CPT International 04/2015


The leading technical journal for the global foundry industry – Das führende Fachmagazin für die weltweite Gießerei-Industrie











Ensuring casting quality with

innovative feeder systems


Myth · History · Technology · Applications


Manfred Sachse



3. Auflage





ISBN 978-3-514-00751-2

79.00 €

For personal members of Steel Institute VDEh:

71.10 €

Manfred Sachse · 3rd edition 2008

25.6 x 31.9 cm · 304 pages, mostly in colour,

photographs and technical drawings

28.11.2007 8:35:13 Uhr

This book is a comprehensive and in-depth description of Damascus steel and steelmaking. After the introduction

“Magic and myth of sabres” by Helmut Nickel, the author describes the development of the material and the history of

European, Middle Eastern and East-Asian forge-welded composite steels used in the design of blades and fire arms.

A special chapter is dedicated to the great variety of Oriental dasmascus steels (wootz steels). The author covers the topic

of historical and modern fakes and how they can be recognized as well as conservation and restoration of Damascus

steels. In one chapter he demonstrates that not only weapons but also decorative articles of daily use and jewellery can

be made of Damascus steel.

Distributed by Verlag Stahleisen GmbH

P. O. Box 105164 · 40042 Düsseldorf, Germany · Fon: +49 211 6707 - 561 · Fax: +49 211 6707- 547

e-mail: annette.engels@stahleisen.de · www.stahleisen.de


On the way to a smart

foundry industry?

Last summer’s GIFA has been worked through and one’s technical expertise

brought up-to-date so, naturally, the next event for non-ferrous metalworkers

is already coming up: Euroguss in Nuremberg, Germany, from 12 - 14 January

2016. We take up the topic of die-casting with an introductory interview, a

topical report and a specialist article on a new, highly productive, vacuum

die-casting plant (P. 28). We also report on an innovative light-metal foundry

on the former East/West German border that has recently increased its capacities

(from P. 22). Other specialist articles in this issue will also interest die-casters:

we describe the potentials of aluminum materials (from P. 8) as well as

simulation techniques for die-casting processes (from P. 38).

Whether non-ferrous metalworkers or iron, steel and heavy metal casters: one

term has been making the rounds in recent years and is increasingly taking

shape: Industry 4.0, by means of which our production systems are to be largely

autonomously controlled and optimized in future. While the so-called

“smart foundry industry” will certainly require a generation to take root, there

are already pioneers in the sector: the Kurtz Ersa Group has opened a new

foundry in Hasloch, Germany, and implemented many of the elements of

“Foundry Industry 4.0” in this project. Find out more from P. 32.

In this year’s final issue of CASTING we resume the Country Specials that were

interrupted by the GIFA. We start with North America, whose major foundry

nation, the USA – producing over 12 million tonnes of castings – remains stable

in second place in the foundry world rankings. Learn more about metal

casting in the land of opportunity from P. 41.

The year is coming to an end so I say thank you for your interest and wish you

a happy new year wherever you are!

Until then: have a good read!

Robert Piterek, e-mail: robert.piterek@bdguss.de

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 3



with Gerd Röders

“Die-casting offers outstanding options” 6


Smetan, Herberg

Unleashing potentials at aluminium die-casting 8


Pardo, Enrique

Effective solutions for marine bronze castings 18


Piterek, Robert

Producing future-oriented technologies with innovative

light construction 22

Stalder, Claude

The next step in vacuum die-casting 28


GTP Schäfer GmbH

Benzstraße 15

41515 Grevenbroich

+49 (0) 2181 2 33 94-0




Gaßel, Christina

Better energy values, fewer charging operations 30


Franken, Michael

Unique in the world 32


The German Kurtz Ersa Group produces both foundry machines and sophisticated castings. Earlier this year, the company opened its

“smart foundry” and has thus taken an important step towards Industry 4.0. (Photo: Klaus Bolz)


4 | 2015




Gänz, Julian

New simulation techniques for die-casting process 38


Wetzel, Shannon

US metalcasting industry at a Glance 42

Eman, Kitty

On track 44

Lange, Edgar

US foundry Bradken implements optical Measuring technology 48


Editorial 3

News in brief 51

Brochures 56

Fairs and congresses / Advertisers´ index 58

Preview of the next issue/Imprint 59


This edition’s Special focuses on North America – with reports on the US metal casting industry, the expansion of voestalpine Nortrak in

Illinois, and the introduction of optical measuring technology in the US steel foundry Bradken. (Photo: US Army)


“Die-casting offers outstanding


For many decades die-casting has been a successful industrial casting process in the series or

mass production of construction components. That is how it will stay in future too, assures us

Gerd Röders, Chairman of the Verband Deutscher Druckgießereien VDD (Association of German

Pressure Die Casters). We spoke to him in the run-up to the Euroguss fair (12-14 January 2016,

Nuremberg, Germany) about the lightweight design trend in automotive construction, innovative

production processes such as 3-D printing and the presentation program for the International

German Die Casting Congress

Gerd Röders, Chairman of the Verband Deutscher Druckgießereien VDD (Association of German Pressure Die Casters)

(Photo: Andreas Bednareck)

Mr. Röders, the automobile industry

– the die-casters’ largest customer in

Germany – is faced with major challenges

in connection with the reduction

of CO 2

emissions for new vehicles

enacted by the European Union.

By 2020 the aim is to set output at 95

g CO 2

/km for new automobiles. Lightweight

design and downsizing of engines,

in other words increasing efficiency

coupled with simultaneous

weight reduction, are the responses

of the automotive manufacturers to

this challenge. How does this development

effect the die-castings sector?

The development of ever new components

in die-casting is moving forward

rapidly. Be it in the case of structural

components, electric motor

components or smart components

for regulating conventional engines

– in all areas they are trying to make

use of the outstanding options offered

by die-casting. In this process,

the die-casters together with the machine

manufacturers, alloy suppliers

and downstream processors are shifting

the limits of our processes through

constant innovations. It is amazing

what innovative solutions and com-

6 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Figure 1: Sports car with die-cast structural components at Euroguss 2014 (Photo: NurembergMesse/Frank Boxler)

ponents are being produced in this

process, some of them will no doubt

win the much-coveted awards of the

Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie

GDA (German Aluminium Association)

and the Initiative Zink at the

next Euroguss, which are being presented

within the framework of the

die-casting competitions.

The hype surrounding 3-D printing

is currently on everyone’s lips and

has not failed to leave its mark on

the die-casting foundries either. The

Bundesministerium für Bildung und

Forschung (German Federal Ministry

of Education and Research) recently invited

interested parties to Bonn, Germany,

to take part in a technological

discussion on the theme. In future will

we stop casting and just be printing?

Apart from individualization through

additive production, the megatrend is

standardization. Here die-casting offers

major advantages: in just a few

seconds finished components are produced.

And using modern CAD/CAM

methods the tools too can be manufactured

within a short time. This means

that die-casting also continues to be an

advantageous process for large-volume

series production. But requirements on

surfaces can also be more effectively expressed

in cast form than in 3-D print.

On the other hand, 3-D print enables

higher flexibility. To what extent 3-D

printing can be competitive for major

series production through affordable

machinery, remains to be seen. In

my eyes, die-casting will remain just as

much in demand as 3-D print. I personally

regard these new technologies

as very exciting and I am sure that

they will quickly establish themselves.

But in addition to 3-D print, even in

100 years there will still be other production

processes, and with the advances

made by the castings industry,

in my eyes, die-casting will certainly be

one of them.

In January, the VDD is once again

staging the International German

Die Casting Congress at the Euroguss

fair in Nuremberg, Germany. The program

is not revealed yet. But would

you now let us know anyway whether

any exciting presentations are already


The 16th International German Die

Casting Congress is also aiming to reflect

the comprehensive range at Euroguss

on the theme of die-casting. That

means presentations covering the entire

die-casting process chain will be

on the agenda. In this connection,

the theme will for example be innovative

tempering concepts for die-casting

mold design. Several presentations will

also pick up the relative abstract theme

of Industry 4.0 and show how the socalled

Internet of Things can be specifically

implemented in the die-casting

foundries. Of course there will also

be exciting presentations on the material

and components development

themes. I am convinced that there will

be something interesting there for every

fair visitor.

Many thanks for the interview!

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 7


Author: Herbert Smetan, Smetan Engineering, Rehlingen-Siersburg

Unleashing potentials at aluminium


The demands on ductility and fatigue strength of structural and chassis components are significantly

higher than with other parts produced using cold-chamber die-casting. The potential

available in the various aluminium foundry alloys is not exploited in real components. The author

attempts to do just that, both from the practical standpoint by examining the metallurgical aspects

of aluminium foundry alloys and the material requirements of a casting process

Independent of the ultimately successful

solutions towards future power

train systems in private cars, the

manufacturers of construction elements

made of aluminium die-castings

- which may in future dominate

the field in light-weight bodywork and

chassis parts – still find themselves facing

new challenges.

The demands on ductility and fatigue

strength of structural and chassis

components are significantly higher

than with other parts produced

using cold-chamber die-casting. At

the same time, inherent die-casting

problems are accepted both by the traditional

manufacturer and by the experienced

user of these components,

full in the knowledge that the potential

available in the various aluminium

foundry alloys is not exploited

in real components. Also, there

is a wide scatter in fracture strength,

yield strength, elongation and fatigue

strength values i.e. values which ultimately

determine process capability

are locally very different and usual-

The filling of the slot sleeve is

normally carried out using a ladle or

launder exposed to the open air and,

in traditional die-casting is given

little attention although it is an

essential step in the casting process.

Further, it is seldom that water and

oil-based lubricant or separating

liquids are used sparingly at that

stage (Photos: Benno Leinen)

8 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

ly extremely low. Even if the designer

is able to compensate, by applying additional

safety margins in dimensioning,

it is not difficult for competitive materials

and methods to offset the potential

weight advantage offered by aluminium.

In particular in the case of casting

methods, it should be questioned as to

what ultimately should be considered

as the inherent limitations. The author

attempts here to do just that, both from

the practical standpoint by examining

the metallurgical aspects of aluminium

foundry alloys and the material requirements

of a casting process.

Figure 1: What can be seen here, when the molten metal is indiscriminately

poured into a pouring basin or into the pouring cup of a gating system,

takes place in an almost identical manner inside the mold cavity during the

actual filling of the mold

Starting point

Since 1971 the author has been engaged

in various positions and capacities

as foundry and materials specialist

for suppliers of the global automotive

industry, including almost two decades

leading an international group

of aluminium foundries which specialise

exclusively in the production of

cylinder heads and crankcases. In that

period the basic question was how it

came about that, since the earliest days

of casting aluminium foundry alloys, it

could be accepted that the mechanical

properties exhibited by components

remained significantly behind the actual

potential of these extremely capable

but also expensive materials, and

that the values always exhibited considerable

scatter. Often, the more demanding

the alloy in question, the

greater is the discrepancy between the

values obtained and those that could

be reached – for which reason hardly

any differences can be found in actual

components. This situation is reflected

in the related standards and data

sheets. In contrast to ferrous casting

materials, this results in the users applying

safety margins that cannot be

justified in any way for such a modern,

light weight construction material as

aluminium and, consequently, limits

its wider use to a considerable degree.

Essentially, the following points must

be taken into consideration:

» In pure aluminium the shrinkage in

volume during solidification is 7 %

and in its alloys between 2.5 and

7 %. On the other hand in ferrous alloys,

depending on the carbon content

and graphite formation, this

amounts to only 0.6 – 3.2 %.

» In ferrous materials, because the

density is three times higher, the

effective pressure at the interface

which promotes infiltration of residual

melt into the crystallizing structure

is significantly higher than that

of the aluminium casting alloys.

» The tendency to form more tenacious

oxide skins and oxide films,

which often become dispersed

throughout the casting as folded

bundles representing detrimental interfaces

in the structure. This is very

pronounced in aluminium foundry

alloys and with few exceptions other

materials containing aluminium

as an additive - unique in industrial


» Another defect specific to aluminium

is the tendency for molten aluminium

to take up hydrogen and to

precipitate this out during solidification

mainly in the form of finely dispersed

spherical, gaseous porosity at

the grain boundaries and interfaces

of the eutectic phases.

The present day aluminium foundry

alloys are trusted to exhibit significant

reserves in properties to enable them

to be used for an ever increasing range

of new products. This in turn places

significantly increased material-specific

demands on these components.

Without question, successive, stepby-step

improvements both in the alloys

themselves and in the processing

have enabled improvements to be

achieved, but these are asymptotically

approaching a process-specific limit.

Basically, because of their notch-like

behaviour, non-metallic discontinuities

and material heterogeneity have

a very decisive influence on properties

under mechanical and thermal fatigue

load conditions. In that respect

the dispersed oxide impurities in the

matrix of a component are extremely

detrimental. Any, even the briefest,

interruption of the oxide skin on molten

aluminium during the complex

mold-filling process results in extremely

thin oxide films which become incorporated

in the cast structure as

folded bundles and usually have an extremely

negative effect on the mechanical

properties [1].

It is important to differentiate here,

on the one hand, between slowly

growing oxide skins that form mainly

on the surface of aluminium melts

in melting or holding furnaces and

can be incorporated in the component

as a result carelessness and, on

the other hand, oxide skins that form

during the mold filling process. The

first type are usually clusters of oxide

which are easy to recognise in the microstructure

and are usually conspicuous

during crack detection. The oxide

formed during mold filling on the other

hand can become dispersed during

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 9



Die Half





Parting Line

that process and are not detected using

classical destructive or non-destructive

testing – also not even by means of sophisticated

metallographic methods

of investigation. These dispersed oxide

films are hardly visible even to the

trained eye and can at best be detected

using the electron microscope.

Whereas macroscopic oxide inclusions

can be detected, classified as undesirable

and removed from the production

process, the dispersed, ultrafine

Washboard Vent

Stationary Die Half

Liquid Aluminium

Filling Slot

Shot Sleeve

Filling of Liquid Aluminium

by launder

by ladle


Plunger Rod

Figure 2: Schematic representation of a die-casting unit with mold on a cold

chamber die-casting machine for aluminium foundry alloys (Figures: Smetan


Filling of Liquid Aluminium

by launder

by ladle


gaseous, non-metallic and

inter-metallic Impurities

Figure 3: Schematic representation of the filling of molten aluminium alloys

into the shot sleeve of a cold chamber die-casting machine

oxides which are more hidden are the

source of extensive damage. In the distant

past, and repeatedly since then, the

author showed interest in the service

life of cutting tools employed for machining

aluminium wheels produced

using low pressure die-casting and, as

a rule, excellent mold filling. Thereby,

the cutting tool used to machine

wheels that had been cast from metal

melted in a medium frequency induction

furnace exhibited at most only a

tenth of the service life of those tools

machining wheels from metal that had

been melted in a resistance heated crucible

furnace. The effect responsible for

that was the same as with the filling of

the mold viz., the intensive movement

of the metal in the induction furnace

breaks up the oxide films on the surface

of the melt and stirs in the continuously,

newly forming oxide films. As a

result, due to their very similar density,

these oxide films become dispersed

throughout the molten metal and cannot

not be removed by the normal purification

processes used by die-casting

foundries. This meant that the trump

card of aluminium viz., its ability to

provide protection against corrosion

thanks to an impermeable oxide layer,

became its Achilles’ heel when processed

in the molten state.

