How did the smartform® technology come about?
Automotive manufacturers these days are using ever-stronger materials. These materials present technical challenges during processing; one example of this is the so-called springback effect. Previously, there was no satisfactory solution for this, but thanks to smartform®, that has changed.
What are the benefits of using smartform®?
The sheet thickness of the component can be thinned out and the blank cutting process can be optimized, meaning less material needs to be used. You end up with an optimally-weighted component that is dimensionally stable – all at a lower cost. In other words, smartform® is the hottest thing that cold forming currently has to offer.
How important is it to work together with the customer?
The highly-complex materials we produce as a premier manufacturer make it extremely important for us to involve our customers in the development process. The earlier we do, the sooner we can understand one another, allowing us to advise them on which product is most suited for which component. Or it might be that we need to adjust something on our side, a grade or a process, for example. Both sides get something out of it – we learn from the customer and they get an optimized product.
Is this how smartform® was introduced at Volkswagen?
The cooperation was outstanding in this case once again. Volkswagen very quickly saw the potential in the process and worked with us to become the first customer to implement it. We still had a lot to learn as the technology is so new, but together we managed to get the process ready for mass production in just over two years.
How important are understanding and consultation for the cooperation?
Consultation is a tradition at thyssenkrupp Steel. It is incredibly important for a long and successful customer relationship. We have been working in partnership with Volkswagen for decades, and recommending the right high-tech materials or a production process in the pre-development phase for components is a part of our everyday work.