Rapid Aluminium Solutionising Technologies (RASTec)

Abstract

A major current problem for the automobile industry is to reduce the negative environmental impact of its products. One way to do this is to reduce car weight and thus reduce exhaust pollution. Around 40% weight saving is achieved if aluminium alloy is used to replace steel. A barrier to using aluminium more widely, and not only in premium grade cars, is its low room temperature formability in cold pressing operations. A novel patented process, HFQ®, invented in the UK, enables heated aluminium alloy sheet to be formed into complex shapes whilst retaining the full strength of the material. Simple hot pressing does not allow this. The HFQ® process is being increasingly adopted by industry with notable success. However, relatively long cycle times are required to preheat sheet metal blanks using electric ovens. Because of this, costly multiple ovens have to be used, otherwise productivity will be low therefore increasing piece price. RASTec aims to eliminate the bottleneck, at no added cost, by increasing heating rate by up to 10 times that of conventional ovens. RASTec achieves this through induction heating adapted to sheet metal. Small closely spaced heating elements, the number of which can be activated to match with a blank shape for high efficiency, feedback controlled from temperature sensors will enable either uniform temperature or predetermined temperature profiles to be achieved. By reducing production costs, reducing production energy usage, whilst increasing accuracy and increasing productivity, the RASTec technology suite will enable faster take up of high strength Al alloys in mass-produced cars, trains, aeroplanes.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Impression Technologies Limited, Knightsbridge £384,083 £ 268,858
 

Participant

Imperial College London, United Kingdom £297,571 £ 297,571
Innoval Technology Limited, Sheffield £226,396 £ 113,198
Phoenix Calibration & Services Limited, BRIERLEY HILL £244,036 £ 170,825

Publications

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