Ford is applying a cutting-edge version of a new technology to help make its cars safer than ever. This is the first fully automated hot-forming process that shapes and cuts parts of the car, using giant furnaces, robots and 3,000° C lasers, which are integral to protecting drivers and passengers.
The Vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe, Dale Wishnousky, 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.”
Fully integrated within the company’s Saarlouis Vehicle Assembly Plant in Germany, the hot-forming line was built as part of a recent €600 million investment. Hot forming is an integral part of the production of the all-new Ford Focus that was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
The all-new Ford Focus makes extensive use of boron steel within the car’s safety cell, this is the strongest steel used in the auto industry, which helps to create a survival space in the event of an accident. In addition, the use of boron helps the new model to achieve a 40 per cent improvement in the car’s capability to withstand head‑on crashes.
Hot-formed steel pieces 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. The boron steel is so strong by this point that a laser beam hotter than lava is used to precision-cut each piece into its final shape.