'Industrial Origami' with Duplex Stainless Steel
Duplex stainless steel is a combination of ferritic and austenitic stainless steel which combines the properties of both of these types. Apart from increased resistance to stress corrosion cracking and ease of use for welding applications, the key feature of duplex stainless steel is its incredible tensile strength and toughness.
The high tensile strength of duplex stainless steel means that folding it involves the use of expensive tools but a new and efficient folding process using lasers has recently been developed. The process has been named 'Lightfold' and has been used by Swedish start-up company Stilride to produce a prototype of a sustainable, low-cost electric scooter. Dubbed 'industrial origami', the Lightfold process is set to have dramatic impacts on the method in which vehicles are produced in the future.
Duplex stainless steel sheet is made by a cold rolling process. The cold rolling work acts to significantly harden the material, giving it a high tensile strength that makes it strongly resistant to bending. In the new Lightfold process, lasers are used to heat the duplex along the desired fold line with extreme accuracy, enabling the steel to be more easily folded into 3D shapes.
Tue Beijer, the joint founder of Stilride, has an impressive CV, having worked in the past for Husqvarna, BMW Motorrad and Giotto Bizzarrini (the so-called 'father' of the Lamborghini V12 and Ferrari 250 GTO engines). Finnish stainless steel giant Outokumpu originally conceived the idea behind Lightfold and Beijer was responsible for the development of research work into the process. Vinnova, a Swedish agency for innovation, provided Beijer with a grant which he used to co-found Stilride with Jonas Nyvang, who is now the company's Managing Director.
Duplex stainless steel is folded to create the backbone of the low-cost scooter and provides sustainability in several ways. The material does not rust, which means that the scooter does not require painting, resulting in less use of materials. Duplex, in common with other stainless steels, is fully recyclable and the scooter's frame does not need a plastic body.
Beijer pointed out that there are also many aesthetic design advantages to using folded duplex stainless steel. "The folding process creates a defined DNA with beautiful surface meetings between concave and convex surfaces," he said. Once the Lightfold process is proven to be commercially viable, it could be suitable for creating a wide and diverse array of different products.
BS Stainless supply several high-quality products made using duplex stainless steel, including waterproof rivets, self-tapping screws and various forms of stainless steel wire. Find out more on our website and do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert technical team for further information and advice.