CPT International 04/2017


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








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Light-metal casting

is also possible with iron!

Ahead of the international EUROGUSS die-casting trade fair in Nuremberg,

Germany – from 16 - 18 January 2018 – CP+T is presenting a range of trailblazing

light-metal-related topics. These not only include the classic die-casting

light metals, however, but also light-metal casting with iron. The Fritz Winter

iron foundry (in Stadtallendorf, Germany) has developed its EcoCasting process

for producing thin-walled iron castings, and it most definitely measures

up against casting processes with other materials. Find out more from P. 26.

While the light-metal potentials of aluminum and magnesium are well-known,

there is still a need for more information on the light metal zinc. Zinc is heavier

than aluminum but can be cast with very low wall thicknesses, as die-casting

plant producer Oskar Frech (in Schorndorf, Germany) shows in a specialist

article (from P. 18). Zinc is also used in a wide range of applications and is

particularly suitable for medical technology products of all sorts. Find out more

about this on P. 14.

The future of foundry technology is again a major topic in this final issue of

2017: in this issue’s interview, Franz Josef Wöstmann and Christoph Pille from

Fraunhofer IFAM (in Bremen, Germany) reveal how they were able to embed

RFID chips into castings and the advantages that this technology can offer

foundries (from P. 6). In addition, the essay by Mark Lewis, from the British

foundry machine producer Omega Foundry Machinery (in Peterborough, the

U.K.), examines the question of how much influence the fourth industrial

revolution, digitalization, is having on the foundry industry (from P. 10).

Our coverage also highlights the Swiss company Christenguss that is aiming

to become an Industry 4.0 foundry over the next 20 years – company head

Florian Christen has already worked out a detailed plan for this, which he

explains to CP+T (from P. 30).

Have a good read!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Robert Piterek

e-mail: robert.piterek@bdguss.de

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 3



Wöstmann, Franz-Josef; Pille, Christoph


AGTOS Gesellschaft für technische

Gutenbergstrasse 14

Tel.: +49 2572 96026-200


Read more on AGTOS in our news column!


Lewis, Mark


Grund, Sabina

Vollrath, Klaus


Kramer, Matthias

6 18

Interview with Franz-Josef Wöstmann and Christoph Pille

from Fraunhofer IFAM in Bremen on embedding RFID chips

into die castings (Photo: Fraunhofer IFAM)


With Hot-chamber die-casting high-quality components

for many applications can be realized (Photo: K. Vollrath)


4 | 2017




Kotthoff, Tristan


Lange, Edgar


Piterek, Robert

Editorial 3

News in brief 37

Brochures 44

Fairs and congresses/Advertisers´ index 46

Preview / Imprint 47


Increasing digitalization has led to changes in the foundry industry that have altered the 5,000-year-old production technology.

The Swiss foundry Christenguss is aiming to become an Industry 4.0-foundry over the next 20 years. Florian Christen, head of

the company, has worked out a detailed plan with four phases to implement the necessary changes (Photo: Andreas Bednareck)


Embedded RFID Chip –

interface between casting

and process control

The traceability of components is a key step towards the factory of the future. The Fraunhofer

Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM has now succeeded in

embedding RFID chips into castings under serial production conditions. The road to full transparency

in manufacturing lies ahead

Castings with embedded RFID chips

can be clearly identified, their component-specific

process parameters can

be stored, and potential causes of failure

can be directly understood. With

a chip embedded in the casting, the

ever-present routing slip, as commonly

used in foundries, can soon be a

thing of the past, as all the production

data can be stored on the chip or centrally

deposited and assigned using an

individual component code. An interesting

side effect is that the embedded

chip increases copy-protection. Fraunhofer

IFAM in Bremen, Germany, now

has for the first time successfully embedded

RFID chips under serial-like

conditions within the framework of

an EU project at Audi. Its conclusion:

the process is market-ready. Franz-Josef

Wöstmann, head of the Department

of Casting Technology at Fraunhofer

IFAM and his deputy, Christoph

Pille, explain the new technology to


How exactly can we imagine the embedding

of RFID chips in castings?

Pille: The first thing to be analyzed is

whether a suitable place for an RFID

chip (commonly also referred to as a

“transponder”) either on or in the casting

; this is in the case where the existing

geometry must not be changed

substantially. Likewise, neither component

nor process safety may be affected.

It is simpler for newer geo metries,

as here the placement of the chips has

been considered in the design from

the beginning. Furthermore, an RFID

trans ponder must be chosen that is

suitable for both the geo metry and the

demands of the customer, while at the

same time also able to function on or

in metal.

6 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

An essential task, however, is the design

of a protective capsule that is suitable

for both the casting process and

the component. This protects the chip

from the high temperatures of the molten

metal as well as from the high densification

pressures of the die casting

until the casting has solidified.

What potential is there for RFID chips

in castings?

Wöstmann: The state of technology

for the identification of castings comprise

barcodes and data matrix coding

(DMC). These are applied to the surface

of the casting and are optically read to

identify the component. Should there

be any contamination or damage,

however, this type of coding is no longer

identifiable. Processing or painting

the surface also affects the readability,

such as with laser coding, as do the aging

of e.g. adhesive labels or the corrosion

of engraved DMC codes. RFID

technology is based on wireless technology

and thus escapes the disadvantages

of optical coding. The chip can,

similar to barcodes and DMC, be applied

to the surface. If the RFID chip

is directly embedded, then this offers

the advantage of coding at the earliest

possible point, as early as manufacture;

thus, from creation to destruction

the component is individually marked.

The greatest potential to add value lies

in the so-called “tracking and tracing”

of the castings throughout the production

steps. Through the individual

identification of each single component,

all production data are assigned

at all times, which is the fundamental

basis of Industry 4.0. Furthermore, also

retroactively, for example in the event

of a complaint, all data are available for

each individual component and thus

a retrospective quality control can be

conducted. In addition, any component

recalls will be limited to the parts

actually affected and will not apply to

entire batches, as is necessary using

current identification methods.

Aluminum die casting involves high

temperatures. How can the embedded

chip withstand the casting process?

Wöstmann: It won’t by itself! We

therefore developed a protective encapsulation

which enables the transponder

to withstand the temperature

peak. The geometry of the protective

capsule also enables simple and automatic

handling and positioning into

the high pressure die. At our current

state of technology, we have already

developed a simple and robust blank

in which the transponder, the protective

capsule, and a positioning aid are


Do all the chips withstand the process?

Wöstmann: A 100 % read rate is mandatory,

as each non-readable part is

automatically rejected. Therefore, the

careful selection of the “right” transponder,

in combination with the protective

capsule design, is of equal importance.

Within the framework of an

EU project, we conducted a test run

in conjunction with Audi in which

all embedded transponders without

exception survived the die casting

process.This means we were able to

achieve a 100 % read rate under serial


Where did the test run take place and

what exactly did it look like?

Pille: The test run took place at Audi Ingolstadt’s

experimental foundry. The

aim was to test inline the RFID chips

selected by Fraunhofer IFAM, the protective

capsule developed for the Audi

demonstrator, and the read/write

hardware under serial-like conditions.

In addition, a special gripping arm was

developed and tested, which automatically

grasped the RFID capsules and inserted

them into the tool.

What challenges needed to be overcome?

Pille: Certainly the greatest challenge

was precisely the “serial-like conditions”.

