Kobe Steel to make capital investments for automotive high strength steel at Kakogawa Works

April 4, 2018

Kobe Steel, Ltd.

TOKYO, April 4, 2018 — Kobe Steel, Ltd. plans to make capital investments of approximately 50 billion yen at Kakogawa Works centered on a new continuous annealing line for steel sheet in response to the growing demand for automotive ultra high-strength steel (UHSS). Kobe Steel will go forward with construction and plans to start up the new facility in February 2021.

To meet stricter regulations for fuel efficiency and collision safety, automakers have been promoting lighter car bodies with higher strength in recent years. Rising demand for automotive high-strength steel and the need for functional improvements are anticipated to further increase in the future.

Kobe Steel decided to make the new capital investments in response to the need for higher production capacity and productivity, looking ahead to rising demand for automotive high strength steel, and also in response to the need for steel with higher strength and higher formability in the future.

A new facility will combine a continuous annealing line with hot-dipped galvanizing and galvanealing equipment. The new production line and associated equipment will produce both cold rolled steel and hot-dipped galvanized/galvannealed steel1.

The continuous annealing line to be newly constructed will be equipped with cutting-edge heat treatment functions. With regard to cold rolled steel and hot-dipped galvanized/galvannealed steel, the new annealing line will enable the production of UHSS2 with high formability to meet customer needs.

Together with the construction of the new line, Kobe Steel will also increase the production capacity of its existing pickling and tandem cold mill3 and material handling equipment.

Kobe Steel has established a global production network for automotive high-strength steel in three locations: Kakogawa Works in Japan, PRO-TEC Coating Company4 in the United States, and Kobelco Angang Auto Steel Co., Ltd.5 in China.

The capital investments at Kakogawa Works will enable Kobe Steel to expand its production of UHSS with high formability and to realize the simultaneous production of this steel in Japan and the United States together with PRO-TEC, which is currently constructing an additional hot-dipped galvanizing line.

By producing and supplying high-strength steel products of outstanding quality, Kobe Steel contributes to weight savings leading to higher fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, as well as high strengthening leading to the higher safety of automobiles.

Outline of the new equipment

Investment cost:
Approximately 50 billion yen
Capital investment:
Continuous annealing line, recoiler and other associated equipment (to be newly constructed)
Pickling and tandem cold mill (PTCM)1 and material handling equipment (to be expanded)
Production capacity:
240,000 metric tons per year
Start-up:
February 2021
Main products:
Automotive ultra high-strength steel (cold-rolled and hot-dipped galvanized/galvannealed)

Background Notes

  • 1. The passing process changes depending on the type of product being produced, either cold rolled steel or hot-dipped galvanized/galvannealed steel. When cold rolled steel is made, the steel undergoes heat treatment at the continuous annealing line. When hot-dipped galvanized/galvannealed steel is made, the steel first undergoes annealing and then galvanizing treatment by the galvanizing equipment.

  • 2. Ultra high-strength steel (UHSS) has a tensile strength of 780 MPa or higher.
    UHSS with high formability is a type of UHSS with outstanding formability qualities.

  • 3. Continuous line for pickling and cold rolling processes

  • 4. PRO-TEC Coating Company is a joint venture with United States Steel Corporation. Located in the United States, PRO-TEC produces high-strength steel.

  • 5. Kobelco Angang Auto Steel Co., Ltd. is a joint venture with Angang Steel Company Limited, a leading subsidiary of Anshan Iron & Steel Group Complex. It produces high-strength steel in China.

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