The metal former 3 minutes spent reading
Working environments

The metal former

Christopher Eberl
Holds editorial responsibility for career topics and for the apprentice website. His stories offer insights into the world of work at voestalpine.

With our focus on the topic of specialists, we present those employees who have acquired special skills and unparalleled know-how after years of working in their particular field. One such employee is Oliver Hecht, head of the laboratory at voestalpine Automotive Components in Schmölln.

Oliver Hecht is 34 and lives in Zwickau. He has been head of the laboratory at voestalpine Automotive Components Schmölln GmbH since 2013 where he is in charge of the phs and shell construction processes. His work involves using destructive material testing methods, including tensile and bending tests, hardness tests, grinding for coating and microstructure assessments, and non-destructive material testing methods, such as ultrasound examinations of spot-welded joints for steel and aluminium joints, as well as the non-destructive characterization of material properties including surface hardness, core hardness, yield strengths and tensile strength.

The metal former - voestalpine

Oliver Hecht, Head of the laboratory, voestalpine Automotive Components Schmölln GmbH

What products are manufactured here at your company?

voestalpine Automotive Components Schmölln GmbH has extensive production experience using hot forming and press-hardening. We use fully galvanized steels, sourced from within the voestalpine Group and offering total cathodic corrosion protection, for the production of phs-ultraform®. This protection is a huge advantage, allowing hot-formed parts to be used in vehicles where they are exposed to wet conditions which encourage corrosion. phs-ultraform® gives us the option of lightweight construction with entirely new dimensions of design freedom, dimensional accuracy, process security and corrosion resistance. Additionally, as drivers of innovation we are also able to produce components with “tailor-made” properties without disrupting the production process on the hot forming lines.

"Hot forming is used to manufacture numerous crash-relevant automotive body parts, such as A and B pillars and sills."
Oliver Hecht, Head of the laboratory, voestalpine Automotive Components Schmölln GmbH

Could you tell us something about your area of activity?

I’m in charge of the phs and shell construction processes, working with both destructive material testing methods–that means tensile and bending tests, hardness tests, grinding for coating and microstructure assessments–as well as non-destructive material testing methods, such as ultrasound examinations of spot-welded joints for steel and aluminium connections.

What makes you a specialist? What are your particular skills and how do you overcome challenges?

I use the available laboratory equipment to analyze existing component properties and investigate the cause of any occurring errors. The focus also lies on comprehensive evaluations of component quality using destructive material testing methods. Together with my team, I then use the results to develop recommendations for further process optimization measures in order to get the maximum performance from the material–without sacrificing quality. As well as these activities which support production, we work on developing and implementing non-destructive material testing methods together with our partners.

The metal formerHow important are your skills for the company, and what is the most important aspect of your work?

What is key is materials expertise in the hot pressing and hot forming of hot pressed steels. This gives the company access to a broad spectrum of relevant know-how, for example as the result of analyzing microstructures.

"It is also particularly important to bring together the results of analysis to create a bigger picture, so that we can evaluate the entire production process right through to the finished phs component. In this way we can ensure that the material meets the stringent component requirements."
Oliver Hecht, Head of the laboratory, voestalpine Automotive Components Schmölln GmbH

It is possible to pass this know-how on to younger colleagues?

The know-how comes as the result of experience, but with sufficient time and patience it can certainly be passed on.

The metal former

With sufficient time and patience, the knowledge can certainly be passed on.

Christopher Eberl