Steel - a universal material of the future

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How wrong you can be. In a study from the year 2008, which was commissioned by the specialist magazine "Autohaus", 91 percent of the surveyed automotive experts expected that steel would lose a lot of its importance as a material in the automotive industry. The unanimous opinion was that the future belongs above all to plastics.

But then everything turned out very differently. Because even if the automotive industry is in a state of unprecedented upheaval, electromobility is becoming more and more prevalent, at least in urban areas, and self-driving cars are slowly but surely becoming a reality, steel is the material to which the future of the industry belongs.

Why is that? You will find the answer to this in the following article.

Three good reasons for steel on the motorway

Of course, the prognosis made by the ladies and gentlemen from the distant past of 2008 is quite understandable. Even then, a green trend began to stir in the industry. Cars were supposed to become lighter and therefore both more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. Composites of plastic, aluminum, and carbon seemed the obvious answer.

However, these materials have not caught on - and there are three main reasons for this:


Although carbon-reinforced plastics are a little lighter and stronger than steel, this is clearly reflected in their price. Even after several decades of research and development, carbon materials are still so expensive that a mid-range car made from these materials would be unaffordable for most people - a Formula One racing car costs several million euros not only because of its drive system.

Steel, on the other hand, is much cheaper - with almost comparable values of weight and strength - and thus guarantees our right to mobility. If you then keep in mind how easily our material can be formed, processed and also painted, this point clearly goes to the steel industry.


Another essential aspect for the car of tomorrow is its environmental compatibility - and here too, steel crosses the finish line as the clear winner. Because contrary to what is still prevalent in many minds, the ecological balance of our steel industry is quite impressive.

First of all, the production and further processing of steel are much more energy-efficient than the extraction of aluminum, for example. Because the element is not simply extracted from the earth but must first be extracted from the mineral bauxite in a complex process. By way of comparison: around 5,000 kilowatt hours of energy are required to manufacture one ton of crude steel - and this number has been falling for years. The same amount of aluminum accounts for 15,000 kilowatt hours.

But that's not all, because when it comes to recycling, steel is clearly one step ahead. Because our material is 100 percent recyclable. Carbon fibers, on the other hand, are still mixed with a high proportion of plastics in automotive engineering and can hardly be recycled. So, if you as a vehicle manufacturer have the choice between a material from which new machines, vehicles and objects of daily use can be manufactured effortlessly and one that ends up in a landfill after its death and ruins our planet in the long term, what would you choose?

Finally, steel is a material that is constantly being developed. Engineers around the world are impressed by new high and ultra-high strength grades with their low weight and high tensile strength. According to a study by the Handelsblatt Research Institute, these new materials can reduce the weight of a car by 25 to 39 percent and thus save 3 to 4.5 tons of greenhouse gases over its entire service life.

Steel also makes the motors of electric cars lighter and therefore more efficient. The electrical strips used there currently weigh up to 100 kilograms. Advances in forming and alloying processes, however, continue to reduce this value and thus also make a significant contribution to climate-friendly mobility.


If there is a collision, however, thoughts about economy and sustainability are quickly thrown overboard. At such a moment, the only thing that counts is protecting the vehicle occupants. But here, too, our material can shine: The latest types of steel are three to four times more tensile than conventional steels and are therefore particularly suitable for all safety-relevant components of a car.

This is especially true for e-cars, because there the battery block must be optimally protected. Otherwise, it can happen all too quickly in a crash that poisonous materials escape, or the battery goes up in flames. Therefore, battery boxes in modern electric vehicles are also made exclusively from steel. Because unlike titanium, aluminum or fiber composites, our material is particularly resistant to deformation.

Game, set and match for the classic steel when it comes to mobility over the next few years. However, we are still a long way from reaching the end of the flagpole.

Diversity is the name of the game

Although the automotive industry in Germany is one of the main customers of our products, our material has so many different facets and its properties can be adapted to so many requirements that it is used in numerous other branches of industry.

The second major consumer of steel products in our country is the construction industry. Our material ensures that houses, tunnels and bridges can withstand even the highest loads. After all, hardened concrete is pressure-resistant, but it cracks very easily when it is subjected to tensile stress. Reinforcement made of steel gives the structure the necessary strength and allows skyscrapers to grow into the sky and motorway bridges to span our valleys.

Apparatus and mechanical engineering must of course never be neglected in our country, because “Made in Germany” is still considered a seal of quality for industrial devices of all kinds. Without our steel products, however, this success would hardly be conceivable: We supply the free-cutting steel for industrial processing, for example lathes as well as the high-alloy tool steel, which is used to manufacture state-of-the-art equipment such as milling machines, drills or rollers. In other words: Our products not only allow you to get through traffic economically, ecologically and safely - we also ensure that your car can be built in the first place.

And do you know why our streets can be lit up at night? We have a share in this too, because WE steels are also used in energy and power plant technology. Or in medical technology, if an accident should be a bit more severe. After the successful operation - perhaps an implant made from our stainless steel was inserted - our hypothetical patient enjoys his first meal, presumably with the help of cutlery - also made from our steel - and there is probably a piece of our work in the electronic device that he uses to pass the time - because steel is everywhere and life as we know it would simply be inconceivable

Look ahead

Whatever the experts might have thought when they predicted a modest future for steel in the automotive industry in 2008, they could hardly have been more wrong. Our high-performance material is simply indispensable and at the same time fulfills important requirements in terms of sustainability, ecology and economy.

If you have any questions about our products or would like to place an order for your investment in the future, just contact us. We are looking forward to your contact.