Although the changes made to the steel are said to be small, the benefits of “Advanced Final Cooling” steel, developed by The Timken Co. (www.timken.com) are rather significant. “We have made subtle changes to the steel manufacturing process to enhance the broachability of the steel,” according to Shawn Seanor, director of marketing and business development for Timken’s steel division. Starting with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Timken was able to develop the tools to evaluate new steel manufacturing processes and their impact on performance attributes important to steel consumers. With broaching being a high cost operation for certain transmission gear applications, Timken was able to optimize the steel manufacturing process to obtain significant improvements. Benefits for the customer include longer tool life and fewer scrapped parts. “We have seen on our test stand up to a three-fold increase in broach stick life, which results in substantial overall savings for the OEM customer,” Seanor says.
One U.S. domestic automaker is scheduled to use the Advanced Final Cooling steel in a transmission application this year. Timken expects the steel to be adopted by other OEMs in the future, depending on their flexibility when it comes to adopting new materials and/or processes. “Design engineers routinely come up with the material specifications beforehand which locks us into a tight range when it comes to chemistry, alloy, carbon content and the like. Our objective now is to show them how we can optimize the entire production process,” says Seanor.—KMK