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Hydro invests in new testing equipment to improve joining capabilities and increase usage of aluminium offshore

Hydro is investing to raise its competence in the joining of dissimilar aluminium alloys and multi-materials for marine and offshore structures.

Already a pioneer in the use of friction stir welding – a technology used for lightweight structural applications offshore – Hydro is investing at its innovation and technology center in Finspång, Sweden, for testing of fusion welding and laser welding.

“Welding dissimilar metals can add value – lightness, thermal difference – in the construction of offshore structures, but there is still much to learn, so research in this area can lead to great gains across many industry sectors,” says Marijn Rietveld in Hydro’s offshore and marine market team.

The new equipment, including a MIG/TIG welding robot, is already in operation at the research laboratory in Finspång.

In close collaboration with Swerea, a Swedish research group for industrial renewal and sustainable development, Hydro is also going to participate in research projects that involve laser welding, riveting, resistant spot welding and adhesive bonding. Swerea KIMAB in Stockholm is investing in new equipment, and Hydro will be able to carry out significant testing on this equipment at KIMAB’s lab as part of a five-year agreement.

Practical research in material joining

Hydro started its first projects with the new equipment in late March. Testing will cover the weldability of both common and tailored aluminium alloys, such as the 5083 marine-grade alloy for waterline applications.

“With our new offering to customers based more on solutions than on individual parts, we need to complement our theoretical competence with greater practical competence,” says Rafael Fuertes, senior vice president responsible for strategy and innovation for Hydro’s Extruded Solutions business area.

“Testing and analyzing these alloys in our own lab lets us respond quickly and accurately to the difficult questions our customers need answered. Investment in R&D is a critical part of our offering.”

Dissimilar material welding will include 5xxx and 6xxx-series marine alloys, and possibly other metals such as steel.

Friction stir welding for large offshore panels

In 2016, Hydro, at that time Sapa, installed a new large-scale friction stir welding machine at its manufacturing plant in Finspång, adjacent to the technology center. The equipment enables Hydro to offer single-sided and double-sided welding of aluminium profiles with material thicknesses up to 16 mm, produced as 18 x 3.5-meter panels.

“Increasing panel length and width helps the oil and gas industry reduce the number of components used in the production of platforms and large offshore structures, compared with today. This reduces assembly time and cost spent in other areas, such as quality certification,” says Rietveld.

Visit Hydro at Offshore Technology Conference 2018 (OTC) in Houston this week to learn more.

For more information, please contact:

Marijn Rietveld, Market Director
+31 620 355 264

Hilde Haugen Kallevig, VP Communications
+47 907 28 052