ArcelorMittal opens new facility for laser welding high-strength-steel blanks

The facility uses laser welding to produce steel blanks that are stamped and assembled into various parts for the automotive market.

ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks (Detroit, MI), a subsidiary of steel and mining company ArcelorMittal (headquartered in Luxembourg), selected the city of Detroit as the company's first wholly owned manufacturing operation in the state because of its proximity to leading automakers, access to talent, and support from local and state governments. The $83 million operation is located at 8650 Mount Elliot St. in Detroit's I-94 Industrial Park.

Related: Lasers make advances in auto-body door rings

ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit uses laser welding to produce steel blanks that are stamped and assembled into a variety of parts and solutions for the automotive market, including structural rails, door rings, door pillars, door inners, and cowl sides. The creation of the manufacturing facility in Detroit was a strategic business decision for ArcelorMittal and integral to its growth.

The city of Detroit approved a tax incentive package to support the operation. The state of Michigan also approved a $2 million performance-based grant, which is based on achieving milestones related to job creation.

The new operation speaks to the level of demand for steel laser-welded products from automakers. The ultimate result of a hot-stamped laser-welded blank is a lighter, stronger solution that improves vehicle crash performance while reducing weight, fuel consumption, and emissions.

During its first year of operation, ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit will have substantial open floor space, providing a sustainable location that can accommodate the anticipated market growth expected over the next five years. The facility employs more than 80 currently and will expand to approximately 120 by 2023.

A transformational moment for ArcelorMittal and the growth of its laser-welded blank offerings took place in 2014, through a partnership with Honda R&D Americas. The two companies co-engineered the hot-stamped, laser-welded door ring found in the 2014 Acura MDX. The door ring—a key part of the body structure that gives the vehicle its strength and stiffness—replaced conventional multi-piece, spot-weld designs.

The technology is being implemented in additional Honda and Acura vehicles. Honda and ArcelorMittal will co-engineer the inner and outer door ring system found on the 2019 Acura RDX, made with ArcelorMittal steel using ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks' laser-welding technology.

The process begins with the company's Usibor and Ductibor press hardenable steels, which are aluminum-coated high-strength steels used in hot stamping. Combining Usibor and Ductibor into laser-welded blanks offers several significant advantages to automakers, including weight savings, improved crash behavior, and cost savings through material and manufacturing optimization.

The Usibor and Ductibor steel is blanked at one of several local blanking companies, then shipped to ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit where the enabling technology, called laser ablation, takes place. Once ablated, the steels are welded together, with multiple quality control processes being to ensure precision. The blanks are then sent to a hot-stamper to be stamped into the final part required by the automaker.

For more information, please visit automotive.arcelormittal.com/tailoredblanks.

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