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SDE Technology “European first” technology targets as global leader

| Editor: Briggette Jaya

SDE Technology has intentions of wanting to be a global leader in lightweight components, having invested in a new process.

The initial investment of £1 million in 2019 enables the laser profiling of HFQ blanks, SDE said.
The initial investment of £1 million in 2019 enables the laser profiling of HFQ blanks, SDE said.
(Source: SDE Technology)

Leading manufacturers of pressings and assemblies in the UK, SDE Technology, has signalled intentions of wanting to be a global leader in lightweight components by investing in a new process.

Known as Salop Design and Engineering prior to its recent re-branding, SDE Technology says it is the first company in Europe to hold a production licence for Hot Form Quench (HFQ). HFQ is a revolutionary hot-forming process to produce high-strength aluminium parts for use in the automotive, aerospace and renewable sectors.

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According to the company, this new technology gives designers the freedom to create parts that offer significant weight savings, yet still deliver higher structural strength with improved formability in six and seven-thousand series alloys. These parts cannot be formed cold. In some cases, it can also reduce the part counts from multiple components to just one, SDE notes. Because HFQ lends itself to higher strength aluminium, it is ideally suited for the vehicle safety cell in the automotive sector and has also been used to develop a prototype aircraft armrest.

The initial investment of £1 million in 2019 has enabled the laser profiling of HFQ blanks and a £multi-million investment is scheduled to be in place at its Shrewsbury facility over the next 18 months.

“This is a real game-changer for our business and industry as a whole - thanks to HFQ, we can now offer new and existing customers a lightweight solution for making complex parts in one pressing, reducing weight, time to manufacture and cost in the process,” explained Richard Homden, CEO of SDE Technology.

“HFQ was developed by Impression Technologies (ITL), which industrialised research at Birmingham University and Imperial College London. This is a great example of British research being utilised by British manufacturing.”

Homden added that one simply cannot form this high-strength aluminium in any other way, unless a super plastic-forming process is used. And even then, SPF makes one part in 15 to 20 minutes, while the cycle time using HFQ technology is 15 to 20 seconds — a design and manufacturing dream.

“This is the start of an ambitious growth and investment strategy that positions us as the first production-intent company for this process in Europe,” Homden noted.

SDE Technology is currently talking with a number of OEMs about the HFQ offer. Initial feedback from clients point to the fact that one can exchange steel parts with aluminium to achieve part integration and less weight, as the key drivers for adoption. Also, the ability to also remove reinforcements as well as replacing extrusions and castings with HFQ pressings are other big wins, SDE added.

CCO Christopher Greenough said that the company is firmly focused on delivering lightweight manufacturing solutions that can help solve a lot of the industry’s current and future requirements and added: “The Government is obviously pushing hard for electrification.” He also noted that its HFQ technology can help and believes that it will be a big driver in helping quadruple the company turnover over the next 5 years.

Greenough concluded: “We are looking to be at the forefront of the emerging EV and lightweighting markets, whether it is through HFQ or other innovative processes for joining different materials, battery technology and surface coating.”

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