Martensitic steel: excellent formability-to-strength ratio

Martensitic steel combines tensile strengths up to 1700 MPa with good ductility, making it highly efficient for both vehicle lightweighting and improved crash protection — especially in anti-intrusion zones.

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What is the definition of martensitic steel?

When austenite iron is very rapidly quenched, the austenite is transformed into a very hard crystalline microstructure called “martensite.”

The martensitic transformation begins when the austenite reaches the martensite start temperature (Ms) and continues until the lower transformation temperature (Mt) is reached. In general, the higher the percentage of conversion to martensite, the stronger the resulting martensitic steel. These steels undergo post-quench martensitic tempering to improve their ductility, so that even MS steels with very high strength levels can be cold-formed using processes like cold-roll forming.

To produce cold-rolled martensitic steel (aka MS or MART), a cold-rolled steel strip is fed into a continuous annealing line (CAL). In the CAL, the material is annealed, water-quenched, and tempered. The austenite formed in the CAL, when rapidly quenched, is transformed into martensite. The CAL’s tempering operation provides the ultra-high strength steel with improved ductility.

Docol® martensitic grades have less than 2% alloying elements, providing good weldability.

Martensitic steel properties

  • Extremely high yield strength (Rp0,2) and tensile strength (Rm).
  • Superior energy absorption and impact strength for anti-intrusion zones.
  • Ideal for vehicle lightweighting.
  • Cold formability in bending, stamping, and roll-forming — including 3D forming.
  • Martensitic steel is significantly more cost-effective than aluminum: using optimized design profiles, MS steels can deliver high-strength performance that is similar to aluminum and at the same weight.

Where are martensitic steels used on cars?

With the highest strength of our cold-formable steels, Docol martensitic steel enables excellent lightweighting and increased crash performance:

  • EV battery protection
  • Sill (rocker) reinforcements
  • Door/side intrusion beams
  • Bumpers
  • Roof reinforcements
  • Seat structures


Martensitic steel for automotive applications

Our strongest martensitic steel – now in use


Cold-rolled Docol 1700M steel from SSAB is an eco-friendly, pound-for-pound alternative to aluminum for lightweight components used in passive safety systems. Due to Docol martensitic steel’s ductility, critical safety components are now being fabricated using cost- and energy-efficient cold forming processes.

For example, Shape Corp. uses 3D roll-forming to create lighter, more compact, and stronger A-pillars and roof rail tubes in Docol martensitic 1700MPa. Designed for the Ford 2020 Explorer and 2020 Escape, these key safety components increase driver visibility, interior space, and air bag placement optimization.

Docol 1700 martensitic is the material of choice for ultra-high strength steel (UHSS) applications, including side impact beams, bumpers, structural components, and EV battery enclosures. Docol design specialists can provide stimulated crash performance data on several optimized 1700MPa profiles, as well as simulations for many of our other martensitic grades: Docol 900M, 1100M, 1200M, 1300M, 1400M and 1500M.

Grades and mechanical properties for Docol martensitic steel

For best weight reduction, use higher grades with reduced thicknesses. Corrosion-resistant martensitic grades: electrogalvanized (EG) coatings are available on Docol 900M, Docol 1100M, Docol 1200M, Docol 1300M, Docol 1400M, and Docol 1500M. All Docol martensitic steel grades are available cold rolled (CR); Docol 1200M is available both cold rolled and hot rolled (HR). For more details, please download the data sheets listed below.
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    Product Family Product name Coating Dimensions Standards Datasheet
    Docol 900M Docol CR​700Y​900T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in

    Docol 900M

    Docol 1100M Docol CR​860Y​1100T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.00 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0787 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in

    Docol 1100M

    Docol 1200M Docol CR​950Y​1200T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in

    Docol 1200M

    Docol HR​900Y​1180T-​MS UC T: 2.00 - 4.00 mm
    W: Up to 1440 mm
    T: 0.0787 - 0.157 in
    W: Up to 56.69 in

    Docol 1200M

    Docol 1300M Docol CR​1030Y​1300T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in
    VDA 239-100

    Docol 1300M

    Docol 1400M Docol CR​1150Y​1400T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in

    Docol 1400M

    Docol 1500M Docol CR​1220Y​1500T-​MS UC, EG T: 0.50 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1527 mm
    T: 0.020 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 60.12 in
    VDA 239-100

    Docol 1500M

    Docol HR​1220Y​1500T-​MS UC* T: 2.00 - 4.00 mm
    W: Up to 1530 mm
    T: 0.0787 - 0.157 in
    W: Up to 60.24 in

    Docol 1500M

    Docol 1700M Docol CR​1350Y​1700T-​MS UC T: 1.00 - 2.10 mm
    W: Up to 1250 mm
    T: 0.0394 - 0.0827 in
    W: Up to 49.21 in
    VDA 239-100

    Docol 1700M

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      *Available upon request.

