As car makers strive to meet increased CAFE standards, a lot of cars will be getting both lighter and more aerodynamic. While aluminum and carbon fiber grab a lot of the lightweight headlines, there's no getting around the fact that cars are going to be made out of steel for a long time to come. So it's no surprise that the steel industry is out to prove that it, too, can be a source for relatively lightweight and aerodynamic products. This week's entry: three new wheel design's that are intended to show off innovative styling along with the potential for higher profit margins, lower warranty costs, competitive weight and superior durability.

The three wheels were unveiled as part of the Steel Wheel design competition. The Wheels Task Force of the Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Michelin, in partnership with Lawrence Technological University (LTU), announced the Steel Wheel scholarship winners at the program's unveiling this week on LTU's campus. Chris Nichols, a junior, was awarded first place with a $1,500 scholarship, Cherise Caldwell, a freshman, won a $1,000 scholarship for second place and Vince Kaptur, a sophomore, was awarded a $500 scholarship for placing third in the competition.

Though a reversible wheel idea won the contest, the concept of most interest to our readers will probably be third-place winner. Kaptur envisoned a wheel that at highway speeds would be an almost completely flat surface to reduce drag and be able to open itself up during braking to promote cooling. We don't know how feasible all of this is – or if it's particularly lightweight or durable – but it certainly is creative. Its encouraging to see design students focused on wheels with good looks that also offer some environmental benefit. It's even more encouraging to see the steel industry thinking lighter.

[Source: Autosteel] PRESS RELEASE

Lawrence Technological University Design Students Unveil Steel Wheel Concepts at American Iron and Steel Institute Internship Competition Program

Students awarded scholarships for innovative use of advanced steel technologies in wheel designs
DETROIT, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Wheels Task Force of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), and Michelin in partnership with Southfield, Mich.-based Lawrence Technological University (LTU), announced the scholarship winners of the sponsored Steel Wheel design competition at the program's unveiling this week on LTU's campus.
Chris Nichols, a junior, was awarded first place with a $1,500 scholarship, Cherise Caldwell, a freshman, won a $1,000 scholarship for second place and Vince Kaptur, a sophomore, was awarded a $500 scholarship for placing third in the competition.
Students in the freshman, sophomore and junior classes developed conceptual wheels that highlighted the significant advantages of steel. Before an audience of automakers, steel company representatives and wheel designers, the LTU transportation design students unveiled their renderings of bold new steel wheel designs that captured innovative styling, higher profit margins, lower warranty costs, competitive weight and superior durability.
"This opportunity challenged the students to use real-world applications from the automotive and steel industries to design next-generation, innovative steel wheels," said Ron Krupitzer, vice president of automotive applications for SMDI. "With the guidance of members from the Wheels Task Force, LTU and Michelin, the students created sleek, sporty wheels at lower costs, while working to increase customer interest in steel wheels."
The project was integrated into the LTU curriculum and presented student designers with a rare opportunity to influence the growing automotive steel wheel market. LTU's transportation design students were charged with developing two steel wheel concepts based on ongoing LTU original equipment manufacturer (OEM) projects. The assignments included renderings for a Ford Mustang catering to 2025 consumers, a 2020 Dodge for Chrysler and a Chevrolet for General Motors Corp.
The winning steel design concepts included:

-- Nichol's design concept was a two-face reversible steel wheel that
offered one wheel with two uses for the customer who is looking for
the customization option. Nichol's designed a product directly with
the customer in mind. Through the utilization of hydroforming and
stamping, the designs took advantage of several steel manufacturing
processes.

-- The free flow form of fabric with the changeable sculpture of water
inspired Caldwell's steel wheel designs. Meeting the challenge to
reinvent the wheel, Caldwell incorporated steel stamping into her
wheel to develop a soft shape with directional spokes. Chrome plating
on the wheel gave the illusion of movement even without the wheel in
motion. A custom fade paint finish added additional appeal to the
steel wheel concept.

-- Steel is the right material to achieve the low drag aerodynamic
performance of Kaptur's wheel concept. Recognizing the real-world
demands for fuel-efficient vehicles, Kaptur designed a vented steel
wheel with openings that closed when the vehicle was in motion and
opened during braking. When closed, the air passes over the steel
wheel without disruption of flow and the moving vents open during the
critical cooling time of braking.

The Steel Market Development Institute grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new-growth opportunities in non-traditional steel markets. The Automotive Applications Council is a part of the Steel Market Development Institute and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market. For more news or information, visit www.autosteel.org.
SMDI Steel Wheels Task Force Member Companies:
-- Accuride Corporation
-- AK Steel Corporation
-- ArcelorMittal Dofasco
-- ArcelorMittal USA
-- ArvinMeritor Wheels Division
-- Chrysler Group
-- Ford Motor Company
-- General Motors Company
-- Hayes Lemmerz International
-- Hess Industries, Inc.
-- Lacks Wheel Trim Systems
-- Maxion-Fumagalli Wheels
-- Nucor Corporation
-- PPG Industries Inc.
-- Severstal North America Inc.
-- Topy America, Inc.
-- United States Steel Corporation
Source: American Iron and Steel Institute
CONTACT: Ron Krupitzer, +1-248-945-4761, rkrupitzer@steel.org, or Deanna Lorincz, +1-248-945-4763, dlorincz@steel.org
Web Site: http://www.autosteel.org/


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