Aluminium specialist MQP has completely automated its pioneering Opticast sample preparation equipment to make it even easier for casthouses to achieve operational efficiency.

Opticast is the only system in the industry that enables casthouses to rapidly test-drive the grain refiners they are using to see if they can improve melt quality and make cost savings.

Traditionally, this has been a guessing game and struggling to maintain the same grain size in the melt every time has resulted in scrapped charges, product downgrades and higher processing costs. Opticast changed all this. Since its launch in 2000, hundreds of casthouses have benefitted from the testing system, preventing defects in their melts.

With technological advances, however, the system did require a revamp, said John Courtenay, chairman of MQP, which produces the high efficiency Optifine grain refiner range.

“We’ve been working on research into grain refiner efficiency with scientists at BCAST at Brunel University London for three years now. This provided the perfect opportunity to tap into their specialists in laboratory equipment and update Opticast.

“We have completely automated what was a manual system. And by simplifying the programming process, it means it can be bought and easily operated by casthouses themselves, not just have us testing their grain refiners at our MQP Technology Centre. This will particularly benefit those developing new alloys who need to set new grain refiner addition rates.”

Benefits of the revamped Opticast include:

  • Lightweight, portable equipment which can be set up on a typical desktop, providing all functions necessary for rapid sample preparation and completion in just 3-5 minutes
  • Robust and simple to operate
  • Timings for the anodising, rinsing and polishing of samples can be pre-set on the HDMI controller
  • Audible signals to alert the operator to the completion of each stage
  • Polishing and anodising liquids safely stored and dispensed from externally mounted plastic bottles
  • Surface finish allows direct and accurate determination of grain size with polarising microscope
  • Can be set up in an area close to the casting pit

Grain refiner is, arguably, a casthouse’s second biggest spend and identifying just how efficient a grain refiner actually is means great cost savings. For instance, by using Optifine instead of standard grain refiner, customers can save up to three dollars per tonne, a saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in a medium-sized plant.

Three versions of Optifine to choose from

MQP has three versions of Optifine with varying potencies for different requirements, which are used in the production of over five million tonnes of alloys a year at 45 major casthouses worldwide.

The most recent development, Optifine 5:1 125, is a game-changer. With 125% relative efficiency, it is the result of five years of fundamental research into nucleation with BCAST and means casthouses need up to 90% less grain refiner. This helps them make cost savings while achieving excellent melt quality, especially in alloys with high tensile strength and high surface quality typically used in automotive applications. It is a premium product which gives the end user a high rate of return.

To download the technical specifications of Opticast and how it can benefit your operations, visit www.mqpltd/opticast

To find out more about the cost of the unit and other details, please contact Richard Dean at:
Tel: +44 (0) 1564 337 0034
Mob: +44 (0) 782 333 0676