Lighter vehicles cut fuel consumption and associated emissions, and improve performance and handling. For example, it’s estimated that emissions decrease 6.9% for every 10% of weight removed. So, engineers are turning to aluminum, magnesium and titanium alloys, composites, and advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) including martensitic stainless steels (MS2).
“With sky-high fuel costs and the new administration fuel economy standards, the time has come to rethink the basics of vehicle design,” said Douglas Gore, vice president of sales and business development. “We believe that autos designed with Advanced High Strength Steel along with MS2 will allow automakers the ability to produce a stronger and safer car, while increasing gas mileage. The KVA process provides an alternative for the next generation of vehicles.”
KVA Stainless has spent over 5 years developing and validating their proprietary and patented processes for reducing weight while increasing the strength of automotive components and structures. Hardened KVA MS2 is 3-5X stronger than typical automotive steels, 4-8X stronger than aluminum alloys, and 8-10X stronger than magnesium alloys, resulting in more durable, lightweight components that satisfy stringent crash and safety requirements without adding weight.
Unlike alternative high performance materials, KVA technology can be readily implemented with conventional manufacturing equipment. KVA MS2 can be formed and trimmed using traditional stamping lines. In contrast, lightweighting materials like aluminum and magnesium alloys, boron-treated steels and carbon fiber require specialty handling and processing equipment – yet still exhibit poor forming and joining characteristics, limiting widespread application in vehicle structures.
Light truck frame cross member parts achieved a 50% weight savings and increased strength over current high strength low alloy (HSLA) steel designs. New front bumper beam prototypes for a crossover body-style vehicle, which were 20% stronger than the proposed high strength prehardened strip material; yet, KVA's material was easier and cheaper to form and successfully welded and thermally processed without distortion or loss of strength. The bumpers successfully underwent full scale crash testing.
KVA Stainless also designed an improved front tow hook loop for a high-volume pickup truck, taking advantage of the increased formability, weldability and integrated air-hardening heat treatment and brazing using MS2. The KVA design was 50% lighter, more than 15% stronger, and nearly the same cost.
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KVA STAINLESS and MS2 are trademarks of KVA Stainless Inc.
About KVA Stainless
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KVA Stainless is an engineering and research company that also manufactures seam welded tubing. KVA has spent years developing and patenting it’s technologies around air hardenable martensitic stainless steels and other hardenable ferrous alloys.