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TimkenSteel adds expertise to Lightweight Forging Initiative


TimkenSteel continues to lead the industry with our technology and our dedicated team of experts who drive it. Now, we’re taking our knowledge of clean, high-strength, high-toughness steels to an international consortium focused on reducing weight in the next generation of vehicles.

The Lightweight Forging Initiative is comprised of 40 companies from Western Europe, Japan and the United States, and aims to make inroads in the global automotive industry by studying the lightweight design potential of hybrid and heavy commercial vehicles in terms of powertrain, chassis and transmission. TimkenSteel joined in 2017, as the initiative entered its third phase - and its first to incorporate international input.

As part of this phase, members are looking at lightweighting opportunities in both a deconstructed hybrid compact sport utility vehicle and a class-eight truck powertrain. Hybrid vehicles will become increasingly important over the next few years as passenger cars move toward higher levels of electrification. While the class-eight truck industry has been less involved with lightweighting so far, this need will grow as demands for improved fuel efficiency and emissions requirements are implemented throughout the market segment.

Reducing vehicle weight is critical for fewer carbon dioxide emissions and better efficiency in use of materials and resources. Clean, high-strength, high-toughness steels play a part, as they can allow for lighter weight component designs that can withstand higher levels of loading. 

During the previous phases of the initiative, European forging companies and steel manufacturers joined forces to show how forging and high-strength steel technologies contribute to lightweight automotive design. They studied how individual parts, from the crankshaft and transmission shafts to the gears and fasteners, can be made lighter through material, production engineering and design measures. Much of their input centered on reducing the physical area of different components to reduce weight, and their ideas led to an average weight reduction of 10 percent in a traditional passenger vehicle.

For Phase 3, TimkenSteel experts are charged with a similar task in looking at the hybrid vehicle and truck powertrain to generate ideas for lightweighting on a part-by-part basis. However, we’re doing it from a materials viewpoint, considering how special processing like our Ultrapremium™ certified air-melt technology could be used, or how we may incorporate our new ultra-high-strength, high-toughness Endurance family of steels. Both are ideally suited for the toughest applications, and both can provide customers with optimum performance, longer life and lighter weight.

We have just returned from the teardown workshop for the vehicles, and are now considering ways that implementing our steel technologies may help to reduce the weight of key components. The results of the Phase 3 effort should be available in Summer 2018.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide strong input for the initiative, and to help customers and potential customers realize the benefits of using cleaner, higher-strength, higher-toughness steels in their applications. 

For more information on how we’re already achieving real-world results with our Ultrapremium technology, visit http://timkensteel.com/who-we-are/blog/2017/02/22/ultrapremium-technology-delivers-real-world-improvements

To learn about our Endurance family of steel grades, visit http://timkensteel.com/who-we-are/blog/2017/12/08/new-endurance-grades-begin-production

To see how we’re encouraging new industry benchmarks with new reduction ratio standards, visit http://timkensteel.com/who-we-are/blog/2017/04/11/encouraging-a-new-industry-standard.