Editor’s note: This story will be part of a special section focusing on 15 emerging materials that are solving auto industry needs, to be published in the Aug. 5 issue of Automotive News.
Ford Motor Co. revolutionized the use of aluminum for its 2015 F-150 pickup. Now it's innovating with steel.
To form the roof rails on the 2020 Ford Escape and Explorer, as well as the Lincoln Aviator and Corsair, Ford used ultra-high-strength steel tubes and what the automaker says is an industry-first production process. Engineers say the application costs less than the former hydroformed tubes and is more than twice as strong.
The new approach to forming the tubes, known as 3D Roll and Sweep, roll-forms the material into a tube, and then bends it into the hockey sticklike shape of the roof rail. According to Ford, the resulting material is stronger than the steel used to make railroad tracks, construction cranes and military tanks.