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Trade press, 2014-10-20, 05:00 PM

Weight reduction with steel: LITECOR from ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe joins the race

LITECORE ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe
InCar plus demonstrator: Innovative hood design using the composite LITECOR.

The race is on to build the lightest car, and ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe can now offer a new option. LITECOR is an innovative steel hybrid material, the result of early and intensive advance development work with Volkswagen. VW is using the new material in the production hood for the Polo R WRC – the road version of Sébastien Ogier’s World Rally Championship-winning car. The modern sandwich material is ideal for reducing weight in the car body. It can be seen at EuroBLECH from October 21 to 25 in Hanover on the ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe booth, hall 17, booth E33. The hood of the demonstrator vehicle on display, which highlights innovative solutions for automotive efficiency from the InCar plus development project, is made of LITECOR.

A good team: Steel and plastic

When it comes to making cars lighter, aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) were previously seen as the way forward. But steel has opened up another avenue. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe’s hybrid material LITECOR has now joined the race. LITECOR is a sandwich material with a polymer core (0.3 – 1.0 millimeter thick) between two steel face sheets (each 0.2 – 0.3 millimeters thick). As a result it is significantly lighter than a conventional solid steel sheet yet still combines resistance to bending and oil canning with very good processing properties.

Even in complex forming operations, there is no delamination of the sandwich layers. The material is suitable for hemming, flanging, and the creation of sharp design lines. LITECOR displays largely identical thermal expansion properties to conventional solid steel sheet and can therefore be readily integrated into steel bodies. With moderate adjustments, OEMs can process LITECOR on their existing equipment.

Successfully tested under racing conditions

ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe collaborated intensively with Volkswagen on the development and piloting of the high-tech LITECOR material. For the road version of the Polo R WRC – the car with which Volkswagen won the World Rally Championship last year at the first attempt – engineers from the two companies developed a hood made from the new hybrid material that is almost two kilograms lighter than the production hood. At the 2013 World Rally Championship ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe was able to test and validate the potential of its new product under real conditions. On its pilot line in Dortmund the company produced LITECOR for 2,500 hoods to be used in the special series.

It has already been shown that the modern sandwich material is ideal for reducing the weight of large body panels with high stiffness requirements such as roofs, doors, tailgates and hoods, and also for interior parts such as rear window shelves and floor panels. A potential analysis carried out under the “InCar plus” development project for automotive innovations shows that systematic use of LITECOR in the body can reduce the overall weight of a car by more than 19 kilograms at lower cost than using aluminum. The new material also has a lower environmental impact than many of the competing materials in the race to reduce weight.

Visit us at EuroBLECH 2014 in Hanover from October 21 to 25, hall 17, booth E 33.

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