Regardless of the nature of a discontinuity

or heterogeneity in the structure

of an actual component, their effect

is defined basically by factors of

shape, length and size as well as inherent

strength in relation to the parent

metal. In the case of alternating thermal

stresses, the difference in coefficients

of thermal expansion will also

play a role.

Also the specific thermal conductivity

of the material will have an additional

effect on the resistance to thermal

shock, because this causes a change in

the temperature gradient (this is mentioned

here only for sake of completeness).

In this respect the characteristic

values for dynamic loading react much

more to discontinuities than do the

values for straightforward static loading.

And, it is exactly these dynamic

loading values that are relevant for construction

design purposes. Basically, it

should be assumed that the strength of

a material is usually influenced more

by its discontinuities than by the characteristics

of its matrix, for which reason

it is not helpful to introduce new

alloys as long as we are far from being

able to exploit the potential of the existing

alloys. Even though attempts are

made for various applications to compensate

for the inherent disadvantages

via high purity alloys, that should be

viewed simply for reasons of cost only

as an emergency solution.

10 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Stationary Die Half



Ejector Die Half

Stationary Die Platen



Shot Sleeve


Feed Tube


Pouring Furnace


Figure 4: Principle of the Vacural-Process [6] (Figure: Oskar Frech GmbH

& Co. KG)

LASER Pyrometer

LASER Level Control


Figure 5a: Principle of a process-stable docking geometry adapted from low-

-pressure die-casting for joining the feed tube to the shot sleeve of a diecast

ing machine (Figures: Smetan Engineering)

Temperature Control.

Smart. Reliable.

In the past the author has always

taken samples from continuously casting

ingots to illustrate the potential of

an aluminium foundry alloy with respect

to conventional values i.e. fracture

strength, yield strength, elongation

and flexural fatigue strength, in

each case in comparison with the values

used to compare industrial casting

methods. Admittedly this is a demanding

comparison and is stricter than the

more comparative measurement of a

quality index normally used to judge

casting methods. Separately cast test

bars, still widely used for reference purposes,

should in the author`s opinion,

be employed only to compare the quality

of a melt. These measurements have,

therefore, nothing to do with real components,

the properties of which are

mostly influenced by process effects.

Continuously cast ingots exhibit not

only an optimally solidified, uniform

structure, but also the ideal case with

respect to inclusion of non-metallic impurities.

For that reason, when continuously

casting foil stock ingots, the oxide

particles in the launder are frequently

measured in real time using the Limca

CM-Method (Liquid Metal Cleanli-

Individual solution &

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Get more out of your production

facilities right from the start - with

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with your components and processes.

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 11



gaseous N 2

LASER Pyrometer

ness Analyzer) by ABB [2], to achieve a

melt free of dispersed oxides. With similar

goals in mind, the PoDFA-Method

(Inclusion Identification and Quantification

Analysis) from ABB [2] is used

in leading jobbing foundries for quantitative

assessment of oxide fines in

melts. By re-melting components, the

so called Cold PoDFA-Method can also

be used to judge the quality of components

by assessing the amount of

fine, dispersed oxide present. The fact

that this method is hardly ever used in

foundries can be taken as an indication

of the low priority granted to the detection

of fine oxide inclusions in industrial


Samples from actual components,

produced using a dynamic tilt casting

method, were taken and used to measure

static strength values at room temperature

and fatigue strength values at

LASER Level Control


Outlet of gaseous N 2

Level of Liquid Aluminium

at Holding Point

Figure 5b: Between casting cycles, the shot sleeve is flooded with gaseous nitrogen

and the molten aluminium maintained just below the upper end of

the feed tube

150°C using various aluminium foundry

alloys in different heat treated conditions.

Due to their exemplary, low content

of dispersed oxide films, the values

obtained significantly exceeded the values

regarded today as benchmarks for

these alloys. The principles involved

here are described in detail by the author

elsewhere [3] [4] and in Smetan engineering

Innovations Volume 1.

In die-casting, provided they are not

dragged in with the molten aluminium,

these dispersed oxide films are created

during the actual mold filling, especially

during ladling. Even if the gating system

for gravity die-casting is designed

according to the parameters proposed

by Friedrich Nielsen [5], oxide films can

be dispersed in particular by turbulence

in the pouring basin or at changes in direction

at the sprue – runner transition

and thereafter. However, also in the interior

of the mold cavity, complex flow

patterns cause oxide films to be formed

and stirred into the molten metal [1]. In

dynamic tilt casting, freshly formed oxide

films can be dispersed if the molten

metal is poured indiscriminately from a

ladle into the casting basin (see Fig. 1).

When this happens, these oxide films

become uniformly dispersed throughout

the component. This means that,

if a melt is already highly contaminated

with fine, dispersed oxide films in

the casting basin, the significance of

the actual mold filling process is in fact

less because, as has been demonstrated

in trials by the author, the disadvantageous

effect on the values of the material

in question increases exponentially

already from an extremely low concentration

of such oxide particles.

If such grave differences, in particular

in fatigue strength and ductility,

arise in gravity die-casting components

due to process-specific differences in

dispersed oxide films simply as a result

of different gating systems, all the more

must be their effect in pressure die-casting.

In general the fatigue strength

and ductility values obtained by high

pressure die-casting lie significantly

lower than those obtained by gravity

die-casting and take advantage, therefore,

to a much smaller degree of the

potential in the corresponding aluminium

foundry alloys.

Specific starting points

In the currently dominating derivatives

of the pressure die-casting method

used for aluminium and its alloys

(Fig. 2), a great deal of effort is made

to compensate for the symptoms of the

more or less inherent disadvantages of

very fast filling of the mold cavity.

In this connection customised standard

electronic real-time controls are

Residual oxygen content

in mold cavities

Evacuation level of 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

mold cavity in %

O 2

without N 2

- 21 19 17 15 13 11 8 6 4 2 0

Flushing in %

O 2


N 2

-Flushing in %

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Table 1: Residual oxygen content in mold cavities as a function of different levels of vacuum, with and without

flushing with nitrogen

12 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

employed to exercise a positive influence

on the millisecond filling of the

mold cavity.

Also, using the simulation methods

available today, this filling process

is optimized in such a way that both

the gating system and the systems for

venting the cavity are designed and

positioned in the best possible manner.

Further, the mold cavity is very often

connected to a vacuum system

and, depending on the air-tightness,

a larger or smaller negative pressure is

formed before the actual filling of the

cavity. As the possible negative pressure

is, however, still far from a technical

vacuum, it can be assumed that

the residual oxygen in the cavity is sufficient

to allow oxides to be formed almost

unhindered. Experience in vacuum

metallurgy supports this. The

negative pressure created reduces only

the volume of gases trapped by the turbulent

filling process (see Table 1).

Basically, however, it must be assumed

that most of the dispersed oxide

films are formed already at the

stage of filling the aluminium into

the shot sleeve (Fig. 3). This filling is

normally carried out using a ladle or

launder exposed to the open air and,

in traditional die-casting with the exception

of the accuracy of the quantity

of metal fed to the shot sleeve, is given

little attention although it is an essential

step in the casting process. Further,

it is seldom that water and oil-based lubricant

or separating liquids are used

sparingly at that stage, with the result

that – besides a dispersion of oxides –

a considerable amount of hydrogen

is absorbed and amorphous carbon is

dispersed too (see picture on page 8).

For that reason, the focus of the proposal

made by the author lies especially

on this first process step.

gaseous N 2

gaseous N 2 towards die cavity

LASER Pyrometer

LASER Level Control

Feed Tube



Level of Liquid Aluminium

at Holding Point

Figure 5c: At the start of the casting cycle the shot sleeve is flushed further

with gaseous nitrogen and the feed tube docked onto the shot sleeve, with

the result that the pre-heated nitrogen is then mainly passed through the

mold cavity

gaseous N 2

gaseous N 2 towards die cavity

LASER Pyrometer

Aluminium Alloy

LASER Level Control


Filling of

Liquid Aluminium

Figure 5d: The metal bath is raised in a controlled manner out of the feed

tube, resulting in low-turbulence filling of the shot sleeve. As a result of convection,

the metal in the shot sleeve remains at a constant high temperature

Proposal for avoiding dispersed

oxide films in aluminium

pressure die-casting

In the past various proposals have been

made to reduce or eliminate this urgent

problem by optimizing the feed of metal

into the shot sleeve from above, or

by filling the shot sleeve from below.

Whereas even coverage with a protective

gas during optimized, low-turbulence

feed of metal from above is able

to solve the problem of oxide formation

only to a limited degree, the filling

from below by means of a feed tube

very often raises concerns from the

point of machine design. The author

feels, however, that these approaches

could at least point to a method that

is in the interest of all die-casters producing

ductile or mechanically highly

stressed components with a certain

amount of safety relevance. Various

solutions to filling the shot sleeve

from below using a feed tube can be

found for conventional cold chamber

die-casting methods and for vertical

squeeze casting machines in the rel-

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 13


evant technical literature. To date no

other solution of significant industrial

consequence exists except the company-specific

Vacural-Process, developed

and patented by Müller Weingarten

(now Oskar Frech GmbH) and VAW Aluminium

AG (now Aleris) [6]. In the

Vacural-Process, the evacuation of

the cavity and the shot sleeve is maintained

throughout the whole of the filling


gaseous N 2

gaseous N 2 towards die cavity

Aluminium Alloy

LASER Pyrometer

As a result of this vacuum, the required

amount of metal is sucked via

a feed tube out of the holding furnace

into the shot sleeve, and the air in the

cavity as well as the gases arising due

to contact between the melt and separating

fluids with the cavity wall are

drawn off (Fig. 4). The amount of gases

trapped in castings made using this

method is only a fraction of that experienced

with conventionally cast parts.

LASER Level Control

Plunger Plunger Stroke Plunger Rod

Level of Liquid Aluminium

Back to Holding Point

Figure 5e: As soon as the plunger passes over the filling opening of the shot

sleeve, the level of the molten metal in the feed tube is again lowered to the

holding position


Aluminium Alloy

Spraying of Graphite

LASER Pyrometer


LASER Level Control

Plunger Stroke

Feed Tube


Plunger Rod

Figure 5f: Until the plunger has passed the upper opening in the shot sleeve,

the feed tube is lowered to the holding position. At the same time, the supply

of nitrogen is stopped and the vacuum activated in the mold.

The surfaces at the interface between the feed tube and the shot sleeve can

be sprayed with a thin layer of graphite emulsion

Also the smaller amount of pre-solidification

in the shot sleeve can be regarded

as quality relevant.

On the one hand, however, filling

from below via a feed tube by evacuating

the mold cavity and shot

sleeve depends very heavily on the

air-tightness of the parting lines between

the die halves and between

the die and core sliders. On the other

hand, it must be kept in mind that,

to be able to suck aluminium into

the shot sleeve a negative pressure

of only 300hPa is sufficient. This is

equivalent to an absolute pressure in

the mold cavity of around 700 hPa,

which is still far removed from a technical

vacuum. As a result, the mold

cavity and the shot sleeve still contain

15 Vol-% O 2

, which is sufficient to

form dispersed oxide films. Only a

second evacuation step e.g. in the

course of further movement of the

plunger, would improve these conditions.

Likewise, however, components

produced experimentally via shot

sleeve filling from below using low

pressure, have been shown to exhibit

much improved material properties.

This has led to a search for solutions

in which the shot sleeve is filled from

below independent of evacuation

of the mold cavity. As a result, various

comparative studies have shown

that components made by filling the

mold cavity from below, combined

with stronger evacuation of the cavity,

produced the lowest amount of

fine porosity in the weld seam made

using Laser welding. At the same time

components manufactured this way

exhibit much higher material properties,

in particular elongation values,

than those achieved using conventional

high-pressure die-casting [7].

As before, it must be assumed that

the amounts of residual oxygen in the

mold cavity and shot sleeve are sufficient

to cause oxidation of the surface

of the molten aluminium alloy

which continually breaks up during

filling of the die cavity. Because of

the turbulence during high-pressure

die-cast-specific filling of the mold

cavity, it must be assumed that the

melt takes up highly dispersed, fili-

14 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

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LASER Pyrometer


Spraying of Graphite

LASER Level Control


Plunger Rod

Figure 5g: The plunger is actuated according to a pre-set programme to

implement the actual filling of the mold cavity. The surfaces at the interface

between the feed tube and the shot sleeve can still be sprayed with a thin

layer of graphite emulsion


Furnace Stroke


Open for


Moving Furnace

for Inspection

Figure 5h: For maintenance and inspection purposes the shot sleeve can be

opened and the holding furnace withdrawn under the actual shot sleeve


gree oxide films and, de facto binds

up the total amount of residual oxygen

in the cavity in the form of ultra-fine

oxide films that are then dispersed

throughout the casting. The

Pore-Free Die-Casting-Process, patented

already in 1968, exploited exactly

this situation by flooding the

mold cavity with gaseous oxygen

and as a result, creating a high vacuum

chemically during the actual filling

of the mold [8].

From the perspective of experienced

die-casting experts, the problem

of filling the shot sleeve from

below is that the shock waves resulting

from actual mold filling shot are

transmitted via the shot sleeve to the

feed tube, which makes it difficult to

ensure air-tightness in a process-reliable

manner for a period of time. Often,

design-specific reasons are presented

to explain why this approach

has not been able to achieve industrialization.

As a rule, the improvements

in the various process steps of

conventional mold filling mentioned

at the outset here have been able to

keep up with the steadily increasing

demands of the user, which is why

the pressure for innovation in that

area has been bearable up to now.

Assuming that future applications

of die-cast components will

increase demands even further, the

author proposes an approach to solving

these problems by transferring

experience from proven systems in

the field of low-pressure die-casting

to high-pressure die-casting. In that

connection, already in the 1970s, the

author developed a rapid change system

for process-capable coupling of

low-pressure molds to low-pressure

die-casting furnaces (Fig. 5a). In that

case the ceramic feed tube is attached

outside the low pressure die-casting

furnace by means of a compression

seal fitting in a tool steel tube featuring

a spherical geometry at the

contact face to the die. This convex

spherical surface at the die face is accommodated

by a concave spherical

surface which exhibits a slightly larger

radius. As a result, this connection

is self-centering within a generous

tolerance range and provides a relatively

robust seal, even when there are

axial deviations in angle, on a sealing

face that only requires a thin layer of

graphite emulsion to be applied regularly.

This way it is possible, during

each cycle of the die-casting machine,

to disconnect the feed tube from the

shot sleeve mechanically by way of a

short-stroke cylinder, which prevents

the feed tube from suffering the shock

waves produced in the system on casting.

If the design details in the region

of the shot sleeve unit of a die-casting

machine prevent direct access

with a telescopic feed tube, then this

problem could be solved by means

of a shortened or inclined feed tube.

Also, modern insulation materials offer

the possibility of employing an intermediate

chamber, the net content

of which is the amount of metal required

for one individual casting.

