Tata Steel is developing a new grade of steel designed to improve the manufacture of tractor wheels and other large off-road vehicles.

The plan is to employ the same thinking behind the development of safety-critical steel for the rail and oil industries.

The new steel grade is called DD13WR and it is claimed to allow manufacturers to form, flash weld and cold roll the steel with less chance of splitting and rim failure.

The company claims it has worked closely with its customers with a view to establishing how it can improve its products and reduce manufacturing costs.

Phil Clements, the company’s sales director for the lifting and excavating sector, says that close collaboration with customers has enabled Tata Steel to develop the products its customers need.

Wheel rim manufacturing is a risky business as it includes a number of steps that put high stresses on the steel during the production process. Weld failure and splitting lead to an increased need for manual inspection followed by ‘significant reworking’ to remove the defect or scrapping the whole wheel.

Tata Steel’s research and development centre in the United Kingdom has played a pivotal role in the development of the new steel grade. Scientists at the centre received samples of weld failures from tractor wheel manufacturing sites across Europe and used them to develop the new product.

The new grade is characterised by ‘a cleaner, more tightly controlled chemistry’ claims Tata Steel.Sulphur levels were reduced to improve formability after welding and thereby reduce splitting failures and rejections.

DD13WR will be manufactured in Tata’s Port Talbot steelworks.