Norway’s Sapa AS announced yesterday that it will soon be building new production lines in Sweden and Belgium in order to meet an increasing demand for large thin-walled aluminium products in the rail industry.
The firm said it is increasing the force on its large aluminium press in Lichtervelde, Belgium from 6,500 metric tons to 8,200 metric tons so that it will be able to extrude 6000-series profiles that are up to 24-1/2” wide and 85’ long, with a thickness as thin as 0.063”. Profiles of these dimensions reduce the amount of aluminium used in an already lightweight piece without giving up a significant degree of strength. According to Sapa, the press will begin series production early next year.
Sapa is also building a large-scale friction stir welding machine at its plant in Finspång, Sweden. This machine will enable the firm to conduct both single- and double-sided welding of extruded aluminium profiles. The machine can produce 59’x11.5’ panels that are either curved or flat, which is primarily useful in making aluminium train cars.
“The combination of friction stir welding and the fact that we deliver a finished component with all the necessary fabrication and processing completed, makes it simpler and quicker to construct the entire car body,” says Bruno D’hondt, managing director of Sapa’s extrusion activities in the Benelux area.
Aluminium is often viewed as a superior material in the construction of rolling stock due to its lighter weight and smoother surface than steel, as well as being cheaper to use in modular construction.
“With our metallurgical expertise and knowledge, we helped the industry begin substituting with aluminium and we keep our customers ahead, for example, with local application engineers involved in the early design phases of customer projects,” says Sven Lundin, market sector director for Sapa. “With this kind of participation, we can help reduce customer costs by 10-to-15 percent, partly by optimizing the weight of designs.”
Sapa AS is a joint venture between Orkla Group and Norsk Hydro, with each entity owning an equal share in the venture. Based in Oslo, Sapa is the largest aluminium extrusion-based solutions company in the world, with one hundred plants in over three dozen countries, and employs almost 23,000.