Last month, POSCO opened its second overseas automotive wire rod plant in Indiana. The new facility has an annual production capability of 25,000 tons and will supply premium automotive wire rods to its partners in the U.S.
Although wire rods are not always in the spotlight, they are widely used in many parts of a car. Steel wire rods are processed into parts for the steering and suspension systems, tire cords and bearings.
However, not all wire rods are the same, and improvements in production technologies can increase automotive performance, safety and cost-effectiveness. POSCO’s world premium steel wire rods provide such solutions to its automotive partners as the global demand for automotive wire rods continues to grow.
Take a look at the video below to see why more and more automakers are choosing POSCO’s wire rods, and where they can be applied.
Wire Rods in the Steering System
The steering system is what allows the wheels of a heavy vehicle to move in various directions and angles, with little force exerted by the driver. If the driver were to steer the road wheel directly, he/she would have to apply 16 times more effort. Fortunately, the movement of the steering wheel passes through the steering system of pivoted joints to the road wheels, which minimizes the burden of labor on the driver. The most common type of steering system is the rack and pinion, pictured below.
Traditionally, wire rods used for the pinion shaft, rack bar, ball housing, tie rod and tie rod end of the steering system have to be heat treated twice during production. POSCO developed a way to take out all the heat treatment from the production process, allowing manufacturers to cut costs significantly and reduce unwanted emissions.
Wire Rods for Springs
Automotive springs are part of the suspension system of a vehicle, which determines the level of control the driver will have, as well as the level of comfort. The spring coils compress and elongate along with the movement of the wheels to absorb shock and keep the car body level.
As such, the wire rods that make up the suspension system have to have high tensile strength and fatigue resistance. POSCO’s wire rods for automotive springs are made of ultra-clean alloying steel and have a 2.3 GPa tensile strength versus the average 1.9 GPa of traditional wire rods. When applied to the engine valve springs and coil springs for suspensions and stabilizer bars, it enhances the overall performance, safety and lightweight features of the vehicle.
Wire Rods for Tire Cords
Wire cords undergo an extensive drawing process to be processed into tire cords, also known as tire belts. Tire cords are important because they act as the chassis of the tire, giving it strength and resistance against punctures. It also allows the tire to stay flat for maximum contact with the road.
The quality of tire cords lies in its strength, elongation and stiffness, and require especially clean and high-strength steel to produce. POSCO’s wire rods for tire cords are also highly workable for producing extra-fine wire, meaning car manufacturers get the added benefit of lightweight along with enhanced safety and performance.
Wire Rods for Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings are under a lot of pressure, literally. It bears the weight of the vehicle so that the wheels can turn as smoothly as possible with little friction. If a car’s wheel bearings don’t function properly or wear out, the tires can rub against the axle, the rubber can burn due to friction, the wheels can malfunction and cause screeching sounds. It is important for the bearings to be highly wear and fatigue resistant to minimize work hardening, crack and deformation. POSCO’s innovative production technology includes numerous tests and quality checks to ensure that wire rods for bearings are in perfect condition.
Recently, Research and Markets predicted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.50 percent for the global stainless steel wire rod market from 2017 to 2021. This is a telling sign that automakers will continue to seek high-quality wire rods in the midst of growing investment in electric and autonomous vehicles. Now with its second overseas facility up and running, POSCO will continue to meet the global demand for world premium automotive materials and provide innovative solutions to its partners.
Cover photo courtesy of Steel Intelligence.