Sapa is investing in new production lines at sites in Belgium and Sweden to meet the surging demand for larger and thinner-walled aluminium products in the rail industry.

Sapa is increasing from 6,500 to 8,200 tonnes the force of the large aluminium extrusion press at its plant in Lichtervelde, Belgium. The added power will enable the company to extrude 6xxx-series profiles that are up to 620 mm wide and up to 26 meters long, with an extremely thin wall thickness down to 1.6 mm. This reduces the amount of aluminium used in the section and lightens an already weight-saving solution, without sacrificing strength.

The upgraded press will begin series production in January 2017.

The company also has invested in a new large-scale friction stir welding machine at its Finspång plant in Sweden, offering single-sided and double-sided welding of extruded aluminium profiles, produced as 18 x 3.5-meter panels. The panels can be curved as well as flat. “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, who is managing director of Sapa’s extrusion activities in the Benelux region.