Laser tailored blanks are produced by taking (usually) steel of different gauges, grades, and/or coatings and welding them (usually) with a laser to that the result is a blank that can be formed that will have the necessary characteristics in the right locations. So, for example, on a stamping for a door inner, the area where the hinge will be located will be stronger than other areas, where there are fewer physical demands. The bottom line on this is that tailored blanks, like a tailored suit, fit the application much better than something off-the-rack (i.e., where the material characteristics are simply sized for the most-demanding part of the application). It’s a good rule of thumb that a tailored blank can be 20 to 40% lighter than ordinary blanks.
While vehicle manufacturers have taken to tailored blanks with various levels of deployment, Volvo Cars is most enthusiastic. That is, Volvo and ThyssenKrupp Tailored Blanks GmbH (www.thyssenkrupp.com) have agreed that there will be a service center on the site of the Volvo Olofström, Sweden, assembly plant. The 21-million euro service center will include two fully automatic laser welding lines and an oscillating shear. It will supply both tailored blanks and cut-to-length sheet for Volvo—about 80,000 metric tons per year.