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voestalpine on the fast track with future oriented product

- By Charlotte Stubben

The success story continues for phs-ultraform, a hot dip galvanised high strength steel developed by voestalpine for lightweight construction of car body panels.

A revolutionary enhancement of this patented product innovation will be presented at the Geneva Motor Show.

The only manufacturer
voestalpine AG is the only manufacturer able to produce phs-ultraform components using both the indirect and direct process, a newly added capability. An entire industry is showing intense interest.

The phs-ultraform
The idea for phs-ultraform (press hardening steel) originated in 2002. In 2003, the research and development team at voestalpine began the first series of tests. Five years later came the breakthrough and in 2008, the first major orders from the automotive industry arrived. Now revolutionary progress has been made.

A big step ahead
Mr Peter Schwab R&D Director at voestalpine said that "For the first time, press hardened components made of phs-ultraform can be manufactured using either the direct or the indirect process. With this development, we are definitely once again a big step ahead. The advantage in terms of know-how is secured by 21 patent families."

This technical innovation from Austria will be presented to the experts for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. In conjunction with Swiss prototype manufacturer Rinspeed, led by Frank Rinderknecht, a laser welded door made of phs-ultraform will be on display.

New standards in automotive construction
With phs-ultraform components, voestalpine combines the advantages of high strength yet lightweight components with the proven corrosion protection of galvanized steel strip. The groundbreaking solution sets completely new standards in automotive construction for safety-relevant components subject to heavy corrosion.

Read more: voestalpine expands in China with a new plant in the special steel segment

Premium carmakers use phs-ultraform for longitudinal members, A and B pillars, side and front walls, sills, doors and hatches. The technology contributes greatly to reducing fuel consumption while significantly enhancing occupant safety. With phs-ultraform, steel is consolidating its position as a leading material in the field of mobility, particularly in the automotive industry, and is a very successful alternative to aluminum and carbon.

Expecting to double the turnover
Mr Wolfgang Eder, chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG, said that "Thanks to new materials such as phs-ultraform, we have managed to create car components with totally unique properties. And we have only just begun to develop this new product family. The highly demanding automotive components are produced and processed on four continents. I expect us to double the turnover of EUR 1.1 billion in the automotive sector over the next few years."

Read more: voestalpine focuses on the growing aerospace market

To develop the phs-ultraform components, EUR 30 million were invested up to 2008 alone and now a further EUR 100 million will be added to this figure. The research budget for the current fiscal year amounts to 121 million euros; a total of 670 researchers work for the voestalpine Group throughout the world.

Despite their lightweight construction, the corrosion resistant phs-ultraform components display a range of convincing advantages such as extreme strength (up to 1,800 mega pascals), cathodic corrosion protection and the possibility of processing blanks with various combinations of strength and thicknesses (tailored property parts).

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