16 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015


Die Half




Parting Line

Liquid Aluminium


Feed Tube

Figure 6: Schematic representation of a high-pressure die-casting unit with

mold on a cold chamber high-pressure die-casting machine for casting aluminium

foundry alloys, designed for low pressure filling of the shot sleeve and

nitrogen gas flushing of the cavity

Washboard Vent

Stationary Die Half

gaseous N 2

LASER Pyrometer

LASER Level Control


Plunger Rod

Shot Sleeve

Telescopic Feed Tube Stroke

Filling of Liquid Metall

by Feed Tube

Low Pressure Furnace

In this application the previous filling

opening of the shot sleeve can be

fitted with a Laser measurement system

to measure the level of metal and

a Laser pyrometer to measure the temperature

of the metal, which enable

further important parameters to be

used very precisely to control the process

(Fig. 5b). As the shot sleeve represents

a hermetically sealed system,

gaseous nitrogen can be introduced

into the shot sleeve as a protective medium,

which is then fed into the mold

during closing, thus expelling the air

from the whole of the mold cavity.

Taking the pressure-control which

is employed as standard in low-pressure

die-casting, the level of the bath

is maintained just below the top of the

feed tube between each casting cycle.

The feed tube is then docked onto the

shot sleeve by means of a short extension

of the telescope immediately prior

to casting (Fig. 5c).

Figures 5d to g show the sequence of

mold filling steps as part of the casting

cycle. The docking of the feed tube to

the shot sleeve takes place at the same

time as the closing of the mold; the

filling of the shot sleeve starts from

step 5d, whereby both the level and

temperature of the metal can be measured

very exactly as quality determining

factors by means of Laser

devices, and also uses for control purposes.

As soon as the set level of metal

is reached, the plunger passes over

the lower filling opening (Fig. 5e). As

soon as this happens, the level of the

metal in the feed tube can be lowered,

and subsequently the feed tube itself

as well, while the plunger advances

slowly. As soon as the feed tube has

been uncoupled, the ring-shaped sealing

face can be sprayed with graphite

emulsion on both sides. This is sufficient

to keep these components functioning

properly within two maintenance

cycles (Fig. 5f). The actual shot

takes place only at the moment after

the feed tube has been detached

from the shot sleeve (Fig. 5g). As the

steps shown normally take place parallel

to the movement of the plunger,

the entire process takes place more or

less in a time-independent manner, as

with conventional filling of the shot

sleeve. For maintenance and inspection

purposes, the holding furnace

can be lowered further and moved

away from below the shot unit. At

the same time the shot sleeve may

be opened and viewed from above

for inspection purposes (Fig. 5h). Figure

6 shows the basic make up of a

high-pressure die-casting unit, which

is designed with maximum purity of

metal in mind without extending the

cycle time and without incurring additional

production costs.

The author is convinced this concept

is ideally suited to producing

high standard components of exceptional

metal quality. Combined with

proven vacuum technology, die tempering

and water-free spraying methods,

it should ultimately be possible to

achieve exceptionally high component

properties. At the same time, however,

the author knows that success or failure

of a project never depends only on

a feasible idea, no matter how attractive

these may seem at first glance. Success

has always been made up of countless

small steps in the form of detailed,

reliable solutions which make it possible

to arrive at an overall solution.

In that respect the author has always

started with the ideal final solution in

mind, and estimated the costs and advantages

of the solution. Thereby, it

must be accepted as realistic that, qualitative

advantages only lead to technology-based,

competitive advantages

in the market place. Taking costs into

account, it must be assumed that innovative

products can at best only delay

the drop in prices in the automotive

supply industry, but never halt or

turn that around.

The analysis has clearly shown that,

in the present case, success is worth

fighting for. Convinced that this will

ultimately lead to a further successful

step forward in aluminium foundry

technology, the author will in the

coming months intensively devote his

attention to experimental work in this

field with a view to realizing this process

innovation on an industrial scale.


Dipl.-Ing. Herbert Smetan, Smetan engineering

GmbH, Siersburg, Germany



Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 17


To ensure that castings made of bronze are free of casting defects, it is particularly important, that all specifications

during production are designated and followed precisely (Photos: Foseco)

Author: Enrique Pardo, Technical Manager Iberia, Foseco Spain, Izurza, Spain

Effective solutions for marine

bronze castings

Bronze castings for marine applications are high-integrity components and subject to strict quality

control and assurance procedures. To ensure sound castings, strict procedures for manufacturing

and preparing the mold, pouring the molten metal and feeding of the casting are necessary

to enable solidification without inclusion defects or shrinkage

The majority of marine bronze components

are fully machined, adding

significant cost to the process, therefore

any defects identified during or

after-machining that result in a scrap

casting have incurred significant costs

both in terms of the raw material value

and the processing costs both in the

foundry and in the machine shop and

a cost to client in terms of missed deliver

dates and the on-costs that will

be incurred further down the process.

Therefore it is essential that within all

parts of the process the correct raw

material choices are made and these

decisions are critical to the successful

and repeatable production of defect

free castings and must be combined

with the correctly applied application,

technical and manufacturing process

knowledge. Fundilusa is a company located

in Vilanova de Cerveira in Portugal,

its main focus is on the production

of bronze components for marine

applications such as propellers, blades

and hubs (Figure 1). It is responsible for

the casting, machining and assembly

of the components and can produce individual

cast components of up to 15 t.

Mold manufacture

For the production of molds and cores

an inorganic binder system has been

chosen (Carsil with Veloset hardeners),

which provides minimal gas

evolution on casting and is free from

18 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Figure 1: Strict quality control of high integrity castings

phenol, formaldehyde and other components

considered harmful to health.

As an environmentally aware binder

system, it is a further development of a

traditional sodium silicate, ester cured

system, but with improved bench-life

to strip-time ratio and superior breakdown

after casting. Equally important

is the capability of the system to support

reclamation of the bonded sand

at levels in the region of 80 %, which

can subsequently be re-used for the

production of molds and cores without

detriment to overall performance

(Figure 2). To reclaim the used sand,

Fundilusa has installed a mechanical

scrubbing/attrition system, the sand is

pre-heated to approximately 200 °C to

ensure the binder is brittle to allowing

its easier removal from the individual

sand grains. The tendency for bronze

alloys to entrap gases during the casting

process and generate pin-holes

during solidification is well known; it

is therefore essential to maintain precise

control of the reclaimed sand quality.

This process control is coordinated

between Fundilusa and Foseco, with

weekly testing of reclaimed sand samples

to determine ongoing actions to

maintain the sand quality within strict

control limits (Figure 3).

Inclusion reduction

When designing bronze castings for

marine applications, significant cost

benefits can be achieved by minimizing

surface inclusions and irregularities

to allow for minimal machining

allowances. These surface inclusions

can be the result of sand particles eroded

from the mold face, ingates or running

system, metal slags within the

molten metal and gas entrapment in

the liquid metal resulting in pin holes

or blow holes. By consideration of the

Figure 2: 80 % reclaimed sand – 20 % new silica sand for the production of

perfect molds

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 19


Figure 3: Precision control of reclaimed

& new silica sands to prevent

mold erosion and dimensional inaccuracy

Figure 4: Melt treated with specially

designed Foseco fluxes to ensure

high cleanliness

metal quality, mold design and its

preparation these defects can be reduced

significantly and eliminated.

Melt cleanliness

The quality of the metal being poured

into the mold is critical to the final

casting integrity, therefore the quality

control of incoming raw materials

is essential as is the subsequent processing

of these materials. The melting

of copper-based alloys presents

special problems in that hydrogen

and oxygen are readily dissolved in

the melt and can subsequently combine

to form water vapour which creates

porosity in the casting. Without

the presence of oxygen, hydrogen

alone may also cause pin-hole defects.

The levels of residual hydrogen is reduced

to below 1ppm through the use

of degassing units (FDU) with high efficiency

rotor designs. The FDU is an

automated, environmentally-friendly

melt treatment system for aluminium

and copper-based alloys and uses

patented rotors (XSR) to create an innovative

pumping action that is key to

its performance and delivers high levels

of degassing and cleaning within a

short timeframe, improving productivity

and reducing heat loss and energy

consumption. Different sized units

make it applicable for all bath, furnace

and ladle sizes. The pumping action

brings the melt into the rotor to ensure

excellent contact with the inert

gas. The huge number of very small inert

gas bubbles created will float to the

surface, taking the hydrogen with it

resulting in a significant reduction in

overall hydrogen content as well as removing

oxides, which are also carried

to the surface. Optimized metal cleanliness

is obtained using additions of specially

designed fluxes for bronze alloys

(Albral, Elektro, Deox Tubes and Slax

(Figure 4).

Mold filling and metal flow control

The running system design is critical

to ensuring a non-turbulent flow of

Figure 5: Stelex PrO and Sedex filters

reduce inclusions and eliminate metal


metal into the mold cavity to avoid

oxidation reactions and erosion. To

ensure the incoming metal is both

inclusion free and to eliminate turbulence;

ceramic foam filters (Sedex or

Stelex PrO) are installed in the running

system. The correct application

and filter support methods are

advised by Foseco to eliminate any

potential risk of breakage and ensure

maximum benefits are achieved

(Figure 5). The foundry has also replaced

sand sprues, runners and ingates

that can easily be the source

of sand inclusions through erosion

with specially manufactured systems

(Kalmin 70 A) that are highly resistant

to erosion and offer the benefit over

traditional ceramic materials of being

highly insulating and hence avoiding

the temperature loss observed with

other products (Figure 6). Similar materials

are used for the feeding sleeves

(Kalmin 700), with the high insulation

value allowing the feed metal to

stay liquid longer, reducing the size

of feeders required with the associated

reduction in the requirements for

liquid metal and post-casting operations

to remove and re-work the feeding

area. The performance of these

sleeves is complemented by the use

of highly exothermic (Termorit PW)

or insulating topping compounds.

Metal/Mold Interactions

Refractory mold coatings are used to

improve surface finish through applying

a very fine refractory material to

the mold surface, additionally this inert

layer prevents adverse interaction

between the molten metal and the

mold’s sand and binder components.

The coating also provides a barrier to

prevent gases evolved from the thermal

decomposition of the mold entering

the liquid metal and potentially

creating pin holes on solidification.

The coating applied at Fundilusa (Teno

Coating ZBBP) contains a zircon refractory

for ultimate protection and has a

very low gas evolution to ensure it does

not contribute to gas defects.


It is only through consideration of

the whole process that effective solu-

20 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

tions can be provided that combine

together to provide optimized and

cost effective casting production. In

the case described the focus is on the

elimination of surface defects that require

an increased machining tolerance,

resulting in increased costs both

in terms of casting yield and machine

tooling and process time. However the

problems cannot be addressed in isolation

as singularly they do not solve

the problem, for example good coating

practice does not eliminate inclusions

from slag related defects. Addressing

the true need of the customer

requires an approach that focuses on

the whole foundry process rather

than on the performance of individual



Figure 6: Insulated sprues, runners and ingates create a highly erosion

resistant running system










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Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 21


ae Works Manager Klaus Reinbold and CP+T Editor Robert Piterek at the building site of the new production hall in

Gerstungen (Photo: Andreas Bednareck)

Author: Robert Piterek, German Foundry Association, Düsseldorf

Producing future-oriented

technologies with innovative

light construction

With its capacity expansion and an order book that is well filled until 2018, the ae group –

headquartered in Gerstungen in the German federal state of Thuringia – is looking forward to a

successful new beginning after a lean period lasting several years. Work in the new production

hall started in April 2015

The view for visitors looking from

one side of the new 10,000 m² production

hall to the other stretches farther

than the length of a football pitch.

Up to 20 new pressure die-casting machines

with clamping forces of from

1200 to 2700 t – from producers Oskar

Frech in Schorndorf and Idra (Travagliato,

Italy) – commenced operation in

April 2015.

Before production could start in the

new hall, however, it was necessary to

implement infrastructural prerequisites

such as air supply and extraction;

the provision of cooling water, electrical

energy, compressed air, and nitrogen;

as well as the foundations. In

addition to the casting cells with the

machines and industrial robots, there

are now stores of aluminum ingots at

the back of the hall and casting and

cutting tools for the machines in the

middle part, while the front is used for

repairing tools. Near the passage from

the new to the old hall a new smelting

shop, with a capacity of about 20 t per

day, has been set up to supplement the

four existing gas-fired shaft melting

furnaces from Strikowestofen (Gummersbach,

Germany), Støtek (Vojens,

Denmark), and Foundry4 Thermdos

GmbH (Hochheim am Main, Germany).

The ae works in Gerstungen now

has a considerable melting capacity,

amounting to almost 100 t a day. Forklift

trucks with transport ladles – for

22 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

The ae group’s Sole Director Klaus

Eichler (right) with the new chairman

of the board Dr. Michael Militzer in

front of the works grounds in Gerstungen

(Photo: René Dupont)

Die-casting plant in the old hall: The furnaces were renovated with new linings

and maintenance spraying (Photos: Andreas Bednareck)

safety reasons announcing their presence

long in advance by shining a cone

of blue light onto the floor, as is usual

in Gerstungen – commute backwards

and forwards between the new and the

old halls to supply the plants.

The new works area and the tasks

it takes will offer 140 additional employees

a new professional future until

2018: new machine operators, specialist

maintenance staff, mechatronics technicians,

quality controllers and project

managers already control production

in the hall with its two 40-t overhead

cranes, while new sales staff in the administrative

wing are responsible for

marketing and delivery of the castings.

The workforce at the site will thus rise to

over 500 in the next two years.

About 12 million euros were invested

in building the hall and roughly

53 million euros have been spent on the

die-casting and processing machines to

make this vision a reality. The total cost

of the capacity expansion thus adds up

to an impressive 65 million euros.

Foundry alongside Germany’s

‘Green Strip’

Change of scene to the construction

works in early 2015: only the external

An ae employee processes castings

façade, a few foundation trenches with

reinforced concrete wire mesh, and the

partially covered roof of the new works

hall can be seen. Some way away, beyond

a half-finished outer wall, one can

see a relic from the past: an old East German

border tower in a dilapidated condition

25 years after reunification – located

on the edge of Germany’s ‘Green

Strip’, the 1,400 km green band that follows

the path of the former border between

East and West Germany. Behind

it one can see the residential houses

that already belong to the German federal

state of Hessen. A view to the west

– now without barbed wire as during

the Cold War. “For us here, the old border

is blurred, not just because we drive

across it every day but also because,

particularly now, we work very closely

with our colleagues in Nentershausen

in Hessen,” explains Klaus Reinbold,

managing director at the ae group’s site

in Gerstungen. The close proximity to

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 23


Bearing blocks for wheel suspensions

on a processing belt

Transmission housings on a transport


Industrial robots provide support in many areas of the works

Nentershausen (almost 15 km away)

where, as in Gerstungen, components

are cast and worked, is one of the reasons

why casters from both states work

in Gerstungen. The shortage of specialists

in Germany is, however, also a concern

for Works Manager Reinbold and

ae Director Klaus Eichler: “Here, too,

foundry expertise is not unlimitedly

available on the market,” acknowledges

Eichler. The company trains its own

staff and, when necessary, recruits specialists

from the labor market. In order

not to lose touch with the up-andcoming

generation of engineers, the ae

group is also a member of the support

association at Kassel University, where

the specialist subject of Foundry Technology

has been offered for almost two

years under the leadership of Prof. Martin

Fehlbier. About 40 of the employees

in Gerstungen are in the Development

Department, which includes designers,

technicians and engineers.

