Aluminium grain refiner specialist MQP has increased production capacity of its high efficiency Optifine range by 20% through a six-figure investment at its manufacturing plant.
The Solihull-based company has installed a new production line at the plant in Baoding, China, increasing output of Optifine to 47,000 tonnes annually to meet demand from casthouses looking for more efficient ways to prevent cracking, large grain size and reduced melt quality when making everything from high tensile structures to foil stock.
The milestone reflects an investment of £3.4 million for the new Properzi production line and £2.6 million for an extra workshop and warehouse at the state-of-the-art STNM plant. STNM, MQP’s parent company, is one of the largest producers of master alloys in the world and now one of the biggest Al-Ti-B grain refiner producers.
John Courtenay, chairman of MQP, which has seen turnover rise by 34% to £8.5 million in the last financial year, said:
“Grain refiner, which is used to prevent defects in aluminium alloys is, arguably, a casthouse’s second biggest spend. And by using Optifine instead of standard grain refiner, customers can save up to three dollars per tonne, which results in savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in a medium-sized plant.
“Increasing output of Optifine by 8,000 tonnes per year means our customers will have shorter delivery times, particularly those buying our 125% efficiency Optifine 5:1 125 grain refiner, which includes our growing customer base from markets such as Brazil. These customers are committing to significant reductions in their carbon emissions in the next decade and products such as Optifine 5:1 125, which offers extremely high efficiency and is made with low carbon aluminium using hydro-electric power or wind power, are helping them achieve that.”
He said investing in the latest European technology to produce the three versions of Optifine – Optifine 3:1 100 and 5:1 100, which have 70% efficiency, and Optifine 5:1 125, which offers 85% efficiency – meant further improved grain refiner quality.
“We chose Properzi as they have some of the best equipment available on the market. It’s easy to maintain and has consistent rod and wire parameters and precision automation, making our own manufacturing processes even more efficient. It is improving cleanliness and, in particular, lowering oxide levels in the product.”
Optifine, today used in the production of over five million tonnes of alloys a year at 45 major casthouses worldwide, prevents everything from pin holes in thin sheets, black-line surface defects in litho plates and tears in food and beverage cans to defects in chassis for aerospace to trims, rails on EV SUVs and high gloss surfaces of luxury and sports cars.
MQP’s product range also includes other casthouse solutions to improve the manufacturing process, including the Opticast testing system, Optifeeder and the Optifilter.