With consideration to weight reduction trends of the automotive industry, the technical development plan of Fukai is focused on weight reduction of sheet metal parts.
[A] Research and development of high tensile strength steel plate
Body weight reduction that contributes to emission gas regulation and fuel economy improvements is an important issue to automobile manufacturers. The Development Group in the Engineering Department oversees development of new technology and with regards to material characteristics, press formability, welding, etc. we are proceeding accompanied by the technical assistance of Nippon Steel Corporation.
1) High tensile strength steel press technology development
Fukai has taken initiatives for press technology for high tensile strength steel plate for the past 10 years and has been using a 540 MPa class bumper beam and a 440 MPa class high tensile strength steel sheet suspension support member for manufacturing. Thereafter, Fukai participated in a 590 MPa high tensile strength steel plate joint project of three members consisting of Fukai, an automobile manufacturer and Nippon Steel in development press technology and this is currently being used to manufacture a lot of models. Currently, high tensile strength steel plate of 590 MPa has become commonplace and Fukai is working on press technology with high tensile strength steel of 780 MPa and 980 MPa class.
(2) Tailored blanking for high tensile strength steel plate
In order to use high tensile strength steel plate effectively, manufacturing of a laser weld tailored blank through welding 270 MPa class normal material with high tensile strength steel plate and high tensile strength steel plates with differing thickness was identified by Fukai as being of interest and research has been performed towards its development for the past 8 years.
Furthermore, development ofa tailored blank method using plasma welding in place of laser welding started 6 years ago and this was taken into production 4 years ago. Also, after 8 years of development, the tailored blank using laser welding is being used by an automobile manufacturer and it entered production 2 years ago.
Please click here for a description of the tailored blank method
(3) Development of 980 MPa ultra high tensile strength steel plate
There are a lot of delayed fracture and other technical issues associated with molding using a press for ultra high tensile strength steel place exceeding 980 MPa and it does not appear to be suitable for manufacturing using a press.
With the help of Nippon Steel Corporation, Fukai has pursued research and development of a “Hot Press Method” as a replacement for press molding starting several years ago and has resolved technical issues of form molding, draw molding, and equivalent components.
[B] Chassis structure research and analysis
Research and analysis of chassis structure is also an important issue for Fukai.
In order to provide favorable proposals to automobile manufacturers, Fukai purchases domestic and foreign automotive components regularly to perform a breakdown study of techniques, materials used, and material properties and as a result is able to propose new techniques and material properties to automobile manufacturers.
Finite element analysis software such as Nastran or Mechanica is used for chassis structure analysis and strength and rigidity calculations to propose optimal structures to automobile manufacturers.
Fukai is also performing non-linear chassis structure analysis such as collision analysis. This type of research analysis is being performed with the help of Nippon Steel.
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[C] Die Research
The Press Engineering Section of Manufacturing Engineering Group in the Engineering Department is responsible for die research.
Use of high tensile strength steel plate has increased and Fukai is improving strength and rigidity of our mold construction. Also, the deformation, spring-back, etc. of press molds have increased compared to conventional materials.
As a countermeasure, press mold simulation software is used to investigate each part and the mold ability and die structure are investigated until the goal is achieved.
Also, three dimensional die design is being performed where finger interference, etc. is performed on a CRT and both manufacturing timing and development timing have been shortened.
[D] Design and Manufacture of Production Equipment and Jig
The Manufacturing Engineering Group in the Engineering Department is responsible for development of new technology related to production technology.
All equipment within Fukai is designed in-house.
In terms of production equipment, high efficiency, low cost, and trouble-free are important priorities. Research is continually performed by the Manufacturing Engineering Group targeting better equipment.
Investigation of assembly equipment and tool and jigs is performed using ROBCAD, etc. at the investigation stage and failures are eradicated through investigation on the CRT leading to reduction in development timing.
Design and manufacturing sales of production equipment and jigs is performed externally. In addition, a door fitting device for Fuji Heavy Industries Gunma Works, bumper assembly equipment ensuring mount precision using a measurement device, as well as floor welding equipment, etc. are supplied to both domestic and foreign automotive manufacturers.
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