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Trade press, 2014-05-26, 12:10 PM

Lightweight hot-dip aluminized sheet: LightProtect fal

Hot-dip aluminized sheet is frequently used in exhaust systems. But for manufacturing reasons it has not been available in thicknesses lower than 0.4 millimeters in the past. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG is now able to produce hot-dip aluminized sheet in thicknesses down to 0.30 millimeters. In a typical application, customers using LightProtect fal can achieve savings of around 25 percent on weight and up to 15 percent on costs.

When it comes to building cars, every gram counts – the lighter a vehicle, the more economical it is to run. The same is true of exhaust systems. But the high temperatures involved call for materials that are not only light but also highly heat resistant. Three materials are commonly used: stainless steel, aluminum and hot-dip aluminized steel sheet. Stainless steel offers excellent temperature resistance but is also very expensive. The same goes for aluminum, which is however unable to withstand quite such high temperatures. Hot-dip aluminized steel sheet can handle temperatures up to 700 degrees Celsius and is therefore ideal for use in exhaust systems. But to date it has not been available in thicknesses below 0.4 millimeters.

ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG is now pushing back this limit: It can produce hot-dip aluminized sheet only 0.30 millimeters thick. Development work is currently focused on reducing sheet thicknesses even further. The advantage of this LightProtect fal sheet is that compared with previous hot-dip aluminized materials it allows carmakers and other customers to achieve savings of up to 25 percent on weight and up to 15 percent on costs. It also displays clear advantages over stainless steel and aluminum: LightProtect fal is significantly less expensive than stainless steel and offers much greater temperature resistance than aluminum.

25 percent lighter – with the same properties

LightProtect fal offers the same properties as standard hot-dip aluminized sheet: It is resistant to corrosion attack, especially in acidic media, reflects heat, and can sustainably withstand temperatures of up to 700 degrees Celsius. By comparison, hot-dip galvanized sheet can only survive temperatures up to 220 degrees Celsius unscathed. “LightProtect fal is ideal for all parts where requirements call for thin material with high temperature and corrosion resistance,” says Achim Peuster from ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG.

The production process for LightProtect fal is exactly the same as for conventional aluminized sheet: The strip is first cold rolled and the aluminum is then applied on a hot-dip coating line. “The ability to produce LightProtect fal in such light gauges and widths of up to 1,480 millimeters is down to our expertise and the high standard of our equipment,” says Peuster. “We are one of only two European suppliers capable of producing hot-dip aluminized sheet as thin as 0.30 millimeters,” adds Dr. Jens Horstmann. The importance of this development was also reflected in ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG’s “Steel Tomorrow 2013” innovation awards: LightProtect fal was honored as one of the ten best innovations.

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