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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2011
12 www.metals.rala.com.au BRIEFINGS 2010 and this number needs to increase by 200,000 if the industry is to raise its production to 2.5 million vehicles per year. Shortages of skilled labour has been one of the concerns raised by car producers on the eastern seaboard such that both engineering craft and technician training in automotive and related supply industry, especially foundries, needs to be expanded and improved. Other concerns include the need to improve the road and communication infrastructure in Rayong province and for the vehicle excise tax structure to be overhauled such that the tax system was based on fuel economy and emissions. Demand from the automotive industry, and from the electrical appliance & machine producers and construction, lead to a 40% increase in the steel market in Thailand during 2010 compared to 2009. The Iron & Steel Institute of Thailand has recommended that Thailand should set up co-operative steel production in nearby Myanmar or Cambodia or establish an eco-steel producing town in the south of Thailand. To date plans to develop liquid steel production in Thailand have drawn considerable opposition from Thai environmental groups. CSIRO's Simon McKeon named Australian of the year CSIRO Chairman Simon McKeon was named Australian of the Year 2011 at a ceremony outside Parliament House in Canberra on Australia Day, 25 January 2011. He was congratulated by Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr who said. "I am delighted that Mr McKeon has been recognised for his contribution to Australia," "In his role as Chairman of the CSIRO, Mr McKeon plays a vital role in Australia's scientific future and I am pleased to have the privilege to see firsthand his passion and commitment to improving our country." The Australian of the Year awards recognises remarkable Australians who, through their actions and the way they lead their day to day lives inspire us all. For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards and the recipients, visit www. australianoftheyear.org.au For more information about the CSIRO, visit www.csiro.au to search for the latest information on Metals technologies. A sample follows. A new technology developed by CSIRO The premier research organisation in Australia is about to deliver major improvements to an age-old die-casting process, making HPDC cheaper and improving the quality of the end product. Casting costs cut The new process, Advanced Thixotropic Metallurgy (ATM), takes a new approach to HPDC by using a revolutionary feed system for forcing metal into the dies. It is particularly suited to aluminium and magnesium alloys. ATM is about 10 per cent cheaper to operate than conventional HPDC and does not require major investment in new equipment. ATM has the potential to give Australian manufacturers a competitive edge against imports by producing higher quality products. Mr Lyndon Joss, managing director of Melbourne-based Excel Pacific Diecasting, says this is critical for local manufacturers. 'Adopting best-practice die casting methods is crucial to the survival of die casting manufacturing in Australia. Using processes our grandfathers used and saying 'that'll be all right' does not work anymore,' says Mr Joss. A new feed approach Conventional HPDC involves molten metal being forced into a cavity through small tunnels, or runners. During this process, air can be trapped within the melt. This trapped air appears as porosity in the finished part and can be detrimental to its quality. To exclude the worst of the affected metal and reduce porosity of the part, cavities usually have substantial overflow zones. Conventional feed systems can also contain pre-solidified grains that continue to grow while being forced into castings. Particularly large grains can seriously affect casting properties. Dr Rob O'Donnell, project manager for ATM, says the feed system in the ATM process involves a radical redesign of the runners. This makes for a more uniform product with reduced porosity, and at a lower unit price than traditional casting. The process has been in low-volume production since 2002. More than 15 manufacturers are now trialling the technology, and most are reporting immediate improvements. ATM advantages ATM has several advantages over traditional HPDC, including: ● reduced rejection rates ● reduced production time, which lowers labour and machine costs ● reduced wear on machines ● negligible overflow zones, reducing metal use and waste ● more uniform distribution of nucleation sites, leading to a more uniform product ● reduced energy costs, as less metal needs to be melted for casting, and dies do not need to be preheated to as high a temperature. According to Dr O'Donnell, 'In a part that normally costs one dollar, a die- caster can now save between 10 and 20 cents.'Low porosity also enables the end product to be heat-treated, which is impossible with conventional HPDC products. Heat treatments can significantly increase the metal's pliability and can more than double product strength. This provides