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AP&T first in the world to produce a production line for hot formed aluminium

AP&T has delivered the world's first production line for hot forming of aluminium with a new method - HFQ®. The technology enables parts to be manufactured that have low weight, high strength, complex shapes and high dimensional stability in one single step. CIPCO, a 100% subsidiary of Impression Technologies Ltd (ITL), is the purchaser. CIPCO is the result of a collaboration between PAB Coventry and Impression Technologies Ltd, and is backed by the UK government's Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.

The new method, the Solution Heat Treatment, Forming and In-Die Quenching process (HFQ®), was developed at the University of Birmingham and Imperial College London, and is now being industrialised in LoCoLite, an EU FP7 project.

AP&T is collaborating in the project together with several stakeholders (including ITL and PAB) from European industry and academia (including Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham) to produce solutions that can help car manufacturers reduce vehicle weight, energy consumption and impact on the environment.

The first prototypes produced using the new method have been demonstrated in the Locolite project, and early next year, it will be time to install the first production line.

"The Solution Heat Treatment, Forming and In-Die Quenching Process (HFQ®) process allows strength aluminium alloys to be formed into complex geometries through the increased formability, with sharper bend radii and almost total elimination of spring-back. These are significant advantages compared to traditional stamping processes.

"These qualities are of major interest for the automotive industry, and they give the technology a large potential market," says Dr. Christian Koroschetz, Director Technology Department at AP&T.

The new production line will be used by CIPCO to manufacture lightweight parts for several British car manufacturers, as well as for continued development work of the HFQ® process. Installation and testing will take place in the first quarter of 2016. Production is expected to be underway during the second quarter of 2016.

"In just a short amount of time, we have taken a new and promising technology from concept to functioning production solution. Cooperation with Impression Technologies on HFQ® began in 2012. LoCoLite was launched the year after, and we have now delivered the first order. This is a major and important step," says Peter Karlsson at AP&T, who is responsible for the company's contacts with LoCoLite.

George Adam, CEO of Impression Technologies, said: "We are pleased to be working with AP&T and taking delivery of this world leading equipment for our HFQ® facility in the UK."

The production line for HFQ includes, amongst other things, a 6000 kN high-speed, hot forming press, AP&T's MultiLayer Furnace, SpeedFeeders and a process & thermal monitoring system.

HFQ is a registered trademark of Impression Technologies Ltd. For more information, click here.