Spain’s CAF, a specialist in the production of all types of railway cars, commissioned its new Schuler SMG press to begin the production of forged railroad wheels this past spring. The company’s production of railroad wheels will allow it to expand beyond its own captive needs and supply wheels globally as well. The new hydraulic preform forging press is responsible for the first stage in the railway-wheel production process. With a press force of 11,250 tons, the preforming press compresses a round billet of steel heated to around 1200°C into a “cake.” In the second stage, it is forged into a preformed wheel. A wheel-rolling machine then continues to form the product into a wheel. Finally, the wheel receives its final shape by punching the hub in a 2,800-ton press.
Nearly all forms of railway wheels can be preformed using the Schuler press. The main cylinder has a diameter of around 3 meters, and the respective hydraulic system contains 30,000 liters of hydraulic oil to help the cylinder do its work. The whole system requires 4 megawatts of power. Three robots cool the dies before, during and after the forming process and spray them with a water-graphite mixture.