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Usibor, once made only in East Chicago and France, now produced all over the world

ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor complex in East Chicago. The steelmaker developed new grades of Usibor and Ductibor, both of which are currently made at its mills in Indiana Harbor.

ArcelorMittal is expanding its offerings of advanced high-strength steel grades that help automakers meet tough new emissions and fuel-efficiency standards.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker, one of Northwest Indiana’s largest employers, will unveil Usibor 2000 and Ductibor 1000 next year. ArcelorMittal won’t say yet where the new grades of steel — which are stronger than traditional steel, meaning less can be used in manufacturing a vehicle — will be made, but Usibor and Ductibor are currently made at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago.

“Usibor 2000, which has been under development for some time, is a new aluminum-silicon coated high strength steel that will be even stronger than its predecessor Usibor 1500,” spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford said. “Usibor 2000 provides additional weight savings for OEMs without compromising vehicle safety. Typical applications for Usibor 2000 include strength-critical passenger compartment parts such as rail extensions, pillars, and cross members.”

ArcelorMittal, which has one of its largest research and development centers in East Chicago, also developed the hot-stamped Ductibor 1000, which was designed to be a more ductile complement to Usibor.

“Typical applications for Ductibor 1000 include energy absorption parts such as rail tips and lower B-pillars,” Holdford said. “Usibor 2000 has been designed to be compatible with standard press hardening technologies and processes. Industrialization efforts are currently in progress to ensure a worldwide offering to our automotive customers. Tests on industrial products have shown a good laser welding ability of these materials. The combination of both grades in a single Laser Welded Blank part allows additional weight reduction."

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The steelmaker says the new grades cut costs for automakers and hold up well in crashes.

“Usibor is our key product in hot stamping, and has been a major commercial and technical success in the global automotive industry,” ArcelorMittal Head of Global R&D for Automotive Jean-Luc Thirion said. “Today, most vehicles in the world use at least 20 percent of our coated hot stamping ArcelorMittal products. But this can be increased to 40 percent, as some OEMs like Volvo have demonstrated with its recently released XC90.”

Steelmakers have invested heavily in developing stronger grades of steel to help lightweight vehicles, which have to be twice as fuel-efficient by 2025 under tough new federal standards. Thirion said the new grades of Usibor could result in weight savings of 10 to 15 percent.

“We will also commercialize Ductibor 1000, which has an excellent crash ductility at a strength of 1000 MPa, in 2017,” he said. “The idea behind this is to increase the scope of hot stamping products in vehicles.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.