The demonstrator, a shock

tower, had an existing geometry for

which we needed to design the RFID

chip and protective capsule. In addition,

the casting did not occur in a

laboratory setting, where the capsules

could have been manually inserted

and locked; rather, it was necessary

to ensure that the operation was both

processsafe and automated.

Is the process suitable for all materials?

And if not, are further developments


Wöstmann: Regarding the process, we

have optimized the system for high

pressure die casting applications, as

these involve relatively short temperature

effects. However, we have already

started working on solutions for low

pressure die casting and gravity die casting.

Also, we intend to venture further

into higher temperate ranges, such as

in copper, iron and steel casting, in order

to be able to offer an identical solution

for all casting applications. As for

further development,we have in parallel

expanded our activities to include

the direct embedding of sensors, e.g. in

order to detect the occurrence of overloading

or misapplied loads in the casting.

Such sensors can naturally be combined

with transponder technology in

order to transmit the data wirelessly

from the casting.

Following the casting process, many

castings undergo further comprehensive

processing. Are the embedded chips

not destroyed during these work steps?

Pille: The embedded chips have shown

themselves to be extremely robust; and

precisely this was the original intention

of the technology, namely integrating

the identification into the component

itself in order to achieve a more robust

labelling that can also withstand mechanical

damage to the casting surface,

that is not affected by corrosion or other

environmental influences, and that

has no adhesive labels which would be

released by the cooling lubricant. However,

one challenge remains: a subsequent

heat treatment where the temperatures

last for a longer period and

thus make the protective capsule ineffective.

T5 heat treatments can – depending

on the transponder – be overcome,

however T6 heat treatments will

cause the protective capsule to fail and

the transponder to be destroyed.

What effects on quality and productivity

in foundries do you expect

through the implementation of embedded

RFID chips?

Wöstmann: Regarding productivity,

I expect no direct increase stemming

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 7


from the use of embedded chips over

current conventional identification

methods. The essential effect lies in

functional integration and improved

quality assurance through a consistent

tracking of individual components all

the way to the component’s application

in the whole system. In particular,

their use in quality assurance can deliver

entirely new possibilities of storing

process, customer, or quality-related

data as these can be stored directly

within the casting or linked using the

code and archived. Hereby, the integration

of a transponder – which we have

labeled “casttronics” – ensures the maximum

protection against product piracy

while offering a broad range of additional

functions for the customer – for

example regarding component logistics,

assembly, and service. This can generate

added value for the customer, possibly

as far as creating new business models.

Currently, the casting industry is seeing

a trend towards Foundry 4.0. How

strategy for a “smart foundry”?

Pille: Initially, at its core the main

thrust of the embedding of RFID transponders

was in a different direction

than has typically been discussed under

the title of “Foundry 4.0”, which

is generally in regards to the consistency

and networking of individual

processes. However, with the embedding

of RFID chips we primarily aim at

the ability to clearly identify individual

components within a series – and

thus at specific traceability as well as

continuous tracking and tracing within

the concept of intralogistics. We understand

a casting with an integrated

chip as an “enabler” in order to implement

the concepts of Industry 4.0 into

the production of a particular casting

and to realize an interface between

the casting and process management.

Although the castings will not yet be

able to “speak”, they will nevertheless

possess a great deal more intelligence

than previously. In the future, we aim

to include integrated sensor technology

into such concepts; these will be

able to provide information about the

condition of the casting. For example,

the casting will be able to record the

heat treatment process, report on it,

and halt the process when the desired

values have been reached.

The process was developed in the

framework of a project called MUSIC.

What was that about? Were there further

project partners?

Pille: The acronym “MUSIC” stands

for “Multi-layers control and cognitive

system to drive metal and plastic

production lines for injected components”.

In other words, the aim was

an autonomous in-line quality control

for aluminum high pressure die

casting and plastic injection molding.

This included not only being able to

predict the quality of the casting, but

also, with the help of cognitive calculations

such as comprehensive system

sensor technology, to enable the high

pressure casting machine to determine

and evaluate casting errors autonomously,

recognize the necessary adjusting

screws in the process, and conduct

a new parameterization in order

to reduce the number of casting errors

or even to completely eliminate these.

The project, which ended in 2016, involved

a total of 16 partners from various

EU countries, including the foundry

colleagues from Hochschule Aalen,

Audi and RDS as casting manufacturers,

the equipment manufacturers

Frech and RegloPlas, the sensor suppliers

Electronics and Motul, and the

simulation partner MAGMA.

For which foundries is the Cast tronics

process, i.e. embedding RFID chips,


Pille: The technology is applicable for

any foundry that intends to take advantage

of RFID technology, as well as

where there is customer demand for added

value of the product. Economically,

the process is likely to be of use for castings

that already have high added value

and where individual identification as

well as the possibility for data and information

storage directly onto the casting

would increase added value. However,

we do already have partners where the

customer has already demanded RFID

technology and has also proportionally

carried the additional costs.

In addition to the introduction of

Casttronics technology, are further

large-scale facility adaptations necessary

in order to utilize the full potential

of embedded RFID chips?

Pille: No. The installation of the read/

write systems and the accompanying

8 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Nuremberg, Germany

16 –18.1.2018

antennae is quite simple. Of course,

the casting tool must be adapted to ensure

that an area is formed into which

the protective capsule can be inserted

prior to the casting process. Ideally,

this would be a simple interchangeable

insert. The most elaborate component

would probably be the handling unit,

some sort of robot that grasps the transponder

capsule and transports it to

the tool for insertion. In the MUSIC

project, we solved this by fixing a special

handling unit directly to the arm

of the release agent robot. Thus we

were able to double-use the existing

release agent robot.

Can the investments be predicted

which foundries might incur for the

implementation of the process?

Wöstmann: Compared to conventional

methods like barcodes and

DMC, capital expenditure is significantly

lower. This is because with

RFID, the devices for reading and

writing are usually contained in one

unit, which would ideally have multiple

antennae and thus be able to

serve multiple stations simultaneously.

Furthermore, the technical equipment

for read/write units and antennae

is, compared to needle or laser

engraving systems, generally not only

cheaper but also more robust and has

a longer lifetime in a foundry environment.

Further investment is required

for the handling system that moves

the RFID chip to the casting tool and

positions it there. Here it would be

possible to consider a direct combination

with the release agent spraying

unit. However the costs at the individual

product level still need to be

assessed, as each individual coding requires

a transponder as well as material

for the protective capsule. These

dominate the price of identification

per product and are determined individually

according to the transponder

type and mass/geometry of the protective

capsule. The insertion itself is –

assuming there is a suitable handling

unit – almost cost neutral, as long as

the cycle time is maintained.


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T +49 9 11 86 06-49 16




Mark Lewis, Omega Foundry Machinery Ltd, Peterborough, U. K.

Industry 4.0 and what it means

to the Foundry Industry

Mark Lewis of Omega Foundry Machinery Ltd gives CP+T an insight into the impact the fourth

industrial revolution will have for the cast metals industry

The first thing to understand about

Industry 4.0 is it is not one technology

but a combination of modern technologies

combined to create a ‘Smart

factory’. The 4.0 stands for the fourth

industrial revolution which at first

sounds extreme but when you start to

look at the possibilities it is easy to see

how these technologies can become

real game-changers.

