The automotive industry is continually evolving to meet changing social and environmental demands. There are increasing fuel system pressures to maximize performance in the fuel economy, while maintaining a higher level of social responsibility.
Our materials experts recently attended the SAE WCX Digital Summit to access the latest consumer metrics and regulatory standards in the automotive industry. Below, we take a look at five trends that we think will pave the road for the future of automotive.
1. Reduction of material weight
While a heavier weight has traditionally signified strength, modern materials technology has developed a lighter product that maintains the strength and performance of heavier materials.
Our range of Pressurfect® fuel system tubing offers strong, lightweight and corrosion-resistant stainless steel tubing options designed to meet the high demands of today’s fuel-efficient, eco-friendly engines. Its higher strength makes it possible to:
- Increase pressures to improve fuel economy, engine performance and safety
- Provide overall cost savings and a more efficient manufacturing process
- Deliver unmatched safety and reliability under the toughest condition
2. High precision
A demanding industry like automotive requires high precision, which in recent years has manifested itself in tight wall thickness and outer diameter (OD) tolerances. Tighter tolerances are key to ensuring a leak-proof joint between the connector and the tube.
Our tubing has up to twice as tight tolerances as the minimum accepted by the ASTM standard. We use a vertically integrated tube production to maintain our tubing quality from batch-to-batch, meter-after-meter, year-in and year-out. This also ensures full control and traceability throughout the entire manufacturing process–from melt to finished tube.
3. Local U.S. production
Due to tariffs, delivery precision and government policies, local production in the U.S. has become increasingly important. U.S. policy requiring specific minimum percentages of locally-produced components and materials in U.S. vehicles has led to an increase in domestic manufacturing options in that region.
Our Scranton, Pennsylvania campus and our new high precision tube facility in Western Pennsylvania provide our U.S. customers with domestic options for seamless stainless steel tubing, cold-forming and hot-forming.
4. Hot extruded hollow production
Another trend, particularly in the U.S., is hot extruded hollow production. The potential failure risks associated with hollows produced from other hot forming methods has caused some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to specify that tubes only be produced from hot extruded hollows. As a key first step, hot extrusion drills out impurities that inherently fall to the center of the bar that is used for hollow production. These impurities, if not removed, can increase the risk of corrosion, cracking and more. Other methods of hot forming do not always remove these impurities, but instead push them from the center of the bar to the hollow’s inner diameter (ID) surface when forming the ID. Over the life of the tube, this could lead to increases in failure and contamination risks.
At Sandvik, we’re playing a key role in the roll-out of hydrogen gas stations around the world. In addition to looking into material selection within hydrogen gas vehicles, we’re using micro-factories to allow manufacturers to straighten, cut and chamfer coiled tubing on-site at a customer’s location. These small production spaces help save energy, space, materials, time and costs, and they are ideal for the long tube lengths that are required for fueling station infrastructure development. Thanks to digitalization and automation, this on-site solution in a mobile container can be largely controlled remotely. A digitally connected system can straighten and cut tubing to match virtually any customer specification. In addition to reducing waste and costs, micro-factories also offer the highest possible level of safety by reducing the risk of accidents and eliminating connections.
At Sandvik, we have more than 70 years of expertise in automotive, innovating the systems and components that take the world forward. Our seamless stainless steel tubing is a key component in everything from gasoline direct injection to seatbelt fasteners, from spark plugs to windshield wiper arms.
Want to see how we can take you forward? Explore our automotive solutions here.
By Tim Kopp, Product Manager, Sandvik