Weber Metals unveils new 540-meganewton press for aerospace components
The new hydraulic forging press is nearly 10 stories tall and only one-third of it is visible – the other two-thirds are below ground level. (Image source: Weber Metals)
 

Weber Metals unveils new 540-meganewton press for aerospace components

The new press is designed to forge sophisticated monolithic titanium and aluminum parts for advanced, lightweight airliners.
As aircraft become larger, lighter, and increasing more sophisticated, so do their components and parts. Follow that logic, and part manufacturing must also become more powerful and advanced. In the case of aluminum and titanium press-forged parts – like cockpit window frames, wing to fuselage fittings, various bulkheads, supports, and fuselage keel chords – this means higher press force.

Weber Metals Inc., a division of Otto Fuchs KG of Germany, unveiled a new, $180 million, 60,000-ton press at its 2.5-acre facility in Paramount, California, southeast of Los Angeles. It sets a record as the highest tonnage hydraulic forging press in the Americas and the largest privately funded forging press investment in the world. The press’ total power is 540 meganewtons.



“This innovative technology will literally forge the future for parts made for aircraft and spacecraft,” says Dr. Hinrich Mählmann, managing partner of Otto Fuchs KG.

“This, the world's largest pull-down forging press, will shape some of the world's largest monolithic parts from both aluminum and titanium. For Otto Fuchs, this is the third time we have developed the world's largest forging press and the second time it has been on Weber's property,” he added.

Weber Metals President and CEO Doug McIntyre said that the new press addresses the demands and expectations from the company's customers for larger, more sophisticated monolithic titanium and aluminum parts. Monolithic forging can reduce both part weight and complexity and help aircraft and aerospace companies improve their environmental efforts – a priority for Otto Fuchs and Weber Metals.

“Environmental sustainability is a priority for both companies,” says Dr. Klaus Welschof, head of the Otto Fuchs aerospace division.

“Green product design reflects the efforts by both of our companies to help reduce carbon footprint for commercial aircraft. It also connects with another of our commitments: improving the mobility of people everywhere through better aircraft design,” he added.


Read more on additive manufacturing in SAE International's Advanced Manufacturing Knowledge Hub.


Facility groundbreaking was April 2014, with construction starting in January of 2017 when the first press piece arrived on site. The machine is nearly 10 stories tall and only one-third of it is visible – the other two-thirds are below ground level. The press has a bed size of 10 feet by 20 feet and utilizes an automated die clamping system which allows for quick die changes between jobs. Multiple hydraulic cylinders facilitate lower operating costs and allow for numerous modes of force for a variety of part configurations.

Weber Metals' first production part will be for Boeing's main landing gear beam on the Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body airliner.


 

The state of California contributed $20 million in tax credits to the project. Weber Metals plans to double its employment to 800 jobs.

 

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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