in Vol. 6 - May Issue - Year 2005
New Cooperation For Wheel Finishing Technologies: MWG Galvano And R² Set Up A New Quality Standard
Katja Loderstedt (Ph.D.), Assistant to the CEO / MWG Group
Dirk Gather, Project Management, R
MWG Head Quarters Wernigerode in Germany
In cooperation, the two companies R2 and MWG Galvano developed a fully automated process to produce chromed aluminium wheels for automobiles in the upper and premium price range, by combining a specific mechanical pre-treatment and a suitable plating method (chroming). The implementation of this process ensures excellent results.
In the USA, polished or chrome plated aluminium wheels have been very popular for many years. The demand in Europe has been increasing. Car manufacturers as well as aftermarket distributors and tuning part specialists do not want to do without this stylish component.
However, in Europe high quality levels and process stability play an important role before a decision to change a design can or will be made. Therefore, suppliers of new technologies have to comply with high requirements from the automotive industry. MWG Galvano and R² have concentrated on meeting these requirements.
About the companies and their activities:
R² Felgenveredelung GmbH (wheel finishing) is located in Oranienburg (Brandenburg, Germany) and works in tight cooperation with the Gleitschliffzentrum Oranienburg, which over the past 15 years has established itself as a specialized center for surface treatment technologies.
R² concentrated its activities on developing processes for the mechanical surface treatment of aluminium wheels. Founded in 2000, the first order came directly from the wheel industry: the development of an automated mass-production process for grinding and polishing cast and forged aluminium wheels.
Hard work began and a major stage was reached in 2002 with first and very promising results. Since then, the process has been optimized and in 2003, R² was finally ready to go into mass production.
The specific feature: The process differs from the traditional manual or robot supported treatment with abrasive belts, wheels, brushes and polishing pastes.
R² created a modified mass-production process in a plunge finishing plant. The wheels are mounted in the machine and, in exactly defined movements, they are led through several containers filled with different grinding and polishing media. Water and active cleaning and polishing compounds need to be added in order to achieve a smooth and shiny surface after this multi-stage process.
The technology allows for the processing of raw material wheels without any pre-treatment of the cast or the forged surface.
If treated as described above, the wheels are perfectly prepared for the galvanic copper-nickel-chrome-plating process: The surface is smooth, sharp contours are deburred and lightly rounded.
Furthermore, the material is intensively cleaned and degreased, a positive aspect for the process combination of grinding, polishing and galvanising.
In 2004 R² built a new production line with a capacity of 300 wheels per day. The company with its quality management has been certified to be able to ensure maximum production stability.
The positive feedback from the wheel industry confirmed the importance of this new technology after a very short time.
A number of European wheel manufacturers signalled their interest. The R&D department of R² has already finished several hundreds of sample wheels to demonstrate the results to potential customers. First contracts for the treatment of mass-production wheels were then signed.
MWG Galvano GmbH is one of the three operating companies of the MWG Group in Wernigerode in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. The holding company – Metallveredlung Wernigerode GmbH – is specialised in high quality plating and coating of metallic surfaces (galvanising, anodising, pulverising). MWG Galvano is particularly proficient in the plating of aluminium parts. Ten years ago it was still considered impossible to plate or galvanise aluminium. In Wernigerode the following materials can be galvanised: aluminium of forgings, aluminium of pressed parts, aluminium casting, aluminium, non-ferrous metal and steel. Built in 1997 Galvano’s Copper-Nickel-Chrome-plant is one of the most modern plants in Europe.
Main products of MWG Galvano are high quality plating, the assembly of automobile roof rails and high quality plating of aluminium automobile wheels (chrome) as well as various aluminium profiles for the sanitary sector. Because of superior optics, particy? automobile manufacturers use chromed parts on the exterior of cars in order to position their products on the market competitively.
The requirements of automobile manufacturers concerning the superior quality of chromed parts cannot be met by conventional plating methods. Only sophisticated, fully automated methods and plants can meet these high quality standards in mass-production. Over the past few years MWG Galvano, in tight cooperation with its partners and the automobile industry, managed to meet the high requirements of this industry, in particular with regard to functional aspects (CASS-test, adhesion, corrosion, etc.). It has been proven that MWG Galvano is able to mass-produce chromed aluminium wheels according to superior quality standards.
MWG Galvano has its own, highly automated grinding plant, where aluminium, steel, copper and its alloys can be grinded using modern procedures and robots. However, due to the excellent grinding results at R2 mass-mechanical processing/pre-treatment of aluminium wheels at MWG Galvano becomes unnecessary. Grinding services are needed for the optimal preparation of roof rail parts and other external car parts for the galvanic process.
Among its customers MWG Galvano is renowned for its excellent performance, its high quality plating for premium market segments, its high flexibility and its innovation. MWG Galvano’s customers include such well-known companies as Rolls Royce, Bentley, VW, BMW, JAC, Hagus and (in the sanitary industry) Hüppe and Hansgrohe.
The cooperation between R2 and MWG Galvano opened up a new dimension of value adding with regard to aluminium wheels in mass-production. By utilising modern economic and ecological processes and by reaching attractive processing results the market now has an interesting, European alternative. Laboratory analyses have proven that the qualitative requirements of European automobile manufacturers with regard to corrosion, adhesion, resistance, optics, etc. are fully met.
During the past months the two companies produced a number of wheel samples for various, renowned wheel manufacturers. The echo of the market suggests that there is a large market potential in consideration of the high quality standard of the chromed wheels produced. In particular those wheel manufacturers who – up to now – ordered chromed wheels in Canada or Asia are pleased about this advantageous and reliable regional alternative. A reduction of time and costs for logistics and quality levels according to European standards are only a few, but important, advantages for customers.