Following close cooperation with a leading chemicals supplier, Tata Steel has launched Prime Lubrication Treatment (PLT), a so-called booster lubricant, consisting of a thin coating that is applied in the galvanising line prior to applying the conventional oil layer.
The combination of PLT and oil is claimed to provide a superior lubrication system that improves processing of hot dip galvanised GI steels for exposed automotive panels. It induces a lower and more stable friction during pressing and is particularly suitable to support manufacturing of panels such as fenders, doors and body sides to a high surface quality. The new lubricant extends Tata Steel's Serica and Full Finish premium offering for outer panels.
The unique formulation of PLT – developed in conjunction with Netherlands based Coil Coating Technologies (CCT), part of the AD International group – offers an improved press performance of GI steels when compared to those treated with standard conventional oil. It enables manufacturers to move away from electro-galvanised (EG) steels towards the more cost-effective GI-coating. When compared to the common process, PLT enables a smoother pressing operation with reduced maintenance costs and therefore a higher production yield and has been designed not to disturb subsequent manufacturing processes like resistance spot welding (RSW) and adhesive bonding.
Consisting of a very thin, organic layer, PLT induces a lower friction coefficient that stays more stable over subsequent press cycles in comparison to GI material treated with only a standard oil. PLT is completely removed in the cleaning bath towards the end of the process, leaving no residue behind. It is a harmless, environmentally friendly substance, and it is entirely sustainable. It will initially be available for products from 0.6mm to 1mm thick and from 900mm – 1,830mm wide, with plans in place to extend the width to 2,020mm.
"One of the main values of using PLT is its induced friction coefficient which is consistently low to reduce tool wear and pollution to acceptable low levels for efficient manufacturing processes. This brings the long-cherished wish of going to 100% hot dip galvanised material for the exposed car body panels a decisive step closer," said Basjan Berkhout, marketing manager, body in white at Tata Steel.