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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2005
ASIAN OVERVIEW THAILAND Aluminium Automotive Castings, and SPC for Foundries. More foundries can now tackle root cause technical problems, can perform FMEA studies and are making much more effective use of statistical process control than in the past. Hopefully some of these foundries can be encouraged to take a more active role in cast metals research, and in particular, generate their own ideas for research and development projects. During 2004/5 the Technical Service section at MTEC has been involved with Thai SME companies in a number of foundry related consulting projects. Typical examples include: • Improvements in melt control and cleanliness, and overall quality in the production of semi-continuous cast Al Alloy billets, and optimisation of homogenization heat treatment. • Improving metallurgical control in the casting of cast iron rolling mill rolls. • Reducing casting defects in the art casting industry, notably in the investment casting of Brass sculpture and statues, including Buddha images. Many of the early foundries were sited at or near to temples to provide religious images and works of art. There are still many small Thai cultural art casting producers but few have sufficient metallurgical methods engineering knowledge to operate efficiently, consequently, high frequencies of casting defects are encountered, a typical example is illustrated. An MTEC project lead by Khun Thanaporn has been helping some art foundries to make the transition from castings based just on local craft skills to those based on effective technical control as well. Factors being tackled include mould and wax materials quality, de-waxing methods, melt quality (most foundries use scrap as charge material) and temperature control, and mould filling. This work has already made a significant contribution to reducing defects and repairs. Cast Metals Research and Development at Thai Universities As well as MTEC funded research, some academic institutions have developed their own post-graduate programmes in cast metals and have also obtained research funding from other sources, e.g. from the Thailand Research Fund or from overseas organizations. The Production Engineering and Materials Departments at King Mongkut's University of Technology (KMUTT) have cooperated to form CEMCT -- the Centre of Excellence in Metal Casting Technology. This centre is now becoming increasingly involved with industry related work. For example, CEMCT has recently completed a contract research project with a brass plumbing product manufacturer in Thailand who exports to USA and Australia. As part of this work CEMCT has developed a new brass specification that can resist dezincification without adding arsenic into the composition. This new chemical specification can not only pass current international standards but also provides improved casting characteristics that lower casting defects substantially. During 2005 over 80 new industrial members have joined CEMCT such that continued support from the industrial sector is guaranteed in the future. Since January this year, CEMCT together with the support from MTEC organized more than 7 training courses including in- house training and public training. Over 200 delegates from industry attended these courses. CEMCT continues to be the major partner with the Thailand Automotive Institute for training and examining personnel to be certified 1 1. Buddha Images 2. Wax pattern to cast head 3. Typical defect and poor surface finish 2 3 4 4. Another example of surface defect 38 www.metals.rala.com.au