DETROIT – Acura’s ’19 RDX CUV and FCA’s ’19 Ram pickup will be the first beneficiaries of high-strength steel blanks produced by a refurbished $83 million plant here in Detroit’s I-94 Industrial Park.
ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit, the global steel and mining corporation’s first Michigan facility, celebrated its grand opening this week. The 313,000-sq.-ft. (29,079-sq.-m) plant initially will punch out laser-welded blanks for RDX door rings and Ram door rings and A- and B-pillars, with additional work expected to fill open floor space in coming months.
The new facility will help meet demand for hot-stamped, laser-welded steel blanks automakers need as they look for lightweight materials designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, without sacrificing vehicle dynamic performance or crash protection.
“ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks serves as an important bridge between the advanced steels our parent company produces and the solutions our customers demand,” says Todd Baker, president-ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Americas. “Ten years ago, we had two tailored blank operations in the Americas; today we have nine facilities producing over 15 million welded blanks per year. Our growth confirms the value our technology brings to our customers, delivering the optimal balance of cost, weight and performance in structural car parts.”
The company’s trajectory in producing laser-welded blanks began in 2010 in partnership with Honda R&D Americas, engineering the industry’s first hot-stamped, laser-welded utility-vehicle-sized door ring for the ’14 Acura MDX midsize CUV. The door ring resulted in an 8.8-lbs. (4-kg) weight savings.
“The 15-year collaboration between Honda and ArcelorMittal is all about the companies’ commitment to safety and the advancement of technology across the industry,” says Shawn Tarr, principal engineer-Honda R&D Americas.
Subsequent collaborations included the ’15 Chevrolet Volt (B-pillar reinforcement), the ’16 Chrysler Pacifica (door ring and B-pillar outer panel) the ’17 Honda Pilot/Ridgeline (B-pillar outer), the ’17 Honda Odyssey (B-pillar outer) and the ’17 Volkswagen Tiguan (B-pillar).
Use of ArcelorMittal’s inner and outer door rings will save about 26 lbs. (12 kg) in the RDX, while use of the company’s blanks for the door rings and in the A- and B-pillars on the all-new Ram 1500 will save 22 lbs. (10 kg). The fifth-generation Ram goes on sale in the first quarter of this year; the third-gen RDX rolls into dealerships this summer.
ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit employs 80 but expects to expand that number to 120 workers by 2023 as anticipated demand for the company’s tailored blanks grows to fill available floor space. Baker says work from two more companies is expected soon.
ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks Detroit is housed in a factory that dates to 1926 when it was the home of steel supplier R.C. Mahon Co. ArcelorMittal began renovating the building in 2016, assisted by a $2 million economic development grant from the state of Michigan and tax incentives from the city of Detroit.
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