In logistical terms, Gerstungen has

an extremely good location: “We are

in the middle of Germany, on both

the east-west and north-south axes.

It is 30 km to the A7 highway, while

the A4 is just 100 m away,” Reinbold

sketches out the geographical position

of the die-casting company and

Klaus Eichler, who ran business at

24 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

An employee inspects the accuracy

of a labyrinth plate

Production line with stations for

in spections, preparation, washing

and air-blast cleaning

Inspecting a flange pipe for ZF with

a 3-D coordinate machine from Mitutoya

(Kawasaki, Japan)

Innovative solutions from the world‘s leader

in surface finishing

surface finishing • shot blasting

Visit us:

12.-14.01.2016 · Nürnberg

Hall 6 · Stand 6-213


Rösler Oberflächentechnik GmbH

Tel.: +49 / 9533 924-0 • info@rosler.com

CastingPlant_Ausgabe04.indd 1 05.10.2015 08:33:42

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 25


Residual dirt analysis: the component is washed at a defined pressure and

spray volume. The detached particles are collected using a nylon filter and

then analyzed under the microscope

vehicle designer Novem in Vorbach

before his commitment to the ae

group, adds: “One day to the customer

really does apply here – an advantage

that the customers and our company


Tight schedule

The product range – transmission control

components, exterior components

for the transmission, axle drive housings,

as well as engine and transmission

components – that the company produces

for large OEMs, carmakers and

commercial vehicle manufacturers

such as Daimler, Magna, Mahle or ZF

Friedrichshafen is, however, not only

in demand within Germany. 30 % of

production is exported to France, Belgium,

the USA, Sweden, the Czech Republic,

Slovakia, Poland and Austria.

“Though the end-customers are often

the major European OEMs,” Eichler explains.

35 to 40 t of castings currently

leave the works every day.

The weights of the castings produced

range from 200 g (with multiple

cavities) to 22 kg. The castings are

made of aluminum silicon alloys 226

D and E and the weldable alloys 360

and 590. 70 % of the ae group’s products

are destined for carmakers and the

remaining 30 % is used in the commercial

vehicle industry. Most of the components

arriving at the customers are

ready for installation. Only a small

proportion, about one-third of total

production, leaves the works in unwrought


Since April 2015 camshaft housings

for Thyssen, shift valves for Daimler

transmission controllers, and hybrid

transformer housings for the automotive

supplier Magna have been produced

in the new works hall. Orders

from ZF and BorgWarner, two other

heavyweights of the German automotive

supplier industy, also secure the

profitability of the investment. Sales

of parts should then rise from the current

105 million to 150 million euros

by 2018.

When procuring the new die-casting

plants, the planners also considered

the energy efficiency of the machines

to be very important: the new

plants have inverter technology, with

which electrical energy is only converted

to hydraulic energy when it is

actually needed.

Committed to cutting-edge

tech nologies

The fact that the ae group could think

about new investments at all is due

to two key figures: the new major investor

Dr. Michael Militzer, and Klaus

Eichler (who studied in Munich and has

worked at Gerstungen for three years).

Dr. Militzer and the Light Metal Investment

GmbH (LMI) belonging to his son

Christoph Militzer together hold 81 %

of the shares – and thus control the destiny

of the group of companies, consisting

of four works in Nentershausen,

Gerstungen, Lübeck and Strzelce Krajenskie

in Poland. Eichler has a holding

of 5 % in the die-casting specialists.

The ae group declared itself insolvent

following the financial and economic

crisis of 2009. The group’s business

then stagnated for many years with annual

sales of about 95 million euros.

Dr. Militzer’s commitment to the ae

group makes eminent sense when one

considers the entrepreneur’s previous

business activities: Dr. Militzer’s Mitec

Automotive AG is headquartered in

Eisenach, not far from Gerstungen. It

earns its money with so-called balancer

systems, among other things, which

serve to prevent vibrations caused by

a vehicle’s engine. These systems are

considered particularly important in

the wake of vehicle weight reductions

(downsizing) and the increased use of

hybrid technologies. Both measures

serve to reduce CO 2

emissions in line

with legal requirements. The aluminum

components from Gerstungen

are also ideally suited for the light construction

of vehicles. Both Mitec and

the ae group have experience working

with aluminum components. The entrepreneur

is thus consistently investing

in future-oriented technologies

whilst simultaneously expanding his


High customer demands

Eichler and Reinbold are particularly

proud of the numerous substitutes that

are produced at their works: weldable

castings are included among them, as

well as, for example, a frame for the

tailgate of the BMW i3 – an instance

of the carmaker rejecting the original

planning by using a casting instead of

26 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

plastic. Then there are door frames,

produced with profiles and so-called

corner castings. “Instead of using sheet

metal, one now makes these parts using

an aluminum die-casting process

again,” according to Eichler. In addition

to the innovative expansion of

the range of castings through the use

of substitutes, the ae group also gains

points with its competence in the production

of complex components. These

range from demanding geometries,

through stringent component accuracies

and tightnesses, to the functional

integration of aluminum castings.

One example is made up of two complex

castings that are put together by

the customer to create a fuel-carrying

module within which diesel is filtered

and dewatered – an innovative technology

that leads to greater fuel efficiency

and lower consumption.

“The comfort demands of drivers are

also constantly increasing,” says Klaus

Reinbold, providing an example: “In

order to ensure that one can drive an

automatic car smoothly, so that one

does not feel anything when the gear

changes, the valves in the gears must

sit tightly with low tolerance.” The

consequence of this for an aluminum

die-casting foundry like the ae group

in Gerstungen is maximum cleanliness


Most of the workforce in Gerstungen

is used in the processing department

in order to meet the high customer demands

for cleanliness and precision:

double-spindle machines with very

high accuracy, air-conditioned clean

rooms, and washing plants from producers

such as Dürr Ecoclean in Filderstadt,

Germany, are therefore used. In

addition, three-layer heat treatments

are carried out to customize component

properties according to customer

requirements. Great importance is

also attached to quality assurance using

tightness inspections and other

measurement results, as well as random

samples or continuous sampling. The

traceability of potential faults is also

ensured: the components are provided

with a data matrix code so that they

can be identified even after years of use

and the measurement results called up.

The ae group’s expanded production

was also supported by the German

federal state of Thuringia with a

development loan of about 12 million

euros. The company now hopes for stable



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Carat 280 die-casting machine with Smart Vac Technology (Photos and Figures: Bühler)

Author: Claude Stalder, Project Manager R&D Die Casting, Bühler, Uzwil

The next step in vacuum


Vacuum systems in die-casting increase the quality of cast parts, but they have their limits. Not

anymore however: The integrated solution SmartVac by Bühler, Uzwil, Switzerland, offers increased

productivity, high flexibility and full traceability

In order to meet the demand for

high-quality structural parts in

die-casting, it is essential to work

with vacuum systems. As molten aluminum

fills the die, the residual dielubri

cant (waxes and/or oils) vaporizes.

If the vapors are not removed by

vacuum, they will become inclusions

within the die-cast part. However,

until now the industry wasn’t fond

of using vacuum systems since they

were causing errors and downtime.

Convinced that this could be done

better, Bühler launched the Smart-

Vac project.

28 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Limitations of existing


The company’s goal was to come up

with a new solution that eliminates

the weaknesses of the current vacuum

process. For example the information

exchange from the peripheral

vacuum device to the die-casting machine,

which is done over an interface

and is therefore limited. Also, the interaction

between vacuum unit and

shot movement is rather difficult and

disjointed. Frequent production disruptions

also occur. Data handling,

data storage and visualization, for example,

happen on different controls,

resulting in additional time and effort

for synchronization and evaluation.

SmartVac – the smart

vacuum method

Bühler worked meticulously on a new

approach to overcome those restrictions.

The R&D team came up with

SmartVac, a vacuum system that is

completely integrated into the diecasting

machine. To date, vacuum

control and monitoring equipment

were part of a separate peripheral

device and then connected to

the die-casting machine with cables

and hoses. The company now offers

an integrated solution. With this integrated

solution, the pipeline routing

is now enclosed and much shorter.

Mechanisms and check routines

have been incorporated in the machine

control system to detect potential

trouble early and send alerts

to prevent production shutdowns.

Maintenance is done proactively

and hold-ups can be avoided. Last

but not least, the integration also

saves space and offers the customer a

die-casting cell on a small footprint.

Easy operation and process


SmartVac offers a centralized HMI

(Human Machine Interface). Everything

merges on one device, which

makes the operation much easier for

the operator. Adjustments of both the

vacuum system and process can be

done on one single screen. The vacuum

performance and filter conditions

are monitored and controlled continuously.

All adjustments and production

data are stored and visualized

on the same operator screen and can

easily be restored during a production

change. The customer can save, analyze,

link and use his data at his convenience.

Also, the allocation of data

to the respective shots happens automatically

and is therefore up-to-date

and accurate at all times. With this,

SmartVac ensures full traceability and

quality certification.

Process flexibility at its best

SmartVac offers maximum flexibility

in operation and a modular configuration.

The casting process is no longer

controlled by the vacuum system,

in fact the vacuum unit now supports

the process. The Swiss firm is one of

a few vendors who can individually

operate, monitor and control up to

four die-valves and one shot sleeve

evacuation device. Process flexibility

is guaranteed for both, evacuation

at the shot sleeve as well as evacuation

at the die. Also, the evacuation

device can be positioned according

Added Value

» Increase in productivity

» Overall process flexibility

» Integrated data storage and

quality control

» Complete traceability

» Easy operation

» Predictive maintenance

to customers’ requirements. Thanks

to the complete integration, the first

phase of the die-casting process can

be automated. Algorithms were implemented

which ensure that the

amount of entrapped gas in the melt

is minimized and the part quality

can be improved accordingly. This

feature is unique in the market and

saves customers up to two seconds in

cycle time.

Overall productivity increase

Several SmartVac machines are already

in use, and customer feedbacks

are consistently positive. With preventive

maintenance measures, a

considerable reduction of downtime,

minimal rejects, easy operation, continuous

independent monitoring

and data that is available at any time,

efficiency is increased all along the

line. The integration of the vacuum

system pays off – in terms of productivity,

flexibility and quality.


Figure 1: A vacuum system

integrated into the die-casting

machine prevents production


Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 29


Author: Christine Gaßel, Gebhardt-Seele, München

Better energy values, fewer

charging operations

The first furnace from the new company ZPF GmbH has proven its worth at Metallwerk Friedrich

Deutsch. The Austrian company also operates one of the very first ZPF furnaces built in 1993

At the metal-working factory Friedrich Deutsch GmbH the first melting furnace supplied by the re-established company

ZPF GmbH has been in operation since February 2014 – next to a first-generation ZPF therm furnace from 1993

(Photos: Metallwerk Friedrich Deutsch)

Economical, environmentally friendly

aluminium melting technology

has always been the prime focus of

ZPF therm Maschinenbau GmbH, Siegelsbach,

Germany, since it was established.

Since November 2013, these

tried-and-tested and continuously improved

melting furnaces are being produced

under the name ZPF GmbH.

The first installation was already delivered

in February 2014, not entirely by

chance to a customer who is still operating

six first-generation ZPF furnaces

from 1993 – to Metallwerk Friedrich

Deutsch GmbH, market leaders for ski

edges and a major supplier to the automotive

industry. Due to their positive

experience and satisfaction with

the furnace engineering from Siegelsbach

in the past, the decision was taken

to continue the working relationship

with the new ZPF company. Meanwhile,

the plant is running at full capacity

and has already proven to be exceptionally


The metal-working factory Friedrich

Deutsch in Innsbruck, Austria, is primarily

known for its pre-shaped and

partly pre-finished steel edges for the

ski and sport industry. In addition, the

company manufactures pressure diecast

aluminium components for all the

prominent car producers in Europe –

30 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

several thousand tonnes of material are

melted at their mill every year. So far,

this work has been done by six melting

and holding furnaces from ZPF therm

in 24-h continuous operations. “An expansion

was, however, necessary for capacity

reasons”, explains Hubert Tilg,

manager of the die-casting division.

“Because we were absolutely satisfied

with the existing furnaces and they offer

an excellent price-performance ratio

as well, it was clear that we would

again opt for ZPF.” A further factor was

that, because of their familiarity with

these melting facilities, the staff at the

metal working factory can continue

to carry out most of the maintenance

work on the new furnace themselves.

In only three months, the required

installations were manufactured in Siegelsbach

in the German federal state of

Baden-Wuerttemberg and delivered to

the customer. The system consists of

an aluminium melting furnace with a

melting capacity of 1,500 kg/h and a

holding bath for 5,000 kg, an attached

charging machine, and a 17” filtering

furnace for cleaning the molten metal.

“Thanks to its size, the new melting

furnace yields much better energy

values and is thus even more economical

than the previous systems,” says

Mr. Tilg. “Apart from that, the larger

charging system doesn’t need to be

loaded so frequently, a further factor

which reduces energy consumption

and increases performance.”

Saves energy and reduces

emissions thanks to special


The ZPF furnace engineering for the

Austrian company aims generally

at keeping the energy consumption

as low as possible and implements

flue gas reversal to achieve this. With

this principle, instead of the hot flue

gases from the melting process being

discharged straight away, they are routed

inside the furnace in such a way that

their heat can be used to hold the molten

aluminium at a high temperature.

In addition, the combustion chamber

made of refractory concrete acts not

only as a separating layer between the

aggressive liquefied aluminium and

the outer shell of the furnace, but also

Figure 1: At the metal working factory, the molten aluminium is used, among

other things, for producing complex pressure die-cast components for the

automotive industry

as insulation, reducing the emission

of heat to the surroundings and functioning

as an energy accumulator. It

is consequently much easier to keep

the temperature inside the furnace at

a constant level. In combination with

the waste gas recirculation, the fuel requirement

is very low making the furnace

particularly efficient and environmentally

friendly. At the same time, the

longer route of the waste gases inside

the melting system brings about lower

emission values since practically all pollutants

are burnt in the post-combustion

process at over 800 °C. This means

that ZPF installations can be used without

flue gas filters.

Besides this, ZPF technology also has

an impact on the melting quality and

on the maintenance costs: the waste

gases remaining inside the furnace generate

a slight overpressure which prevents

any additional oxygen from entering.

The adverse reaction of oxygen

with aluminium – which would cause

corundum to form in the melt and on

the inside walls – can consequently be

kept at a very low level. This technique

achieves both a higher degree of purity

in the liquefied aluminium as well

as reducing damage to the refractory

walls, thus avoiding expenditure for

relining and repairing the plant.

Contract is continuation of

long business relationship

The melting furnace has been working

to full capacity without any problems

Figure 2: Previously, the company

melted several tonnes of aluminium

a year using six ZPF furnaces. It is intended

to further increase this capacity

with the new installation

since being commissioned in February

2014. “We already have one of the first

– if not the first – furnace made by the

former company ZPF therm, and that

is still in operation today. And we will

continue working very closely with

ZPF”, explains Michael Deutsch, CEO

of Metallwerk Friedrich Deutsch. “ZPF

is a partner with true ‘handshake reliability’

with whom you can go through

the ups and downs of life. As a result

of the new ownership, our confidence

has increased even further.” The company

is already considering ordering a

further furnace in the medium term as

an additional safeguard for the event of




Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 31


Author: Michael Franken, German Foundry Association, Düsseldorf

Unique in the world

This year in March, the Kurtz Ersa group officially inaugurated its “Smart Foundry” at the production

site in Hasloch, Germany. The construction of the new foundry had been meticulously

planned for several years and involved an investment volume of some 12 million Euros. It incorporates

numerous elements of what is referred to as “Foundry Industry 4.0”

A special suction system extracts and filters emissions arising during treatment of the melt (Photos: Klaus Bolz, Kurtz Ersa)

Something is different in this foundry.

