The triumphant advance of aluminium is in no small part an accomplishment of the technicians and engineers who recognised the great potential of this material. Some of the best in the business live in Pongau and work at the Salzburger Aluminium Group Lend (SAG).
Initially hardly noticed by the public, the company has developed into a global player in the area of aluminium and today numbers among the world's most innovative and sought-after suppliers in the metal processing industry: an 85 percent export rate and quintupling of the turnover in only ten years to roughly 280 million euro are impressive figures, as is a 4 percent research and development rate in a "research and development" country like Austria.
One of the main companies of the group, Aluminium Lend GmbH & Co KG, has demonstrated just how these investments have paid off. The completely new aluminium material "Maxxalloy Ultra", which was also submitted this year for the innovation price of the Salzburg economy, represents the start of a new chapter in the history of automotive engineering.
It all depends on the right mixture
Pure aluminium is naturally light but very soft and hardly capable of handling any mechanical stress. However, if it is melted with other metals into alloys, the right mixing ratios and "ingredients" can result in materials that make it possible for the first time to build automobiles extensively with light metals but without safety risks.
Maxxalloy, a material specially developed by SAG for the high requirements in automotive engineering (top left); below this, a die cast aluminium part (left) for a side impact bar (right) made of Maxxalloy for the door interior of the Audi A4 convertible.
However, what sounds like simple mixing actually requires extensive know-how both in technical matters and in understanding of market developments. "Our competent research and development team in Lend works very closely with the renowned Metallurgy University of Leoben as well as with the sales department,“ says SAG General Director Josef Wöhrer. "Only in this way can we guarantee our customers further development of the materials and applications that is both scientifically founded and compatible with the market.“
Naturally, the requirements differ greatly depending on the area of application. Materials that can undergo extensive deformation without breaking are required for the area of crash safety, while the chassis, for example, requires materials that return to their original form even after significant stretching.
This may be the greatest contribution of the innovation in Lend. "Maxxalloy" is the first aluminium material on the market for which the basic properties can be customised to the application but which also yields massive cost savings during processing without any losses in quality.
With Maxxalloy, SAG is following the market trend
Immediately after casting, die cast parts of this new material have the mechanical properties of forged parts that are significantly more expensive to produce yet still used by many designers. The expensive secondary processing that would otherwise be required is completely unnecessary with Maxxalloy.
With this development, SAG is clearly following the market trend. Because aluminium is material number 1 in the future of automobile manufacturing. Ever greater quality is required with simultaneously lower costs, and this is an area in which the know-how in Lend yields convincing advantages for manufacturers and consumers alike: a reduction in the process chain leads to an increase in productivity. Aluminium is easy to process, can handle high stresses in alloy form and is environmentally friendly thanks to its suitability for unlimited recycling. Yet another advantage: weight reduction reduces fuel consumption.
SAG Aluminium Lend
GmbH & Co KG
A-5651 Lend 25
Tel.: 0 64 16/6500-0