      Forming Docol martensitic steel

      • Excellent cold formability for bending, roll-forming, and stamping at room temperatures.
      • Quite good drawability and good edge-stretching and hole-expansion properties.
      • Good weldability, including resistance spot welding and laser welding.
      • Docol® martensitic steel grades are highly consistent — in their mechanical properties — avoiding stresses that can lead to unwanted or unexpected springback.
      For specific forming guidance for your martensitic steel automotive component, please contact our Technical Support.
      Martensitic steel has excellent cold formability

      Additional benefits from Docol martensitic steel

      • Superior fatigue properties for all vehicles: BEV, ICE or hybrid.
      • Seven high-strength grades: 900MPa, 1100MPa, 1200MPa, 1300MPa, 1400MPa, 1500MPa and 1700MPa.
      • Grades are available to meet OEM-specific standards and certifications.
      • Electrogalvanized (EG) corrosion resistance available on request.
      • Global availability and support. All grades listed are now commercially available.

      Are you looking for OEM specific grades?

      Docol® steel grades can be supplied according to OEM or VDA standards. And, in close cooperation with automotive OEMs, we often develop innovative AHSS steels that are customized for a specific car application. If we don’t list a specific grade that you need, contact our technical support for more information.

      The benefits of Docol® martensitic steel for each team member

      Safety engineers: Create new anti-intrusion zones (e.g., for BEV battery packs) and optimize the space utilization of existing zones (e.g., passenger compartments).

      Lightweighting engineers: Leverage the extreme steel strength and aluminum-like weight of martensitic steel.

      Production engineers: Use familiar cold forming operations (bending, stamping, roll-forming) and exciting new operations, like 3D roll-forming, on a UHSS steel.

      Procurement officers: Realize major cost reductions — with no performance penalty — by replacing aluminum with Docol martensitic steel. (And reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.)

      Sustainability officers: Lower the embedded CO2 in your materials and improve your life cycle assessment with our “future-proofed” Docol martensitic steels.

      Lower your embedded CO2

      Docol martensitic steel is "future-proofed".

      Electrogalvanized martensitic steel

      Docol electrogalvanized MS steels provide corrosion resistance using a uniform, high quality, protective coating, which can be applied as a very thin coat, if desired. Docol EG-coated martensitic grades can be readily formed and joined, with excellent resistance spot welding (RSW) properties.

      Docol EZ (or ZE) martensitic automotive steels are available from SSAB in the following strengths: Docol 900M, 1100M, 1200M, 1300M, 1400M and 1500M. With SSAB’s long and extensive experience in making electrogalvanized martensitic steels, car OEMs can have any of their concerns regarding hydrogen embrittlement (HE), also known as hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC), fully addressed.

      High yield strength martensite for crash performance

      World Auto Steel points out a correlation between sheet steel yield strength and the 3-point bending deformation (crash behavior) of hat-shaped parts:
      “CR1200Y1470T-MS has similar performance to hot-stamped PHS-CR1800T-MB and PHS-CR1900T-MB at the same thickness, and exceeds the frequently used PHS-CR1500T-MB. For this reason, there may be the potential to reduce costs and even weight with a cold-stamping approach, providing appropriate press, process, and die designs are used.” World Auto Steel’s Metallurgy of Martensitic Steels.


      Try it for yourself

      With our Trial Material Stock Center, you can get AHSS samples for most of our commercially available steels – as well as samples for our newest but not yet commercially released grades. Unique to the industry, we ship coils, sheets and custom lengths of any size. In 1 to 2 weeks, your material is ready for dispatch to anywhere in the world.

      Expand all

      What is martensitic steel?

      The very hard crystalline steel microstructure called “martensitic” is formed when austenite iron is very rapidly quenched, transforming austenite into martensite.


      What are some automotive uses for martensite?

      Docol martensitic steels are the highest in strength of our Docol cold-formable steel grades, which means the highest potential for weight reduction and increased performance in crash-related components.


      When can martensite replace PHS steels?

      World Auto Steel presents case studies of automotive parts applications where MS steels have replaced PHS grades for certain shaped-parts, lowering energy costs and improving cycle times. As the study points out, cold forming of martensitic steels is not limited to simpler shapes with gentle curvature. The example is a cold-stamped outer center pillar with a tailor-welded blank containing both CR1200Y1470T-MS and CR320Y590T-DP sections.