But what is it? Is it the transport

routes? Could be. They are extremely

spacious, well conceived and perfectly

interconnected. What else is different?

Is it the fact that there is virtually no

dust on the floor? This is certainly unusual

for a busy hand-molding foundry.

As a matter of fact what you see here

is certainly not what you would expect

from an iron foundry. And something

else is striking: The newly built bay for

what is actually a classical hand-molding

shop is not only flooded with light

but also extremely neatly arranged. It

actually looks as if it had just been tidied

up. Our first impression is that

things work somewhat differently

here. And then LENA appears at the

far end of the bay where uncountable

flasks are neatly stacked for intermediate

storage. Every second, LENA flashes

headlights arranged at “her” extreme

ends on the left and right, indicating

that a massive “something” weighing

several tonnes is hovering towards us.

“We had spent a lot of time inspecting

transport systems in operation in different

areas of industry and examining

and weighing their pros and cons

until we eventually came across a solution

applied in the aviation industry,”

explains Rainer Kurtz, Chief Executive

Officer of Kurtz Holding GmbH & Co.

KG. While Rainer Kurtz looks to the

right into the molding shop, TINA is

approaching from behind, some 30 m

away from him. TINA is another heavyweight

transporter driven by four electric

motors and weighing almost 10 t.

Both of them, LENA and TINA are carrying

flasks coming from the casting

32 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

shop and weighing several tonnes. At

Airbus, such transporters guarantee a

continuous flow of production in aircraft

construction. Being cooperatively

operating transport systems, they take

decisions autonomously but in line

with the common production target.

They make an important contribution

to the success of flow production at

Airbus. If those flashing, orange-painted

cubic objects were able to help producing

Airbus components fully automatically,

in series and just in time,

why shouldn’t that work with the production

of castings? “Our answer to

that question was: Let’s build a Smart

Foundry!”, remembers Rainer Kurtz.

Everything fits together


As if driven by magic, the hovering

transporters made by WFT, Sulzbach,

Germany, manoeuvre the massive flasks

to their assigned destinations for cooling.

They move from A to B to C and to

D. Each letter stands for a possible stopping

station, a previously calculated position

of the production chain. What

looks so simple, depends on meticulous

timing. Everything has been calculated

down to the smallest detail, stored in an

SAP data pool and takes place virtually

fully automatically. The highly sophisticated

and advanced software programs

tell TINA and LENA where to go

next in the cooling bay covering an area

of almost 3,000 m 2 . The risk of colliding

is virtually zero. This is important as

the mobile transporters carry extremely

heavy loads. They can easily handle

payloads of up to 80 t without restricting

their mobility. In addition to TINA

and LENA, two other “strong girls”,

called MARIE and EMMA, are taking

care of the heavy molding boxes that

day during the morning shift. Amidst

the transporters’ flashing headlights

and humming sound, a sweeper speeds

over the concrete floor, which looks as if

it had just been freshly polished. While

the transporters are unmanned, the

brand new sweeper is steered by a hu-

View of the systems-controlled cooling bay, which also features a technologically

advanced air conditioning system

LENA takes a transport pallet and a flask to the next work station. Ever since

its official start-up, the system has been working without problems

Hard to believe: the transporters

move fully automatically from one

cooled flask to the next

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 33


man operator. The four powerful transport

vehicles hover at snail’s pace between

the molding shop, casting shop,

cooling area and shake-out stations, the

logistical epicentres of the Kurtz foundry.

The only critical point is that the systems

are very sensitive to dust and dirt.

That is why the sweeper is almost constantly

in operation.

Perfectly clocked flow

pro duction

In 2007 an internal working group had

been set up to develop what has turned

out to be an entirely new material flow

concept. “We had a clearly defined target:

a clocked flow production in our

hand-molding foundry similar to the

Toyota principle known from the automotive

industry,” explains CEO Rainer


The Kurtz team took the challenge

and accomplished the task. From an

ambitious project evolved a genuinely

smart foundry. Let’s take a quick look

back: Initially, there had been the plausible

objective of removing the flasks

after pouring from the casting shop as

quickly as possible in order to get them

out of the way. Preventing congestion

in the casting shop was the prime task.

Gradually the concept of a flexible

process chain evolved based on a production

scheme controlled by SAP, on

shop floor parcelling and on an unmanned

and unbound transportation

system, which would provide the possibility

of combining manual manufacturing

steps with automated logistics

in a most convenient way. A look at

the “tidy” cooling area in the back gives

the visitor an idea of how this works in

practice, in the rough foundry environment.

Slowly and extremely cautiously,

LENA is moving sideways underneath a

transport pallet on which a cooled flask

is waiting to be removed. “The vehicles

always know their exact positions,” explains

Graziano Sammati, Managing

Director of the iron foundry Kurtz Eisenguss

GmbH & Co. KG. Sammati tells

us that he had been ambitious to leave

beaten tracks in this project to create

something entirely new. TINA and

her “girlfriends” possess automomous

knowledge. Based on the programmed

SAP data, they decide for themselves

where to go next. The use of advanced

communication and sensor technology

allows them to move about without the

risk of colliding and act in a collective

manner. The transporters built by WFT

hover about 10 cm above the floor. They

are automatically readjusted every few

meters. The four unmanned transporters

stick to clearly defined courses. All

courses end at defined, numbered positions.

It is a highly elaborate system. A

status chart is displayed on the central

master computer.

The fact that this foundry, which is

probably one of most modern handmolding

foundries in the world,

could be commissioned in early

March this year – just 13 months after

ground-breaking – is last but not

least owed to the perfect planning by

the Kurtz Ersa project team. The team

also included in-house IT experts. For

about eight years, management and

staff at Kurtz Ersa had been discussing

the question of how the hand-molding

foundry of the 21st century could look

like. Questions related to the future

of the Hasloch production site were

dealt with within the framework of the

Hammer Innovation Program, abbreviated

as HIP. The bottom line drawn

from all those considerations had been

that the mechanical engineering industry

in Germany does have a future.

Therefore, there should also be good

prospects for a hand-molding foundry

based in Germany provided it produced

efficiently and was able to operate

in a highly flexible manner. “The

key to success is to organize internal

processes and procedures in such a

way that they can cope with the challenges

of the future,” explains Rainer

Kurtz. And then he starts telling us

about his Smart Foundry and how it

came about. He is very satisfied with

the results achieved so far. “Everything

has progressed according to schedule,”

he summarizes the achievements.

It takes some time to fully grasp the

complexity and the entire scope of the

While LENA is still smoothly moving underneath the transport pallet with

inch-perfect precision, 5 m away, MARIE is already hovering off to the

cooling bay with the next filled flask

Rainer Kurtz is proud of his team’s

achievements. In his opinion, innovations,

such as the Smart Foundry, are

the drivers of progress

34 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Smart Foundry project. It is extremely

interesting to learn about the cleverly

thought out details implemented by the

HIP team. Like in a puzzle, small pieces

have grown together eventually forming

an integral entity. The close interlinking

of the individual processes is a key to the

success of the entire Smart Foundry. In

other words, a great challenge had been

to effectively interlink the SAP system

with bespoke transport logistics, with

the melt shop and the other processes

of the production chain, including

activities as diverse as controlled shaking-out

of flasks, fettling and machining

of raw castings, and dispatching the

finished castings. In the new Kurtz iron

foundry the term “seamless” has taken

up a whole new meaning.

MARIE takes the flasks to the casting area

Nothing works without


The Smart Foundry is operated and

controlled from a central control room

where the complete production process

including all sub-processes and process

elements is displayed. “By interlinking

all individual elements, we have set

up an extremely flexible process chain

which allows us to combine manual

production steps such as flask filling

with an automated logistics system in

a most efficient way,” explains Sammati.

There are eight monitors in the control

room. Cycle times are constantly

optimized based on the process data

supplied by the monitors. One monitor

displays the current positions of the remote-controlled

transporters. Another

one keeps Sammati informed about the

status of the melting furnaces and the

condition of the refractory lining. Also

the work orders are electronically transmitted

to the manufacturing personnel.

“We still have not reached the stage of

a completely paperless factory. We will

have to live with a certain amount of accompanying,

order-related paperwork

for a while,” believes Sammati. For the

employees in the coremaking shop this

means that they will continue to be receiving

their instructions, for example,

which core support to use, in the traditional

way on paper. “Maybe one day everybody

in the workshops will have an

iPad,” says Sammati. But that is still up

in the air. The clear division practiced at

this implementation stage of the Smart

Foundry has proved highly successful so

far. Down-to-earth pragmatism, which

takes into account the requirements of

the actual production process, has remained

a crucial factor also in times of

Industry 4.0. The current practice at the

Hasloch foundry is as follows: While the

control of the complete production process

is handled entirely paper-less by the

logistics system, which is the backbone

Company Profile

of the control system, information and

instructions directly relating to the shop

operations still come on paper. This division

has proved highly viable in practice.

Automating the foundry logistics is

only one step of a more general innovation

process intended to lead towards

what Industry 4.0 stands for. That the

Smart Foundry could be implemented

in its current form under the leadership

of Graziano Sammati is last but not least

Kurtz Ersa Corporation is a family-owned

business with a long tradition. Founded

in 1779 as a hammer mill and expanded

in 1852 by an iron foundry, the company

has evolved into an internationally

active high-tech company and equipment

supplier over its more than 235

years of history. The product and service

range is subdivided into the business

segments “Electronics Production

Equipment”, “Metal Components”

und “Molding Machines”.

Under the brand Ersa, the company

offers integrated solutions for electronics

production and the world’s most

ample range of stencil printers, soldering

machines, soldering tools and rework

systems under one roof. Under

the brand Kurtz, Kurtz GmbH successfully

designs, builds and markets particle

foam machines and foundry machines.

With the Smart Foundry, Kurtz

Eisenguss GmbH & Co. KG operates

what is probably the world’s most modern

hand-molding foundry producing

iron castings to customer order – in

premium quality and with outstanding

supply performance. The overall product

and service range is complemented

by MBW Metallbearbeitung Wertheim

GmbH, which manufactures exacting

metal components at two locations.

Kurtz Ersa Corporation has approximately

1,150 employees worldwide.

In 2014, it achieved a sales volume of

203 million Euros. The company is active

in those areas in which the key supply

chains offer potential for top performance

according to the arm’s length

principle. The company has achieved

technology and market leadership in

many areas.

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 35


All processes under control: Managing

Director Graziano Sammati in

the control room

The transporter – in this case LENA – passing the rolled up door as it hovers

from the casting bay to the cooling area

owed to the vision and innovative spirit

characterizing the corporate culture

of the Kurtz Ersa group. The idea had

been to design the future of the foundry

in a team effort. The result is an almost

doubling of productivity accompanied

by a dramatic improvement of

safety at work.

As a result of the decoupled production processes, the working conditions

have markedly improved

Setting new standards

Almost as a side effect, the first implementation

phase of the “Foundry 4.0

made by Kurtz Ersa” has set new standards

in safety. Let’s take the new pouring

shop as an example. What today

accommodates casting machine parts

weighing several tonnes, such as machine

beds or pump housings, used to

be the sand reconditioning area. Today

the casting shop is separated from the

meltshop and the cooling area by rollup

doors. Decoupling the working areas

has had a positive effect on operating

procedures. Additionally, extraction

equipment of the latest design has been

installed in the casting shop. “That has

markedly improved the working conditions

in the casting area,” says Rainer

Kurtz. For the 120 employees in Hasloch

that means a healthier workplace

as a result of dramatically reduced emissions,

lower temperatures and more

space to work. Smart control and tim-

Man and machine

interact perfectly

36 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

The sand regeneration system in the shake-out area sets new standards

ing of the production process ensures

that the heats are available just in time

and in highest quality.

All segments of the production

chain, for example, the molding shop,

casting shop, cooling area and shakeout

bay, are organized as separate, decoupled

production units. Looking at

what is going on in the cooling area, we

become witnesses of how this works in

practice. While LENA is moving underneath

a loading pallet, the door separating

the cooling area and the shakeout

bay is closed. Behind that door,

residual sand is being removed from

the castings. All dynamic processes

handled by the unmanned transport

system are fine adjusted by the logistics

system. “We have definitely established

a network of systems in the sense

of Industry 4.0,” says Rainer Kurtz. By

that time, TINA has already moved on

and turned around, bringing “herself”

into position to hover toward the other

end of the bay. EMMA has meanwhile

picked up flasks at the molding shop

and is now hovering towards the casting

shop. “It’s a kind of magic” – the

song by Queen comes to my mind. But

what is going on here has nothing to do

with magic. TINA deposits “her” freight

in the cooling area, and immediately

the cooling time programmed in SAP

starts to count down. Digital clocks determine

the entire process flow. When

the preset cooling time is over – not one

second earlier or later- will the SAP controlled

system send a signal to the unmanned

logistics system, triggering the

pick-up of the cooled flask and its transport

to the shake-out area. It could very

well be that not TINA but EMMA, MA-

RIE or LENA will perform that job and

transport the flask onwards. That does

not make a difference because the casting

itself tells the person in the control

room at which position and in which

condition it is.

For Kurtz Ersa, Foundry Industry 4.0

means that they can now offer even

more value added services to their

customers, last but not least based

on an intelligently clocked, SAP R3

controlled production flow which

is managed via an internal, trackless

transport system. “This ensures

that the right work is always at the

right workplace at the right time,” explains

Graziano Sammati, while checking

the control monitors. Sammati

is at ease. All systems run smoothly.



Unbenannt-1 1 05.10.15 11:56

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 37


Author: Julian Gänz, CD-adapco, Nürnberg

New simulation techniques for

die-casting processes

The ever-growing demand of high pressure die-casted parts with thinner walls and even larger

surface-to-volume ratios has put a significant strain on the stability of the process as well as its

simulation. This fact is further highlighted as die-casted parts are more and more used for structural

components in the automotive industry, requiring heat treatment. Air inclusions are critical

applications where the casting simulation software STAR-Cast offers a more detailed simulation

approach to better address flow-related defects

Figure 1: Temperature spreading during filling (left); hot spot indication during solidification (right) (Figures: CD Adapco)

Die-casting is the go-to manufacturing

technology for mass-produced, lightweight

components made from metal,

predominantly aluminum and magnesium

alloys. Most of the high pressure

die-casted parts are manufactured for

the automotive industry but consumer

electronics are also making use of this


High pressure die-casting (HPDC)

means that a metal plunger is pushing

liquid metal into a cavity at high

speed and pressure. This process allows

for the production of very thinwalled

castings with repeatable product

quality. Up until recently, the

HPDC process had a reputation of producing

low quality parts/components

with weak structural properties, but

better process control and new alloys

have changed this perception. These

changes permit using heat treatable

parts, thus allowing high pressure

die- casted parts to be used for structural

components, replacing metal

sheet or welding construction. One

of the most prominent examples of

this trend is the shock tower in a car.

