ArcelorMittal's Tailored Blanks Division has teamed up with welding systems manufacturer Andritz Soutec with a view to rolling out laser welding technology globally.

Usibor and Ductibor, both steels manufactured by ArcelorMittal, are claimed to be 'advanced hot stamping products'. They possess an aluminium-silicon coating designed to protect car parts during heat treatment and against corrosion.

The technology developed by ArcelorMittal is known as 'laser ablation' and it prevents welded steel from becoming fragile and corroding. "With laser ablation, the aluminium-silicon coating is removed from the surface near the weld by vaporisation, using the latest high-energy lasers, and then laser welded," explained ArcelorMittal. The company claims that 'the partial ablation process' it developed 'provides a superior weld and protection compared with other ablation technologies'.

Laser welded blanks (LWBs) are designed to enable carmakers to reduce the weight of a vehicle by matchng the right steel grade with the right thickness and putting it in the right place for each car part, claims ArcelorMittal, adding that laser ablation brings together hot stamping and LWBs, making lightweighting a possibility for the most challenging car parts.

The partnership between ArcelorMittal and Andritz means that the global automotive industry will be able to benefit from the technology. It is also possible for existing welding lines to be upgraded with ablation technology, licensed by ArcelorMittal.

In recent years the hot-stamped LWB market has grown significantly, prompting Philippe Baudon, CEO of ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks to claim that the company is 'reachng a new phase in developing cost efficient solutions'. He said that the company was supporting car manufacturers 'in reducing car weight and improving crash resistance'.

Andritz Soutec's CEO Domenico Lacovelli doffed his cap to ArcelorMittal's 'superior process', claiming that it guarantees quality and productivity where the welding process of steels for hot stamping is concerned. "We will offer the global automotive industry an efficient solution which will further support the growth of LWBs for hot stamping," he said.