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Learning about Ultra High Strength Steels

Consumer Drawings

Ever wonder about those vehicle images that show a color coded picture of the different steels used in the body structure?  Well those images start out from the media departments of the automakers to highlight how strong occupant compartment are in each new model.  Magazines and website would use the images in their articles to illustrate safety to consumers.  A little under 8 years ago I started using those images on to help firefighters and rescuers to understand the different locations and different materials are used.  Come to find out, firefighters are learning about vehicle construction and materials from these colorful “Consumer Drawings”.

Automotive Industry

Just in case you thought these images were only meant to make the consumers feel warm and safe in their vehicles, that’s not the case.  Last summer, I attended the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) which is one of the premier events dedicated to the automotive service and repair industries.  Valspar paints had KC Mathieu from Gas Monkey Garage promoting their paint and giving product demonstrations.  Once inside, I found actual vehicle body structures painted to match the “Consumer Drawings” I widely share in my post.  I wasted no time to start taking pictures, especially of the new 2016 Cadillac CT6 body structure in the General Motors booth. The pictures below show the front wheel well and hinge pilars of the new CT6.  Take note of the different types of steel and the aluminium castings. A special thanks from Holmatro’s Pete Fiset for the invite! 

UHSS Steel

I asked myself, if the automotive repair industry can find value in these body structures painted to match the “Consumer Drawings” than automotive engineers do as well.  My question was answered at the Great Design in Steel Expo outside of Detroit in May.  Guess what? The material presented here by automotive experts is credible.  Take a look at any of the presentations on the Steel Matters website.  Every year, the latest and greatest use of steel is highlighted a good number of presentations.  Any instructor can update their PowerPoints every year with material from these presentations to keep their department up-to-date with new vehicle body structures. Below is a picture of the wheel-well reinforcements that will require us to cut deeper into this area during a dash lift.

Lastly, nearly every Emergency Response Guide that automakers produce for first responders have these “Consumer Drawings” highlighting the different steels and locations of reinforcements in body structures.  Those “Consumer Drawings” often have areas where automakers mark as cut zones where stored gas inflators and UHSS reinforcements are located.

In Sum

Nearly everything an Automakers creates is material that is meant to help sell their vehicles.  The fire service and many other trades can find ways to use this information.  “Consumer Drawings” are more than just a paint by number that look good in a car brochure.  These images help identify different parts of the vehicle structure that have changed because of manufacturing updates. Just remember, anyone can make a video and post it on YouTube. Feel free to “Copy and Paste” this article as training! 

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