From commodity to high tech: steel as a new player in the automotive supply chain

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Puebla, Mexico (2016)


Steel was once a commodity purchase, with only weak links between mills and assemblers. Meanwhile, automotive companies faced an imperative to reduce weight while improving safety, which led to the introduction of an array of new materials and related engineering knowledge and manufacturing techniques. Steel looked like it might be displaced. That did not happen. Over the past decade advances in materials science allow steel firms today to manipulate the alloying and crystallization process to develop totally new types of steel. They now work with vehicle manufacturers from the earliest stage in the engineering of a new vehicle, playing a direct role in the development of the frame design. They likewise work closely with suppliers on new manufacturing technologies that allow the forming of these new steels. They thus supply a high value-added product and related services, not a commodity. This paper traces this process as one example of the impact of the ongoing materials science revolution that has brought new players into the automotive chain, while revolutionizing the role of suppliers such as steel firms.

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