Research, development and innovation
Innovations based on efficient and effective research and development (R&D) are an important growth engine for Aurubis. Our international team of highly qualified employees from different fields and their know-how are the foundation for successfully developing these innovations. They receive support from internal and external innovation partners in the process.
The Aurubis Group’s R&D expenditures in reporting year 2014/15 amounted to € 11 million (previous year: € 10 million). The department employed 56 people (previous year: 69).
The strategic orientation of R&D activities towards forward-looking and market-oriented projects was advanced further. We worked more closely together with a growing research network of respected international universities and institutes to investigate scientific principles and expand future technology platforms.
In addition to the classic R&D activities, we implemented computer-based optimization models for material flow management during the fiscal year.
Higher requirements for copper and specialty products on the one hand and increasingly complex primary and secondary raw materials on the other hand present a growing challenge for our production processes. Complex metallurgical projects and issues were therefore a focus of our of R&D work during the fiscal year. We were able to develop a stable basis for the Group in this area. Furthermore, the R&D work in primary and secondary metallurgical slags continued.
Additional future-oriented R&D topics are determined by global trends and the growth areas defined in the Group strategy. We utilize open innovation approaches in order to develop the resulting technologies, investigate their attractiveness and identify concrete areas of action.
In the product business, there were positive developments in the alloy family “BlueBrass 42” on both the wire and the strip side. There was a breakthrough towards series fabrication for key customers. We accommodate the increasing demand for lead-free brass alloys for machining with materials from this product range. Increased activities in the “Alloyed Wire” project led to process and product optimizations in the fabrication of high-performance alloys made of wire with high copper contents. Nevertheless, additional process developments are necessary before a stable volume production is possible. In the strip sector, the introduction of a high-performance alloy used to produce connectors was successfully concluded. In addition to casting the alloy, production trials up to the initial sampling stage were successfully carried out with key automotive suppliers. We see good market potential in this area as well.