Kamtek, an operating unit of Magna International, recently completed part of an expansion to its Birmingham, AL, auto parts manufacturing complex, which will see it launch high-pressure diecasting for aluminum structural parts. According to Magna’s announcement, the $60-million expansion it unveiled earlier this month will produce front-shock towers for a global automotive OEM, with programs for other automakers to follow in the future.
Kamtek is organized as part of Magna’s Cosma International subsidiary, producing structural parts for automotive bodies and chassis systems. Magna acquired the metal forming and welding operation in 2008 from Ogihara Corp. The plant’s OEM customers include Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Nissan, all of which have automotive assembly plants in the Southeastern U.S. It currently employs 850 workers, and the aluminum casting expansion could increase that total by 100 at its full capacity.
The 150,000-sq.ft. HPDC addition is part of a $530-million capital investment for the Birmingham plant announced in August 2015. The larger portion of the investment was targeted at expanding the overall operation. At that time, the new high-pressure diecasting capability was reported as an investment of $80 million.
In any case, Magna expects the HPDC capabilities to increase its “vehicle light-weighting and part-reduction solutions for customers.
“The new capabilities improve upon traditional, steel multi-piece welded assemblies, which can take upwards of 12 stampings to produce one structural component,” according to an announcement. “High-pressure aluminum casting allows production of full structures in one piece, reducing vehicle mass without compromising performance, structural integrity or safety.”
“We remain focused on light-weighting to help improve fuel economy while decreasing vehicle emissions over time,” stated John Farrell, president of Cosma International, Magna’s body and chassis operating unit. “The Kamtek expansion demonstrates our dedication to meeting these challenges head-on through leading-edge manufacturing processes that streamline vehicle weight reduction for our customers.”