Another example for high pressure

die-casted parts is a gearbox housing

of a car, shown in Figure 1.

The challenges with die-casting

Most common defect modes for

die-casted parts are shrinkage, porosities,

misruns, gas inclusions. Of these,

38 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Figure 2: Dosing (right) and motion simulation

of the shot curve reveals possible

oxide entrainments and air inclusions

(Figures on the right show differences in

air entrainment for changed shot curves)

gas inclusions and misruns are hardest

to control and often even modern

simulation strategies struggle to provide

adequate solutions. Problems occur

because the mold filling is not well

enough understood, making it hard to

design the mold efficiently, by minimizing

excess material, while at the

same time respecting the die-casting

machine’s clamping forces. In addition,

entrapped gas can lead to blistering

during heat treatments, rendering

the part useless for structural components

or requiring too much fettling

in areas where appearance of the part

is critical.

Why STAR-Cast?

STAR-Cast is a powerful casting simulation

module jointly developed by

Access e.V., Aachen, Germany, and

CD-adapco, Melville, USA. Drawing

on CD-adapco’s 35 years of expertise

in thermal-fluid simulation and Access’

29 years of experience in casting

and metallurgy, STAR-Cast integrates

industry-leading computational fluid

dynamics (CFD) technology with the

specific models required by the casting

engineer, and brings a new level of precision

into casting process simulation

for the manufacturing industry.

The simulation software can be used

to address flow related issues more accurately,

allowing for a better understanding

of the complete casting process.

The key to better predict the flow

starts with a faithful representation of

the plunger motion and identify possible

shortcomings in the shot curve design

early on. Achieving a higher fidelity

flow description not only requires

more detailed physics, but more attention

needs to be paid to the discretization

of the model as well (Figure 2).

Getting the physics right

Many cast parts need to be heat-treated

after the fact and gas inclusions in

the metal can lead to undesired blistering.

Therefore the simulation model

needs to accurately predict the entrapment

of air and gas during the

filling process to aid understanding

leakage problems and gas porosities.

The software allows the interaction

between the molten metal and the air

to be correctly described by modeling

the air as a separate phase which can

be displaced or entrapped within the

melt, and either find its way to a appropriately

placed bean or vent, or get

compressed and remain inside critical

areas of the cast part (Figure 3).

The volume of fluid method is commonly

accepted as a valid approach

to capture multiphase problems with

a sharp front between phases and neglected

mixing. The turbulent flow, including

phase changes in the melt, is

usually computed using Navier-Stokes

equations, but often the air phase

is not accurately described. This is

caused by applying a bulk pressure

boundary condition on the free surface

with no consideration for the air

whatsoever. The more complex the

geo metry gets and the faster the filling

process occurs, the more difficult

it becomes to get accurate answers.

STAR-Cast solves these difficult problems

as it follows the continuum mechanics

approach and allows to accurately

calculate both air and melt flows

inside the mold. This comes at a slightly

higher computational expense but is

an important step towards predictive

mold filling analysis.

Ensuring accurate geometry

and mesh representations

Accurately capturing geometric details

and discretizing the geometry in

a way that accommodates the steep

gradients in temperature and velocity

inside the casted part are other

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 39


either data format, depending on the

overall CAD-to-simulation process,

although it is recommended to stay

with native CAD as long as possible

as it makes for easy part swapping and

fast design evaluations with less user


Figure 3: Identify recirculation areas in gating system for a gear box housing

critical aspects of mold filling analysis.

Since a high resolution mesh provides

more insight into physical phenomena,

smart meshing technologies

are key to provide the required resolution

in critical areas while saving cell

count and computational effort where

appropriate. For example, the software

allows to use multiple cell layers

across thin sections of a part and

grow the mesh density rapidly from

there to areas where having a dense

mesh is not as crucial. STAR-Cast

also benefits from the state-of-the-art

CAD-to-mesh pipeline of Star-CCM+

and delivers automatically created,

body-fitted, polyhedral meshes with

prismatic layers to accurately capture

the flow behavior and strong temperature

gradients that occur during casting

(Figure 4).

Handling design changes

A fast design cycle requires a simulation

process that can quickly adapt

to last minute design changes. One

big challenge for the casting engineer

is to have to deal with large CAD

assemblies out of which only a subgroup

is relevant for the simulation.

These parts need to be extracted and

transferred to the simulation package.

Commonly used neutral file formats

allow for a robust geometry transfer

but lack a flexibility for design changes

and lose a lot of information from

the native CAD. Furthermore the software

enables the engineer to plug in

Automating the process

All this special attention to the physics

and mesh serves the important

purpose of making casting simulations

more accurate and reliable but

usability and turnaround time need

to be considered as well. Increasingly

more affordable compute resources

and a modern software architecture

designed for large models and strong

parallelization are starting to take away

a lot of the pain of having to wait too

long on computational results. More

importantly, the time spent setting

up these types of problems needs to

be minimized. Engineers should be

spending their time interpreting results

and making decisions to improve

the process rather than manually

setting up simulations. This is why a

streamlined process ensuring automation

is mandatory. The guided workflow

in STAR-Cast guarantees an efficient

simulation setup so that process

variations can be quickly evaluated.

It enables process-driven simulations

and allows users to load configurations

and save case studies with little manual

interaction, ensuring repeatability

(Figure 5).


The simulation software can counteract

air inclusions by considering the

air as a key factor to solving the problem,

thus solving for it as well during

the simulation. In addition, it gives the

engineer the freedom to refine models

so that all the physics can be resolved,

resulting in better solutions. Finally, in

order to be used in a productive manner,

the parallelization and automation

makes it a very effective tool for

high pressure die-casting.

Figure 4: Mesh resolution inside the cast part


40 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015





Photo: US Army

Together with partner Linamar Corp., Guelph, Ontario, Canada, lightweight expert GF Automotive, Schaffhausen,

Switzerland, builds a new die-casting plant in the USA (Photo: Georg Fischer)

Author: Shannon Wetzel, Senior editor of Modern Casting, Schaumburg

US metalcasting industry

at a glance

The U.S. metalcasting industry is a global leader in casting production and sales, with a foundation

of suppliers that can produce cast components in all metals via all processes

The industry has recovered fully from

the recession of 2009 and is on solid

standing, with continued growth expected

in the coming years. In 2014,

the USA reached 36.7 billion US-dollar

(34.4 billion euro) in casting sales,

producing nearly 12 million tons of


This industry faced a crossroads in

2008-2010 when the future of the industry

was uncertain. Today, only a

handful of years later, it has reached an

equilibrium in the supply chain. Not

everything is being sourced to low-cost

countries, as it seemed 10 years ago, nor

is everything being sourced domestically.

A balance has been struck. Currently,

80 % of all castings for the USA are

sourced to domestic metalcasters, with

20 % sourced outside the USA.

Although US production in several

non-automotive markets is down significantly

right now, recent headlines

show investment and continued interest

in the US metalcasting supply


» Sakthi breaks ground on a 31.8 million

US-dollar (29.8 million euro)

casting expansion in Michigan

» Georg Fischer and Linamar Agree to

build a metalcasting facility in the

Southeast USA

» Kamtek is to invest 80 million

US-dollar (75 million euro) in a new

die-casting facility in Alabama

» Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway

42 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015


purchases precision castparts for 37

billion US-dollar (34.7 billion euro).

Growth is expected in all foundry


The future for US metalcasting is full

of possibilities. The key is the ability

of metalcasters to take advantage of


All metals are expected to see sales

growth in the short term. The biggest

growths are forecast in investment cast

steel, aluminum and copper, with rates

above 3 % from 2014 to 2016, while

compacted graphite iron is expected

to jump 4.82 %.

Aluminium is the dominant

cast material

The US metalcasting industry is made

up of 1,965 facilities, and industry capacity

is 15.5 million tons, with the industry

forecast to operate at 81 % of capacity

in 2015

The USA is second in the world in

casting shipments based on tonnage,

following China and ahead of India.

Aluminum is the dominant material

cast in the USA, with 47 % of foundries

pouring some type of aluminum

alloy. While most facilities report pouring

more than one material, no other

metal comes close to aluminum’s

share. However, when it comes to volume,

aluminum comes in third after

ductile and gray iron.

Iron is the second most used material,

with 25.5 % of metalcasting facilities

pouring the metal. About 4 % of foundries

pour aluminum, iron and steel, and

7 % pour both aluminum and iron.

Horizontally parted green sand

molding is the perennial favorite process,

with nearly 40 % using it. Its vertically

parted counterpart, which often

is used for higher volumes, is found in

12 % of facilities. The nobake process is

used in 36 % of metalcasting facilities.

Many facilities report using multiple

processes. More than 7 % use both the

green sand and permanent mold processes,

and 25 % use the green sand and

nobake processes.

Added value is widely spread

Seventy percent of US facilities offer at

least one value-added service. Machining

is the most popular service. Nearly

80 % of facilities that offer a value-added

service perform machining. Heat

treatment, patternmaking and engineering

and design are all popular services,

as well.


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American Foundry.indd 1 25.11.15 12:59

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 43


Author: Kitty Eman, Gemco Engineers B. V., Eindhoven, The Netherlands

On track

How voestalpine Nortrak Decatur’s foundry facility achieves an upgrade and capacity expansion

by improving its foundry logistics and maximizing the equipment’s utilization, requiring minimum

enlargement of the existing space

To increase its capacity railway supplier voestalpine Nortrak from Decatur, Illinois, USA, worked together with foundry

engineering company Gemco (Photos and graphics: Gemco)

In 2009 voestalpine Nortrak acquired

the assets of Leading Edge Enterprises

Inc. of Decatur, Illinois, USA. At the

time of acquisition the Decatur facility

offered a wide range of cast ductile

iron and manganese steel products

as well as injection molded plastic

items. At present the Decatur foundry

facility produces both ductile iron

and manganese steel castings entirely

dedicated to railroad trackwork

( Figure 1).

The plant has shown a continued

growth trend with production increasing

by more than 200 %. Consequently,

voestalpine Nortrak had

basically outgrown its Decatur production

facility and in order to meet

production growth a facility upgrade

and capacity expansion was required.

Expansion – as Nortrak envisions – allows

the company to perform projected

levels of production and maintain

its workforce for the long-term with

sufficient scope for sustained growth.

Railway crossings have very specific

properties and must meet strict requirements.

The maximum size of the

manganese steel castings poured at

the foundry has a maximum weight

of roughly 4,800 lbs (approximately

2,175 kg) and a maximum length

of roughly 288 inches (approximately

7, 3 m). For engineering and expert assistance

with the project voestalpine

Nortrak chose to work with Gemco En-

44 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Figure 1: voestalpine Nortrak casts steel and iron pieces of railroad trackwork

gineers, Eindhoven, The Netherlands,

who already worked with the VAE

group on other projects and – among

other – successfully designed and realized

(turn-key) a VAE railway crossings

foundry in Europe.

Project objectives

Before the capacity expansion the Decatur

plant’s casting capacity was for

around 400 clean t per week (combined

manganese steel and ductile

iron). With the expansion the company

aimed to gradually double the

manganese steel castings production

while maintaining the capacity level

for ductile iron production. The expansion

project should include all infrastructure

and process improvements

required to meet the project objectives.

While project objectives and intention

were clear, the project also had its constraints.

The expansion, optimization

and improvements should be planned,

built and commissioned in a manner

that minimizes adverse interference

with the ongoing operation of the

foundry. The entire expansion project

also had to be compliant with existing

permits as issued by the Illinois Environmental

Protection Agency. It was

then decided to split the realization of

this foundry project in two phases.

The approach

In order to determine the best possible

way to achieve the project objectives,

the existing foundry layout needed to


be reviewed and the actual functional

capacity for large manganese alloy

castings to be evaluated, followed by

identification and a preliminary plan/

design for (potential) foundry and process

improvements necessary to meet

the project objectives, including:

» the (required) equipment

voestalpine Nortrak is North America’s leading manufacturer of special trackwork.

It is uniquely positioned in the industry with specialized engineering and

integrated manufacturing capabilities. If it’s required in special trackwork, Nortrak

can produce it: from concrete ties, to machined components, manganese and

ductile iron castings, and injection molded synthetics. voestalpine Nortrak operates

manufacturing facilities in seven locations across the U.S. including a foundry

in Decatur, Illinois.

Gemco Engineers counts for over 35 years of experience in the foundry industry

and offers complete foundry solutions for iron, steel, aluminium and all other

castable metals. The company provides a complete range of services that encompass

process- and feasibility studies, (concept-) engineering, design, planning of

complete new foundries, project management, contracting services and turnkey

realization of foundry projects. Recent North American foundry (realization) projects

completed or in progress: Blackhawk de Mexico, Rassini Frenos, Mexico, and

voestalpine Nortrak, Decatur, USA (among other)

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 45


» the (required) process changes

» the (future/required) foundry layout

» preliminary estimation of required

capital investment (project costs)

Emphasizing that any infrastructure

and process improvements should be

designed to minimize risks to worker

safety. Achieving optimum health,

safety, and environmental conditions

are always prerequisites in a project.

The project started with an in-depth

assessment of the existing facility/operations

to determine the functional

capacity of the equipment in place

and the interface challenges (logistics,

communication, buffers, etc.)

between the different production departments

in the foundry.

Bottleneck analysis

In order to draw an initial conclusion

where and to what extend additional

equipment would be required to

(gradually) achieve the targeted doubling

in capacity, a bottleneck analysis

was conducted for each foundry department:

molding area, melting area,

scrap charging, pouring area (including

cope lifting and cooling), mold

opening and the connection with the

sand reclamation and heat treatment/


The bottleneck analysis clearly indicated

the areas that required additional

machinery. However, the analysis also

indicated how certain equipment in

place could be better utilized by changing/improving

the operational flow (logistics)

and (creating) buffers before and

after appointed equipment (Figure 2).

Process Changes

The proposed process changes in certain

departments such as conversion

of the molding process to a dynamic

production process by splitting it into

multiple steps and changing the pouring

process from a batch- into a continuous

(and flexible) pouring process permits

to increase the production capacity

to the required expansion levels within

the current available space. Mechanization

in these departments optimizes

the workflow and will reduce the labor/


Furthermore, proposed mechanization,

also in other departments, will

eliminate manual operations and increase

workers’ safety, a prerequisite

in the expansion project.

Phase 1, a new sand system

An imperative subject within the project

was the sand system. Prior to the

project, Decatur’s manganese alloy

production employed a no-bake sand

molding system and primarily utilized

flaskless molding with olivine

sand and silica backing. Since US olivine

sand has become more difficult for

US foundries to source, Nortrak already

envisioned changing the sand system.

