krupitzer is vice president of automotive
applications at the Steel Market Development Institute, a
business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.