Industry 4.0 is the brainchild of the

German government, and the train of

thought is to create smarter, more efficient

manufacturing through the use

of Smart factories in the not too distant

future. This will be achieved by

various technologies communicating

in a way that allows autonomous running

of the facility and processes.

The big question is how can we utilize

these new technologies within the foundry

industry and what are the benefits?


In our everyday lives we are becoming

increasingly reliant on technology,

with smarter cars keeping us safe

through to smart phones keeping us

connected. If you consider the things

we take for granted in our daily lives like

streaming music or films, saving documents

to the cloud, or remotely connecting

to the office, these are all using

state-of-the-art technology with one

important link – the Internet. The high

speed internet of today is allowing a lot

more data to be transferred remotely

and giving us much more control over

various aspects of our lives, and this is

where industry will start to see massive

leaps forward in the workplace.

Businesses are starting to utilize this

connectivity in many ways, from automatic

material ordering through

to cloud-based software control. The

premise behind Industry 4.0 is to take

this one step further by connecting not

just one machine but also the whole factory

so it communicates as one entity.

To achieve this there is one more key

element needed – the Industrial Internet

of Things – and this boils down to

creating smart devices/machines that

communicate with each other and the

outside world.

Smart factory: by integrating smarter open technologies now it will make foundries

easier to upgrade in the future to the Industry 4.0 ethos!

10 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

First Industrial Revolution 1780’s Second Industrial Revolution 1870’s

First Industrial Revolution 1780’s: Automatic loom, water and

steam power

Second Industrial Revolution 1870’s: First production line. Mass

production with the use of electrical energy

Foundry applications

Let us take these technologies and look

at how they can be utilized in a foundry.

The example we shall consider is one

using silica sand monitored by a smart

system. When the sand drops below the

re-order level the Smart factory automatically

places an order on the sand supplier

for the required quantity of sand. So

far this is simple, but it is reactive not proactive.

Taking it to the next level, if that

same system was tied into the production

control system within the foundry

and used data from material consumptions

it could predict the sand, chemical,

and consumable requirements for

the coming week or month and could

therefore have orders placed with suppliers

for when they are needed. Of course

whilst all this is happening the relevant

person within the organisation is kept

informed via notifications and can easily

see what is happening via any device

with a web browser and internet connection

from anywhere in the world. This is

a very simple example of what could

easily be achieved and if the rest of the

foundry was automated and connected

we start to get an understanding of how

far reaching Industry 4.0 can truly be.

Today’s foundry

We may be some years away from a truly

automated foundry but the technology

is already available to achieve a lot

of the benefits we will see in the future.

As an example, machinery in a foundry

can already be monitored remotely

via cloud-based control systems giving

complete access to the data on the machine

and if needed remote control of

certain elements is possible. Also using

technologies like RFID (radio frequency

identification) we are able to automate

control of various machines. For

example, on sand mixers it is possible to

deliver the exact sand recipe and quantity

along with fully automatic filling

sequence – this level of control can reduce

waste and improve overall casting

quality. As this process is automated it

becomes easier to record production information

and material usage because

it is automatically collated and stored.

Add the ability to then access this

data remotely on a PC, tablet or phone

from anywhere in the world and we can

see the future foundry is not so far away.

future advantages

With less time spent doing the mundane

work and by removing the guesswork

from the equation it is easy to

Third Industrial Revolution 1969

Third Industrial Revolution 1969: First programmable logic controller

(PLC). Use of electronic systems and IT for further automation

see the efficiency gains that are possible.

In Germany industry is talking

about average productivity gains of 5-8

% with some sectors seeing up to 20 %

and the potential of Industry 4.0 adding

over 14 billion US dollars (11,75 Billion

euros) to the global economy in

the next 15 years.

Foundries of the future will need

to be reactive to the changing market

place and by investing in Industry

4.0 they will have a competitive edge.

Those adopting the concept will be

more efficient and improve productivity

but at the same time will be able to

be more reactive to customer needs because

these systems will give huge flexibility

allowing more affordable short

production runs.

Pitfalls and cybersecurity

Obviously there are disadvantages to

any system and Industry 4.0 doesn’t

come without its issues. Firstly the sys-

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 11


Fourth Industrial Revolution – today !

Fourth Industrial Revolution – Now: Based on cyber-physical systems (networking of real things with information processing/virtual

objects via information networks, such as the Internet)

tems are very dependent on connectivity

and the Internet, if the factory were

to lose its internet connection it would

have no means of communicating with

the outside world. Secondly, the risk of

cybercrime and hacking become even

more of a threat when the whole plant

is connected to the Internet.

However, these issues are easily overcome

with clear planning and preparation.

The plant must be able to continue

operating if connectively is lost and

the systems also need to have robust security

and protection. When undertaking

the task of installing a Smart foundry

it is important to understand all the

limitations and minimise their impact.

Another point worth considering is

the supply chain around the foundry -

there is no point creating an automated

process if the current supply chain

is not on board or capable of working

with Industry 4.0. There is nothing

stopping foundries implementing

Industry 4.0 in small sections of

the business as this gives a clear and

steady path to implementation, but

again planning is the key element and

choosing the correct partners to work

with will be paramount.

What’s next?

It will be many years before Smart foundries

become commonplace but that does

not mean that it isn’t important to understand

now what the benefits are and

what can be done to prepare for the future.

It is possible to retrofit Smart technology

to old plant so we don’t have to

wait for new factories and equipment to

take advantage of the Industrial Internet

of Things. As devices and equipment

in our factories get smarter, we must also

get smarter on how we use the connectivity

made available to us. The possibilities

are endless and by simply integrating

smarter open technologies now it

will make foundries easier to upgrade

in the future to the Industry 4.0 ethos.

Final goal

The final goal is a foundry where customer

orders are placed via a centralized

control system and by using integrated

MRP/ERP systems the foundry

manages its supply chain and production

needs automatically. Machines

communicate with each other and

the supply chain placing orders for

raw materials and planning production

needs to meet lead times. The

equipment then works together in the

most efficient manner to achieve the

customer’s requirements. This doesn’t

mean the end of human involvement

but it does necessitate a different skill

set, so it is important to have a workforce

able to understand and cope with

this advance in technology. As technology

has changed our everyday lives

away from work it is now time to see

how it can improve our working environments

too. We all need to get a

better understanding of what can and

can’t be done with Industry 4.0 so we

can make the transition as smooth as


This article is based on a paper given by

Mark Lewis at the World Foundry Congress

in Nagoya, Japan, in May 2016 and


in issue January/February 2017.


12 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017





FRP – the digital transformation

of metal casting industry

CP+T International

The technical journal for the global

foundry industry

Please contact us for further information

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Sabina Grund, Initiative Zink, Düsseldorf

Where precision counts:

die-cast zinc in medical and

hospital technology

No compromises are permitted when human health is involved. Much depends on the medical

specialists and their training and competence. But what really matters is that all the technical

equipment used for maintaining and restoring health operates reliably and consistently over

long periods. This naturally applies everywhere and at all times. Cutting-edge technology made



attractive price. Die-cast zinc is often the ‘hidden champion’ in precision instruments

What does die-cast zinc offer?

