Own aluminum foil business

Industrial production

Every year, just under 30 million tons of primary aluminum is produced worldwide. This metal is widely used in almost all areas of our lives - from the production of pots and packaging to the automotive industry and space exploration. The industry's average annual growth over the past ten years has been 4%. About 78% of the total volume of aluminum is used for the production of packaging and foil and only 22% for thermal insulation of buildings, production of pipes and cables, in the aerospace and electronic industries.

According to the European Association of Aluminum Foil Manufacturers, over the past 30 years, the annual consumption of these products in Europe has increased from 250 to 850 thousand tons. Thus, the growth was about 4%. The design capacity of Russian plants allows producing about 150-110 thousand tons of foil per year. Moreover, according to foreign experts, the capacity of the domestic market is over 200 thousand tons of foil per year.

Aluminum foil is the thinnest sheet of aluminum, the thickness of which can reach 0.2 mm. The width of the roll depends on the purpose of the foil. It can be used for the production of flexible packaging, boxes, covers, for a heat exchanger, as a laminate for a heat insulating material, etc.

Pure aluminum is practically not used for packaging production. Basically, various alloys act as raw materials, which can significantly increase the strength of the material while reducing its thickness.

Foil production requires multiple processing of an aluminum alloy ingot. The production process begins with a smelter that runs on natural gas. It takes three to eight hours to melt 27 tons of aluminum alloy. The temperature in the melting furnace reaches 750 degrees, and the melting temperature of aluminum is 660 degrees. A little molten aluminum is poured into a small sample tin. Hardening in a few seconds, the sample allows you to specify the composition of the prepared alloy.

The next stage is the delivery of liquid aluminum through the gutter to the filling device. All impurities are filtered out in special tanks. Constantly circulating water cools the forms, accelerating the hardening process. As a result, molten aluminum cools. The resulting ingots have impressive dimensions: each of them is about four meters long and 40 cm wide. They weigh 7.5-8 tons each. Therefore, they can only be moved using bridge cranes.

A special machine that removes contaminants removes a three-millimeter layer with high accuracy. After this procedure, the surface of the ingot becomes mirror smooth. At the end, traces of the coolant are removed and the ingot starts rolling. A large piece of metal alloy is squeezed between the rolls of the hot rolling mill. Rolling is carried out at a temperature of 455-540 degrees.

Computers control the pressure exerted on the ingot, otherwise it may crack, and the whole procedure will have to be started anew. In addition, under the influence of high temperature, the ingot may stick to the roll. To avoid this, a lubricating fluid is used, which is 95% water and only 5% oil. An ingot of 45 centimeter thickness with each passage through the rolls becomes thinner and thinner. An aluminum ingot can pass through the rolling mill 15-20 times before the desired thickness is reached.

Half-finished plates are wound on drums in the form of cylinders, and then fall on a cold rolling mill, where they are rolled even more. This is the most difficult step, as the aluminum sheet has become so thin that it can tear when passing through the conveyor. To avoid this, it is doubled. At the last stage, the deformed edges of the foil sheet are removed with a special knife, which allows you to cut one centimeter on each side. The roll is cut into pieces of the desired width. Thus, 15-20 km of foil is obtained from one ingot.

At the end of the production process, aluminum foil becomes sterile due to annealing at high temperatures. Therefore, it is completely safe and can be used for packaging food without additional cleaning.

The foil protects products from oxygen, moisture, bacteria and temperature effects. It has high thermal conductivity and easily acquires and maintains the necessary shape. Another advantage is that the aluminum alloy foil can be heated to high temperatures. However, it does not melt and does not even deform.

In our country, aluminum foil is produced only at two enterprises - Sayanal and Ural Foil. But both the one and the other plant have already reached the maximum load of their production capacities. Thus, with constantly growing demand and the impossibility of increasing domestic production, import comes first.

The organization of the production of aluminum foil requires a large investment. The necessary equipment will cost, according to experts, at least 35-40 million rubles. And this is not taking into account the cost of renting production facilities.

Of the two Russian manufacturing companies, only one has equipment that allows them to produce high quality products. And at the same time, domestic foil is more expensive than imported products, even despite the cost of delivery and customs clearance of the latter.

However, the main problem of new domestic producers of aluminum foil is not only the pricing policy and competition with Western companies, but also the acquisition of raw materials. The monopolist in the aluminum market in Russia is Rusal, which owns the only two enterprises producing foil in our country. Obviously, any other company that intends to work in the same segment will have to fight for a place in the market with a clearly stronger competitor.

Sysoeva Lilia

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