In order to mitigate sharp increases in

the cost of olivine sand and to improve

the surface quality of its castings, Nortrak

intended to convert to a chromite

sand molding system. However, before

taking the final decision over the new

sand system Gemco presented a comparison

of olivine (current olivine-silica

system and pure olivine system with

thermal reclamation) vs chromite-silica

systems (system with separation

Figure 2: Summary of the outcome of bottleneck analysis

46 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

Figure 3: voestalpine Nortrak, Decatur, proposed layout in order to achieve projected capacity expansion (yellow=

building extensions)

unit, system with furan binder system,

or system with separation unit and

thermal reclamation) and required

equipment. voestalpine Nortrak decided

on a chromite silica system with furane

binder. When employing an olivine

(basic) sand system, the furan (acid)

binder system cannot be applied. In nobake

sand molding, the furan binder

system is however the most commonly

used system (also within the voestalpine

Group). Furan combines good

binding properties with superior regeneration

rates over other binder systems.

Quartz sand would be the most

economical molding material, but because

of its pour thermal physic qualities

and the inevitable quartz inversion

of silica sand it cannot be applied

for facing sand for the steel castings of

Nortrak. Although relatively expensive,

chromite sand provides excellent

facing sand qualities and is lightly magnetic.

The latter quality enables the use

of the more cost effective silica sand as

backing sand as the chromite sand can

be separated from the return sand. In

this way, it can be reclaimed and reused

as facing sand with minimum addition

of new chromite sand to compensate

losses. The study showed that

Cr/Si would be the most cost efficient

system for Nortrak.

Phase 1 of the project also included

moving of the plastics department to

a new location and relocation of the

pattern shop and cleaning bays. After

which installation, commissioning

and testing of the new sand system

could be performed. Realization

of phase 1 has been completed.

Phase 2, layout changes

The second phase of the project shall

encompass the implementation of

process changes and additional equipment

as well as changing the foundry’s

logistics. By adopting the recommended

process/operational changes

to maximize the equipments’ utilization

on the one hand and mechanization

in order to optimize the production

flow whilst minimizing handling

on the other hand, it will be possible to

significantly improve the foundry logistics

in the currently available space.

Therefore expansion of the building

could be limited to the strictly necessary

to serve to the improved production

flow/foundry logistics, already

taking into account future sustained

growth (Figure 3).

Capital Investment

The overall expansion project requires

an estimated investment of approx.

6,850,000 US-dollar (6.5 million euro):

Phase 1: 1,850,000 US-dollar (1.7 million

euro ) for the sand system

Phase 2: 5,000,000 US-dollar (4.7 million

euro) for molding, finishing and

scrap hndling.

Despite economic uncertain times,

voestalpine Nortrak’s Decatur facility

has demonstrated a continued growth

trend over the years by providing quality

trackwork to the rail industry. With

the upgrade and capacity expansion of

the facility the company can continue

to stay on that track for years to come.


Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 47


Bradken’s steel foundry in Tacoma, Washington, USA, develops and manufactures castings for the energy sector, such

as turbine components, pumps, valves, compressors, and hydropower generators (Photos: GOM)

Author: Edgar Lange, Düsseldorf

US foundry Bradken implements

optical measuring technology

US steel foundry Bradken has implemented optical 3-D metrology for its large-sized castings.

This enables inspection processes to be accelerated, tolerance requirements to be met and rework

to be reduced

The Bradken foundry in Tacoma,

Washington, USA, has a long tradition.

Tracing its roots back to 1899, it was established

under the name of Atlas and

initially concentrated on the production

of iron castings for the logging

industry in the thriving north-west of

the United States. In the 1930s, Atlas

shifted its focus to steel castings before

changing its emphasis in the 1950s to

the manufacture of pump housings for

use in pipelines, refineries and chemical

plants. During the 1980s the company

made turbines and compressors

its priority – and, some years later,

large high-strength alloyed steel castings

for offshore platforms. This product

portfolio has been extended to

include components made of HY-80

and HY-100 steel alloys for applications

on US Navy ships and submarines.

These high-tech materials can

withstand water pressures of over 700

metric tons per square meter. After

the acquisition of Atlas by the Bradken

engineering group, Bradken invested

in modern technologies in order

to maintain the Tacoma facility’s

leading position in the production of

high-quality castings. Today, the plant

produces castings for the energy sector

– and other industries – such as turbine

components, pumps, valves, compressors,

and hydropower generators with

a net weight of up to 25 metric tons.

( Figure 1)

48 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015

The system evaluation process

Since the production of growing volumes

of high-quality castings, complete

and consistent quality control

became increasingly important. This

made faster and full-field measuring

and inspection methods necessary.

Those methods not only had to cope

with the requirements, but also needed

to handle complex geometries and

dimensions of up to 4.5 m. When performed

with the conventional coordinate

measuring machines on articulated

arms, shape and dimensional

control of these components took several

weeks. The problem encountered

in the past was that, each time the arm

had to be repositioned, errors occurred

in the calculation of coordinates of

overlapping areas. Moreover, the applied

measuring system was difficult

to operate. As a result, tactile measurement

had its limitations in terms of the

throughput of parts that could be measured

internally by Bradken. Also, larger

castings with tight tolerances could

not be measured at all with the measuring

system on articulated-arms, so

that their inspection by means of a laser

tracker had to be contracted out.

Consequently, in order to enable inhouse

inspection at its Tacoma facility,

Bradken needed to invest in more efficient,

flexible and reliable 3-D metrology

systems designed to allow complete

measurement of large and complex

castings. In an extensive selection process,

various metrology systems such as

3-D laser scanners, hand-held 3-D laser

scanners, laser trackers and 3-D scanners

with Blue Light Technology were

tested on large, machined domed castings

intended for use on a production

line for transport containers. Because of

their small scanning range and limited

scanning distance, the 3-D laser scanner

and the hand-held 3-D laser scanner

led to difficulties in capturing the

large domed castings and, in fact, only

managed to scan less than 25 % of the

casting in one working shift. Furthermore,

the requested 1.5 mm surface

tolerance was not met, and the handheld

3-D laser scanner revealed ergonomic

difficulties and proved unsuitable

for prolonged use. While the laser

Figure 1: Tests conducted in Tacoma

demonstrated that, within 8 h, ATOS

Triple Scan, an optical 3-D fringe projection

scanner, was able to deliver

precise scans with the specified tolerances

along with an extensive analysis

of the complete casting

tracker enabled precise measurement

of the domed casting, it had poor resolution

(only few points), delivering

insufficient data for complete surface

measurement. The most compelling

Figure 2: Blue Light Technology, the narrow-band blue light of the projection unit, allows measurements to be taken

independent of ambient lighting conditions and better scanning of shiny surfaces

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 49


Figure 3: The measurement data can be analyzed immediately and compared

directly with the CAD data. Deviations to CAD are highlighted in color and

problematic areas are easy to recognize, enabling specific improvements to

be made to the manufacturing process

argument against the use of the laser

tracker, however, was that the results

varied between operators.

Faster inspection

In the end, Bradken chose the ATOS

Triple Scan from GOM, an optical 3-D

fringe projection scanner equipped

with measuring cameras with high

resolution of up to 12 megapixels

(Fig ure 2). Tests conducted in Tacoma

demonstrated that, within eight

hours, ATOS was able to deliver precise

scans with the specified tolerances

along with an extensive analysis of the

complete domed casting. Other key

criteria in Bradken’s decision included

the flexible range of different measuring

volumes and simple handling. Another

plus offered by the ATOS Triple

Scan is the Blue Light Technology (Figure

3). The narrow-band blue light of

the projection unit allows the scanner

to perform measurements independent

of ambient lighting conditions

and better scanning of shiny surfaces.

ATOS Triple Scan is a 3-in-1 sensor

system: It uses the right and left cameras

individually in combination with

the projector. This new method results

in three individual sensors each with

different viewing perspectives of the

object, so that three views instead of

one are captured during a single measurement.

This means that the number

of individual scans is significantly

reduced, even when scanning complex

parts. Scanning in deep pockets is a further

advantage offered by this solution.

Unlike conventional tactile coordinate

measuring systems (which scan only

individual points) or laser scanners

(which analyze measurement data for

specific sections), optical 3-D metrology

systems such as ATOS capture the entire

surface of the Bradken castings. This

is done by applying the principles of

triangulation: Using a projector, fringe

patterns are projected onto the object to

be measured and captured by two cameras.

In this manner, millions of measuring

points with precise details can be

obtained in a few seconds by non-contact

measurement. Using the information

thus gathered, the ATOS software

automatically determines the 3-D coordinates

in the form of a high-resolution

point cloud (ASCI/STL).

The generated polygon mesh describes

freeform surfaces and primitives

which can, during shape and dimensional

analysis, then be compared with

the drawing or directly with the CAD

data (Figure 4). Bradken’s engineers are

thus able to instantly identify dimensional

deviations in the on-screen color

plot, thus providing substantial time

savings for the Tacoma-based foundry.

In addition to the ATOS Triple Scan,

Bradken also uses the mobile Tritop

photogrammetry system to improve

the dimensional accuracy of large

castings and assemblies such as turbine

housings. To enable point-based

coordinate measurement and deformation

analysis, photographs of the

component are taken from different

angles. Having incorporated the GOM

metrology systems into its inspection

processes, Bradken is now able to measure

large and complex components

as well as mounted assemblies – capturing

the complete object, meeting

tight tolerances and working within

appropriate time limits. As a result,

the foundry’s investment has paid off

faster than originally expected. Inspections

no longer need to be outsourced,

delivering additional cost savings.

Less rework due to the combination

of simulation and 3-D


Since the introduction of GOM metrology

solutions, Bradken has managed to

reduce rework significantly, and to optimize

and accelerate its production processes

overall. Large objects in particular,

such as gas turbine housings, may

experience severe deformation or distortion

during the cooling process. In

order to predict the resulting loads,

Bradken uses the Magmasoft casting

simulation software. In this context,

it was important for Bradken to be able

to relate the actual dimensional deviation

to the calculated results. This was

possible thanks to the measurement of

the individual castings with the ATOS

and Tritop systems. Based on the measuring

results, the pattern was modified

in such a way that the new casting

could be manufactured with the correct

dimensions right from the very start.

The combination of simulation and

3-D measurement speeds up manufacturing

processes because it enables the

foundry to avoid time-consuming rework,

this being otherwise necessary to

achieve the requested tolerances. Without

the ATOS and Tritop metrology systems

it would not have been possible to

check object surfaces and geometries

during the search for the best solution.


50 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015



Europe’s meeting place for the

die-casting sector

“Good luck” is the message from 12 to

14 January 2016 at Euroguss in Nuremberg,

Germany. Once again, the international

die-casting trade fair has a great

deal to offer: the latest technology, processes

and products on the exhibition

stands presented by total of around 550

exhibitors, the “Forschung, die Wissen

schaf(f)t” special show, (“Research for

Knowledge”) the new “Oberflächentechnik”

Pavilion (“Surface Technology”),

specialist presentations and current

trends and developments in the

congress along with the award presentation

ceremonies for the two aluminium

and zinc die-casting competitions. The

total of around 11,000 expected trade

visitors are decision-makers from the

automotive industry, machinery and

equipment construction, the electronics

industry, energy and medical technology

sectors along with die-casting


“Euroguss is continuing on its course

of growth”, says a delighted Heike Slotta,

Director Exhibitions, from NürnbergMesse.

“Already in 2014, with 470

exhibitors, we registered a substantial

increase of over 20 %. 2016 we are expecting

around 550 exhibitors. This

proves: the exhibition concept is absolutely

spot on, the demand for die-casting

products is continuing unbroken.”

In order to offer all exhibitors sufficient

space, the previous exhibition Halls 7

and 7A have now therefore been joined

by Hall 6.

Around half the Euroguss exhibitors

are international. After Germany with a

big gap, the list of the most important

exhibiting countries from Europe is

headed by Italy followed by Turkey,

Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France and

Slovenia. The exhibitors are die-cast

foundries along with their suppliers,

equipment suppliers and service-providers.

At the fair they will be showing

die-cast products, technology along

with machinery, peripheral appliances,

furnaces, molds, prototyping, metals,

alloys as well as release agents and operating

materials. Apart from this there is

At the Euroguss trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany, in January 2016 around

550 exhibitors are expected, a clear increase to 2014 when 470 exhibitors

attended the major die-casting event (Photos: NürnbergMesse)

also a range of products covering the

post-treatment of die-cast parts, quality

assurance, control and drive technology

along with software. Information on

the exhibitors, pro ducts and hall layout

plans is available on the Internet at


The Research for Knowledge special

show has now already been held for the

third time at the fair. In Hall 7, Stand

642, around 10 research institutes, universities

and technical colleges will be

providing an insight into their latest

projects, presenting their services and

research focal points, main research areas

and also showing their range of

training and further training options

and opportunities. Among those participating:

» Neue Materialien Fürth

» Fraunhofer-Institut für Fertigungstechnik

und Angewandte Materialforschung

(IFAM, Fraunhofer Institute

for Manufacturing Technology

and Advanced Materials)

» Lehrstuhl Werkstoffkunde und Technologie

der Metalle (WTM, Chair of

Metals Science and Technology)

» Fraunhofer-Entwicklungszentrum

Röntgentechnik (Fraunhofer Development

Centre for X-Ray Technology)

» Verein für praktische Gießereiforschung

(Association of Practical

Foundry Research)

» Hochschule Aalen Gießereilabor

(University of Aalen, Foundry Laboratory)

» Universität Kassel Fachgebiet Gießereitechnik

(University of Kassel, Faculty

of Foundry Technology)

The post-treatment and coating of functional

and highly durable die-cast parts

is a key theme for die-cast foundries.

Corresponding machinery and process

technology ensure a high-quality finish

for die-cast product surfaces. Deburring,

grinding, polishing, coating or finishing

are the corresponding processing

cycles. For the first time, a separate exhibition

area and pavilion will be dedicated

to this special topic. Here, suppliers

in the areas light metals-processing

and finishing will be presented.

The specialist presentations delivered

by the International German Die Casting

Congress on all three days of the fair

are very popular with the trade fair visitors.

The forum, which is positioned at

the heart of the fair action in Hall 6,

provides a good opportunity to enter

into an exchange with colleagues and

experts on current sector themes and

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 51


developments. The “Innovative tempering

concepts for die-casting mold design”

and “Industry 4.0 – Influence of

digitization on future production in

foundries” are just two examples of the

exciting presentation themes at the

next Die Casting Congress. The full programme

will be available from November

on the internet at www.euroguss.de.

The organisers of the specialist congress

are Verband Deutscher Druckgießereien

(VDD, Association of German Pressure

Die-Casters) and Bundesverband der

Gießerei-Industrie (BDG, German

Foundry Association). Participation at

the Congress is included in the fair admission


The announcement of the winners of

the Aluminium Die-Casting competition

is eagerly anticipated. The aim of

the competition is to demonstrate the

high quality standard of aluminium diecast

products to the public. Die-cast

parts submitted by the customers and

own foundries will be assessed and then

presented awards by a jury of experts

from the areas of research and practical

applications. The three best submissions

will be awarded certificates and

presented at the fair on the BDG/VDD

stand in Hall 6, Stand 6-428. The award

presentation ceremony will be held

within the framework of the opening

ceremony on the eve of the fair. The

competition is being staged by the Gesamtverband

der Aluminiumindustrie

The trade fair offers the most sophisticated die-castings that are technically


e.V. (GDA, German Aluminium Association).

Especially outstanding zinc die-cast

parts are to be honoured by the Initiative

Zink in the Zinc Die-casting Competition.

