A warm, sunny day in Guildford, UK was the ideal opportunity for Impression Technologies to bring together members of the HFQ Partner Network, a group of likeminded businesses from the global light-weighting ecosystem world who believe that HFQ (Hot Form Quench) Technology plays a key role in the future of sustainable lightweight aluminium structures.
The group, which Impression Technologies founded in 2019 and is a proud member of, held a networking event at the Guildford Harbour Hotel, where short insightful presentations and discussion panels were the orders of the day. With around 40 attendees present, delegates travelled from around the world to be there, with representatives from Novelis (Canada), UACJ (Japan), Gränges (Sweden), Ebner (Austria), fischer group (Germany), Benteler (Germany), FEV (Germany), Atlas Copco (UK), Fagor Arrasate (Spain) and many more, including those who couldn’t be there personally, but joined the event online from Germany, US, China and Mexico to deliver presentations and offer their thoughts on the industry.
Watch the HFQ Partner Network 2022 event video
Topics of discussion
Throughout the event, much of the conversation was geared towards the automotive industry, and how aluminium can play a key role in the electrification of transportation, particularly with the growing focus on recycled material content supporting the sustainability and low CO2 targets of the OEMs, and innovative designs for vehicles in the future. Can we make structures more cost effective and simpler? Can we make new stronger aluminium parts to support new challenging crash requirements? Can we achieve very low CO2 content aluminium material through greater adoption of end-of-life scrap? Overall, will OEMs benefit by utilising parts designed and made from the HFQ process? These were just some of the questions put to attendees, with informative input provided from across the room.
Members firmly believe that HFQ technology has a significant role in the future of the automotive industry, with its ability to make new deep drawn and complex geometry parts, and its sustainability benefits coming from recycled aluminium use, certainly turning heads, as the lighter materials in automotive vehicles mean higher fuel efficiency or longer battery range. The ability to form tight radii and reduce width of pillars in upper structures was a point of discussion for Andrew Kay, Head of Body Structures at Aston Martin, who faced questions about the potential for HFQ being used by the luxury sports car manufacturer.
However, it is not just the automotive industry that was discussed at great length…
Tim McGuire, Director of Aerospace at Impression Technologies discussed the enormous potential of HFQ for aircraft structures. The capabilities of HFQ for avoiding spring-back, reducing material waste, and eliminating secondary process steps could lead to HFQ being used as the primary aluminium forming technique for a variety of key parts used in aeroplanes, from jet engine lip skins and nacelles to fairings, tables, seats pans/backs and armrests.
After the presentations, a discussion forum was opened up to attendees. This resulted in a very collaborative and open exchange of insights where many had their say on the barriers to OEM adoption of HFQ and ultra-high strength aluminium (UHSAL). The motive of the group is to harness the potential of HFQ at a global level and maximise its adoption – however, the Partner Network participants recognise that they need to improve the promotion of HFQ technology, clearly explaining its value and sustainability proposition, current case studies, and the scope for new applications, so that it can become available to as many markets as possible.
What attendees had to say
“The event was great! It is wonderful that we can all finally meet up after two years of Covid-19 restrictions. HFQ is the future, and Impression Technologies is a fantastic company to work with!”
Andreas Steinmassl – Ebner
“The Impression Technologies team is very knowledgeable, and this is an important event for the industry. It’s only a matter of time before HFQ becomes the industry standard – it truly is the future!”
Pawel Rutecki – Gränges
“This event has been incredibly interesting. I was impressed with a lot of the presentations. Without the solutions that HFQ provides, we can’t move forward.”
Stefan Geissler – fischer group
“The day was well organised with plenty of good discussions and topics. We hope to see HFQ used in many industries as soon as possible, including electric vehicles, castings and extrusions. Collaborative events like this can make it possible much sooner!”
Christian Kurten – FEV
A few words for the ITL team
“This HFQ workshop involving leading global companies within the light-weighting ecosystem exceeded all our expectations. The level of networking and technical and market insight was outstanding. Following the workshop, several working groups will develop application case studies to support and demonstrate the benefits and readiness of HFQ Technology to OEMs in the automotive and aerospace sectors. A further workshop is anticipated at the end of 2022.”
Jonathan Watkins – Chief Executive Officer, Impression Technologies
“I was extremely pleased by the success of the event, and it gave me the opportunity to get to know many of our HFQ partners personally. I was very taken by the active participation and positive contributions by all attendees that came from around the world and represented all areas of the HFQ ecosystem – OEMs, aluminium suppliers, major Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, equipment suppliers, fastening/bonding, modelling, design and consulting institutes… the list goes on!”
“There were three things that really struck me.
- The amount of people who had attended the last event in 2019 who commented on how HFQ technology had really moved in the last three years, and how the partners in the HFQ ecosystem were so actively and positively embracing it. I recall one conversation from an attendee, relatively new to the HFQ ecosystem but from a large global player, who mentioned he arrived somewhat sceptical and left much more a believer.
- The power and energy within the HFQ partner network group. There was a real positive energy and belief around the outcomes, next steps and follow-on projects, and activities by the group.
- With the focus on sustainability, and lower CO2 per kilogram in parts, something there was much discussion around, the increasing use of recycled content aluminium within automotive, aerospace, industrial and consumer goods parts, offers a huge opportunity for the unique aspects of the HFQ process. This is something we are working on as a high priority to support the HFQ ecosystem.”
“We’re going to have a very exciting few years ahead of us.”
Alan Peel – Chairman, Impression Technologies
The HFQ Partner Network is planning to hold another meeting at the end of 2022, and is always welcoming new members to the fold. If you are interested in becoming a HFQ Partner Network member, please contact the HFQ Partner Network now.