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Participating in a large supply chain can be rewarding or stressful, depending on how well the chain is managed. This forum is an opportunity to discuss your challenges along a supply chain. DO NOT NAME NAMES! Our goal here is to begin a discussion about solutions. We want to share our experiences and speak openly to find solutions that allow the entire supply chain to prosper and enjoy building product.
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Industrial sheet metal production occurs in batches of 5 to 500 tons being rolled at hundreds of feet per minute producing coils over a mile long. Not surprisingly, these products have a natural and inherent variation in their mechanical properties. With the decades-long experience of making mild steels, steelmakers were able to fine-tune the chemistry and thermo-mechanical rolling conditions to produce a relatively consistent product. However, Twenty-First Century sheet metals have neither the long production history or the significant production tonnage that would provide the opportunity for narrowing down the processing conditions to yield a tight range in properties. Here, you can discuss how you are working with the sheet metals you receive and are accommodating the range of properties.
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Once the sheet metal grade and thickness are chosen, it is necessary to form it into the desired engineered shape. The lower-cost tooling materials that worked with the lower cost mild steels do not have the right properties to accommodate the characteristics of high strength steels, stainless steels, or aluminum alloys. Concerns include heat generation leading to dimensional changes and lubricant breakdown, increases in friction, and galling. These in turn lead to adhesive and abrasive wear on the tools, which serve to accelerate the problems. Tooling strategies can be discussed, with a focus on how different sheet metals lead to different choices.
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Federal regulations require an average 54.5 mpg fleetwide fuel economy by the 2025 model year. In addition to the increased mileage, automakers must be able to produce cars that consumers can afford and want to purchase. The non-profit National Research Council estimates that the cost of meeting these requirements in a midside sedan will be between $1,181 and $1,658 per vehicle. Decreasing body mass is one of a handful of potential strategies. This forum is intended to be a venue for discussion of the different approaches for reducing body mass through the use of alternatives to mild steels.
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Over the past few years, the prices of base metals have been unusually volatile. A record spike in prices in 2011 led to large investments in metals. Increased mining and production led to a decline in prices. Aluminum suppliers are now (Summer 2015) focusing on reducing costs and capacity in anticipation of continued declines in prices, yet continue to invest in the emerging aluminum market in automotive.. Add to this, stiff competition from China for metals and you have a highly unpredictable market. This forum offers an opportunity to discuss strategies to prepare your companies for a volatile metals market.
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