Die-cast zinc alloys are designer materials

characterized by a combination

of high mechanical strength, toughness

and rigidity, and thus high performance

and long service lives, as well

as a very good cost-benefit ratio. Their

mechanical properties, and the many

possibilities of surface treatment,

make zinc alloys an effective construction

material – in terms of both time

and cost. Whether switches, handles,

moldings, panels or elements with a

technical function – zinc alloys can

not only be cast with near-net accuracy

in almost any desired shape, but

additional precise surface structures

and properties can also be integrated

during casting, reproducibly adjusting

the look, feel and functionality of the

product in a defined and targeted manner.

Die-cast zinc also offers excellent

prerequisites for surface treatments,

e.g. galvanic coatings [1], [2], [4].

In terms of accuracy, zinc alloys are

almost unbeatable for casting even

complex filigree components without

machining. In the case of small

parts, a reproducible dimensional tolerance

of less than 0.03 mm [3] can be

maintained – an order of magnitude

achieved with modern machines and

computer-controlled casting simulations.

There are very few processes with

which parts can be produced this reliably

and this accurately, often making

mechanical machining unnecessary.

Net shape and zero machining

are very great advantages offered by

die-cast zinc.

Requirements of medical


The mentioned precision with which

medical devices must always function

is undoubtedly one of the outstanding

properties that qualify a material for

medical technology. There are, how-

Blood pressure measurement device. A typical device that must feel good in the hand,

is used under demanding hygienic conditions, and must feel comfortable both for patients

and for doctors (Photo: Kurhan - Fotolia)

14 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

ever, other properties that also characterize

this special field.

Hygiene regulations demand that

components that come into contact

with humans and their surroundings

(i.e. are not located within a machine)

must withstand the regular use of detergents

and disinfectants without impairing

functionality or appearance.

The wide range of surfaces that can

be achieved with die-cast zinc means

that a suitable solution can always be

found, even in highly demanding environments.

Whenever die-cast zinc

parts are used in an aggressive environment,

or are intended to meet

maximum optical requirements (aesthetics),

a wide range and quality of

conversion layers, organic coatings or

electroplating (e.g. nickel, satinizing

and bright chrome-plating) can easily

and reliably be used in any desired area

of the surface of a die-cast zinc part.

High-quality casting is a basic prerequisite

for achieving excellent surfaces.

Economical mass processes such as

barrel finishing can be used for further

decorating the surfaces of zinc parts in

their as-cast condition. Extraordinarily

smooth surfaces can be achieved with

buffing or chemical polishing before

surface treatment. The high fluidity

of zinc alloys allows particular areas or

complete castings to be given defined

surface textures in the as-cast state. In

addition, writing or logos can be directly

molded onto parts.

Medical devices include those that

a doctor picks up and manually operates.

Examples include dental came ras

(Figure 1) that doctors move around

the patient’s oral cavity, or optical devices

used for measuring the human

eye in direct proximity (Figure 2). In

such cases it is also vital that the device

is well balanced, and thus feels good in

the hand. It must feel exactly as if the

doctor can use it comfortably and thus

reliably. Whereby what matters is the

weight, balance and feel.

As a result of their high density, and

the capability of casting extremely thin

walls, die-cast zinc alloys offer designers

a high level of freedom, permitting

them to deliberately influence the perception

of the user regarding weight,

balance, quality and inertia. Thus, for

Figure 1: Camera housing for dental work: developments in die-cast zinc alloys permit


must be right for this dental camera with a surface-treated die-cast zinc housing

(Photos: Initiative Zink)

Figure 2: Frame part and lid for carrier and transmission of functions of a slit lamp

used by ophthalmologists for routine examinations

Overview of the technical properties of die-cast zinc

» High economic efficiency through very short cycle times, low melting

temperature (380 - 390 °C), minimum draught angles, near-net-shape

production and long mold lives.

» Good casting properties: tightest tolerances of raw castings (up to about

IT 8), excellent flow behavior (thin-wall casting), electrical and electromagnetic


» Mechanical material characteristics (e.g. for ZP0410: tensile strength 300 -

340 MPa, yield strength (0.2 %) 290 – 330 MPa, e-module 85 GPa).

» Excellent prerequisites for surface treatment.

» Screening against electrical and electromagnetic radiation (EMC protection).

» 100 % recyclability.

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 15


example, the ‘cool touch’ (i.e. the typically

cold feel of metals) and other sensual

impressions are factors appreciated

by many users of die-cast zinc. At

the same time, however, die-cast zinc

parts can, if necessary, also be provided

with a warm feel. Whereby ‘warm

feel’ coatings or plastic layers are options

with which the designer can deliberately

influence the feel.

Protection against radiation is an important

property whenever radiation is

present, e.g. while sensitive electronic

devices are being operated. This may

involve protecting humans against radiation,

such as x-rays. It is also often

necessary to prevent the functionality

of a sensitive device from being influenced

by the electrical or electromagnetic

radiation of other devices. Zinc’s

screening properties represent a desirable

additional benefit for such sensitive


Even in medical technology some

technical products are manufactured

in high unit numbers. Examples include

hospital beds and bedside cabinets

(Figure 3). In such cases – in addition

to the technical properties of the

material – the cost-benefit ratio, i.e.

economic efficiency, is of decisive importance.

Figure 3:

perties offered by the structural material zinc (Photo: UPIXA - Fotolia)

Where is die-cast zinc used in

medical technology?

Die-cast zinc is found everywhere in

doctors’ practices and hospitals. As

die-cast zinc is either installed within

a device (Figure 4) (and has a technical

function) or has an electroplated

surface it is often difficult to recognize

die-cast zinc as such. Examples of use


» Defibrillators

» Blood pressure monitors

» Stethoscopes (Figure 5)

» Bedside cabinets

» Hospital beds

» Infusion stands

» Infusion pumps

» Inhalers

» Devices for artificial respiration

» Ionization units

» Air purifiers

» Portable oxygen supplies

» Pumps for artificial feeding

Figure 4: Central carrier unit for attachment of all optical, electrical and mechanical components

for imaging plate technology in use in dental medicine (Photo: Initiative Zink)

16 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Figure 5: Stethoscope. A typical device that must feel good in the hand, is used under

demanding hygienic conditions, and must feel comfortable both for patients and for

doctors (Photo: Robert666 - Fotolia)

» Seat lifts

» Monitoring devices

» Wheelchairs

» Crutches and other aids

» Height-adjustable toilet seats

What developments can be

expected [6], [7]?

New alloys: The product range for die-cast

zinc will increase further in coming years

because the material enables the implementation

of complex geo metries with

thin walls whilst maintaining high reproducibility

within tight tolerances and retaining

its high strength. Flow-filling and

mold-filling capacities have been optimized

by adapting alloy compositions using

grain-refining elements, among other

methods, so that maximum quality

can be achieved – particularly with very

thin-walled components (serially down

to 0.3 mm thickness) or high surface demands.

Optimized alloys for thin-walled

castings and intelligent designs permit

weight savings of up to 30 % [1], [2], [4].

New casting techniques: New developments,

both in casting technology and

in surface treatment, show that by no

means all the possibilities of zinc have

been exhausted:

» Sprue-free and low-sprue techniques

increase the resource- and energy-efficiency

of the process. The first serial

parts are now being cast with these

new casting techniques [5].

» A more than 50 % reduction in the

material required (and thus weight)

can be achieved by casting zinc foam

using the zinc die-casting process.

Although the inside of the casting

contains desirable pores, the part has

an exterior with a closed surface that

can be polished and electroplated.

