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Shiloh Industries laser welds on a curve to make tailored steel liftgate blanks, thereby reducing material waste and saving weight.

Shaving Pounds on a Curve

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Shiloh Industries (shiloh.com) isn’t playing it straight when it comes to fabricating laser tailored blanks for bodies-in-white.

That is, while typical tailored blanks are made from different grade steels with seams that are straight, Shiloh is using a “curvilinear” laser welding process. Bernhard Hoffmann, vice president of engineering and technology at Shiloh, explains how it works: “By using a sophisticated multi-axis weld head with seam-tracking software, we can maintain a constant angle and speed of the laser beam around curves.” This way, the weld line is kept out of critical forming areas, providing material and cost optimization, Hoffmann says. The benefits include reductions in vehicle mass, number of parts, tool and process costs, as well as improving body strength and safety, he adds. 

Hoffman cites a liftgate that it is producing for an OEM as an example. Through the use of curvilinear welding for the blanks, they’ve eliminated four separate parts, two stamping dies, and one blanking die. What’s more, the liftgate is 12.02 lb. lighter than a conventionally produced component with no sacrifice in strength.

Hoffmann says that by using this technology, they are helping OEMs find ways to produce lighter, more efficient vehicles without compromising safety and performance, or increasing costs.—ZP