Weber Metals Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Otto Fuchs Group, held a grand opening in October 2018 for its new 540 MN die forging press in Paramount, California. The press is the world’s strongest hydraulic pull-down die forging press in pit-mounted design and represents the largest single investment in the company’s over 100-year history.
SMS group was responsible for the mechanical equipment, electrical and automation systems, and hydraulic equipment for the die forging press — as well as the complete erection of the plant including commissioning. The huge steel components, including 34 cast and forged parts weighing between 100 and 330 tons, had mainly been manufactured in Europe and Asia and then been shipped to the U.S. In total, SMS group used about 9,000 tons of steel to build the plant, which is more than once used for the Eiffel Tower.
SMS also performed the forging of first reference pieces on the new press, showing impressive results from the start.
“The new forging press from SMS group is our flagship and will ensure the competitiveness and also the technological leadership of OTTO FUCHS for the next 30 years,” said Dr.-Ing. Klaus Welschof, head of Aerospace Division, OTTO FUCHS KG.
Dubbed the 60-K, the hydraulic die forging press has a force of 60,000 tons, a die clamping area of 6,000 by 3,000 mm, and a working stroke of 2,000 mm. The press is designed for both hot and cold forming. In addition, the press features balancing system with the latest valve technology and highly sensitive electronics. This enables the press and its interactions to be perfectly harmonized for extremely high precision in the forging operation.
The press will serve Weber Metals to make products for the aerospace industry from forged aluminum and titanium. Forgings of these high-performance materials are used in the fuselage, wings, undercarriage, and engines. The size of the plant is not an end in itself, nor does it serve the pursuit of world records, but follows a clear future-oriented strategy. It opens up new possibilities to designers and manufacturers in the aerospace industry for larger, weight-optimized and structure-optimized components that offer increased safety at a lower weight. In the future, such forged parts will allow for the design of aircraft featuring higher transport capacities, improved safety, and minimized fuel consumption. These new, larger and lighter components are key to the future of mobility.
Moreover, thanks to its enormous forging power the plant can shape new high-strength and ultra-high-strength materials. Companies that are able to offer components comprised of these raw materials will find new markets that could not have been served thus far, providing clear competitive advantages and added value.