Aluminium specialist MQP’s parent company has more than doubled the size of its plant to produce more of its high efficiency grain refiner and raise the bar in manufacturing worldwide.

The expansion of STNM’s state-of-the-art plant in Baoding, China, means MQP can now produce up to 39,000 tons a year of Optifine – which can improve melt quality by up to 70%* and reduce casthouse costs by a half – an increase of 23,000 tons.

STNM is one of the largest producers of master alloys in the world and now one of the biggest Al-Ti-B grain refiner production plants.

CEO Richard Courtenay said: “Demand for lightweight vehicles is a major factor behind aluminium market growth right now. However, the industry-wide problem of inconsistency in the efficiency of grain refiner on a global scale has notoriously meant excessive waste and unnecessary costs for casthouses.

“Optifine is changing all this and by expanding the STNM plant, we are able to play a huge part in making casthouses more efficient and improving the industry overall.”

Grain refiner is, as standard, added to aluminium to reduce defects to eliminate cracking in billets and slabs for everything from airframes to food cans across the sectors, from the foil and extrusions sectors to aerospace and automotive.

This should be done with as small amount of grain refiner as possible.

By using Optifine, casthouses can not only consistently reduce defects by up to 70%, they only need to use a third of the amount of standard TiBAI grain refiners typically used, bring costs down by half.

Richard added: “To put this into context, current world usage of standard grain refiner worldwide stands at 120,000 tons per year. By using Optifine, casthouses worldwide would only need to use 40,000 tons per year.

“Environmentally, using Optifine also means less coil changes and transportation around the casthouse and lower warehouse inventory.”

In case studies, the use of Optifine in slab casting has resulted in less cracks and slag patches and reduction in pin holes in thin sheets, and in the production of extrusion billets, the elimination of razor streaks on high gloss automotive extrusions.

Optifine is now achieving exceptional results in the production of over three million tonnes of aluminium alloys annually in 34 major casthouses worldwide, and is increasing its market share in North America, South America, China and Asia.

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