High-performance fuel cells made of stainless precision steel strip for hydrogen-based drive systems (header graphic)


High-performance fuel cells form the heart of hydrogen-based drive systems. Our stainless precision steel strip is the perfect material for the cost-effective production of the metallic bipolar plates required for this purpose. This is because it offers excellent formability despite its extremely low material thickness.

In light of their long range and faster refueling compared to battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), the ongoing development of fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) represents an interesting alternative in the carbon-neutral mobility mix. The bipolar plates that, in combination with the membrane electrode unit, form the individual cells within a fuel cell stack offer significant potential in terms of fuel cell efficiency and compact design. To take full advantage of this, an extremely thin material is required that reliably supports complex forming operations during the manufacturing process. Only on the basis of these material properties is it possible to manufacture highly efficient bipolar plate stacks that make it possible to achieve complex flow-field designs, the fine channels used to convey gas and coolant, even in small sizes.

Waelzholz offers stainless precision steel strip in thicknesses of only 50 to 200 µm (0.002 – 0.008 in) for the production of bipolar plate stacks. The advantage is that with over 800 individual plates needed to assemble one bipolar plate stack, the ultra-thin sheets collectively result in a compact design. Our special production routing also results in a material that exhibits ten percent better formability than the standard and is also extremely flat. This makes the material perfectly suited for the complex forming processes with tight bending radii used to create complex flow fields.

Customized topology as the basis for versatile coating systems to increase efficiency

To optimize the electrical performance of the fuel cells, the sheets for the production of bipolar plates are coated. By precisely calibrating the surface of the stainless precision steel strip, Waelzholz offers a customized basis for this purpose. The topology of the surface can be tailored exactly as required to achieve the best results with the customer’s specific coating. Another advantage of the material used is its resistance to corrosion – should the coating be damaged during further processing, the steel material, which is already stainless, prevents corrosion and thus a possible reduction in performance or even failure of the fuel cell stack.




bipolar plates

Stainless precision steel strip for the production of bipolar plates (rendered graphic)

1  Supply channels for oxygen, water, and hydrogen

2  Flow fields

Waelzholz’s bipolar plate steels offer a wide range of benefits for your application: 

  • Cost efficiency when using 1.4301, 1.4303 and 1.4016 by reducing alloying costs compared with 1.4404
  • Our unique production routing improves the forming properties (Erichsen test) by 10% compared to the standard – making it possible to achieve the tightest bending radii and complex shapes with a high degree of isotropy
  • Exceptional flatness for optimized flow-field forming over the entire plate surface as a basis for dimensional stability and durability in automotive applications
  • Topology perfectly tailored to your coating
  • Safeguard the functionality of the bipolar plate by protecting them from corrosion when using stainless precision steel strip, even if the coating is damaged
  • Ideal workability and efficient processes thanks to highly consistent properties and a uniform thickness over the entire length of the steel strip
  • Maximum precision through targeted limitation of the precision tolerance class

Request sample

Is our stainless precision steel strip the right choice for your application as well? Feel free to use the adjacent button to request a sample of grade 1.4301, 1.4303, 1.4404, or 1.4016 for initial testing purposes. Please specify the desired dimensions when submitting your request.

Overview of primary materials and forms of delivery Stainless precision steel strip


Ralf Sauer
Global Sales Stainlees Precision Steel Strip
Ralf Sauer
+49 2331 964-2490
+49 2331 964-1300 3458
Jan Ullosat
Materials Technology Stainless Precision Steel Strip
Jan Ullosat
+49 2331 964-2153
+49 2331 964-1300 2153

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