Research and development
The proud history of steelmaking in France is matched by the country’s reputation for scientific research and innovation.
ArcelorMittal research and development (R&D) has a significant presence in the country, including about 800 of the company’s 1,300-strong research team. More than 50% of the R&D for automotive products and steel processes and 100% for packaging is conducted in France.
The proximity of our R&D centres to all our operations is hugely significant for both the plants that manufacture our products, and for building closer links and engineering partnerships with our customers.
Our rich R&D heritage and our collective group know-how have been sustained by our partnerships across industry and academia. These collaborations at the highest levels are based on taking a long-term view of product and process and their benefit to the end consumer.
Long-standing relationships with leading laboratories, universities and engineering schools enable us to nurture the talents of our people.
Knowledge-sharing is a vital component of our R&D approach. In France, we have about 40 students studying for a PhD or higher qualification working together without researchers and being involved in our projects. These programmes accept that the role of the researcher has changed – that we must enrich and challenge scientific content using a results-orientated approach.
Our largest research campus is in Maizières lès Metz in the Lorraine region and employs more than 500 researchers. From here, we develop new technological processes and solutions intended for our plants throughout the world and applicable to our various businesses (flat and long carbon steel, special plates) and new steels for the automobile and packaging markets. A new research facility to enhance mining and mineral processing processes was established in 2009.
Our investment in continuous improvement and out-of-stock products allows us to innovate, particularly in the automotive and construction markets. We provide high value-added products by working closely with our automotive customers, right from the upstream phase of their projects, by joining their design teams. Our customers particularly appreciate this close relationship, based on a common desire to make improvements in engineering and develop steel solutions to make vehicles lighter. This approach has helped us become a world leader in high-strength steels.
Usibor® is a great example of the long-term thinking that goes into product development. Developed to meet vehicle weight reduction requirements, Usibor® is used in automobile structural and safety components. This steel is designed to be heat treated and then quenched during the hot-stamping process. Usibor®, on which research work began back in 1996, is a revolutionary product which has challenged the customary manufacturing processes of carmakers. Its value is now being appreciated in markets across the world.
The automotive industry faces enormous challenges regarding fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Steel is a major part of the solution: through products and solutions developed to reduce the thickness and therefore the volume of steel used, while maintaining the overall strength of the vehicle.
Not only does R&D contribute to maintaining our leadership position in the automotive sector, it also contributes to the progress of other markets by adapting steels originally developed for the motor industry and enhances knowledge capture across the company. The expertise born in France is shared with our operations globally and developed through courses at ArcelorMittal University, where a dedicated R&D academy that aims to promote excellence is open to researchers in all sectors of the business.