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Kobe Steel, voestalpine Krems form alliance for automotive steel

Cooperation covers ultra high strength steel and roll-forming technology

September 11, 2008

TOKYO, September 11, 2008 - Kobe Steel, Ltd. and Austria's voestalpine Krems, a company of Austria's voestalpine AG, announce that they signed today a cooperation agreement covering the application of ultra high strength steel and roll-forming technology in auto parts. Kobe Steel and voestalpine Krems anticipate that the agreement will enable them to jointly contribute to automotive lightweighting in 2011 car models and beyond.

Kobe Steel and voestalpine Krems plan to make proposals to Japanese automakers on the advantages of using ultra high strength steel (UHSS) and roll forming in auto parts. To further promote lighter cars, they intend to encourage automakers in the application of UHSS and roll-forming technology. The arrangement calls for Kobe Steel to supply the steel sheet and voestalpine Krems to provide the processing know-how.

In this way, Kobe Steel, as a materials producer, will benefit from the increased supply of UHSS to carmakers in Japan and Asia. voestalpine Krems will gain from the growing need for roll-formed parts made of UHSS to Japanese automakers in Europe, North America and South America.

The need for lighter car bodies has grown rapidly in recent years, as automakers strive to meet stricter CO2 emission regulations. As a result, the need for parts made of UHSS has increased sharply. The strongest steel used nowadays to make car body structural parts has a tensile strength of 980 MPa. However, carmakers want to use structural parts of higher tensile strengths. As the leading company for automotive UHSS, Kobe Steel is completing the development of UHSS with a tensile strength of 1,470 MPa and with high formability.

Automotive lightweighting is most effective when steel with outstanding qualities is combined with parts of optimum shape and structure, as well as applying processing methods and manufacturing technology that can achieve those shapes and structures. However, in press forming, a widely used method, conventional presses do not have sufficient capacity to press-form UHSS. As a result, the processing of large parts has been problematic, and manufacturers have been seeking new methods to form UHSS.

For UHSS parts, roll forming is highly advantageous for the following reasons:
1. Roll forming can be used to manufacture complex-shaped parts and structures that other methods cannot.
2. Roll forming can be carried out on relatively simple equipment.
3. The outstanding properties of high strength steel remain after processing.

voestalpine Krems is a company in the voestalpine Group, and its roll-forming technology is outstanding. The company boasts the top share of the European roll-forming business. Kobe Steel also has a cooperation agreement with voestalpine Stahl GmbH.

Focusing on the combination of Kobe Steel's UHSS and voestalpine Krems' roll-forming technology, the two companies have jointly undertaken the development of roll-forming technology using UHSS of over 980 MPa. The cooperation agreement will make use of the UHSS technology, outstanding parts manufacturing know-how, and structural design expertise of the two companies.

Information on voestalpine AG is available at:

Information on Kobe Steel is available at: