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APTOS: industrial scale–up of an Advanced tube forming -Process through Thermal Optimization, enabling energy and manufacturing costs Savings

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - APTOS (APTOS: industrial scale–up of an Advanced tube forming -Process through Thermal Optimization, enabling energy and manufacturing costs Savings)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

The project aimed at the up scaling and industrial exploitation of the APTOS manufacturing process which innovatively
combines hydroforming and hot tube gas forming of light-metal tubes of titanium, aluminium and magnesium alloys,
enhanced with optimized pre-thermal treatment and temperature gradients respectively.
MASPERO will exploit in APTOS the results of on-going and previous research projects, for accelerating the innovation and
market uptake of the APTOS manufacturing process, which will allow producing pieces with increased geometrical
complexity. A fully operational up scaled process will be set up in Phase 2, which hopefully will lead for future pre-production
series.
An experienced partnership is already supporting MASPERO in Phase 1 and some additional partners will be identified
during Phase 1: 1) Politecnico di Milano, Mechanic Department, with great and long experience in advanced forming
processes, 2) Fraunhofer IWU of Chemnitz, with a remarkable experience in hot gas forming, and 3) CiaoTech, an European
firm active in Economic services for industry.
TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY
TF1. Some cases studies were conducted for defining the feasibility of APTOS, the functional
requirements and the main components of the up-scaled process: hydroformed Al and Ti motorcycle
exhaust part, locally heat treated; hot gas formed aerospace stainless steel part; hot gas formed high
strength steel part.
TF2. Thermal conditioning strategies for tubes and dies have been evaluated and the potential heating
devices to be implemented were selected. Heating of tubes outside the dies can be performed locally or
integrally by means of either a diode laser head or an induction coil. Conditioning of the tools is
necessary in some cases and will be implemented by means of either thermal oil circulation or electric
resistance cartridges. No local die cooling techniques was implemented.
TF3. A functional design of the pilot equipment was developed, identifying the main parameters and
the layout of the new system. The main components of the system will be: water pressure intensifier,
hydraulic press, hydraulic axial cylinders, sealing rams, external tube heating devices, gas tanks, ultrahigh-
pressure gas compressor, special dies with heating devices, connecting die-press plates with
thermal insulation, control unit.
ECONOMICAL FEASIBILITY
EF1. The partnership has been strengthened: Gigant Industries (manufacturer of presses and other
machinery) has joined Maspero as a partner in SME instrument phase 2 for the production of a new
system, dedicated to the APTOS process.
EF2. The operating industrial costs and energy consumption patterns of the four case studies were
analysed and compared to the current cost structure with conventional tube hydroforming to provide a
solid business plan.
EF3 The key industrial sectors (aeronautic, rail, automotive, maritime) and their future market forecast
were studied. An overview of the main markets was performed in order to create a solid business plan.
CONCLUSION OF THE ACTION
From the technical and economic points of view, the APTOS project is feasible. The Tube HF process
with optimized local thermal treatments is feasible, but yields significant savings (monetary and
energetic) only for some limited applications. The HTGF process is also feasible: a system has been
functionally designed and it will be developed in Phase 2 of the project with the partnership of Gigant
Industries and the support of Politecnico di Milano and Fraunhofer IWU.
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