Providing Steel Fabrication for MEL Chemicals


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In the chemical industry, it is common to have difficulties with the construction of the existing structures in production.

This is due to the extreme processes components go through on the production line – this includes heat at extreme temperatures, chemical reactions & extreme cooling. The process needs to be reliable and robust in this industry due to the nature of the products involved.

The Brief


We were asked by our customer MEL Chemicals (Luxfer) to assist in the design and fabrication of multiple ‘frit’ buckets. When they came to us, Luxfer were having difficulties with the construction of the existing buckets they were using.

This was due to the extreme processes the buckets go through on the production line down at Luxfer.

The ‘Frit’ contained in the buckets is a mixture of caustic and sand. The process the ‘buckets go through’ includes heat at extreme temperatures, chemical reactions within the bucket & extreme cooling of the frit. The buckets are then subject to side impact and tipping.

The chemical mixture contained in the frit buckets is the basis of a large amount of the chemicals produced by our customer. This frit bucket process needs to be reliable and robust as it forms the beginning of their production process for most of their mixtures.


We experimented with different materials for the buckets. Different profiles of folding to enable a better ‘tip’, a different construction with less welds, various options for heat treatment and then different weld techniques. We also tried lining the buckets with a stainless material to increase longevity. The bucket structure has been changed various times and the challenge of this is the profile of metal that best suits the buckets is a difficult one to manufacture, this meant new tooling and extra trials.

In addition to the chemicals corroding the buckets and giving them a shorter lifespan, the mixture in them also react with various coatings, oils and welds in the bucket structure so we had a process of back and forth to get the correct.


We designed a bespoke tooling option for the pressbrake to enable us to produce the improved profile at the bottom of the bucket. This enables a better ‘tip’.

The buckets are constructed using 8mm-12mm mild steel. The robust construction ensures they can withstand both the corrosive product as well as the impact received on the production line. They are filet welded with a suitable welding wire to ensure the welds do not react with the ‘frit’.

They are then heat treated to enable them to withstand higher and lower temperature extremes.


We have supplied over 1000 buckets to Luxfer so far. We are also working with the customer to constantly tweak the design to increase longevity such as the option of manufacturing stainless steel.

Airmatic have provided a great service of both design assistance and then quality fabrication of our ‘frit’ buckets. We now order a large quantity and look forward to working with them to continuously improve the buckets going forward.

Phil Relph - Head of Procurement MEL Chemicals

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