A socially responsible car that is safe, light-weight and environmentally friendly is being made possible through the development of advanced, high-strength steels and world class design innovation, according to Frank Walker speaking at the British Association Festival of Science in Sheffield today (17.09.99). Thirty-five steel companies from all over the world are working together with Porsche to design and manufacture an ultra-light steel autobody (ULSAB) that could revolutionise the future of steel design and manufacturing.
Walker, of British Steel Strip Products in Swansea, one of the key players in the ULSAB project, says, "Steel exhibits an all-round versatility combining strength, formability, environmental-friendliness and cost effectiveness." Almost 800 million tonnes of steel is used worldwide each year, making it one of the world's most well known materials. Coupled with this, steel has been researched extensively and can be customised through careful selection and engineering, which means designers and fabricators are confident in its performance. Steel is heavily used by the car manufacturing industry where designers, engineers and technicians are familiar with using the material. The ultra-light steel autobody structure has already passed tests for torsion and bending and it satisfies mandated crash requirements. In addition, it costs no more to build than other typical body structures in its class but weighs on average 25% less. As 40% of each tonnes of steel presently used is recycled from old steel, ULSAB is socially responsible too. Similar projects using ultra-light steel have shown that the material is also suited to closures, such as doors, and to suspension systems, for which more than 55 designs have been generated.
According to Walker, work has commenced on the design of innovative steel
intensive vehicles that will meet the enhanced safety requirement of 2004.
Additionally, these vehicles will combine low structural weight to aid
Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
Institute of Materials