Protecting Aluminum Coils, Slab and Sheet from Surface Damage in Rolling Mills Operations

One way for rolling mills to increase their bottom line is to reduce the scrap generated by damage to aluminum coils in transporting, annealing, cooling operations and handling in general. Mid-Mountain Materials, located in Mercer Island, Washington, USA, helps rolling mills in scrap reduction and improvement of their coil quality by providing a wide array of high durability/high temperature tray pads for all kinds of transport and handling cars and trays used in aluminum rolling mills.

Comparison of Mid-Mountain Materials’ Tray Pads with Bare Trays

The advantages of utilizing Mid-Mountain Materials’ tray pads over bare trays were demonstrated in a Kaizen event organized by one of North America’s largest rolling mills. It was shown that scrap produced because of physical damage and contact surface abrasions of the aluminum coils upon rolling mill operations such as handling, transport, and annealing was reduced by more than 60%, thus leading to a notable gain of usable metal and a considerable reduction in the overall cost for the customer. For demonstrating the effectiveness of the tray pads, different types of tray pads were used in different applications such as v-racks, sling trays, curved racks, cooling station trays, and annealing furnace rail cars. Data was also acquired by operating similar number of rolls at similar stations without using any tray padding. The results surpassed the expectations of the customers.

Benefits of Mid-Mountain Materials’ Tray Pads

For many years now, Mid-Mountain Materials has worked with many rolling mills and has developed four standard types of tray pads (Figure 1).

Aluminum coil on a V-rack with Mid-Mountain Materials ARMATEX QF40 Clear tray pad

Figure 1. Aluminum coil on a V-rack with Mid-Mountain Materials ARMATEX QF40 Clear tray pad

The internal padding in all versions of these tray pads is the CERMEX MT1000 needled fiberglass mat. However, the exterior fabrics have been changed according to the application specific to the plant. In the case of high-temperature applications, e.g. annealing furnaces, Mid-Mountain Materials advises the usage of two different styles of pads, namely, the FIRESTAR 35 style pads for temperatures up to 1200°F, i.e. 649°C, or the HYTEX 1400 style pads for temperatures up to 1400°F, i.e. 760°C. In the case of other applications that involve the setting of hot coils in the trays without the need for actually getting into recirculating annealing furnaces, the ARMATEX QF40 Clear style pads (Figure 2) for use up to 1000°F, i.e. 538°C, or again the FIRESTAR 35 or HYTEX 1400 style pads are recommended.

ray pad styles: 1-Armatex QF40 clear, 2-Firestar 35, 3-Hytex 1400, 4-Hytex 700.

Figure 2. Tray pad styles: 1-Armatex QF40 clear, 2-Firestar 35, 3-Hytex 1400, 4-Hytex 700.

In areas that mandate the highest resistance to abrasion at heat less than 650°F, the use of HYTEX 700 or ARMATEX QF40 Clear style pads (Figure 2) is recommended, because both these pad types exhibit exceptional cut and abrasion resistance, and also better heat resistance.

Due to the rapid growth in the use of aluminum by automobile manufacturers, there has been an increased supply demands for aluminum rolling mills. Mid-Mountain Materials’ high durability/high temperature tray pad solutions are helping the aluminum rolling mills in meeting these demands by reducing the scrap and increasing the usable production, thereby increasing the profits for these rolling mills. The different styles of tray pads presented in this article are standard and can be obtained on short notice from Mid-Mountain Materials.

Thermopak Tray Pads

Thermopak Tray Pads are produced in such a way that aluminum coils, sheet and slab used in rolling mills during storage, handling, plant transport, annealing, and cooling operations are fully protected Thermopak Tray Pads have high durability and high-temperature resistance and can be produced in accordance with the specific needs of different handling and transfer equipment such as V-trays and V-racks, rail cars, curved trays, floor cradles, sling trays, annealing cars, and also lifting equipment and separators.

Thermopak Tray Pads are also designed to minimize the in-house scrap produced during contact surface abrasion (CSA) and bruising by greater than or equal to 60% by avoiding the steel to aluminum contact during the transportation, handling, and annealing of cold and hot aluminum coils, billets, slabs, extrusions, and sheets.

Standard Products

A range of standard products offered by Thermopak Tray Pads are listed below:

  1. ARMATEX FIRESTAR 35 is a heavyweight fiberglass that is coated with a mineral coating that provides exceptional abrasion resistance. It has a continuous usage limit of 1000°F, i.e. 538°C, and can with stand short-term exposure to 1500°F, i.e. 815°C.
  2. ARMATEX QF 40 CLEAR is the most durable and abrasive resistant tray pad. It has a continuous usage limit of 1000°F, i.e. 538°C. The in-built refractory impregnation enables it to withstand an increased short-term exposure to 2000°F, i.e. 1093°C. As these pads are white, they make the trays more noticeable to overhead crane operators.
  3. HYTEX 700 is a highly durable and abrasion resistant tray pad that is optimized for use in transport trays and rail cars used for moving cooled metal. It has a temperature rating of up to 450°F, i.e. 232°C.
  4. HYTEX 1400 is specifically produced for annealing furnace applications, which mandate continuous exposure to temperatures of up to 1400°F, i.e. 760°C.

Apart from the standard products, Thermopak Tray Pads can be produced in accordance with the requirements of specific applications by employing a broader range of coatings and materials.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

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