Prospects for die-cast zinc in

medical technology

Forecasts indicate that the use of diecast

zinc in the medical sector will increase

in coming years. People are living

ever-longer, particularly in the

western world. 28 % of the population

in Germany will be 65 or older

by 2030. That is four million people

more than today. This development

will bring about increased mobile

monitoring of health, and greater use

of mobile individual measurement

and treatment devices. Blood pressure

measuring devices and breathing

assistance are already widespread

today. In future, many other devices

are conceivable. Die-cast zinc is the

material of choice whenever these devices

need to function accurately and

have long service lives [8], [9], [10].




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Klaus Vollrath, Aarwangen, Switzerland

Die-cast zinc: enormous savings

potentials regarding wall

thickness, weight and costs

“We have more precisely examined

the housing of a current smartphone,”

says Martin Schlotterbeck, Manager

of Training and Process Consulting at

Oskar Frech GmbH + Co. KG in

Schorndorf, Germany. We found,

for example, that the complex structure

of the smartphone lower shell –

with dimensions of about 60 x 120 x

5 mm³ – was produced from a single

piece of aluminum. All internal structures

were created by cutting from an

entire piece of metal; the remaining

wall thickness was only approximately

0.65 - 0.69 mm (Figure 1). The inner

structure is highly demanding, with

numerous smaller and larger projections,

threaded blind holes, contact

surfaces, openings, consoles and undercuts

on the side walls. The volume

cut away is about 85 %, with rigorous

accuracy demands. High surface quality

is required for the visible processed

surfaces. Numerous different milling

and drilling tools must have been used

for production, involving frequent tool

changes and correspondingly long

processing times. Compared with the

possibilities of a precision forming process

such as die-casting, such a production

method inherently results in exorbitantly

high costs. Major cutting

processes like this are thus mostly only

Thin-walled die-cast zinc can be used in such electronic devices instead of aluminum.

(Photo: Klaus Vollrath)

18 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

used for products that are particularly

expensive and required in comparatively

low unit numbers, e.g. in motor

racing or in aerospace technology.

Comparative criteria: costs,


“Compared with this complicated

milling from an entire piece, the

hot-chamber die-casting of zinc is an

extremely economical process,” he

adds. In die-casting the highest cost

factors include the permanent molds

made of tempered heat-resistant steel,

whose production costs can only be

recovered with sufficiently high production

numbers. This is, however,

anyway guaranteed with mass products

such as smartphones or other IT

housings. As a result of the low melting

temperatures of current zinc alloys

(ZL5 approx. 420 - 430 °C) the molds

are hardly stressed, and often achieve

service lives of several million casting

operations. The excellent flow properties

of zinc enable an outstanding level

of detail in the forming of even very

filigree structures, and the desired dimensions

can be maintained with very

tight tolerances. Therefore very little

machining is required for die-cast zinc

parts, and this is often restricted to removing

burrs and adding threaded

holes. Zinc also offers other important

advantages: it is impermeable to high

frequencies, i.e. it provides an excellent

screen against radio interference,

and most conventional processes can

be used for painting, structuring or

electroplating – so that numerous stylistic

options are available to designers

for a refined decorative product with a

high-quality appearance. On balance,

die-cast zinc thus represents a considerably

more economical alternative

to cutting aluminum from a solid piece

of metal.

…and weight

“Zinc, however, must overcome one

handicap if it wants to succeed in the

marketplace,” Schlotterbeck reveals.

This is the weight aspect. While aluminum

is one of the light metals, with

a density of only 2.7 kg/dm 3 , components

made of zinc weigh about 2.6

times as much for the same volume. A

Figure 1: The complex structure of the lower shell of this smartphone was produced by

milling a solid block of aluminum. The wall thickness of the lower edge is between

about 0.65 – 0.69 mm. (Photo: Frech)

Figure 2: The fully equipped Frech W80ZnRC hot-chamber die-casting plant used for

the experiments at the Frech Technical Center in Schorndorf. (Photos: Klaus Vollrath)

low device weight, however, is a decisive

aspect, particularly for ‘mobile’ applications.

Zinc die-casters must therefore

design their components with

considerably thinner walls in order to

offset the weight disadvantage. In the

concrete case of the smartphone housing,

this would correspond to a wall

thickness of only about 0.25 - 0.27 mm.

The limit value, however, when using

conventional zinc alloys and casting

technologies, has up to now been considered

to be about 0.6 mm. Lower wall

thicknesses of down to about 0.4 mm

can mostly only be achieved with great

effort and non-standardized ‘high-fluidity

alloys’, so that this remains largely

restricted to niche applications. But

is this really the achievable minimum?

In view of the large market volumes involved

with modern IT applications,

Frech decided to examine the question

of what minimum wall thicknesses can

actually be achieved under which prerequisites.

What can be achieved with

conventional casting equipment?

“We were not interested in setting academic

records, but in practical results,

i.e. the question of what foundries

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 19


with conventional equipment could

achieve,” Schlotterbeck points out.

The desired target was a wall thickness

of 0.15 mm. The main focus, however,

was the question of how far one

could approach this level with the

conventional possibilities of a normal

die-casting foundry. For this reason,

a standard high-tech W80 Zn-RC

hot-chamber machine was used for the

casting experiments at the Frech Technical

Center (Figure 2). This had the

complete standard equipment without

any special accessories. The alloy

used for the experiments was commercially

available ZL 5, and HF alloy was

also used for comparative purposes. No

vacuum support was used. Instead, a

passive venting system with a double

‘scrubbing board’ – made of steel and

not CuBe – was selected. A 15-year-old

modular training mold was used for

the experiments, with wall thicknesses

of 0.28 mm, 0.2 mm and 0.15 mm.

With appropriate operation it was possible

to achieve different wall thicknesses

with this whilst also testing the

effects of different casting channel and

gating systems, cross-sections and ventilation.

The mold’s tempering channels were

designed according to conventional

calculation rules. A heating/cooling

Figure 3: Bright chromium-plated dish made of die-cast zinc alloy ZL 5 with a wall

thickness of just 0.2 mm.

system for magnesium that could attain

media temperatures of up to 300 °C

was used in order to be able to achieve

higher mold temperatures for particular

experiments. A variety of mold inserts

was used or ‘readjusted’ for the

various wall thicknesses. Due to positional

tolerances, the limit was already

reached at 0.2 mm with this mold: values

of between 0.13 and 0.22 mm were

measured during the experiments with

this casting wall thickness. These differences

in wall thickness were adapted

using subsequent machining.


“A total of 25 series of experiments

were carried out with this equipment,”

Schlotterbeck explains. The main process

parameters – such as pressure, pis-

Figure 4: Comparison between two dishes made of zinc alloys ZL 5 and HF alloy,

HF alloy

Figure 5: The mold: The double ‘scrubbing

board’ for passive venting is at the

top. The insert for a fan-shaped gate is


20 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

ton velocity, starting points, prefilling,

deceleration, mold temperatures,

spraying methods, releasing agents,

running systems, gating systems and

venting systems – were varied. Castings

that appeared complete and free

of external defects were examined in

detail. In addition to the casting process

itself, the main criteria looked at

here were the dimensional stability of

the casting, the density and porosity,

as well as the surface quality both in

the raw state and after electroplating.

