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  1. Alcomex at the IDA Expo in Las Vegas

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    In the first week of April, Jan, Marco and Mirco visited the IDA EXPO in Las Vegas. The IDAExpo is the premier educational venue for those who derive their living from the door and access systems industry. The goal was to get information about the North American door market and spring specifications and to approach prospects.

    Our expectations after the IDA Expo

    We estimate 4 million garage doors and 1 million industrial doors are produced in North America. Together with a large replacement market for the enormous installed base the North American is estimated to be 3-4 times larger than the European market. 

    Although the challenge caused by the imperial system, the different wire, the used coating, colour codes, spring ID labelling, packaging and transport overseas the first containers are sold and delivered already.

    Our production

    Our production in Pune, ALCOMEX SPRINGS PVT. LTD is doing a great job adapting to the different product, packaging and handling.

    Order intake, confirmation and invoice is handled by Alcomex GmbH in Goch.

    We do realise that the success mainly is due to the scarcity on the North American spring market and that when the local suppliers have recovered, our position becomes vulnerable.Alcomex is starting a new and exciting chapter in the door spring business! Are you looking for door springs or do you want advice? Then take a look at our offer.

    Alcomex-IDA-Expo-Las-Vegas
  2. The Alcomex Quality Management System pyramid drives customer satisfaction

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    In the Alcomex group we are servicing more and more satisfies customers. The number of customer is increasing as well as the quality demands, so to support our philosophy of “first time right first time quality” we are investing in the overall quality organisation. Over the last 12 months we have appointed QHSE (Quality Health Safety Environment) coordinators in all Alcomex facilities, and are everywhere implementing and executing CIP (continuous improvement programs) to meet the our customers’ expectations. To do this in a structured way we have adapted the Alcomex QMS pyramid clearly identifying roles and responsibilities meeting all requirements as set in the ISO standards.

    Next to the product related quality we are also working hard to implement the ISO 14001 which provides a tool for the Alcomex Group to manage their environmental policy and do more than simply meet legislation and regulations. Alcomex views environmental management in the long term as their obligation and is reducing the CO2 emission in line with Paris Climate Agreement objectives. At present the Alcomex Group compensates 100% CO2 by planting trees together with the Landlife company

    In general ISO 14001 does not set requirements for environmental achievements. Instead, it creates a framework for setting up an effective environmental management system. It offers the certainty that the impact on the environment is monitored, measured, and improved. Advantages include:

    • Protecting the quality of the environment
    • Reduced costs for waste management and removal
    • Reduced use of energy and raw materials

    Finally we simultaneously implement the ISO 45001 which set rules and guidelines to protect the safety and create a safe work environment for all employees.

    Overall we strive daily delivering the requested quality, meeting customers requirements, in the most economical, safe and environmental friendly way always compensating 100% for CO2.

  3. Expansion and improvement of our machinery in the Czech Republic

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    Alcomex Industrial has been around for more than 25 years and is still growing fast. From a capacity point of view, a number of years ago we started the systematic replacement and improvement of our machinery in the Czech Republic.

    In addition to the most recent investment of the WAFIOS FMU 40 wire bending and torsion springs machine, we are now following through on these developments by purchasing the WAFIOS FUL 46 spring winding-machine.

    Technical specifications

    FUL WAFIOS 46 Machine

    The WAFIOS FUL 46 has a reach of ø 0.9 mm up to ø 4.5 mm. The machine is able to produce large quantities of compression springs as well as the wound part of the tension springs, very quickly. Additionally, the machine has a high machine availability; high quality standards that guarantee flawless production and unprecedented flexibility and operational comfort, thanks to the modular design.

    By purchasing the WAFIOS FUL 46, we have allowed ourselves to keep the delivery times short. Also we can charge even more competitive prices in case of larger production numbers.

  4. The effect of temperature and corrosion on springs

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    One of the challenges that we, as a spring manufacturer, have little influence on is the combination of the demanded lifespan and the conditions under which the spring is required to function. Depending on the system requirements, we first assess which material is sufficiently resistant to corrosion and whether this is useable in the application. At the same time Alcomex decides, within the specified temperature range, whether the chosen material still has sufficient mechanical properties to function. Finding the right combination for this is often a difficult task.

