Increasing the Productivity and Profitability of Manufacturers

Canada-Israel Industrial Research & Development FoundationIncreasing the Productivity and Profitability of Manufacturers

Metal Extrusion Technology Opens Up New Global Markets for Collaborators

Canadian Company: Castool Tooling Systems

Israeli Company: SHL-Alubin

Sector: Manufacturing

Challenge

Light metal extrusion is an established manufacturing process that is used to create a product with a fixed cross-sectional profile. The metal billet, often an alloy or combination of different metals, is heated until soft and then pushed through a die of the desired cross-section.

While this process enables manufacturers to economically create very complex cross-sections, the extrusion of hard metal alloys is riddled with challenges. For example, it is difficult to maintain a consistent temperature and ensure the alloy forms properly and uniformly. As the extrusion of hard alloys is relatively slow, the die gets progressively colder and press pressure gets higher, which can cause the extrusion to slow down or stop. An Israeli and a Canadian firm joined forces to develop a groundbreaking innovation for the light metal alloy extrusion industry.

Objectives

Leveraging funding from the Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program managed by CIIRDF, this bilateral R&D project brought together:

  • SHL-Alubin, Israel’s largest aluminum profile manufacturer; and
  • Castool Tooling Systems, a Canadian company that develops and manufactures innovative tooling for the light metal extrusion and die casting industries.

With CIIRDF support, the companies developed a smart tooling system that improves the process for extruding hard alloy metals such as aluminum and magnesium. It provides extrusion equipment operators with data on temperature, speed, time and pressure to support optimum die heating. It also records the formula for each die to enable re-use and benchmarking for future runs. For tool and die manufacturers, this increases productivity, reduces operating costs, and minimizes scrap and energy consumption. The collaborators estimate that the system will generate cost savings of $10,000 to $50,000 per day from the elimination of wasted billets.

Outcomes

“We installed the complete thermally controlled tooling system from Castool on one of our extrusion presses, with initial pilot tests yielding excellent results. This CIIRDF-supported system reduced breakthrough pressure that can bend or break the die by 40 percent as opposed to the 20 percent we typically achieve. Delivering faster extrusion speed, it also enables the creation of more aggressive die designs and maintenance of cooler billet temperature. This increases our competitiveness in many ways, as it is something that has not been done before. It boosts our production rates, ensures consistent and optimum extrusion, and allows us to produce more advanced profiles. This positions us as a supplier of choice for entirely new, high-end markets such as aerospace, and improves the performance and productivity of firms such as SHL-Alubin. CIIRDF helped to make this innovation possible, and we are now reaping the benefits on our production floor, and in our business.”

Yoram Rami, Technical Manager, SHL-Alubin

“The knowledge acquired during our CIIRDF project is helping us to build more competitive products – and a more competitive business – every day. We have applied the know-how garnered through this collaboration to many aspects of our R&D and operations. Since the conclusion of the project, we have realized 20 percent sales growth, adding millions to our revenues. And we are proud of the resulting product and the strength of our cooperation. This partnership has allowed us to access new and high growth sectors. This includes high speed train, aeronautical, and other industrial manufacturers that require complex profiles in hard alloys. We look forward to building on the outcomes of this collaboration, and developing new technology partnerships that will increase our visibility and traction in new global markets. These alliances are required to continue building the brand and commercial success of Castool around the world.”

Paul Robbins, CEO, Castool Tooling Systems