AP&T is now launching a new generation of its Multi-Layer Furnace for press hardened vehicle parts. The new generation has been developed on a number of points compared to previously, resulting in improved process stability and availability.
The first generation of AP&T’s Multi-Layer Furnace (MLF) was introduced three years ago as a space-efficient, flexible and easily serviced alternative to conventional roller hearth furnaces in press hardening lines. Since then, up to 50 systems with furnaces and related automation have been installed for car part manufacturers in Europe, the U.S., Japan and China. AP&T's development team has been working the entire time in close cooperation with customers to utilize experiences that can help develop the technology.
“The new generation of MLF is equipped, for example, with a new control unit for more secure power supply, sensors that give better control over heating, a more rigid hatch installation and new, sturdier heating elements. In order to prevent hydrogen brittleness, the furnace is also equipped with dew point control. The result is an optimized solution that meets high demands for process stability and that satisfies the car manufacturers’ CQI-9 standard,” says Product Manager Line Joachim Ullberg, AP&T.
AP&T’s Multi-Layer Furnace has many advantages compared to conventional roller hearth furnaces. Firstly, an MLF only needs half of the floor space. Secondly, the parts that are to be heated can be positioned with a great deal of precision, which facilitates, for example, handling during concurrent production of different types of parts. If there is downtime in one of the furnace modules, the others can continue to be used as usual, while a stoppage in a roller hearth furnace means the entire process suffers. Since MLF has only a few moving parts, service and maintenance are simpler and much less expensive to perform, which impacts both availability and maintenance costs. MLF is also designed to cope with the quick development taking place in materials. Coatings with AlSi (aluminum/silicon) are already common, and we are likely to see increased utilization of zinc in vehicle parts in the future.
“Our new generation of MLF is a mature and future-proofed solution with process stability, which can handle many different material combinations to achieve a competitive total cost of ownership,” says Joachim Ullberg.
Read more about press hardening.