AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING EXPO Newsroom
The Japanese mechanical engineering company Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. has developed "STAF (Steel Tube Air Forming)", a manufacturing system that can significantly reduce the weight of body and frame components and thus save material and energy. In the process, a steel tube is inserted into the metal mold of a pressing machine and then the electrical heating, high-pressure air injection, molding and cooling processes are performed individually. In this way, according to the manufacturer, serially modified closed sections can be produced with high precision, similar to hydroforming.
The system can heat and quickly cool a steel plate and die to achieve a tensile strength of approximately 1,500 MPa as in conventional press hardening. As a result, it forms parts that have a closed section and are lightweight and high-strength.
In the same step, the system can also produce structures with a closed cross-section with flanges. As a result, it eliminates the need to weld on flanges separately, which is necessary for joining with other parts. This makes it possible to develop structures that can be used very easily for components.
For the future, Sumitomo Heavy Industries plans to advance the development of the "local cooling technology" that allows the tensile strength of each part to be locally adjusted within a range of 980 to 1,500 MPa. Tailored Rolled Tubes will also be used to make the technology applicable to a wider range of automotive parts
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