Lou Kren Lou Kren
Senior Editor

Great Designs in Steel 2024

February 8, 2024

Interested in learning about the latest steel technical developments and trends, and how they are influencing and enabling next generation automotive design and production? If so, set your calendar to attend the 22nd annual Great Designs in Steel (GDIS), on Wednesday, May 22, at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI. Reportedly the world’s longest-running automotive materials symposium, GDIS, presented by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), brings together automotive engineering and steel industry experts for a day-long exhibition and presentation event. 

“GDIS 2024 is the automotive market’s link to the latest developments, applications and advancements in the American steel industry,” explains Brian Esterberg, AISI senior automotive market strategist. “Hosted by the members of AISI’s auto program, GDIS is the premier forum where automotive engineers, automakers and other industry associates witness—via presentations and exhibits—the latest trends, applications and milestones in automotive-steel technologies.”

Dozens of Presentations

Great Designs in SteelFeatured are dozens of presentations related to material developments and technical applications of interest to auto-industry professionals. At press time, AISI staff is sorting through abstracts and developing conference tracks, and finalizing exhibition space.

For the latest details, visit www.greatdesignsinsteel.com. Registration, free for individuals from automotive OEMs, Tier-One suppliers, R&D departments and academia, will open in mid-February.

In particular, attendees can expect to find presentations detailing autobody structures as impacted by electric-vehicle (EV) requirements. This includes not only battery enclosures, but also the impact of increased battery-pack mass on surrounding vehicle structure. Presentations also will cover innovation and implementations in hybrid and internal-combustion-engine vehicles, and how manufacturers are taking advantage of technologies such as laser welding and other joining methods in gaining efficiency when producing car and truck frames. And, look for discussions on load-energy-management efforts by automakers.

Attendees also will hear updates on new steel grades, especially the characterization and modeling of grades that support automaker design and manufacturing efforts.

“Characterization and modeling cover virtual engineering for stampings and part designs, as well as crash-energy management, which includes directing load around the battery pack,” explains Esterberg.

OEM presentations are a common highlight at GDIS, and similar to years past, automakers and their suppliers will share their experiences, learnings and successes.  AISI plans include continuing to offer a three-track technical-presentation format for this year’s symposium. Presentations are expected to include topics such as innovations in joining and formability, springback in higher-strength steels, and sustainability metrics as well as initiatives for decarbonization of the steel industry to meet the zero-carbon objective of automakers. 

“There’s quite a bit happening regarding sustainability,” Esterberg says, “and the steel industry is very active in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.” 

Recent Steel Developments

GDIS provides a major focus on new-steel applications, and there’s plenty to talk about in this area.

Great Designs in SteelWednesday, May 22, 2024

Suburban Collection Showplace

Novi, MI


“Third-generation (3rd Gen) steels represent a significant advancement in steel technology because they provide high strength and significant amounts of formability to allow for improved geometry optimization,” according to Chris Kristock, former vice president, automotive market at AISI. “This is important because when we were limited by the formability of the original advanced high-strength steels (AHSS), our ability to produce a geometry to take advantage of AHSS strength in producing lightweight components was somewhat compromised. 

“The big advantage with 3rd Gen AHSS: added ductility,” Kristock continues. “We can introduce additional features into components to provide more load-carrying capability or stiffness, which allows for the continued downgauging of AHSS and, therefore, lightweighting to where we’re confident that these components are mass equivalent with aluminum structures for load-bearing and stiffness applications.”

The automotive industry is continuing to learn details of how to handle and leverage 3rd Gen grades most efficiently, notes Esterberg, which makes the technology-transfer aspect of GDIS essential.

“As with all new applications, there’s a learning curve with 3rd Gen steels,” he says. “Presentations at GDIS will detail the proper use and application of these materials, including the potential use of laser-welded blanks and hot stamping while still retaining the steel’s properties. 

“And,” Esterberg continues, “3rd Gen steels allow for additional geometry configurations not possible with previous AHSS grades—an advantage not yet fully leveraged. That’s where we are in the learning curve—what we can do to make 3rd Gen steels more useful in automotive structures.”

This holds true especially during the EV transition, given the added weight of battery packs and the protection required around them.

Lessons-Learned Database for Auto Suppliers

In conjunction with networking and learning opportunities at GDIS, AISI continues developing and sharing lessons-learned and aims to provide additional educational materials for OEMs, automotive-part suppliers and educational institutions. The overriding goal: continued knowledge-sharing about the successful application of higher-strength steels. MF

Industry-Related Terms: Laser Welding, LASER
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: American Iron and Steel Institute

Technologies: Management, Materials, Stamping Presses


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