The hot-forming line – fully integrated within the company’s Saarlouis Vehicle Assembly Plant in Germany – was built as part of a recent €600 million investment at the facility.
Hot-formed boron steel is employed in cars to deliver driver and passenger protection. Used within the car’s safety cell, Boron steel is the strongest steel used in the auto industry. It helps to create a survival space in the event of an accident and helps the new model to achieve a 40% cent improvement in the car’s capability to withstand head‑on crashes - the all-new Ford Focus has won a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Parts are subjected to temperatures of up to 930° C; unloaded by robots into a hydraulic press that has a closing force up to 1,150 tonnes; and then shaped and cooled in just three seconds. Subsequently, a laser beam is used to precision-cut each piece into its final shape.
Alluding to ancient blacksmithying techniques that helped protect knights in armour from the crashing blows of their rivals, Dale Wishnousky, vice president, manufacturing, Ford of Europe, said: “We are building on techniques used to strengthen steel for thousands of years, incorporating modern materials and automation to speed and refine the hot-forming process. The resulting boron steel safety cell helps to make the all-new Focus one of our safest vehicles ever.”