The West European aluminium extrusion sector is threatened
by strong competition from "low wage" countries in North
Africa and Eastern Europe. West European extrusion
companies are being superceded by low end bulk markets and
competition on the other, higher market segments is
increasing. To survive, West European extrusion companies
need to improve the efficiency of their extrusion process,
shorten their time-to-market for new products and produce
qualitative superior products. Existing knowledge and
technology have proved to be insufficient to reach these
BOAL and PHOENIX, in co-operation with the UNIVERSITY OF
TWENTE, started with the IPECTIES project in 1995. The aim
of this project was the development of an integrated
extrusion process evaluation and control system by which
the aforementioned goals could be obtained. This research
project was partly successful. Controlling the aluminium
extrusion process is complicated because there are a lot of
factors that influence the output of the process. The
influence of these factors is not known precisely. To get
an good product, trial and error is still a well-known
phenomenon in the extrusion process. BOAL and PHOENIX will
take another step forward in the aluminium extrusion
technology: they will start a new research project.
The aim of this new project is to develop a feature based
design theory for dies. Based on a number of defined
features (for example bearings, legs, feeder hole, welding
chamber, etc.) a 3D solid model could be made in a short
time. The system will be interactive and self-learning.
Main research subjects in this new project are:
Time-dependency: In the simulation the complex dynamic
phases of the extrusion process will be integrated. In the
previous EUREKA project (E! 1348 IPECTIES) it proved to be
not possible to integrate time-dependency in the
calculations. The goal was too ambitious and the
calculations needed more computer capacity than technically
Time-dependency will be a major point of research in this
project. The expectation is that the calculations can be
possible now because of recent improvements in computer
capacity. Besides this, research will be done on the way
dynamic proces-simulation could be related to the die
surroundings (integration of elements like heat transfer to
die holder, pressure plate and container, friction in the
container and heat exchange with supporting tools).
Inserts: Current dies are made of specific kinds of steel.
These materials are subject to extremely high requirements.
On the one hand the material has to be sufficiently tough
to absorb elastic deflections. On the other hand the
surface of the material has to be very strong to be
sufficiently wearproof. In practice a lot of wear
difficulties appear at bearings, especially with flat dies
and additional die parts. In case of wear of the die, the
whole die has to be replaced. To find a solution to this
problem research will take place into changeable inserts of
specific wearproof materials. In case of wear, only the
inserts have to be replaced.
Keywords: extrusion, simulation, process control.