With this experimental equipment

it is possible to produce large zinc components

made of ZL5 down to a wall

thickness of 0.2 mm with sufficient

process reliability. No special machine

is necessary, though special equipment

would be advisable for certain processes,

e.g. mold spraying. Particular attention

should be given to the skills of the

operating personnel. They should have

good process expertise and be able

to precisely balance the main parameters

and hold them within narrow

limits. The use of HF alloy is only advantageous

with wall thicknesses of

0.15 mm whereby, however, poorer

mechanical properties, surface problems

and cracking must be accepted.

A very interesting market

“To summarize: it is possible to use

die-cast zinc to produce parts that

have much thinner walls than before

and thus open up very interesting

new market segments with high

unit numbers,” Schlotterbeck assesses

(). These include almost

the entire bandwidth of mobile electronic

systems such as smartphones,

tablets, cameras or connectors, as well

as scien tific equipment and measurement

instruments. These wide-ranging

experiments have now provided the

necessary knowledge. This knowledge

can be passed on to customers during

consulting and training activities.


Raw casting with wall thickness

of 0.2 mm made of ZL 5 zink alloy –

complete with sprue, gate and passive


Competence in

Shot Blast Technology

We offer a complete service in surface preparation technology,

not just as machine designers and manufacturers.

Our emphasis is on providing reliable service on:

• Wear and Spare Parts

• Repair and (remote) maintenance

• Inspection and process advice

• Machine upgrades and performance


• Upgraded used machines


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Gutenbergstraße 14 · D-48282 Emsdetten

Tel. +49(0)2572 96026-0 · info@agtos.de



Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 21


Matthias Kramer, voxeljet AG, Friedberg

3-D-printing helps to return

a silverback gorilla back to life

How the lifelike image of a gorilla is created using high-tech

There are several cases where modelers,

designers, artists and restorers come to

certain limits when creating a piece of

work. Particularly when it comes to the

creation of bigger, complex and detailed

pieces of art. Traditional methods

are proving not only to be more

time intensive but often times also

very cost intensive. Through a combination

of new 3-D printing technology

and traditional artwork, designers have

the possibility “to create efficiencies

and help artists render their concepts,

from start to finish”, says Rop Arps.

Rop Arps is the founder and CEO of

Form 3D Foundry, a full-service sculpting

studio and 3-D workshop, offering

scanning, sculpting, and 3-D printing

technologies for the creative industry.

One of the collaborating projects of

Form 3D Foundry was to immortalize a

silverback gorilla named Ivan, by creating

a memorial statue of him. The casting

pieces for the statue were printed

on a VX1000 3-D printer. The chronicle

of Ivan the gorilla is a story that has

involved many people in so many ways

to ensure he had a trouble-free life.

A Gorilla’s journey

Ivan was born in the Democratic Republic

of Congo in 1962 and after his

parents were killed by poachers, Ivan

was brought to the United States of

America. At the beginning, Ivan stayed

with the Johnston family, who owned

a pet store, where he got to know his

best and lifelong friend, Larry Johnston,

who as a teenager shared a home

with young Ivan for almost four years.

Weighing in at 60 pounds (approx.

28 kg), Ivan has grown big and strong,

it was decided that living in the home

of the Johnston family wasn’t suitable


In 1967, Ivan was brought into an enclosure

at the B&I shopping center in

Tacoma, Washington. Ron Irwin, the

owner of the B&I store said “he was

like a kid, always watching people.

He loved to scare them. But there was

something more. When you looked in

Ivans ashes were incorporated in every

bronze piece

22 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

one-to-one scale

his eyes, he was looking back at you. He

understood what was going on”

Although many visitors of the B&I

store loved Ivan, there were others unhappy

with his ‘imprisonment’ and

made efforts to “free” Ivan from the

store into a better environment. The

action to free Ivan intensified after

National Geographic featured him in

one of their magazines and pop-star

Michael Jackson offered to take Ivan

to his Neverland-Ranch. The B&I store

was forced in bankruptcy and Ivan was

court-ordered to live in a zoo, where he

was then moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

While Ivan lived in the zoo, he

gained an extensive crowd of fans and

supporters where people from all over

the world came to visit him. Thousands

of people turned out for his memorial

service when he died in in 2012

at the grand old age of 50, which makes

him the oldest gorilla in captivity.

Creation of Ivan’s memorial

Despite Ivan’s passing, his legend lives

on. Earl Borgert, whose grandfather

owned the B&I store, claimed the ashes

of Ivan and pitched the idea to the

Board of Commissioners – Tacoma

metro park, to build a memorial for

Ivan. The board approved the idea under

the condition that the family fund

and manage the project. After extensive

research, the family chose an artist

named Douglas Granum to design

the statue in Ivan’s honor.

Since Ivan played an important role

in the childhood of the CEO, Rob Arps,

Form 3D Labs were very keen to get involved.

Rob said: “I grew up with Ivan

as my parents used to work at the B&I.

Years later, I’d tell people about it and

they would stare at me in disbelief.

When Doug came to me a few years ago

about this I was really excited”. “This

is Ivan, it´s my childhood friend” says

Arps, “[and] he meant a lot to me”.

The first challenge in the process

of creating the statue was to generate

a 3-D digital model of Ivan. Since gorillas

have very unique and distinct

looks, just like humans, hundreds of

pictures had to be gathered to capture

every detail of him. The artist decided

to use an iconic image of Ivan holding

a flower captured by the media for his


According to Arps, 3-D printing and

digital sculpting played a huge part in

creating the statue. He says that “when

sculpting with clay, the artist is limited

in what kind of changes can be

made. With digital sculpting, changes

can be made without affecting the

overall project. We can solve a series of

problems very quickly, where before it

would have taken months”. “This project

is at the front end of a huge change

in the process of making art”

The printing process

Creating the digital file of Ivan took

three years, this was to ensure every

single feature of the gorilla was captured.

Due to the size of the sculpture,

the digital file of Ivan was separated

into several individual pieces which

were then printed in PMMA poweder

on voxeljet´s VX1000 3-D-Printer.

Once all the parts were dipped in wax,

they were used to produce a ceramic

shell for investment casting. The parts

were then cast in bronze before they

were finally welded and assembled together

to the full-sized statue. During

the molding process, a small amount

of Ivan’s ashes were integrated into

each piece of bronze that made up the

final sculpture. The finished statue is

approximately 6 feet tall (~ 183 cm)

and weights about 600 pounds (~

280 kg). As Ron Irwin said, “Ivan really

impacted two cities” and this statue

really helps to tell his unique and

touching story.


Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 23


Tristan Kotthoff, MAGMAacademy, Aachen

Process and tooling design

in die casting based on systematic

virtual tests

In designing technologically sophisticated

tooling for aluminium and

magnesium die casting, two things

have to be ensured at the same time:

the process has to be able to reliably

produce castings of the specified quality,

and aspects of cost and resource

efficiency have to be taken into due


What makes the design process most

challenging is the fact that the quality

requirements and efficiency considerations

often call for process conditions

that do not go together with the objective

of minimizing tool wear. During

the casting process, the tools are subjected

to extreme local thermal stresses.

These stresses can be evaluated and

optimized by a quantified heat balance

of the casting die.

The overall cycle time is determined,

among others, by the die

locking time. The die locking time

largely depends on the time the biscuit

needs to solidify. Reducing the

overall cycle time provides additional

machine capacity and, consequently,

great potential for an increase

in economic efficiency (Figure


With the objective of reducing the die

locking time, different cooling concepts

were systematically tested on a

die cast aluminium casting as an example.

