ElringKlinger AG

Poetry of

Over a period of just a few years, ElringKlinger has succeeded in establishing itself as one of the market leaders in the area of turbocharger gaskets. A glimpse behind the scenes reveals that the company's ability to benefit from the global trend towards small, turbocharged engines is a tribute primarily to the close level of cooperation between its development and production units.

Head of Production Albert Lennerth ensures that the process of producing turbocharger gaskets runs as smoothly as possible.

This has to be possible without causing waste – but how? It was this simple question first uttered in 2007 that heralded the dawn of a high-flying product for ElringKlinger. Since the turn of the millennium, the automotive industry has seen a steady rise in the market share of combustion engines fitted with exhaust turbochargers. This trend is being driven by a number of tangible benefits associated with this form of “artificial respiration” – the ability to reduce engine displacement and fuel consumption without jeopardizing engine performance and torque. However, in order to ensure that the environmental footprint and efficiency levels of such downsized units are truly up to scratch, it is essential that no unfiltered exhaust gases can escape from the turbocharger (and, increasingly, engines are being equipped with two or even three turbochargers). This is achieved with the help of several specialty gaskets that are used to seal not only the cover required for the turbocharger housing so that it can be properly fitted but also the connecting points between the turbocharger and the exhaust manifold as well as the exhaust system.

It’s all about precision: the shape of each and every seal is checked automatically.

The task to be performed by turbocharger gaskets is a daunting one: the exhaust gas of turbocharged gasoline engines can reach temperatures of up to 1,050 degrees Celsius, as a result of which the associated pipes and turbocharger housing have to withstand temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius. Temperatures such as these generally prove to be too much of a challenge for standard steel. Therefore, the special steels used by ElringKlinger are alloyed with a high proportion of nickel and other chemical elements. "Materials such as these were previously used mainly in aircraft engines and gas-fired power stations," says Reiner Drews, Head of the Specialty Gaskets division.

> 50% Less waste thanks to a streamlined
production process.

The biggest challenge facing him and his team was the method of production. The existing methods applied within the industry – with rings being punched out of a layer of expensive special steel – meant that the overall weight of the waste material produced during fabrication was in excess of that of the actual products. Over a period of three years, ElringKlinger engineers in Dettingen an der Erms therefore developed a completely new process with a reduced volume of waste. Essentially, it comprises just three key steps: a narrow strip of steel is cut to the appropriate length and then formed to create a ring that is welded together at the open end. This ring is then embossed to create the desired profile. Finally, the rings are cured for several hours in a special furnace until they have the required strength. “Not only is this production method more environmentally friendly, it is also much more efficient. It is gratifying to know we have mastered a process that now allows us to produce millions of sealing rings each year,” says Albert Lennerth, who is responsible for production.

Although the manufacturing process is almost fully automated, the offices located directly adjacent to the production line are a hive of activity. After all, customer inquiries need to be processed and projects need to be managed – and sometimes, towards early evening, a member of the production team might come by to ask a question. “We’re a real team that sticks together and finds a solution to even the toughest challenges," says Albert Lennerth and smiles.

1st step

A narrow strip of steel is cut to the required length.

2nd step

The strip is then formed to create a ring and welded together at the open end.

3rd step

The ring is embossed to create the desired profile. Finally, it is cured in a special furnace for several hours.