Hydro Karmøy says it is to install new equipment for ultrasonic testing of foundry products from the extrusion ingot casthouse in Karmøy, Norway.

With the equipment in place, together with a newly installed ceramic filter, Hydro Karmøy maintains it will strengthen its position as supplier of advanced aluminium alloys to the automotive industry.

“Automakers are using aluminium in an increasing number of components to reduce vehicle weight to meet strict emission requirements introduced by governments in Europe and other parts of the world,” said Hydro Karmøy plant manager, Trond Olaf Christophersen.

“Particularly the metal used in safety-critical parts requires documented high quality. It is this market we are now aiming for.”

The ceramic filter removes unwanted elements from the metal, thereby increasing its purity. Ultrasonic testing takes place after the casting process.

“Automakers set strict requirements for us to document that there are no flaws in the ingots we produce,” said casthouse manager, Asle Voll.

“While we have previously only had equipment to manually test ingots, we can now test the entire cross section of the products using an automated process.”

Hydro installed similar equipment earlier at the recycling plant in Rackwitz in Germany. The testing is carried out by several ultrasonic probes scanning the ingot while it moves forward in a rotating motion.

In this way the entire cross section of the cylindrical ingot is examined. Data from the testing is then stored and made available to customers on delivery.

“Leading automakers require we use ultrasonic testing if, for example, we want to deliver metal for the suspension on their cars,” said Andreas Skodvin, responsible for Hydro extrusion ingot marketing, sales and customer relations.

Hydro is also making investments in Høyanger and Årdal aimed at the automotive industry. By installing adjustable moulds (AFM), the casthouses in Sogn are able to supply ingots of alloys that were not possible to produce with existing equipment.

This metal typically ends up in the hoods or side panels of vehicles, while the metal from Karmøy is used in extruded parts such as bumpers, piping systems and posts.

Including the investments in Årdal, Høyanger and Karmøy, Hydro has during the last eighteen months invested more than NOK100m (US$12.2m) in the Norwegian casthouse system to meet growing demand for aluminium from the automotive industry.

This is in addition to EUR130m Hydro is investing in a new production line for automotive parts at the rolling mill in Grevenbroich, Germany.

The implementation of ultrasonic testing in Karmøy is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of next year.