ToughSteel project

Dissemination and valorisation of fracture toughness as a material property to rationalise crack-related problems in AHSS

Fracture toughness is gaining interest for steelmakers, part makers and OEMs, as a relevant property for new AHSS development and optimisation, and for designing and manufacturing lightweight high-performance parts.

ToughSteel project, coordinated by Eurecat Technology Center, involves and engages the main actors of the sheet metal forming community with the objective to promote, disseminate and transfer the know-how acquired about the use of fracture toughness as a tool to address cracking problems in forming and in-service performance of AHSS.

By disseminating and valorizing the fracture toughness approach to predict crack related phenomena, as stretch-flangeability and impact performance in AHSS from an early design phase, ToughSteel will contribute to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of sheet metal forming processes involving high-strength steels by the prevention of production loses and the reduction of production costs and time-to-market for sheet products in automotive and other industrial end-user sectors.

Start-end date

July 2021 – June 2023


24 months

Funded under

The Research Fund for Coal and Steel within Horizon 2020 programme

Eurecat /
Pia Nordlander /
Expected impact

ToughSteel is bound to help the scientific and academic community

Material selection

Improve material selection in cold sheet metal forming and future optimisation of AHSS microstructures

Performance prediction

Predict part performance and prevent production loses to the sheet metal forming industries

Crashworthiness assessment

Assess crashworthiness of AHSS for structural components

Reduce time to market

Improve the accuracy of model process manufacturing and part performance and, thereby, shorten the part design phase, by the implementation of the fracture toughness in FE codes.

What we are doing

ToughSteel activities

Literature review

Collection, organisation and analysis of fracture toughness data measurements from previous and ongoing RFCS projects an open literature, including different test methodologies, conditions and steel grades.​

Fracture toughness database

Creation of a database of fracture toughness of AHSS and steel sheets data with detailed information about material, test methodology, test conditions, specimen geometry, equipment analysis tools and statistical data.

User guidelines

Industrial guideline to describe methodologies of fracture toughness evaluations in sheet metals, based on the research developed in previous RFCS projects, for a more efficient fracture and crashworthiness prediction in different industrial applications.

“Problems solving” Open Call

Launch of an Open Call to enrol 3 to 5 industrial companies as case studies to show how fracture toughness can be used to understand and solve crack-related problems.

Training workshops & webinars

Organisation of academic and industrial events to introduce the methodology to assess fracture toughness, receive feedback in order to increase its impact and provide the possibility for information exchange and open discussion, especially regarding the identification of possible future developments.

Standardisation activities

Identification of standards and presentation of the Essential Work of Fracture approach to relevant international standardization committees to reinforce market acceptance and the industrial take-up of the Fracture Toughness approach.

White paper

Publication summarising the results and case-studies of the open call to disseminate the concept of fracture toughness, benefits and applications for the academic and industrial community.

Fracture toughness as a tool to assess edge-cracking and predict crashworthiness in AHSS

The vast and rapid industrial implementation of the Advanced High-Strength Steels (AHSS) has introduced new problems, including crack-related and reduced formability defects during forming that cannot be predicted at the product design stage by traditional approaches such as tensile tests, ductility assessment or Forming Limit Diagrams (FLD).

Such crack-related problems, mostly relevant in cold forming (edge cracking) and to assess crashworthiness from impact coupons, are still unsolved issues in the manufacturing sector. This hampers the use of AHSS and the development of high-performance parts at reduced costs.

The use of AHSS grades for lightweight construction has brought the need for accurate characterisation techniques to avoid sheet cracking occurrence during forming. In that regard, fracture toughness can help understand fracture behaviour as the material property that controls crack propagation.

Pia & Hans Nordlander /