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Düsseldorf, March 18, 2018

Copper: Which manufacturing process is more efficient?

Smartphones, PCs, tablets, LED-TVs, automotive electronics, sun collectors, wind power plants, fuel cells, power cables ... copper truly deserves the name “the red gold.”

Our modern lifestyle is unimaginable without copper and copper alloys. And this doesn’t only apply to electrical engineering. The hygienic properties of the metal are ideal for water pipes and the thermal conductivity of copper tubes is used for air-conditioners.

It can easily be defined which properties should be achieved by a copper product in everyday use. But the route to the desired top-quality end product is complex. For manufacturing copper tubes, two different process routes are available, including numerous other variations. Manufacturers thus face the question: which of the competing production processes are most efficient to reach my goals?

Which production volume?

SMS group therefore offers a neutral process-independent consultation. Since SMS, as worldwide leading manufacturer, is able to produce almost all variations of copper lines with more than 50 years of experience in this sector, nearly all configurations can be realized for the customers. End product and production volume are the criteria for selecting the process route.

An illustrative example for copper tubes: when a customer plans its copper tube production with high annual output the process line, including vertical continuous caster, hot forming with extrusion, and subsequent drawing is the most economically efficient solution. For smaller production volumes and thin-walled tubes with small diameters, a route via a horizontal continuous caster in the directube® process is more meaningful. In this way, a near-net-shape tube is directly cast, which is subsequently rolled out into a mother tube in a planetary rolling mill and then formed to its final tube geometry by drawing. This process is compact and cost-efficient since hot forming is omitted.

For both process routes other units are also employed. To be able to attain the desired metallurgical properties such as soft, semi-hard, or hard, annealing facilities are used. Even special requirements such as for air-conditioning pipes can be fulfilled. On inner grooving lines the copper tubes are provided with a larger surface improving heat exchange.

Decision-making basis

Conclusion: SMS not only offers complete plants from a single source but also provides support for the analysis of future profitability, thereby establishing a well-founded decision-making basis for plant owners. Patrick Schneider, Head of Sales Copper Plants, Forging Plants Business Unit of SMS group, is aware that much know-how is disclosed at a pre-order stage:

Experience shows us that in the vast majority of cases our trust and know-how investment is rewarded by the customers. Moreover, we need not fear competition. Our machines are excellent, we offer patented technology in part, all at a fair price/ performance ratio. Our process-neutral advice pays off – for us and for customer satisfaction. Patrick Schneider, Head of Sales Copper Plants, SMS group GmbH