Spartan Light Metal Products, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA is one of the world's leading manufacturers of aluminum and magnesium components for diecasting. The company's three production plants in the USA (Hannibal, Mexico, Missouri and Sparta, Illinois) demonstrate exceptional expertise when it comes to conventional diecasting and mechanical processing lines, assembly and dies for producing products for the automobile industry and consumer goods. Some of the company's renowned customers from the automobile industry include Toyota, GM, Ford and Honda.
The collaboration between Spartan Light Metal Products and Oskar Frech traces its roots to the 1970's. A number of hot chamber machines for magnesium components was delivered in 1979. In recent years, Spartan has been equipped with various products and technologies from the Frech Group, such as temperature control technology from the Austrian Oskar Frech subsidiary Robamat.
Spartan's expansion into structural parts
In order to ensure future competitiveness and the further strategic development of the company's product/application portfolio, investment in structural part production was seen as having great potential for growth.
Construction of the 4th plant in Mexico, Missouri, USA was officially announced in January of 2018. Ground-breaking for a new 135,000 square meter building with its own production facilities for multiple, fully-automated diecasting cells, including processing and logistics, for the production of ready-to-install structural cast components followed in August of 2018.
This new, highly modern infrastructure will help to fulfill the requirements of OEMs for CO2 reduction through lightweight construction using diecasting applications in Al/Mg structural parts. The goal is to actively engage in the growing market for new components of electric drives.
In the first expansion stage, complex aluminum structural parts will be produced for the vehicle manufacturers.
The first GDK4100S diecasting cell with 44,000 kN locking force was successfully commissioned in October of 2020, following a construction period of only 8 weeks to start of production in the plant. Challenges and travel restrictions due to the corona virus had no effect on the construction time. Integrated worldwide with highly qualified on-site personnel and online remote support for global assistance, Frech USA Service enabled smooth construction of the GDK4100S.
The second GDK4100S diecasting cell is currently being delivered; SOP is scheduled for early 2021.
Convincing Frech performance
The casting unit was given high priority in the machine selection process. The performance of the 2100 kN, real-time controlled casting unit from Oskar Frech provides maximum flexibility for structural, chassis and engine components. Its properties make it particularly well suited for thin-walled and thick-walled components. Chief among these convincing dynamic properties are the acceleration of ≥650 m/s² for magnesium and a maximum velocity (V2) without metal of up to 11 m/s.
Low accelerated masses allow hardly any pressure peaks as well as short pressure rise times of 20 ms at maximum specific die pressure, as a result of the interior intensifier through which flow occurs. These technical properties, among others, were crucial decision-making criteria in favor of Frech.
A patented and optimized hydraulics concept, which reduces the number of valves in the new machine generation of the GDK series by up to 30% and also has a very quiet FC drive, enables easy maintenance with the best possible accessibility and energy savings of up to 50% compared to the previous series.
The combination of a high-resolution position sensor system and rapid processing of the high-end real-time control with the fastest runtimes enables the GDK machine to have unparalleled and high repetition accuracy as well as process stability at a machine capability of cmk ≥1.33.
The locking unit of the 3-plate GDK series, known around the world as especially robust and reliable, also ensures a low TCO over the long term.
Efficiency with high system availability
In addition to quality and process stability, powerful productivity of every system component with a high degree of availability in continuous operation is required for economic success. This prerequisite is particularly fulfilled by the robust heart of the system. The optimized kinetics/kinematics of the locking unit's 3-plate design allows for shorter overall lengths than in the case of 2-plate machines already on the market, despite the knee joint. Among other things, the tank volume required for operating resources could be halved as a result of innovations in hydraulics. Opening and closing times of less than <13 sec as well as permanently high availability are achieved, even in machines used over many years.
Variables influencing casting parameters are compensated with repeatable accuracy via the controlled casting unit. The tolerances of the casting process and all quality-related process parameters are permanently monitored.
With state-of-the-art equipment, the installed systems fulfill the necessary prerequisites for the future successful growth of Spartan Light Metal Products with challenging new applications from the fields of e-mobility and structural casting.
As a result of the close collaboration by Spartan with powerful partners, the customer's requirements for the complex casting cell concept were able to be met in nearly turnkey fashion. Open communication combined with trust and a high level of engineering expertise were the success factors here.