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Cool Rules on the Jeep Hot Stamping Line with Shorter Cycle Times

The Jeep Renegade is one product of the Stellantis plant in Cassino, Italy.
AP&T’s cool-down is speeding production on a Stellantis stamping press.

An innovative cooling system is speeding production on a Stellantis hot stamping line for Jeep, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo models in Cassino, Italy. AP&T installed the press hardening line in 2007 but has upgraded it with improved cooling under a 2019 preventative maintenance deal and the change is letting the company crank out models like the Jeep Renegade faster than ever.

“It has meant substantially reduced cycle times, making it possible to form more parts in a shorter amount of time,” explained, Stellantis’ Cassino Press Shop Operational Manager, Cesare Zeppieri.

Precise control over localized heating and cooling of the tools using AP&T’s TemperBox technology lets the plant stamp pieces with both hard and soft zones at the same time, he reported. “AP&T's in-line process monitoring provides full control over heating and cooling by using infrared camera technology and a pyrometer, making it easier to ensure that each part lives up to the quality requirements.”

This precision control is possible not only with new tooling in the plant but also with existing machines. “All new tools brought into use, and many existing tools, utilize this type of cooling,” said Zeppieri. “Another solution we find highly interesting and are looking into is AP&T's in-line process monitoring.”

The process involves precision-controlled heat treatment, which takes place in a special furnace module known as TemperBox. After being heated up to 930 degrees Celsius in AP&T’s multi-layer austenitization furnace, the blank moves to the TemperBox, where selected sections are blocked from radiation and cooled down while the rest of the part is kept hot. Then technicians form and quench the blank to produce the finished part.

This final result is customized to the required performance of the component with tailored properties. This means designers and manufacturing engineers can work more freely without considering costly reinforcements or cycle time-intensive processes such as tailored tempering in press hardening tools.

This is significant to carmakers like Stellantis because these techniques are employed to improve the collision safety of body parts. “Not only new possibilities in crash performance design are possible, but post-processing is also much easier since specific areas of the component, such as flanges, can be kept soft, enabling them to be punched or trimmed using conventional methods, which is much less expensive than laser cutting, for example,” remarked AP&T CTO Dr. Christian Koroschetz.

The result for Stellantis is more vehicles like the popular Jeep Renegade compact SUV that it can deliver to customers in less time.

 

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