    The various literature makes material specifications available. The most common are:

    Material Active ingredient Normal temperature range
    Carbon steel (C75, C85, C100) 1.1248 / 1.1269 / 1.1274 [-40°C tot +120°C]
    Inox (301, 316, 17-7 PH) 1.4310 / 1.4401 / 1.4568 [-150°C tot +250°C]
    Inconel (X750, 718, 625, 600) 2.4669 / 2.4668 / 2.4856 / 2.4816 [-200°C tot +550°C]
    Hastelloy (C4, C276) 2.4610 / 2.4819 [-100°C tot +500°C]
    MP35N Body implantable [-200°C tot +320°C]
    Beryllium copper 2.1247 [-190°C tot +160°C]
    Phosphor bronze 2.1020 [-190°C tot +80°C]
    Brass 2.0321 [-190°C tot +120°C]

     

    Material and surface treatment as a solution

    After the first screening, the application of the spring is examined. It may so happen that the work environment of the spring is such corrosive that certain materials simply “dissolve”. The strength of springs and spring products is largely determined by the thickness of the wire in relation to the tensile strength [N/mm2]. The thickness of the wire and tensile strength have an effect on the spring constant, thus the functioning of the spring, and in addition the lifespan is influenced. Issues can often be solved by choosing a different material. But be aware, for cost-driven applications, often this is too expensive, since certain, more exotic materials are simply not available in wire or narrow strip.

    Often surface treatment can be chosen as an alternative solution for a specific medium. The most common surface treatments are: galvanising, phosphating, nickelling, chroming, powder-coating, tinning and silvering/gilding. All of these surface treatments add specific properties to the spring, as a result of which the lifespan is extended and the product made suitable for the application, with the principle that the mechanical properties are not being adversely affected.

    Hydrogen embrittlement in spring materials

    The application of surface treatments is not without risk and if implemented incorrectly, this may lead to embrittlement of the materials. This phenomenon is called hydrogen embrittlement and occurs in all cases where hydrogen is able to develop on the surface of the steel. The effect of hydrogen embrittlement on steel is that the steel will break at a much lower tensile strength than usual, despite the steel showing enormous durability properties during normal lifespan tests. Hydrogen embrittlement could be caused by processes for surface treatments and occurs when springs are exposed to non-oxidising acids or cathodic cleaning and coating. Remark: leaf springs that have hardened after moulding are sensitive to this.

    The risk of embrittlement is reduced as the tensile strength and hardness are diminished. Generally, embrittlement does not occur on steel with a tensile strength of < 1000 N/mm ² or a hardness of < 30 Vickers. Most of the hydrogen can be removed by an additional thermal treatment (continuous warming). The thickness of the material determines the temperature and the duration of this thermal treatment:

    Material thickness < 3 mm 170°C – 180°C, 5 hours

    Material thickness < 12 mm 190°C – 210°C, 4 hours

    The implementation of surface treatments is hardly ever without risk. Alcomex always carries out these treatments in consultation with specialised partners, in order to guarantee the quality of our spring products and solutions.

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of Research & Development

     

    Do you have a specific challenge regarding high temperatures or corrosion? Get in contact with us!

  5. How to determine the right material for spring solutions?

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    Depending on the application and the requirements set, the choice is made to use a certain material or a specific surface treatment. Mechanical, thermodynamic properties and corrosion resistance play a major part, but at Alcomex we obviously also look into the availability and costs. An exotic material, that might be perfect though for a specific spring application, is often far too costly or not available in terms of wire.

    Knowledge of materials and surface treatment

    Within the technology department of Alcomex, wire manufacturers are always consulted when options are sought to improve the existing materials. Over the years, the wire used by Alcomex has significantly improved (for example higher tensile strength versus the EN 10270-1). This way we can allow the application of greater forces to the springs we design. In addition to improving the mechanical properties, we also study whether it is possible to make springs suitable for a certain use by applying a specific surface treatment. A simple example of this is the evaporation of gold; here, springs are provided with a thin layer of gold, which guarantees corrosion resistance (in addition, gold is a great conductor of electricity and is fairly abrasion-resistant). However, the limiting factor in this example is the costs which are too high for most purposes.

