CP1400HD - pushing the limits!

Xpert interview on the making of steel innovation CP1400HD

The CP1400HD high-ductility complex-phase steel, specially developed for automotive lightweight design, is pushing the limits of what is possible in cold forming. Florian Winkelhofer, a researcher and developer at voestalpine, is one of the limit pushers. He provides insights into the making of this steel innovation.

Automotive Notes: What makes the new steel so special?
F. Winkelhofer: Highest strength, best bending properties, highest resistance to edge cracking and excellent crash performance. The combination of these properties, which is unique in the industry, makes it possible to manufacture high-strength complex components in an economical cold forming process. Simply put, you can decrease the sheet thickness of a component without diminishing its crash performance, or you can increase crash safety by maintaining the same material thickness of today’s components.

Born of demand in the automotive industry

Automotive Notes: Is this what the automotive industry needs?
F. Winkelhofer: Our research and development activities are not arbitrary. The simple and efficient production of high-strength complex parts is important to every manufacturer. We wanted to create just the right solution. Our experience is our advantage. voestalpine is a pioneer in the field of ahss steels and later in the field of ahss high-ductility steels. Development in this field at voestalpine has been continuing now for decades. This steel grade achieves the highest level of formability in the 1400 MPa strength class and is a high-end product for the cold forming process.

From concept to 170-ton reality check

Automotive Notes: How do you go about developing a steel innovation?
F. Winkelhofer: Alloy design is the very first step. In the laboratory, initial steps are carried out on a scale of 100 kg in a melting furnace. Additional simulation equipment includes a hot rolling simulator, cold rolling simulator and annealing simulator, where industrial production steps can be simulated. Several iteration loops and several hundred annealing tests are typically necessary to achieve the desired result. The big step does not come until the properties have been successfully achieved on a laboratory scale. During the reality check, the development is tested in a 170-ton heat in the industrial production facilities.

The advantage is obvious.

Automotive Notes: The span is quite short from R&D to production at voestalpine, is it not?
F. Winkelhofer: Research and development usually takes one to three years. And if you are talking about physical proximity, the distance is very short. Our R&D and processing centers are located right in the middle of our production facilities. Development, production and processing expertise are virtually under one roof, and continuous and direct exchange is one of the reasons that our solutions are so convincing with respect to quality, economy and processing technology.

Most certainly a mature product

Automotive Notes: What happens after the successful reality check?
F. Winkelhofer: The next step is to ensure process-stable production. Extensive investigations are being carried out with respect to weldability, joinability and forming behavior. The material cards for forming simulation are created before the materials are sent to be approved by the customer. The forming data for CP1400HD is already available and can be found in the libraries of the forming simulation programs. The crash data is currently being compiled and will be available upon request.

Great e-mobility potential

Automotive Notes:Where do you see the potential of CP14000HD?
F. Winkelhofer:As already mentioned, in high-strength complex components such as rocker panels, crossmembers and side members. There is also great future potential in the field of e-mobility, more precisely in the battery boxes of electric cars. Safe and lightweight solutions can be achieved with CP1400HD.