No matter where metal casters are around the world, they face the same types of challenges every day. Those challenges include needing to reduce the labor-intensive work and cost of maintenance, finding ways to improve the metal quality of their products, and optimizing production by minimizing scrap.
For a rod and cable casting operation in Greece, those challenges existed for both its aluminium and copper production operations. To stay competitive in their markets, plant operators were looking for ways, both large and small, to overcome those challenges.
Pyrotek has supported the company for years as a supplier of consumables. Pyrotek has supplied products like ceramic foam filters (CFF), fluxes, thermocouples and protection tubes, reinforced fiberglass materials (RFM®), coatings, and pre-cast refractory shapes.
Through its service to the company, Pyrotek learned they were not getting the service life they needed from a transfer launder — supplied by a different vendor — that ran between their melting furnace and holding furnace inside their copper casting plant.
"Due to the high service temperatures and heavy flames above this launder, the lifespan of the castable launder was one month on average," says Serkan Bozkus, Pyrotek’s Continuous Casting Market Manager, based in Istanbul, Turkey. "The company was already utilizing Pyrotek precast shapes in the aluminium plant successfully, so they were eager to discuss this copper plant issue with us and trust our technical experience."
First Step: Learn and Gather Information
With the plant’s foundry technical team, Bozkus discussed what materials were being used for that launder, how those refractories were performing, and what specific issues they were having to address each month. He knew that fully understanding the processes and challenges would be key to finding the right solution. Bozkus didn’t want to find any solution, he wanted the exact right solution.
Bozkus found that the launder was handling temperatures around 1120° Celsius. He identified the exact copper alloy. He learned the casting schedule. Finally, he reached a full understanding of the underperforming material currently in use.
The poorly performing refractory was driving up labor maintenance costs. It reduced metal quality due to the refractory wear. Scrap was increasing because of the impurities. Knowing all this, Bozkus needed to work fast and get this right.
With that investigation complete, Bozkus turned to Pyrotek’s Uli Auer, an expert in Pyrotek’s advanced refractory material Ceramite®. Auer identified Ceramite CSA as a material with a high potential to offer extended service life in this molten copper environment. A trial with Ceramite CSA was undertaken at the copper plant, and the results showed this Pyrotek solution doubled the service life of the transfer launder—from one month on average to 10 weeks.
KEY TAKEAWAY: As a result of this longer lasting transfer launder, the copper caster is now in a position where maintenance has decreased and metal cleanliness has improved, delivering measurable savings.
"Having a global team of product and material specialists who help make sure our customers’ challenges are always resolved with exactly the right solutions is a real differentiator for Pyrotek," Bozkus says. "Calling on that experience and working with a company like this, with a team of its own that's eager to make use of the best new products and materials in the industry, allowed Pyrotek to help solve this problem."