The systematic employment of

casting process simulation according

to the MAGMA principle shows how

the local solidification condition in

the biscuit can be optimized by specific

tool cooling strategies.

The optimization is intended to reduce

the biscuit solidification time

24 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

(economic efficiency) while avoiding

excessive tool wear due to alternating

thermal stress within the casting cycle


Systematic virtual process tests were

performed with 22 different cooling

geometries in the anvil (tool geometry)

and two different flow rates (6 l/

min and 12 l/min) (process parameters)

as degrees of freedom (variables)

(Figure 1).

The virtual test sequence, which has

been specified beforehand, is performed

fully automatically. Once the

sequence has been completed, all tested

variants are evaluated using quantitative

methods. The results are reliable

as they are derived from objective criteria

by statistical evaluation techniques.

In the example, two of the tested

cooling geometries lead to a reduction

in biscuit solidification time by almost

3 s, or 15 %. However, those two cooling

geometries react to the flow rates of

6 and 12 l/min (process variation) with

different sensitivity.

A more specific evaluation of the

process conditions explains why the

cooling geometries exhibit different

sensitivity to the flow rates: Due

to the great pressure loss in the complex

spiral-type cooling system, this

system requires a minimum pressure

of 10 bars to achieve the flow rate of

12 l/min. Contrary to this, cooling

tubes of very simple shapes already react

to the flow rates tested with solidification

time variations of almost a second

( ).

Only when all involved in the tooling

design process – from the tool designer,

the responsible production

manager to the quality manager in

the workshop – have profound process

know-how can the thermal layout of

the die cooling system and the process

itself be optimally designed. For this, it

is necessary to know which parameters

have decisive influence on the quality

of the casting and on the efficiency of

Test 1/2 Test 3/4 Test 9/10

Test 11/12 Test 13/14 Test 19/20 Test 21/22

Variable process parameters

6 l/min



the process. Systematic process analyses

and virtual experiments are powerful

and efficient methods to obtain

such knowledge.

Quality criteria

in the anvil


Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 25


Edgar Lange, Düsseldorf

Iron foundry banks on thin-wall

casting with EcoCasting process

Reducing the weight of engine components is a future-oriented strategy to save fuel and cut CO 2

emissions. To this end, the German iron foundry Fritz Winter Eisengießerei, based in Stadtallendorf,

uses a thin-wall casting process and the recycling material grey cast iron to make components

such as engine blocks, the biggest and heaviest of all combustion engine components. The

thus produced castings are extremely low in weight. With this innovative process, branded

Founded in 1951 as a family-owned

company, Fritz Winter iron foundry today

is the biggest independent jobbing

foundry in Europe. It employs 3,700

people and serves approx. 400 customers.

The foundry, based in the German

town of Stadtallendorf, casted its first

engine blocks as early as in 1959.

Against the backdrop of the need

to minimize CO 2

and other hazardous

emissions, competing drive concepts

for vehicles were a much discussed

topic at the 29th International

Conference “Engine & Environment”,

held in Graz, Austria, at the end of May

2017. The conference was organized by

the Austrian company AVL. AVL is the

world’s biggest independent company

specialized in the development of

drive systems based on combustion

technology. “Electric motor versus

combustion engine” was a key topic on

the conference agenda. According to

Helmut List, CEO of AVL, the combustion

engine is far from being thrown

on the scrap heap: “The development

of advanced combustion engine concepts

has already led to a constant reduction

in hazardous emissions and

we can expect more technological advances

to come,” emphasizes List.

Grey cast iron versus


People attending the conference in

Graz showed great interest in the new

environment-friendly EcoCasting process

presented by iron foundry Fritz

An ecological and economic alternative to aluminium: thin-wall cast four-cylinder

crankcase with wall thicknesses down to 2.5 mm at tolerances of only 0.5 mm

(Photos: Fritz Winter)

Winter Eisengießerei GmbH & Co.

KG, Europe’s largest independent jobbing

foundry and supplier and partner

to international passenger car and

utility vehicle makers as well as the hydraulics

industry. The foundry is a typical

tier 1 supplier to the big players of

the automotive industry – from A as in

Audi to Z as in ZF-Friedrichshafen. You

are likely to come across an iron casting

made by Fritz Winter in everything

that moves. EcoCasting is Fritz Winter’s

new weight-saving brand, which

is to trigger a rethinking in engine construction.

The innovative iron casting

process behind this brand makes

it possible, for example, to cast lightweight

crankcases for passenger cars as

a competitive alternative to crankcases

made of aluminium.

26 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Revolution in iron casting

“We love to make heavy things light“ is

the iron foundry’s mission. Cast iron and

light-weight construction – two things

that do not seem to go together well.

How is that going to work? What makes

the thin-wall cast four-cylinder crankcases

so special versus conventional iron

castings is the fact that the new process

developed by Fritz Winter is sandless.

This provides exciting results: extremely

thin walls of only 2.5 mm can be

achieved at tolerances as low as 0.5 mm.

What is more, making a motor block

from cast iron involves 28 % less costs

than producing an aluminium motor

block by high-pressure die casting. Relative

to aluminium gravity die casting the

cost benefit is even greater. These comparisons

are based on a 1.6 litre four-cylinder

Otto engine as benchmark.

To achieve this, the Fritz Winter engineers

have come up with a number of

smart ideas: a highly compact engine design,

an overall shorter engine length as

a result of smaller distances between the

cylinders, an optimized crankshaft main

bearing and, above all, the unique casting

technique which Fritz Winter for

the first time in the world uses to make

cast iron crankcases for passenger cars.

“When we pour the molten iron, it is as

fluid as water, allowing it to fill the smallest

cavities, unlike aluminium, which behaves

similar to a semi-fluid,” explains

Richard Pausch, Director Sales of the

Fritz Winter foundry. This is one reason

why the new motor block has such a filigree

design. Another positive effect is the

high dimensional accuracy. The maximum

weight deviation between the CAD

model and the finished casting is below

100 grams. According to the foundry experts

of Fritz Winter, it would be possible

to cast wall thicknesses even smaller

than 2 mm. However, this would get

close to the feasibility limits as the casting

still has to be suitable for fettling and

shot-blasting. Even with the current cast

wall thickness, the difference in weight

between a cast iron engine and an aluminium

engine has shrunk to just 1.5 %.

EcoCasting engine blocks are

in great demand

Fritz Winter regards EcoCasting as a

new branding within their light-weight

The concept of light-weight crankcases made of grey cast iron was a much discussed topic

Steel scrap, as used in this piece of art, is also the raw material of EcoCasting products

product portfolio. “Eco” stands for both

“economic” and “ecological”, hence

sustainability. Already the production

of light-weight EcoCasting components

requires significantly fewer resources

than conventional iron castings

or comparable parts made of aluminium,

especially because the raw material

iron scrap is a genuine recycling product.

“Therefore we see ourselves as ‘true

recyclers’,” adds Pausch. He takes pride

in the fact that the raw material of grey

cast iron is 100 % steel scrap. What becomes

a motor block or a brake disc,

may have been a railway track or a bicycle

before. In contrast, primary aluminium,

a ton of which currently costs

about 1,900 US dollars, requires ten

times more energy during production

than cast iron. “Therefore, we chose ‘Aluminium

was yesterday’ as one of our

slogans at this year’s Vienna Engine

Symposium, and actually caused some

chuckling among the attending guests,”

recalls Sebastian Hahn, Director Marketing

of the Fritz Winter iron foundry.

