2 new Shape partnerships bringing more sustainable materials to the automotive industry

A The West Michigan Tier 1 automotive supplier is leveraging two longstanding partnerships with overseas metal suppliers in an effort to bring more durable materials to the automotive industry.

Within the past month, based in Grand Haven Form Corp. announced it was working with Norway’s Norsk Hydro ASA, which produces a patented brand of sustainable aluminum, and Sweden’s SSAB AB, which supplies fossil-free steel.

Through these partnerships, Shape, which specializes in lightweighting and impact energy management structures, is not only reducing its own carbon footprint, but is also pioneering the use of these sustainable materials on the American automotive market.

“One of the key areas we’re trying to focus on is the parts themselves and the recyclability of the parts,” said Ed Pleet, chief technology officer at Shape.

“We see interest and desire increasing significantly, certainly from OEMs and us,” added Pleet. “Frankly, some of the limitations are technology and market and industry capabilities. What’s really special about this is that it’s the first automotive application to take advantage of a lower carbon footprint material that can still hit the mark.

(Not so) heavy metal

In early June, Shape announced plans to strengthen a long-standing relationship with Hydro, which manufactures an aluminum product called Hydro CIRCAL. This material contains 75% post-consumer aluminum scrap and leads the market with its minimal carbon footprint.

The partnership stems from Shape’s purchase of Ohio-based aluminum extruder Magnode LLC. Since the acquisition, Shape has worked with Hydro on alloy and material development with the idea of ​​supplying automotive parts to various OEMs around the world.

“We’ve seen really huge growth with the relationship but also in the marketplace to leverage materials and extrusions,” Pleet said.

Pleet and Trond Gjellesvik, President of Hydro Aluminum Metals, spoke about the opportunities for parts made with Hydro CIRCAL as the automotive industry becomes increasingly electrified and OEMs realize the need for equally green solutions for collision management and relief solutions.

“Aluminum is a product that can be recycled endlessly – nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use somewhere,” Gjellesvik said. MiBiz. “He may be in his second or third life. Being able to add technologies to be able to use more of this end-of-life post-consumer waste and bring it back to customer products in the automotive is the mission.

The initiative comes as sustainability is increasingly important to most OEMs, putting pressure throughout the supply chain to help further reduce carbon emissions.

“If you take a list of all car manufacturers, when they declare themselves carbon neutral, there is a clear roadmap that they start working on that will require a significant change in their material choices. That is why it is very important that we as an aluminum producer and Shape as a parts producer position ourselves in this way,” said Gjellesvik.

The partnership between Shape and Hydro will be reinforced with a new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, on which Hydro started work in April. The company plans to start production there at the end of the year, producing about 265 million pounds of aluminum extrusion ingots each year. The installation will keep Shape well fed.

Hydro also supplies Shape with material produced at its facilities in Texas and Kentucky.

After announcing its partnership with Hydro, Shape followed up with an additional announcement that it would be the first Tier 1 automotive supplier to use fossil fuel-free steel collision management and body structure systems through its partnership with the Swedish steelmaker SSAB.

Shape is testing the company’s brand of fossil-free steel, which is created from hydrogen-reduced sponge iron, with the aim of bringing it to market by 2026.

“Shape continues to lead the industry with innovative, lightweight solutions for next-generation vehicles,” Shape CEO Mark White said when announcing the new venture.

“Our long-standing partnership with SSAB is built on years of collaboration and mutual respect between our companies. I am extremely excited to partner with SSAB to bring its new fossil-free hybrid steel technology to market and to be the first to market in collision management and body structure applications for our customers,” added White.

The idea and aspiration for parts made from sustainable materials is certainly not new, but it was previously unachievable.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from OEMs, but the raw material technology and capabilities are really limited at this point,” Pleet said. “It’s exciting to be able to work with Hydro to add something that really excites OEMs and certainly excites us.”