Sapa opens automotive-focused R&D lab in Detroit
Sapa Technology Americas is the first facility of its kind in North America dedicated to the research and development of extruded aluminum solutions for the automotive industry. The new lab facility opened its doors Tuesday in the Detroit suburb of Troy.
Sapa Technology is Sapa’s corporate research and development hub. Established in 1963 and with its base in Sweden, the R&D unit has expertise in material, physics, chemistry and mechanical engineering. Sapa Technology Americas, located near the “motor city” of Detroit, represents an extension with an automotive focus.
“In total, we have around 1,000 engineers working in research and with application development throughout the world. This is a new step forward in our work to provide customers with the solutions that improve their products,” says President & CEO Egil Hogna.
Executive vice president Tolga Egrilmezer, who is responsible for Strategy & Business Development for Sapa, says the company “is committed to developing innovative and sustainable aluminum solutions, and the Troy facility brings us even closer to the automotive industry, which is focused on building lighter and safer cars. We want to stimulate the use of aluminum in automotive applications and build on our role as the preferred development partner in automotive extrusion-based solutions.”
Sapa’s automotive customers include OEMs like Ford, General Motors, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and Tesla, as well as Tier 1 suppliers such as MAHLE, Benteler, Panasonic and TI Automotive.
Sapa Technology Americas has five engineers on staff and expects to further increase manning before the end of the year, says lab manager Nathan Nickolopoulos, who adds that Sapa has invested more than $3 million in new equipment at the Troy site. Most of the equipment has been installed and is in use.
Sapa Technology Americas provides service to the business areas within the company, specifically on projects requested by Sapa’s North America Technical Center (NATC), its plant network and corporate R&D. In addition to its current portfolio, Sapa Technology Americas is working toward ISO 9001 and 17025 certification, which it expects to achieve this summer.
The lab will not handle external queries, aside from projects with key academic partners, such as Michigan Technological University.
The key disciplines available at Sapa Technology Americas include:
- Physical metallurgy and advanced metallography
- Finite element analysis (linear and non-linear)
- Thermal analysis
- Corrosion and surface treatment technologies
- Joining, in particular solid state methods such as friction stir welding
- Solidification and casting technology, including billet quality assessment
In addition to Sapa Technology and its new satellite in Troy, the company has technical expertise working around the world in market-specific or industry-related centers. In the United States, these include the NATC in Michigan, Oregon and other locations, and the Corrosion Test Center in Florida.