International Materials Data System Reporting

On September 18, 2000, the European Union established the End of Life Vehicles Directive to identify hazardous materials that were contained in cars. The directive was also designed to determine the content recyclability in vehicles at the end of their useful life. A reporting system called the International Materials Data System (IMDS) was established for standardizing the reporting of chemical compositions finding their way into automobiles.

On September 18, 2000, the European Union established the End of Life Vehicles Directive to identify hazardous materials that were contained in cars. The directive was also designed to determine the content recyclability in vehicles at the end of their useful life. A reporting system called the International Materials Data System (IMDS) was established for standardizing the reporting of chemical compositions finding their way into automobiles.

There have been several iterations at implementing this IMDS reporting by different OEM and supplier organizations, but the Automotive Industry Auction Group (AIAG) standardized version called Compliance Connect is being widely used throughout the automotive supply base.

Compliance Connect is available free of charge to any automotive supplier for the purpose of collecting IMDS data from subsuppliers. This software is available on the AIAG Web site at www.aiag.org/elv%5Fdoc/elv.asp.

For example, when reading a certification or test report, note the “cert” (certified test report) from the steelmaker will report the official chemical analysis of the steel’s heat in weight percent. That means the numbers shown are percent, even though there is a decimal place shown. The first four elements—carbon, manganese, phosphorous and sulfur—are the only elements specified for this grade. Silicon and aluminum may be intentionally added as grain refiners or deoxidizers, but typically they are not specified in the grade. All other elements shown (copper, nickel, chromium and molybdenum) are considered residual elements and are an inadvertent part of the grade because they were contained in the scrap used to make up the initial heat. “Tramp elements” are another term sometimes used for these elements. A “B” inserted in the middle of the grade designation indicates a boron steel. An “L” designates a leaded grade.

For the purposes of the IMDS reporting, you will need to enter the grade minimum and maximums for specified elements and the maximums for all other elements that are shown on the cert. Consult your suppliers for their “actual maximums” for unspecified elements. What you may vaguely recall from your high school chemistry class is that the chemical elements can exist in various states. Chromium, for example, is highly regulated in its Cr (VI) or hexavalent form. However, in steel, chromium is in its metallic Cr (0) state. Sulfur can also be found as sulfate, sulfide, sulfonate and -thio compounds as well as in its elemental form. However, for reporting purposes, the CAS number for elemental sulfur, 7704-34-9, should be used for steel barstock. Any other number for sulfur is likely to lead you and your customer down a long and torturous path.

Grain refiners and deoxidizers include silicon, columbium/niobium, aluminum and possibly vanadium. (Note that vanadium can also be used as a specified alloying element as in the 6100 series of steels). If silicon is shown on the cert in values above 0.10 weight percent, it is a deoxidizer. Similarly, aluminum at or above the 0.015 weight percent level is there for grain-refining purposes. Any questions about a particular entry on a cert should be directed to your steel supplier.

The IMDS has become a global standard for reporting the chemical constituents in the products that we make for the automotive market. The parts are unexportable if reporting requirements are not followed. The information presented in this column and supporting material should ease the pain as you attempt to report using one of the various automated reporting programs. Contact your suppliers for specifics about the materials they provide.