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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2006
www.metals.rala.com.au 6 BRIEFINGS Future cars will be lighter -- but just as strong Future cars will be far lighter -- but just as strong -- through new advances in the casting process that uses super lightweight magnesium alloys by a team of research engineers from CSIRO. The technology, called T-Mag, consistently produces high-integrity magnesium alloy castings from permanent moulds, free of porosity and other defects. T-Mag can cast lightweight magnesium- alloy engine blocks that will be only two- thirds the weight of current aluminium alloy blocks and less than one third the weight of cast iron blocks a prospect that is already arousing the interest of high- performance car manufacturers in Europe. It will also be possible to cast high- integrity magnesium alloy wheels. Current casting technology cannot produce wheels of sufficient integrity to be safe and practical at an acceptable cost. T-Mag is being developed through CSIRO's Light Metals Flagship by a team from CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology. A pilot-scale unit built for research and development has already produced successful demonstration magnesium castings, including road wheels, and blocks for a 750cc, water-cooled, motorcycle engine will be cast shortly. CSIRO believes that T-Mag's technical and economic attributes will give it a competitive advantage over current casting technologies, and remove many obstacles to the economic production of high integrity magnesium parts. Head researcher, Dr Thang Nguyen, describes T-Mag's novel, integrated design as a critical enabling technology, with a range of applications beyond the high- pressure casting technique currently used to produce 85 per cent of the world's magnesium alloy components. High-pressure die casting has limitations which restrict its application to cast many automotive components, one of these limitations is low as-cast yields: typically, it takes six to seven kilograms of metal to produce a 3.5kg casting. The unused metal cannot simply be recycled because re-melting creates oxides and inter- metallic compounds, and both the initial melting process and re-melting the scrap consume large amounts of energy. "T-Mag requires only 3.7kg of alloy for a 3.5kg casting. This reduces recycling, and energy use and saves a lot of melt cost," Dr Nguyen says. T-Mag is a permanent-mould casting process that requires neither applied pressure nor a vacuum to fill the die. The die fills smoothly from the bottom, minimising air entrapment and oxidation, and produces X-ray-quality castings that are virtually free of defects. MEGTEC Signs Agreement with Australia-Based Furnace Engineering Furnace Engineering now exclusively represents MEGTEC's emission control products in Australia and New Zealand following the signing of a Sales Agreement in February. Furnace Engineering already represents MEGTEC in many industries including metals, automotive parts, accessories and coatings. The agreement includes provisions that will allow the eventual manufacturing of MEGTEC's regenerative thermal oxidizers at Furnace Engineering facilities. "The goal of the partnership is to use the relationships Furnace Engineering has in markets where MEGTEC is not actively participating as a way to promote air pollution control products," said Gerald Norz, Director of service for MEGTEC. "We currently sell to the printing and mining markets in the region, but want to expand into the metals and automotive sectors, as well as others. This partnership will enable us to do that." Furnace Engineering has Australian Standards ISO 9001 quality endorsement and is based in Melbourne with sales and service centres in both Sydney and Adelaide. It is a designer and manufacturer of heat processing technology providing both single furnace or total turnkey systems. Their capability profile makes to complementary to MEGTEC'S product range. T he Australian Foundry Industry in New South Wales, held two, one day Induction Furnace Operator training seminars on the 21st and 22nd February, that had more than 84 people attend. Operators came from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania to hear the latest safety and operating techniques from Merv Acthison of Inductotherm. Profits from the last conference funded this seminar. Further training days are planned for later in the year. The Victorian AFI will be holding a Foundry training day on the 5th of April. Some of the topics that will be covered include patternmaking and tooling requirements, design of runner systems, moulding and core making selection and melting processes to name a few. This training day will be heavily subsidised by the Victorian AFI so if you are able, please attend. Training has always been a big part of the AFI with monthly or bi-monthly state meetings, one and two day seminars and the national convention. If you require training for foundry staff please don't hesitate to ask your local state AFI branch for assistance. All states are keen to run short training courses. If the Victorian foundry training day is well received by the industry and others, including engineering and material science students, the course may go on a State by State road show to service the industry's needs. The National AFI web page is always a good place to see what and when is on. The web address is www. afiaustralia.org The Queensland AFI and Cast Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Queensland are working together to try and acquire State funding for training and research for the Queensland Foundry industry. If the funding is successful then other States will benefit from this joint undertaking. Job well done Queensland. Tod Morgan National AFI President Australia s Foundry Industry is Funding Further Training