Billets for the future
In the German town of Velbert and the French town of Saint-Avold are two facilities that will now deliver long billets to their two owners: Gränges and the German aluminum company Erbslöh. These facilities have used spray-forming technology for aluminum right here, in the heart of Northern Europe’s industrial region, for more than 20 years.
Spray-forming is a process in which a molten metal alloy is atomized (dissolved) with nitrogen gas into small round drops placed at high speed in a semisolid state on a rotating substrate to build up a billet.
Gränges views its investment of SEK 40 million in the two production facilities as a strategic initiative for the future.
“There aren’t many production facilities of this type in the world and this initiative will ensure that we have the skills and material supply for the next generation of materials for heat exchangers,” says Stefan Wass, head of product innovation in Finspång and one of Gränges’ three representatives on Getek’s board of directors.
“Expertise in spray forming technology is extremely high in SaintAvold and Velbert,” he adds.
In the long term, the Saint-Avold facility will have the stronger link to Gränges. Saint-Avold will provide the Group with spray-formed Trillium billets that are extruded and frictionwelded to welding plates for further rolling.
Getek in brief
Getek stands for Gränges Erbslöh Teknologie. Sales totaled about EUR 3 million in 2017. Getek is a joint venture company with Gränges and Erbslöh Aluminium as owners (Gränges controls 51 percent).
Number of employees: 9.
One spray chamber.
Capacity: 1,100 tons per year
Products: Trillium, which is delivered to Gränges. DISPAL, which is delivered to Erbslöh Aluminium. DISPAL alloys are used in cylinder inserts, crankshafts, bearing end plates and inlet valves.
Number of employees: 10.
Two spray chambers.
Capacity: 3,000 tons per year
Products: DISPAL, which is delivered to Erbslöh Aluminium, though the long-term plan is to produce Trillium, which will be delivered to Gränges.
“Ultimately, we’ll be able to lower the cost of Trillium billets at the same time that we ensure capacity for the future. Now that we have spray-forming technology in-house, we’ll also gain better control over a critical process step for Trillium, which will result in better quality,” says Stefan Wass.
He underscores that the addition of the new facilities to the Gränges Group is also in line with the company’s global development plan for Trillium.
“Trillium is a strategic project and we need to focus on promoting the product on a broader front to meet market demands for a soldering process that allows low levels of flux residues.”
Erbslöh Aluminium is a solid company with more than 50 years of experience processing aluminum materials and is active both in Germany and worldwide. Gaining a partner with a strong link to the automotive industry in one of the largest automotive markets in Europe – Germany – is yet another bonus for Gränges.
“Gränges and Erbslöh complement each other well. Both companies work with advanced niche products. Our business models are also similar, so we understand one another. The corporate culture is extremely open and there is a strong willingness to cooperate in this new format,” says Stefan Wass.