    The extensive alcomex testing programme

    Since applications become increasingly more challenging, for Alcomex the knowledge of materials has become more important over the years. Specific demands with regard to temperature and corrosion resistance and “foreseeable lifespan” make the testing of the behaviour of material an essential factor.

    At Alcomex we use an extensive testing programme to determine the lifespan and relaxation. In consultation with our partners, it is even possible to tests springs in the application directly. One of the examples regarding the direct testing in the customer’s application, was the question: “What is the lifespan of an INOX 316 compression spring at 80°C in water vapour containing 40% sulphuric acid (H2SO4)?” The results of the test showed that after 80 hours, the INOX 316 springs were heavily corroded and, as such, no longer capable of providing enough strength.

    The solution for this specific application, chosen by Alcomex, in consultation with the partner, was the use or ordinary spring steel with a special coating. After testing, this resulted in a lifespan of approximately 2,000 hours.

    Springs in a certain application coming into contact with relatively high temperatures is another challenge that Alcomex faces regularly. By heating springs continuously (approx. 250°C), they are in fact calcined tension-free constantly, where tension-free calcining is part of the production process and serves a purpose. However, heating continuously, up to 250°C, is a different matter. At even higher temperatures the mechanical properties, and thus the spring constant (N/mm), quickly deteriorate, in other words, the springs will no longer function the way they were intended to.

    Obviously there are standard materials available, but sometimes even they do not suffice, so that the solution should be sought in the total design that the spring is part of.

    Changing Elasticity modulus under temperature

    (E(application)=E20 * [1-r *(t-20)] => t [temp-application] at 20°C ambient temperature and r=0.25×10¯³ for spring steel and r=0.4×10¯³ for INOX).

    For this kind of specific cases it is important to look at the entire system and only then choose the material. Because often, after a simple adjustment in the design, an existing material can be chosen for the springs. For example, the application of cooling fins or insulation may sometimes be enough to guarantee the desired service life of the spring.
    Each market segment has its specific technical requirements, as well as numerous applications, so it is impossible to discuss all of them. We can however state that in its existence Alcomex’s technical team has already overcome many a problem. In addition, we are always looking for new techniques and surface treatments that we can use, together with our years of experience, for our customers.

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of Research & Development

     

    Submit your challenge to us? Get in contact with us!

     

  6. Market leader through research & development – part 4

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    Nothing varies like the lifespan does

    The lifespan of springs is something that nobody in the market, the spring manufacturer in particular, would stick his neck out for. The challenge is to keep on trying to achieve something in this area. When it comes to door springs (sectional, tilting, industrial or simply a garage door, it becomes easier. After all we have tonnes of testing data at our disposal. For these springs, drawing up a material and calculation specification, in connection with the lifespan, is easier.

    Of course this remains purely theoretical, because in practice there are many variables. This was reason enough for us to start organising a brand new test centre, early 2018, and invest even more in Research & Development. In the new R&D centre, testing takes place continuously, mostly in cooperation with market relations. Who would be more aware of the load specifications than the end user?

    The example of the trampoline

    Still, in many cases it is a matter of conjecture. An obvious example are trampoline springs. How exactly are the springs burdened? What risk lies in the fact that the springs may fail? In short, what is the actual desired lifespan? In case of trampoline springs with loop ends, one shouldn’t exceed 10,000 cycles (quasi static, because the loop end will always be the weak spot), but in practice that means perhaps only a week of jumping. Fortunately in these cases, we consult our partner to be able to adjust the design in order to tackle these kinds of problems.

    Of course, the question remains “how exactly are trampoline springs burdened”, for which there is no simple answer, so with regard to this, together with our partner, we perform a lot of fieldwork, data analysis and factually a complete DFMEA (Design Failure Mode Effect Analyses). “Learning by doing” as the saying goes and that applies to R&D in particular.