These parts fulfil either special

requirements placed on construction,

design, mould design, die-casting technology,

processing, surface treatment

and/or decorative characteristics, or

distinguish themselves through an innovation

and/or by switching from

other materials or production processes

to zinc die-casting. The aim of the competition

is to present the diversity of

applications, the outstanding characteristics

of zinc die-casting and not least

the efficiency of the participating

foundry companies. The award presentation

will also be held within the

framework of the official opening ceremony

on the evening of the fair. Further

information on the award winners

and their products is available from the

Initiative Zink at Euroguss in Hall 6,

Stand 6-420.



Automated system for heat

treatment of structural parts

CAN-ENG Furnaces International Limited,

Niagara Falls, Canada, is a leading

designer and manufacturer of thermal

processing equipment for ferrous and

non-ferrous metals. The company focuses

on the development of high volume

continuous industrial furnaces

for challenging applications and is the

industry leader in the development of

automated heat treating systems for

the processing of thin-walled, lightweight

aluminum automotive structural


The furnace manucturer has been

contracted to design, manufacture and

commission an automated system for

the heat treatment of thin-walled high

pressure die-cast aluminum automotive

structural components by an innovative

automotive manufacturer located

in California. The company was

chosen for this new light-weighting

project because its flexible, cost effective

heat treatment technology allows

manufacturers to integrate new stateof-the-art

processing systems into existing

manufacturing cells, avoiding

prohibitive large-scale continuous processing

systems capital costs.

The new high volume heat treating

system for thin walled aluminum automotive

structural components includes

a solution furnace with customized

structural product fixtures, CAN-ENG’s

Precision Air Quench (PAQ) system, an

artificial aging system and controls integrated

into a Level II SCADA system.

The system integrates a unique combination

of recirculating air chambers,

distribution nozzles, dampers and directional

ductwork that uniformly delivers

conditioned quench media leading

to repeatable and uniform property

and dimensional results. Quench parameters

are developed for each component

and once validated can be integrated

as part of the product recipe.


52 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015


New foundry in Grovetown


The pump and valve manufac turer KSB,

Frankenthal, Germany, is investing

about 75 million US-dollars (70.1 million

euros) in its US site in Grovetown,

Georgia, of which 40 million US-dollars

(37,4 million euros) are going to the new


Investments in the KSB subsidiary

GIW Industries are to prime the site to

meet the mining industry’s rising global

demand for white cast iron pumps.

Opened in April 2015, the new facility

has been fully operational since this

summer and extends to about 4,650 m 2 .

It houses new heat treatment and melting

furnaces, sand silos and six cranes.

The production building of 22 m ceiling

height is particularly suitable to

make components for the large slurry

pumps manufactured at the site. The

The foundry of 22 m ceiling height is particularly suitable to make components

weighing up to 20 t for large slurry pumps (Photo: GIW Industries)

new foundry’s capacity exceeds 9,000 t

of castings per year, with some of them

weighing up to 20 t.

At the Grovetown and Thomson sites,

GIW Industries manufactures mostly

heavy-duty pumps and associated

equipment for the mining industry. The

centrifugal pumps are built to transport

a mix of rocks and water and are used in

various settings, ranging from mineral

processing to waste water treatment.

The company currently employs 614

people and has been part of the KSB

Group since 1988.









Competence in

Shot Blast Technology

We offer new and second-hand

wheel blast machines including

conveyor and filter systems.

We are looking forward to your visit at

EUROGUSS in Nuremberg,

January 12-14, 2016, hall 6, both 6-342

Our range of products and

services include:

• Wear and Spare Parts

• Repair and (remote) maintenance

• Services

… for wheel blast machines of

other makes as well.


Gesellschaft für technische

Oberflächensysteme mbH

Gutenbergstraße 14

D-48282 Emsdetten

Tel. +49(0)2572 96026-0




Baraldi_85_128.indd 1 16.11.15 09:57

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 53



Acquisition of Hexion’s European

foundry business

The foundry chemicals group ASK

Chemicals, Hilden, Germany, has purchased

the European foundry business

of Hexion Inc., Ohio, USA. With this

acquisition the company has broadened

its portfolio of foundry chemicals

in the field of Alphaset phenolic

resins, Betaset phenolic resins and furan


ASK Chemicals and Hexion have

agreed on an intangible asset purchase

of Hexion’s European business book

and a long-term toll manufacturing

agreement, whereby Hexion will continue

to manufacture the products for

ASK Chemicals.

Both Hexion and ASK Chemicals are

committed to ensuring that the transition

of the business will be seamless.

Customers can trust that there will be

no changes in product, production or

contractual terms. “This acquisition is

an important step in our growth strategy.

With these new products ASK

Chemicals is able to offer our customers

an even broader portfolio of no-bake

and furan resin,” states Frank Coenen,

Chief Executive Officer of ASK Chemicals.

“We will introduce the world-leading

products of the Alphaset family to a

wider foundry market.” Alphaset products

are especially known for their superior

technical and environmental performance

in the field of no-bake




Turbine-wheel blasting technology

for foundries

At the Euroguss exhibition in Nuremberg,

Germany, from 12th – 14th January

2016, AGTOS shows how work pieces

are deburred and get an adequate surface.

The focus here is on process reliability

and economic operation.

The company from Emsdetten, Germany,

disposes a complete range of

products for surface engineering in

foundries. In addition it offers second-hand

shot blast machines and

spare parts as well as service for machines

of various other suppliers. The

retrofitting of existing machines with

for example magnetic air separators for

the separation of abrasive and sand are

also part of the product range.

For the treatment of sensitive (diecast)

parts the mechanical engineering

company developed a complete series of

wire mesh belt shot blast machines. This

type of machine is very popular. The

advantages will be explained by means

of many typical applications.

Besides the acquisition costs the operational

costs are an important subject

when investing in a shot blasting machine.

They are highly influenced by

the costs for wear and spare parts. The

choice of the material and the quality of

the material play an important role in

this. Costs can be reduced in this area by

making the parts, like e.g. steel belt traverses,

if technically sensible, more durable,

easier to mount using innovative

Cast parts in front of an AGTOS wire mesh belt shot blasting machine (Photo:


manufacturing methods and materials

thus economically producing the parts.

Aside from that the accessibility to the

machine is decisive.

Operators who are interested in second-hand

machines will also make a

find. The shot blasting machines of various

manufacturers are examined, defects

are professionally eliminated and

the machines are brought up to the state

of the art regarding the technology.

For the machine and plant manufacturer

AGTOS service starts with advisory

service and sale and by far does not end

with the maintenance-friendly design

of the machines. The company cordially

invites all visitors at the expo to convince

themselves during personal conversations

or by a visit of the informative

website in advance


54 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015



Measurement of molten steel

and cast iron level

Since 1976 Fae, Milano, Italy, has been

proposing solutions with the use of

sensor technology. The recent experiences

have given excellent measurement

results also on molten cast iron

and steel levels.

Particularly by using the LS1502 Laser

Rangefinder, it was possible to measure

the molten cast iron level at

1,470 °C, even without slag, with centimeter

accuracy, whereas on a ladle

containing molten steel at 1,650 °C the

measure turned out to be reliable in

presence of a thin slag layer.

Fae is ready to examine the best solution,

including the environment protection

accessories according to the

specific plant.


Measures carried out on a Ladle containing molten steel at about 1,650 °C

through the Laser Rangefinder type LS1502.100IR at 3,500 mm’s distance

with about 30° inclination (Photo: Fae)

The Key to Casting

Industry Suppliers 2015

Titel Key_Casting 2014.fh11 23.05.2013 12:35 Uhr Seite 1

The KEY to Casting Industry and Suppliers 2014


to Casting Industry

and Suppliers THE KEY



ISBN 978 - 3 - 87260 -180 - 3




2015 · 14,8 x 21,0 cm


Der KEY to Casting Industry

and Suppliers 2015 ist ein

komprimiertes Nachschlagewerk

in englischer Sprache zur

Navi gation durch die internationalen


für Gießereien.

Giesserei-Verlag GmbH

Postfach 102532 · 40016 Düsseldorf

Tel.: +49 211 6707- 561 · Fax: +49 211 6707- 547

E-Mail: annette.engels@stahleisen.de

The_Key_to_Casting_1_4_Seite_P.indd 1 26.11.15 13:54


Products for light metal casting processes

40 pages, English

A catalogue of the wide range of products offered by Schäfer Metallurgie for light

metal casting processes, e.g. coatings and agents for cleaning, dross treatment,

grain refining, skimming, improving the feeding behaviour and influencing the

thermal conductivity. Each product is described in great detail.

Information: www.schaefer-metallurgie.de

Ladle technology

16 pages, English

A brochure outlining the range of casting, transport and treatment ladles offered

by Marx. Technical data are provided of each ladle type and of the available gearbox

series, complemented by technical drawings and pictures. Also wire treatment

plants are included in the brochure.

Information: www.marx-gmbh.de

Molding sand preparation plants

10 pages, English

A detailed brochure describing the range of sand preparation equipment offered

by Webac. Included are descriptions of sand mixers, binder injection solutions, return

sand coolers, batch coolers, screens, aerators and plant control systems.

Information: www.webac-gmbh.de

Foundry equipment

12 pages, English, German

A highly informative and illustrative brochure setting out the range of foundry equipment

offered by Klein Anlagenbau. The brochure covers equipment for pneumatic

conveying, core sand preparation and peripheral equipment, providing key technical

data, advantages, pictures and concise descriptions of the equipment.

Information: www.klein-ag.de

56 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015


64 pages, English, German

A comprehensive catalogue covering abrasives offered by Kuhmichel for blasting,

peening, grinding, sanding cutting and surface preparation. The abrasives range

from white and brown fused alumina, mixed alumina, blast bauxite, emery, garnet

sand, silicon carbide through to glass and ceramic beads, steel shot and grit, iron

grit, cut wire shot and nutshell granules.

Information: www.kuhmichel.com

Measuring technology for melting and holding equipment

28 pages, English

A brochure featuring measuring and diagnostic systems manufactured and distributed

by Saveway. The systems are used for refractory linings and other components of

melting, holding and treatment equipment. Applications include hot spot and wear

monitoring, leakage monitoring, monitoring of coil-shunt insulation, temperature

measurement, etc.

Information: www.saveway-germany.de

Foundry conveyors

4 pages, English

A concise brochure outlining conveying equipment manufactured by JML for sand

preparation in foundries. Typical conveyors built by the company include belt conveyors

and special steel belt conveyors for material more than 200 °C hot as well as

roller conveyors. Contains key technical data and pictures of the equipment.


Aluminium casting process

8 pages, English

A brochure presenting the line of plants and machinery manufactured by Sinto for

aluminium casting. Machinery is offered for all process stages from core and die

making, casting, cooling, sand removal and reclamation through to deburring and

finishing. The brochure includes technical data and special features of the presented


Information: www.sinto.com

Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 57


Fairs and Congresses

Euroguss 2016

January, 12-14, 2016, Nürnberg/Germany


5th International Foundry Conference & Exhibition

January, 26-29, 2016, Teheran/Iran


1st International German Molding Material Forum 2016

February, 16-17, 2016, Duisburg/Germany


Metal & Steel Middle East 2016

February, 18-20, 2016, Cairo/Egypt


IFEX 2016: 12th International Exhibition on Foundry

Technology, Equipment, Supplies and Services

January, 29-31, 2016, Coimbatore/India



Bright World of Metals

switches to three-year cycle


NEWCAST are switching to a three-year

cycle – the next time that the leading

international trade fairs for foundry

technology, metallurgy, thermo process

equipment and castings will be

taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany,

is from Tuesday, the 26th until Saturday,

the 30th June 2018. In taking this

decision, Messe Düsseldorf is responding

to the changes in the innovation cycles

within the industry. Messe Düsseldorf

Director Joachim Schäfer: “Trade

fairs are a reflection of the markets and

at the same time provide an insight

into industrial trends and developments.

As a partner to the industry and

in close liaison with its associations, it

is our mission to react to changes and

to create the appropriate platforms for

good business and cutting-edge innovations.”

There has been widespread approval

of the switch to a different cycle in

the sectors covered by the event too.

Dr Ioannis Ioannidis, CEO of Oskar

Frech GmbH & Co. KG: “With digitisation

and the rapid changes experienced

in networked business life,

trendsetting activities are becoming

increasingly important. It is essential

that the leading international trade

fair GIFA makes a major contribution

here by taking place at an appropriate

interval. The new 3-year cycle for the

“Bright World of Metals” is right in line

with this development.”

In the course of their history, the

four leading trade fairs have adapted

to the changes in their industries’

cycles on several occasions: GIFA,

which premiered in Düsseldorf in

1956, was initially held every six years

before it switched to a five-year cycle in

1974 and then to a four-year cycle at

the beginning of the millennium.

THERM PROCESS has taken place at

the same interval since 1974, while

METEC was added in 1979 and NEW-

CAST made up the quartet in 2003.


Advertisers‘ Index

AGTOS Ges. für technische 53

Oberflächensysteme mbH

American Foundry Society 43

Baraldi Srl 53

Bühler AG Uzwil 15

CAN-ENG Furnaces 21

FAT Förder- und Anlagentechnik GmbH 27

Giesserei Verlag GmbH 2, 55, 60

GTP Schäfer GmbH 43

Lucky-Winsun Enterpr. Co.Ltd 37

O.M.LER 2000 S.R.L. 55

Regloplas AG 11

RÖSLER Oberflächentechnik GmbH 25

58 Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015



Preview of the next issue

Publication date: March 2016

Selection of topics:

Georg Fischer employees with finished automotive structural castings in a die-casting

shop in the Austrian town of Herzogenburg (Photo: Warren Richardson)

Special: CHINA

R. Piterek: “Casting and e-mobility perfectly match”

A lot of money can be earned with the production of components for electric vehicles in the foundry industry. Foundry group

Georg Fischer has now received orders amounting to 50 million euros that fit very well into the product portfolio of the lightweight

construction specialist

O. Kramer: Winning new customers with modern molding technology

The bronze foundry Filthaut aims to sustainably produce quality castings that convince sophisticated customers in terms of reproducibility,

quality and price. That’s why the so-called FDNX-molding machine from Heinrich Wagner Sinto was involved in the

casting process

A. Gieniec: PEP SET – an efficient and environmentally friendly binder system

Foundries need to meet the highest quality requirements. The company Grunewald has taken account of these needs with a new

hall and ultramodern process technology in the molding shop and reclamation plant. In the course of this, together with ASK

Chemicals, an innovative PEP SET system has been developed


Pub lish er:

Ger man Foundry As so ci a tion

Ed i tor in Chief :

Michael Franken M.A.

Ed i tor:

Robert Piterek M.A.

Ed i to ri al As sist ant:

Ruth Fran gen berg-Wol ter

P.O. Box 10 51 44

D-40042 Düsseldorf

Tele phone: (+49-2 11) 6871-358

Tele fax: (+49-2 11) 6871-365

E-mail: re dak tion@bdguss.de

Pub lished by:

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Tele phone: (+49-2 11) 6707-140

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E-Mail: cpt@stah lei sen.de

Man ag ing Di rec tors:

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Ad ver tis ing Man ag er:

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Cir cu la tion:

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Pro duc tion Man ag er:

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Casting Plant & Technology 4/2015 59




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