Superform, based at Blackpole in Worcester, has developed over the past 40 years “superforming” technology that gives designers freedom to create from sheet aluminium complex parts that cannot be made with conventional stamping processes. Superforming involves heating an aluminium sheet and then forcing it onto a surfaced tool to create a one-piece, three-dimensional shape. The process is ideal for creating intricate forms combining several parts into one.
Now the company, operating out of its UK Midlands base, is shipping superformed parts to other countries, including Germany, Italy and Australia, with exports forecast to be up by 44% by 2015. The technology is especially popular in automotive, aerospace, rail, medical and architectural markets.
In the automotive sector, Superform’s advances are the result in part of its close collaboration with automotive icon Morgan Motor Company. The two companies work closely together to develop cars that combine the latest high-strength aluminium alloys with the ability to create unique styling.
Simon Tarmey, Managing Director of the Superform Division of Luxfer Group, said: “Superform has been making complex body panels and parts for Morgan for many years, but recently, Superform and Morgan engineers and designers have been working much more closely together, using sophisticated computer-aided tools to optimise part designs not only to achieve the beautiful, flowing shapes characteristic of Morgan cars, but also to maximise durability and weight savings that reduce vehicle weight and CO2 emissions.”
Both companies are now sharing in the success of this partnership with sales growth leading to vacancies for engineers who are looking to work in a highly skilled and exciting environment.
Morgan Motor Company Marketing Director Mark Ledington said: “We are entering an incredibly exciting time for the two companies. Operating in such a specialist sector, staff development is one of our top priorities, and with growing demand for aluminium technology in the automotive sector, we’re keen to make a significant contribution to the region’s engineering skills base.”
Will Savage, CEO of the Aluminium Federation (ALFED), the trade association that represents the British aluminium industry, said: “We’re incredibly excited about what is happening at Superform and Morgan, as their technological developments have positive implications at regional, national and international levels. Through the right investment in research and development, they are now in control of a manufacturing process that has real appeal to companies producing road and rail vehicles.”