The idea for phs-ultraform (press hardening steel) was born in 2002. In 2003, the voestalpine research and development team started the first series of tests. The breakthrough came five years later, and the first major orders from the automotive industry were received in 2008. In 2016, voestalpine became the first manufacturer in the world to set up a plant for a “direct” production process to supplement the previous “indirect” process. This made it possible to manufacture in just one process step, which is ideal for simpler components in smaller quantities.
20 years ago, the customer requirement was to develop a high-strength, lightweight steel with zinc coating for corrosion protection. The process requires a temperature of 900°C, but since zinc evaporates at that temperature the company faced a seemingly insolvable problem. voestalpine ultimately achieved a major innovative breakthrough with phs-ultraform—a world first. phs-ultraform has since developed into a diverse product range for the lightweight construction sector. Premium manufacturers use phs-ultraform for side and cross members, A and B pillars, sills, and bulkheads. The technology also helps reduce fuel consumption while significantly improving occupant safety. As absolute lightweights, phs-ultraform components naturally also play an essential role in electromobility—not only in the body, but also for battery protection. Innovations such as the development of an ultra-light, corrosion-resistant, yet high-strength “super steel” almost 20 years ago provide the foundation for continuing to assure steel’s position as one of the leading materials in the mobility sector in the future.
Source and Photo: Voestalpine