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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2005
Last year ended with TFC-2, the Second Thai Foundrymen's Conference in Bangkok whilst this year foundries can now look forward to the 9th Asian Foundry Congress (AFC-9) which has moved on from Bangkok (AFC-8 in 2003) to Hanoi in Vietnam. OUTLOOK REMAINS BRIGHT FOR THAI MANUFACTURING he Thai Automotive Industry had record business in 2004 with sales reported as just over 626,000 vehicles, a 17% annual increase, beating the previous high of 560,000 which was reached in 1996, the year before the Asian Economic Crisis. Vehicle sales are expected to grow by 10% during 2005 bringing sales up to nearly 700,000. Toyota expect growth to be very strong in the commercial vehicle sector and are anticipating a +30% increase in pick up truck sales. The Thai Automotive Institute has also forecast that by 2006 the annual value of exports of OEM and REM autoparts from Thailand should reach 200 billion baht. This is all good news for the Thai automotive foundries. The overall positive mood in manufacturing in the latter half of 2004 was reflected in the again increased attendance at the Metalex 2004 show -- the 18th ASEAN Machine Tools and Metalworking Exhibition held once in late November at BITEC -- the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition. The show brought together some 1900 exhibitors from 45 countries and included 33 conference/seminar programmes on all aspects of metal working and engineering. One of these events was TFC 2 -- The Second Thai Foundry Conference the theme of which was "Metal Casting in the Next Decade". Of the fifteen papers presented only two were from overseas. In the first David Hughes of Foseco, Australia looked at "What's new in coatings and binders" including colour change drying indicators for water based coatings and high performance dip coating to reduce cleaning costs in automotive castings. Christian Kleeberg of Walter AG, Singapore then discussed how developments in cutting tool materials were helping to reduce costs and problems in machining Cast Irons. He showed how dual coloring of tool tips enabled the user to visually monitor tool wear thus avoiding the under - and over-use of cutting edges. Over half of the papers by Thai presenters were on Aluminium Castings. This and the "all seats taken" attendance of over 100 delegates at a MTEC seminar on the use of Al Castings in vehicles reflected the continued increasing interest in light alloy castings in Thai companies. One of the organizers of TFC 2, King Mongut's University of Technology at Thonburi has been designated as CEMCT -- the Centre of Excellence in Metal Casting Technology (www.kmutt.ac.th/cemct). Manufacturing industry in Thailand is now running at over 70% capacity but there are concerns for the future if companies do not pay more attention to R & D especially in materials and product design and development. The Ministry of Industry has recognised that Thailand still has a long way to go to catch up with Taiwan and South Korea. Recent questions over quality and standards mean that Product Liability law is to be introduced as a matter of priority. The Industry Ministry is also encouraging Thai manufacturers, especially of autoparts, to create their own brands to gain international recognition. Concerns over future energy and steel supply have led to two new projects. The Energy Ministry has announced a seven-year plan to develop the production of biodiesel from palm oil to reduce reliance on imported oil. Plans have also been submitted to Government for the development of at least one steel-making plant to supply the domestic market. LOOKING FORWARD TO AFC 9 IN HANOI During December 2004 the writer, together with Dr Paritud, Director of the National Metals & Materials Technology Centre, Bangkok and Professor Umeda of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, visited Hanoi to assist in the preparations for the 9th Asian Foundry Congress AFC-9 to be held there during 15-18th October 2005. This will be the first major international cast metals event in Vietnam. The theme for the congress is "Asian Foundry -- Traditions, Advances and Integration". AFC 9 is being jointly organized by: Vietnam Union of Science & Technology Associations Vietnam Science & Technology Association of Foundry and Metallurgy Hanoi Association of Foundry and Metallurgy Faculty of Metallurgy & Materials Technology -- HUT. The Hanoi Association of Foundry & Metallurgy had recently held the 3rd Seminar on Foundry and Metallurgical Science and Technology where over 20 22 METAL Casting Technologies March 2005 Asian Focus: Foundries in Conference in Thailand and Vietnam Dr. John Pearce.