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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE Automobiles NewWorldOF THE mould, mould tables, and casting wheels which are available to cast houses in Australia and overseas through a licensed manufacturer. Fundamental research work covers issues such as modelling of alloy deformation during ingot casting, flow of metal on hot top tables and heat transfer across the metal/mould interface.. Property and quality control We aim to significantly improve the return on investment and reduce the environmental impact of metal casting plants by developing new alloys, systems and processes which result in cast metal products with superior properties. Our research is directed towards solving two major quality issues in the metal casting plant - reducing the generation of dross during melt transfer operations; and finding new methods to measure inclusions in aluminium melts. To help understand the dross problem, the biggest single variable cost item in aluminium cast houses, we supported the design, fabrication and commissioning of a 500kg dross generation experimental rig and a small laboratory-scale skimming furnace. A second focus in this program is the development of new alloys with improved properties such as new alloy compositions less susceptible to hot tearing. Die casting costs research Our research in die casting is aimed at reducing the manufacturing costs of light metal castings by 30% by developing and deploying technologies for casting and tooling. These technologies can then enhance the productivity and competitiveness of our partners as well as other Australian metal manufacturers. Trials are also underway to introduce these technologies into global markets. Our research is geared towards developing innovative solutions and technologies to decrease cycle time while maintaining or improving product quality. We are also improving the heat resistance of dies using new die designs and die coasting technologies with the aim of achieving a die life of one million casting cycles. We are adopting new tool steel grades and improving internal die cooling to reduce die deterioration from thermal fatigue and erosion and are also investigating ways to reduce scrap rates, resulting in the production of more saleable parts, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency. Future directions The global financial crisis, rising fuel costs and environmental concerns continue to threaten the viability of Australian metal manufacturers. For this reason, our future research work will respond to the significant financial pressures facing our industry partners by concentrating on developing solutions that will deliver benefits within a short timeframe. Through licensing to our commercial partners, we are keen to see the technologies we develop adopted more widely. There are significant skills shortages CAST are looking at ways to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of metal component manufacture by research into high pressure die casting across the metals manufacturing sector. CAST and its participants supply approximately 75% of all light metal education and training in Australia at the vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In addition to technical skills, we are also keen to increase the skills and capacity of Australian companies to adapt to changing markets and technologies. OUR RESEARCH IS GEARED TOWARDS DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGIES TO DECREASE CYCLE TIME WHILE MAINTAINING OR IMPROVING PRODUCT QUALITY. 22 www.metals.rala.com.au