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New developments will mean less steel

Flash Bainite pressing
Will we see an ever reducing return from steel scrap - even when the price recovers?
Steel from shells may not be the best income stream these days, and we are constantly aware of materials such as plastic, aluminium and more recently, carbon fibre reducing the steel content, but now, technological developments in the steel itself could bring weight reductions of between 30-50%.

This was highlighted recently in feature on Gizmag which looked at a new way to heat-treat conventional steel that makes it stronger than titanium by weight. Not only that, the process, known a Flash Bainite is a cheap and fast method, creating steels that are not only very strong, but still ductile enough for car pressings,

There is another article here that http://www.gizmag.com/stronger-steel-in-a-flash/18882/ explains the process but to put it in simple terms as described in the article, “you take regular, off-the-shelf AISI1020 carbon steel, and instead of heat treating it for 10 minutes like costly alloyed steel, you put it through a roller-driven system that induction-heats and liquid-cools the steel in a matter of 10 seconds or so”.

The article goes on to explain that in 2013, a few auto manufacturers began running a series of tests to see how Flash Bainite might perform in an automotive setting. Could it be cold pressed into the kinds of challenging shapes required by automakers? In short, yes. Flash 1600 (Flash-processed AISI1020) forms as well as the leading cold-stampable “advanced high strength steel” DP1180 that’s only 75 percent the strength.

As this data became available, other auto manufacturers have started dipping toes in the water as well. The Flash Project’s Gary Cola tells of another major manufacturer that used Flash processed tubing to create car door impact beams, roof rails and other parts that were built into full cars, then roof crush tested to high test results.

“This OEM found that Flash 1500 could offer a 1/3 mass reduction and cost savings over the ‘industry standard’ DP1000 known at the time to be the strongest hydroformable tube,” Cola says. “During this development, it was discovered that Flash 1500 (Flash-processed AISI1020) could be formed into very tight bends, almost as tight as simply folding a sheet of paper.”

Another manufacturer tested Flash-processed steel on a structural/safety component of a car that is normally 3 mm thick weighing 1.4 kg could be reduced in weight to 0.9 kg with a thickness of 2 mm thick, while at the same time matching all the requirements of the original part.

For the dismantler, this is another sign of the changing market where the future offers a reducing potential in metal returns. Much of the time, materials that reduce weight but increase strength tend to be more expensive and so offer a higher potential return. This Flash process appears to give all the pluses to car makers without any added costs. With weight savings of up to 50% it makes the use of aluminium, a material we can make a profit on, less attractive. It would appear that used parts sales will continue to be ever more important. Readers' views always welcome.

You can read the full article on Gizmag here.

March 2016

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