Detroit, MI - The industry's first laser-welded, hot-stamped door ring in the 2014 Acura MDX has garnered steelmaker ArcelorMittal, automaker Honda, and automotive supplier Magnas Cosma International a joint award in the 2014 Automotive News PACE Awards, winning the Manufacturing Process and Capital Equipment category.
Related: Laser ablation for hardening laser welded steel blanks
Reportedly the world's first ultra-high-strength steel, one-piece front door stiffener ring, it enhances the safety performance of the MDX to meet today's stringent roof crush and side impact standards, as well as the rigorous new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap front crash test.
Working from Honda's design, the innovation encompassed three years of technology development and collaboration among the partners. The door ring—a key part of the body structure that gives cars their strength and shape—sets a new standard in comparison with conventional multipiece, spot-weld designs.
The door ring starts at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor (East Chicago, IN), with the production of patented Usibor 1500, an aluminum silicon-coated advanced high-strength steel. The Usibor 1500 steel is prepped at an ArcelorMittal joint venture in Dearborn, MI, then shipped to ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks in Pioneer, OH, where the enabling technology for the door ring, called laser ablation, takes place. After laser ablation, a quality control process is done via a high-tech process to ensure precision.
Once the finished laser-welded blanks pass inspection, they are shipped to Magnas Cosma International operating unit in Eagle Bend, TN, where they are hot-stamped into the finished door ring before heading to Honda's production facility in Lincoln, AL, to become part of the Acura MDX. The ultimate result after hot-stamping is a lighter, stronger body structure that translates to better fuel economy and safety ratings for consumers.
The combination of Honda's design, ArcelorMittal's steel and laser-welded blank technology, and Cosma's hot-stamping manufacturing process resulted in a weight reduction of 8.6 lbs on the Acura MDX. Overall, the door ring helps the 2014 Acura MDX (V6, AWD) achieve fuel economy of 18/27 MPG city/highway, an improvement of two MPG city and six MPG highway over the 2013 model.
Award winners were announced at the 20th annual Automotive News PACE Awards ceremony on April 7, 2014, at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.