Kobe Steel Ltd and United States Steel Corporation (USS) started a new continuous annealing line (CAL) at their joint venture, Pro-Tec coating company to process high-strength steel sheet for automobiles.
Based in Leipsic, Ohio, USA, Pro-Tec commissioned the continuous annealing line on May 13.
Annual production capacity of the line is 500k short tons.
The average age of US automobiles is now 10 years and new car sales in the USA have made a strong recovery in recent years, reaching about 14.5 million units in 2012. Car sales are projected to continue rising to over 15M units in 2013. More stringent CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards are increasing the need for automakers to make lighter cars. Advanced high-strength steel reduces vehicle weight without sacrificing collision safety. These trends are accelerating demand for high-strength steel sheet for automobiles.
Kobe Steel and USS’s equal partnership joint venture has been supplying automakers in North America since 1993 with hot-dipped galvanized steel sheet, which contributes to reducing the weight of the car underbody or ‘platform.’ Pro-Tec’s two lines have an annual production capacity of 1Mston.
The new continuous annealing will add a further 500k stons capacity of advanced high-strength steel sheet. The combined capacity of 1.5M stons/y makes Pro-Tec one of the world’s largest facilities producing high-end steel sheet products for the automotive industry.
The continuous annealing line is equipped with both advanced water quench equipment and a rapid gas jet cooling system, which enables it to process the wide range of cold-rolled high-strength steel currently used in the automobile industry. The new line will be able to make next-generation high-strength steel products with outstanding formability. A major product is steel sheet with a tensile strength of 590MPa.
The line will be capable of producing ultra-high-strength steels of tensile strength 780Mpa, 980MPa and even higher. These steel products also help decrease fuel consumption by reducing the weight of cars and help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Approximately $400M has been invested in the CAL. Production capacity: About 500,000 short tons per year Product: Cold-rolled high strength steel sheet for automotive use (tensile strength of 590 MPa and higher) Source of substrate coils: U. S. Steel