Flash Processed Steel for Automative Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

SFP Works
11825 29 Mile Road
Washington, MI 48095
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

In order to reduce Americans dependence on oil imports, the Department of Energy (DOE) has pursued multiple strategies for making vehicles more fuel efficient. Reducing vehicle weight is a promising approach and much effort has focused on developing technologies to replace steel. However, exotic materials are proving expensive and often require automotive manufacturers invest heavily in factory retooling. An alternative strategy is to fabricate components from high strength steels so less material is needed for the same loadbearing capacity. This strategy has the advantage of using low cost steel and does not require expensive retooling; however, the high strength steels currently available either required high levels of expensive alloying elements or tend to be brittle and thus unsuitable for automotive applications. Developing lowcost, highstrength, readilyweldable steels with suitable ductility for automotive applications has long been a goal of the steel and automotive industry. SFP Works has developed a novel heat treating process to create lowcost, very highstrength steel. Known as Flash Processing or Flash Bainite, this heat treatment uses a thermal cycle of less than 10 seconds to create a ductile and weldable steel well suited for the automotive industry. Further, Flash Processing requires only a modest investment in new equipment making it attractive for the smallto mid sized businesses that form the bulk of the automotive supplier base. In this proposed effort, SFP Works will collaborate with a major automobile manufacturer to redesign and lighten a trailer hitch receiver assembly, and then build and test it against production qualification standards. Success will validate the suitability and value of Flash Processed steel on this, and other, applications. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Flash Processed steel will provide Americans with lighter more fuel efficient vehicles that also perform as well, or better, in all passenger protection safety tests. Additionally, Flash Processed steels could allow for cranes with longer boom lengths and increased lifting capacity, and farm machinery, military equipment, line pipe and pressure vessels that are lighter and easier to transport yet just as durable.