Lightweight materials new industry trend

NanoSteel, a US company specialised in the development of nano-structured steel, and German engineering powerhouse ZF recently unveiled new, lightweight materials that could be used in the production of next-generation commercial vehicles.

Independent research company EDAG said NanoSteel’s new Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) could deliver up to a 30 per cent reduction in the weight of a vehicle body.

“The findings demonstrate that our alloys will address customer requirements across a significant proportion of structural parts. As we work to conclude our production trials, this assessment provides a blueprint for identifying specific opportunities for parts conversion,” said David Paratore, President and CEO of NanoSteel.

Meanwhile, ZF has opened a new ‘Composites Tech Centre’ in Germany to study the potential of volume-produced fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) in modern manufacturing.

“In the past few years, we have established vast basic knowledge and gained experience in lightweight design and we have increasingly been using fibre-reinforced plastics for this purpose,” said Michael Hankel, ZF Board member responsible for Powertrain Technology and Chassis Technology. “With the ZF Composites Tech Centre, we are now focusing specifically on the process technologies for volume production using these materials, and we want to make this knowledge available throughout the Group.”

ZF has invested a total of $5.5 million in the infrastructure for the Centre, at the heart of which is a press that can be used to produce components from duroplastic materials through a Resin Transfer Moulding process.

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