Customer-driven innovation

Gränges conducts world-class strategic research and innovation in close collaboration with our customers, based on extensive knowledge of metallurgy and understanding of the manufacturing process. Development of new, innovative products and material technologies are drivers of Gränges’ future growth.

We are aware of our customers’ challenges and the ever-growing demand for smaller, lighter and more designable materials. Products continuously needs to be tailored for new generations of products, new applications and new end-user requirements. Our advanced aluminium products are the result of long-term commitment to research and innovation, and close collaboration with constant interaction with our cus­tomers.

Strategic, global research

Gränges Research & Innovation (R&I) is our competence centre for the complete metallurgy of brazed aluminium. This includes the entire process from melting in slab production, to the final use of brazed heat exchangers worldwide. The work is con­ducted cross-functionally within Gränges, with external cus­tomers and, in selected key areas, with leading universities and research institutes. Gränges R&I comprises around 60 highly educated employees worldwide, including metallurgists, chem­ists, metallographers, physicists, mechanical engineers, and technicians – all specialists in rolled aluminium products for heat exchanger applications. Several of the employees hold doctoral degrees and regular collaboration takes place with universities and schools of technology. The strategic research is managed globally, while the customer-driven development is carried out locally in close cooperation with the production facilities. Gränges R&I is based in Finspång, Sweden, and in Shanghai, China, and in Huntingdon, USA.

The R&I process

Fundamental research in key areas is usually carried out in-house, but in selected areas Gränges collaborates with leading universities and research institutes. The objective is to strengthen Gränges’ leading position in the development of brazed heat exchanger materials, to develop new innovative aluminium products, new material technologies and to enter new customer segments. New alloys and alloy combinations are initially tested through pilot casting, rolling and computer simulations at Gränges R&I, before full-scale production takes place. This process facilitates planning of effective highprecision production processes.

The development of new products often takes place in teams with Gränges’ business development units. If critical skills are lacking to run an efficient development process, the possibility of external cooperation and, in some cases, the acquisition of skills, such as from smaller start-up companies, will be considered. A part of Gränges’ R&I organization is focusing solely on new material technologies.

Supporting customers locally and globally

We need to be close to our production units, as well as having close contact with our customers globally. Therefore are Gränges’ product developers and technicians represented throughout Asia, Europe and Americas, helping customers opti­mize the interaction between their machinery, processes, and applications, and our products.  We work very closely with our application engineers and in close contact with our customers' technical units. This gives us knowledge of present demands and future challenges. Our contribution to meeting present and future challenges is world-class, competent and dedicated researchers using the most appropriate testing facilities for the job. Some of the testing is outsourced, but the key competences are kept in-house and we have many contacts with research institutes and universities.

We offer services such as prototype brazing, aluminium braze simulations, brazeability tests, ­sagging tests, filler flow tests, advanced metallurgical examinations, as well as accelerated corrosion tests such as Neutral Salt Spray Test (NSS), Cyclic Corrosion Test (CCT) and Sea Water Acetic Acid Test (SWAAT), enabling Gränges to offer tailored and optimized aluminium products. The collected knowl­edge and experience from these processes allows us to cus­tomise truly optimised aluminium product solutions.

To support this work, Gränges has an application centre that can replicate the customers’ forming and brazing processes. The centre, located in Shanghai, is also ideal for testing small units of custom-designed heat exchangers. To explore the applications of brazed heat exchangers within non-automotive air-conditioning and other industries, Gränges builds competence within heat exchanger prototype design, optimization, and performance testing.

History

Gränges R&I is present both in Finspång, Sweden and Shanghai, China. Our R&I work for rolled aluminium started in 1924 at Finspong Metal Works, two years after our aluminium production started. We have had several different names since then. Production of braze clad aluminium strip started in 1972 and we made our first R&I report into corrosion of the brazed product in 1974. Our production in Shanghai started in 1999 and we started an inspection laboratory at the site at the same time, transferring knowledge and knowhow. By 2006 this had developed so well that we established an R&I unit in Shanghai and during 2019 we also opened a new centre at our facility in Huntingdon in the US. Today, about 60 researchers and technicians work at the three units.

Key competence areas

Because of the high complexity of the complete process, the expertise and know-how of Gränges R&I play an important role for customers as well as for Gränges' internal product development, quality and production.

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