    Did you miss previous episodes of the research & development series? Read part 3 here!

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of research & development

  7. Market leader through research & development – part 3

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    If only technology was that simple!

    As we have started the project “foreseeable” lifespan, time after time we are struggling with the essential, yet also contradictory technical aspects.

    In terms of strength calculation, for instance, we desire a high tensile strength, because Alcomex uses the maximum burden of the wire as a calculation criteria. In various spring configurations, this is 50% of this tensile strength. Increasing this will have consequences, because if the tensile strength becomes too high, this will result in a wire that is of no use (too rigid). Also material suppliers won’t be happy with those requirements as they imply a process auditing. If this audit is not satisfactory, tinkering with the pre-material will be required.

    What we have seen over the last few years is that wire-tensile process largely influences the quality of the end-product. Material, percentage of carbon, conversion degree and other specific process steps have significant influence on the type of wire we use.

    From high quality to customer-specific customisation

    In the early days of Alcomex, we used to work with the SH, just like everybody else did. SH quality, according to EN 10270-1, but at Alcomex we stopped using that a long time ago. Presently we are working with EN 10270-1 TURBO materials. These are materials that are manufactured almost entirely specifically per supplier. This way, all our extension, compression and torsion springs are high-quality made. This almost entirely specific treatment per supplier can even be enhanced. When talking about customisation, Alcomex will even translate the requirements or application of a customer into wire-specific requirements.

    The greatest challenge we are currently working on is the combining of all our test information, experience, knowledge of the wire-tension process and technical calculation, conform the EN DIN 13906-1, into one lifespan formula. This formula, in combination with the customer-specific demands and processing of application data in its entirety, may lead to a solid basis for “foreseeable” lifespan.

    Did you miss previous episodes in the research & development series? Read part 2 here!

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of Research & Development
  8. Market leader through research & development – part 2

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    From troubleshooter with a lot of experience to partner in “predictive maintenance”

    In cooperation with our strategic partners, we investigate the specific technical requirements that our springs programme should comply with, to determine the lifespan of your springs in advance. For our customers we try, for instance, to prevent sudden production interruption and attempt to realise a situation of planned maintenance, together with you.

    The expected lifespan of all the springs in our standard programme is in accordance with the DIN and 13906. In case of springs, custom made for you, we look beyond the standard norms, because they depend on your specific situation and use. For instance chemical composition of the material and corrosion resistance play a significant role at high temperatures or in an aggressive environment. Alcomex has extensive expertise in the area of surface treatment, including: galvanising, anodising, phosphating and special surface-treatment processes.

    Based on our many years of practical experience, knowledge of engineering and internal testing, we have developed a complete programme in order to be able to determine the lifespan of extension, compression and torsion springs, matched to your application/use. The programme developed by us is based on several variables, including:

    • Application
    • Specific customer demands
    • Spring configuration
    • Chemical composition
    • Conversion degree
    • Ductility of the wire
    • Surface treatment
    • Thermal treatment

    Did you miss previous episodes in the research & development series? Read part 1 here! or read more of part 3 here!

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of Research & Development

  9. Market leader through research & development – part 1

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    In the beginning there was nothing….well, there wasn’t a lot. When Alcomex opened its doors 25 years ago, it was headed by a visionary with a solid background of knowledge about industrial doors. He was supported by a few pragmatic staff members who were all passionate about technology.

    Practical solutions and technical know-how

    As a result of translating the customer’s questions and issues in the area of springs to practical solutions, from the very beginning, Alcomex has grown into a firm that has ample know-how of all kinds of spring-related issues. We have an entire extension, compression, torsion and leaf springs programme. In addition to these standard springs, of course it is possible to design custom made springs. In our different factories, we can also convert design into customisation.

    The customisation, the internally developed calculation programmes and special materials, all supported by continuous testing, make Alcomex a unique partner with solution-oriented approach, in combination with our passion for technology, as key values.

    Read more? View part 2 of the research & development series here!

    By: Marco Dekker | Head of Research & Development

     

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