ULTRAFORMING: new production methodology in UHSS steels with MCG know-how

THE CHALLENGE

 

To investigate and develop a new methodology to design tools capable of producing UHSS steel parts, as well as to acquire and structure technical-scientific know-how at the level of elastoplastic behavior.

 

PROJECT STRENGTHS

 

Technological knowledge

The ULTRAFORMING project has created tools and blocks of knowledge that will allow MCG mind for metal to respond more efficiently and comfortably to future projects involving and using this type of steel. The upgrade of the company’s processes for this technology is assured.

 

Systematic information

UHHS steels are relatively recent materials and their use is still partially restricted to some types of metal parts, which production and stamping still lack tools that were efficiently created. So, the ULTRAFORMING project contributes systematizing and optimizing information about these steels, procedures and data that are thus available for future development processes of tools for UHSS parts.

 

Active partnerships

With this project, MCG strengthens the capabilities of its R&D department, and in partnership with one of the most active national knowledge centers in the segment, UNIDEMI. These partnerships are essential for the development of skills at the national level and for the training of future project engineers in metal stamping tools.

 

Cost reductions

The current automotive market seeks to reduce weight in vehicles as a way to minimize energy consumption, without loosing structural and functional performance. And the use of stronger steels – the Ultra High Strength Steel (UHSS), with a very high elastic limit – considerably reduces the thicknesses of the components.

 

Optimized workflow

With this set of good practices for the development process, it becomes possible to consolidate an optimized workflow of designing the tools, in a general way.

 

OTHER INFORMATION

 

The ULTRAFORMING project was selected based on the observation of technological trends in the automotive sector, in this case, the need to reduce weight in vehicles to reduce energy consumption, naturally without losing the usual structural and functional performance. One of the strategies for obtaining lightweight structural solutions is the use of sturdier steels – Ultra High Strength Steel (UHSS) –, which allow the reduction of the thicknesses of metallic components and, consequently, weight reduction.

 

“UHSS steels are still relatively recent and their use is still partially restricted to some types of metal parts, so the supplier channel is not yet fully prepared to respond in a comfortable and efficient way from the point of view of the design of the tools to the production of these parts, their respective manufacture and subsequent stamping of the part, “says António Coelho, R&D Director of MCG mind for metal.

 

At the tool design level – the central theme of the ULTRAFORMING project – there is little information on UHSS steels, “which leads to inefficient approaches with high costs and long processes with a lot of trial and error.” “The project has therefore aimed to generate, systematize and optimize information on these steels, information that is now available for the future development processes of tools for parts in UHSS,” explains the Engineer responsible for the project at MCG.

 

It should be noted that the conversion of conventional steel metal parts to UHSS steels is not the only technical solution that the automotive market is exploring, but this is an ongoing trend.

 

The final results of ULTRAFORMING – Ultra High Strength Steel were recently presented at the UNIDEMI facilities, at the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, the other partner involved in the project, whose main objectives of the initiative were already achieved.

 

With the support of the Research and Development Unit in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (UNIDEMI) of that university, MCG’s R&D unit created a Handbook of Best Practices for UHSS (Ultra High Strength Steel) that gathers the new constitutive models of the elastoplastic behavior of these materials and many simulations related to the design of UHSS tools.

 

The ULTRAFORMING project activity plan incorporated eight activities over 24 months, demonstrating the company’s new skills in the production of tools and parts in the new generation of UHSS steels, and especially in the context of the activity with its clients. This way, MCG strengthens itself as a company capable of ensuring the integral development of parts and components in UHSS steel or of proactively intervening in its design.