In 2010 a dedicated Alloy Powder Atomising line was fully commissioned at Alpoco in Anglesey, allowing the business to move into the growing powder metallurgy market for the production of high performance parts.
2010 and 2011 were record breaking years for LSM, thanks largely to a strategy of growth through innovation and commitment to sustainable investment in manufacturing and technology. Product lines were strengthened and downstream activities expanded to maximise the unique opportunities offered by the Group’s raw material base in markets such as Brasil.
LSM achieved the BS EN ISO 14001:2004 accreditation in 2011, an internationally recognised standard for the environmental management of businesses. This prescribes controls for those activities which have an effect on the environment, such as energy consumption and the handling and treatment of waste materials. In the same year LSM also demonstrated its commitment to the continuous improvement in Health and Safety performance through accreditation to OHSAS 18001, an internationally recognised assessment specification for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.
In 2000 a new continuous Properzi caster and rolling rod mill was installed putting LSM at the forefront of TiBAl grain refining technology. In the same year LSM acquired the Willan-Wogen ferrotitanium plant and the Wogen Castle crushing business, both in the UK and an integrated facility for ferrotitanium was installed at Rotherham with energy efficient induction furnace melting and advanced process control instrumentation.
In July 2007, a number of companies including LSM’s parent company, Metallurg Inc. were combined to form the AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group N.V., listed on the NYSE Euronext. This group includes a number of companies with whom LSM has shared a long association, such as Gesellschaft fur Elektrometallurgie mbH (GFe) and Companhia Industrial Fluminense (CIF).
To meet the new challenges, the LSM group expanded its production, products and markets. In 2008 LSM (Jiaxing) Co. Ltd. was formed in The People’s Republic of China and began production of Altab alloying tablets. The Companhia Industrial Fluminense, Brasil (CiF) was renamed as LSM Brasil.
In Rotherham, a new vacuum furnace for high purity degassed chromium metal and a new grinding mill for high carbon chromium metal were installed in 2009. In the same year a special process for the production of ferroniobium from niobium oxide, sourced from LSM Brazil, was developed and a pilot plant for development work on exothermic metals and alloys was installed.
In 1990 production had grown to the extent that a decision was made to invest in a state of the art laboratory. This offered the very best analytical techniques and instrumentation for its own manufacture and began to provide a commercial service for a diversified portfolio of external customers in the UK and overseas.
Today the laboratory continues to successfully fulfil its dual role and is an essential technical and commercial asset to the operation of the Rotherham site, incorporating the best analytical techniques available, such as, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry.
In 1990 LSM acquired the Aluminium Powder Company Limited (ALPOCO) based in Minworth and Anglesey, to support its exothermic chromium metal production. Alpoco produces a range of atomised aluminium needles and granules. These are supplied to metallurgical, refractory, chemical, paint and pigment, alloy and propulsion markets. Since its inception the European Ariane Space Programme has used Alpoco aluminium in their rocket fuel and each successful launch of the Ariane 5 heavy lift launcher has been powered by Alpoco spherical atomised aluminium powder.
In 1997 the new exothermic department in Rotherham was commissioned consolidating LSM’s position as a world leader in the production of high quality chromium metal. In addition to regular grades of chromium metal production includes special degassed low nitrogen chromium for nickel chromium superalloys and a wide range of powder for hardfacing applications.
In 1999 Alpoco acquired a 51% share in Benda Lutz Alpoco in Skawina, Poland, specialising in atomised Al powder production.
In the 1980’s a new chromium metal crushing and grinding department was built with advanced facilities for crushing and blending, which allowed products to be supplied to precise customer specification.
In 1983 a patented range of alloying tablets was marketed under the brand name Altab. These tablets soon became the first choice addition for many aluminium casthouses worldwide and today remain an important part of LSM’ s worldwide sales.
In 1986 LSM was awarded the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Export Achievements in recognition of its outstanding record in exporting a high proportion of its products into worldwide markets.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the aluminium industry worldwide changed from adding TiBAl waffle and ingot to the melt in the production of wrought alloys to adding TiBAl grain refiner in the metal stream as rod.
LSM began to produce TiBAl rod by a billet/extrusion route and since then LSM has devoted significant technical effort towards the fundamental improvement of TiBAl rod performance. As a result, LSM became a market leader in the supply of high quality TiBAl rod, a position it still holds today. Production of TiBAl rod at Rotherham changed to a continuously cast/rolled route in the late 1970’s.
The 1970’s also saw LSM make a decision to diversify into the production of specialised glass polish powders using cerium oxide rich rare earth minerals. Optical Surface Technologies (OST) was established and now operates as a division of LSM from a dedicated automated production facility on the Rotherham site. OST makes a successful and wide range of glass and plastic polishing compounds for diverse applications from bevelling and edging mirror glass, TV faceplates, and decorative chandelier crystal to ophthalmic lenses and precision scientific optics.
In 1960 LSM acquired a company in nearby Mexborough which made a “floating hot top”, preventing rapid surface cooling of molten steel ingots. In 1962 this company was transferred to the Rotherham site. Cooperation with the Ferro Engineering Corporation in the USA saw these exothermic and insulating products, marketed as “Ferroboard”, become highly successful in the UK steel industry for the next 30 years.
With the decline of ingot casting, and the change to continuous casting of steel, insulating “Ferrocon” tundish liners were also produced and sold to steelmakers in the UK and overseas. Production of both these products finally ceased in the late 1990’s and the department closed.
Between 1962 and 1970 more land was bought to form the present 64 acre Rotherham site.
Around the same time, ownership of LSM was transferred to Metallurg Inc. (incorporated in the USA in 1940) and LSM became an important part of a worldwide group of specialised manufacturing and mining companies principally directed towards the expanding metallurgical sector.
The Exothermic department was completed in 1951 and began to produce chromium metal as well as nickel boron and nickel niobium.
In 1952 the electric arc furnace department was set up with two 1.5mt melting furnaces to produce ferro alloys mainly for the fast developing UK steel industry including ferrotitanium, ferroaluminium, ferroniobium and ferroboron. The photo above, taken in 1952, shows a typical arc furnace melt where melting was still an essentially skill based process.
1954 saw the birth of the Aluminium department (later to be known as EMD) using induction furnaces to melt Aluminium and to produce master alloys and TiBAl grain refiners in waffle plate and ingot form for the blossoming aluminium industry. It also marked the start of LSM’s journey to become an established world leader in applied technology and innovative products for the aluminium industry.
The company began manufacturing in 1940 in Glossop, Derbyshire, when the Ministry of Supply awarded a contract to LSM to reclaim scarce materials considered strategic to the war effort.
A chemical process was set up to recover vanadium oxide from fuel oil soot and to reclaim tungsten and molybdenum salts to be used in the important dyeing and colouring industries.
In 1943 a works was set up in Yorkshire in the city of Sheffield to melt scale and grindings for use by high speed steel makers. Later an arc furnace was installed and production of ferrous and nickel based alloys started.
In 1944 the Department of Trade and Industry approached LSM to make a metal which was becoming ever more important to the booming post war steel industry, chromium. After a few years of exothermic production of chromium metal in Sheffield, a new site was purchased in April 1947 a few miles away, in Rotherham. Production of chromium was transferred to the new site where it flourished, with one of its high profile applications being superalloy turbine blades for advanced, fuel efficient, ultra high thrust by-pass aero engines.
LSM opened its first analytical laboratory in 1948 to analyse raw materials and its own manufactured products. The raw materials included recycled waste materials from the local metal processing industries. The laboratory was prominent in developing new testing procedures.