The light-weight components made

by Fritz Winter are in great demand

by its automotive customers. Already

about 800,000 EcoCasting crankcases

have been shipped to customers so far.

Fritz Winter is striving to offer the market

a genuine alternative to aluminium

and keep the foundry fit to respond

to the future challenges of automotive

light-weight engineering. According

to Sales Director Pausch, iron castings

will remain unbeatable in terms

of cost efficiency and have a great future

potential. Richard Pausch is confident

that iron is a material far from

dying out.

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 27



the eco-friendliest

casting process of all”

In an interview with CP+T, Richard Pausch, Director Sales of Fritz

Winter iron foundry based in Stadtallendorf, Germany, talks

about the branding of the EcoCasting process, about iron as recycling

material, the market for thin-wall iron castings and the

prospects of EcoCasting products with respect to electro mobility

You have developed the EcoCasting

process and established it as a brand.

What was the motivation behind this?

Our intention was to establish Eco-

Casting as a branding. “Eco” encompasses

both economy and ecology,

forming a symbiosis of both. For a jobbing

foundry as we are it is not easy to

establish an own branding, because we

do not offer standardized products on

the marketplace – as, let’s say, mobile

phone manufacturers do.

What is your brand strategy?

One objective of our brand strategy is

to replace the term grey cast iron, as

the word “grey” does not prompt very

positive feelings. We also plan to combine

all our future light-weight activities

under the EcoCasting label.

Which role does the recycling material

iron play in this context?

A key element of our EcoCasting strategy

is to highlight the fact that iron is an

excellent recycling material. And that is

what will be associated with this brand.

casting process of all. We are of course

aware that no automotive customer

will be willing to rely on a monopoly

sourcing situation for thin-wall castings

in the long run. Therefore it is essential

for us not to lie back but always

stay at the leading edge of technology.

With a competitive alternative to aluminium

crankcases in the portfolio,

Fritz Winter is heading towards becoming

a global supplier.

How is Fritz Winter preparing for a future

market characterized by a declining

share of combustion engine-propelled

vehicles and a growing number

of electric vehicles on the roads?

Also in a world of growing electro mobility,

we see market opportunities for

Fritz Winter and much potential for

new products based on thin-wall iron

casting – for example, cases for batteries

and electric motors and of course

brake discs, which Fritz Winter has already

been selling in great numbers,

actually about 20 million a year. Also

here we strongly believe in a business

success based on cost-efficiency and

sustainability achieved through smart

concepts of light-weight iron casting.

As we have been convinced of the success

of our new and highly innovative

EcoCasting process from the beginning,

we have invested more than

50 million euros in the implementation

of a production line. Actually,

the overall investment volume of a

thin-wall casting line is slightly small-

How has the market been accepting

your innovative thin-wall castings?

There has been a lively demand for

our products. The market currently demands

small wall thicknesses, for example

in crankcases, to be able to design

components of lower weight. This

is a fact no supplier of cast products

wanting to survive in the market in the

long run should deny. Our EcoCasting

process is currently the eco-friendliest

“Aluminium was yesterday” – Fritz Winter sees great future potential for grey cast iron

28 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

These beverage cans caused some chuckling at the 29th International Conference “Engine

& Environment” held in Graz, Austria

22. International Fair

of Technologies for Foundry




Kielce, Poland

er than in case of a conventional flaskbased

foundry, among others because

no flasks and sand preparation facilities

are needed.

Do you believe that the current discussion

about weight-saving automotive

engineering with a strong focus

on aluminium is heading towards the

right end?

Only 10 % of the global CO 2


is accounted for by automotive traffic.

However, this fact is not always put in

the right perspective in the media and

in political discussions. Also the fact

that cars with aluminium crankcases

would have to be operated much longer

than their average lifetime in order

to achieve the same CO 2


as EcoCasting crankcases is often disregarded.

What has to be considered

are the life cycle values. And here cast

iron, with 1,783 kg of CO 2

per ton of

material produced clearly outperforms

primary aluminium, which based on

the world energy mix emits approx.

6,174 kg of CO 2

per ton produced. Also

political decision-makers should place

greater emphasis on this aspect.

So, this means that you see good

long-term prospects for your com-

weight cast iron products such as the

engine block?

Absolutely. What concerns me a bit is

the risk that we may be losing expert

know-how in this traditional field of

technology. If in the years to come nobody

was really interested in the further

development of combustion engines

any longer, we would be running

short of qualified engineers in this

field. This would be a great pity.


The 73rd World Foundry




Krakow, Poland

Global Media Partner:


Piotr Odziemek

+48 41 365 13 34


XXL core package printed with a 3-D printer at Christenguss foundry in the Swiss town of Bergdietikon (Photos: Andreas


Robert Piterek, German Foundry Association, Düsseldorf

Progress through technology

Increasing digitalization has led to changes in the foundry industry that have altered the

5,000-year-old production technology from the bottom up. The mostly bleak works halls, in

which casters carry out back-breaking physical labor, will sooner or later metamorphose into

high-tech production sites that are in step with the rapid developments of our time. And it will

not only be the big players in the sector that will survive the change. The opportunities for the

SMEs that make up the majority of German foundries are also good – as a visit to Industry 4.0

pioneer Christenguss in Switzerland shows

Terms like 3-D printing and Industry

4.0 are still billowing around in our

heads without any particularly precise

understanding. People need tangible

examples, and the visionaries to implement

them, to form a clear-cut picture

of new technologies. One such visionary

is Florian Christen, Managing Director

of Christenguss in the Swiss town

of Bergdietikon and an avowed fan of

Elon Musk. One might think that Tesla

founder Musk does not have an awful

lot to do with Industry 4.0 – but his

e-cars, the Space X rocket program, and

his ideas on energy-independent housing

and the supersonic Hyperloop metro

fascinate millions of people, and his

fan base is growing by the day.

Multi-million investments in

Industry 4.0

Musk’s ideas inspired Christen to consider

his own foundry works with a visionary’s

eyes. And Musk’s courage in

30 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Florian Christen with castings in front of the roller gate to the 3-D printer. The family

business operator wants to achieve a completely networked Industry 4.0 foundry within

20 years

converting visions into reality has given

Christen the energy to turn his 17-

man operation into a pioneer of Industry

4.0. But he has also had to find good

economic reasons to justify investing

millions in converting his works. And

there are a wealth of these in today’s

Switzerland because industrial conditions

have got worse and worse in recent

years: the currency is extremely

strong, wages are high, and there are

no funding programs like those of the

EU. Initially, the Swiss central bank

supported the exchange rate against

the euro artificially – it gave up doing

this in early 2015. “It became clear to

me that we would not make any progress

with standard production,” explains

the 33-year-old Florian Christen.

There is, however, one economic

ray of hope in Switzerland – the low

price of energy. The country profits

from the fact that its neighbor Germany

produces large amounts of renewable

energy that it cannot use itself,

and therefore sells cheaply to Switzerland

and other neighboring countries.

Good conditions for the use of a 3-D

printer – a fundamental component of

the sand foundry of the future. Christenguss

installed a plant from ExOne

(in Gersthofen) in late 2015 and commissioned

it in early 2016. Including

the periphery and installation it cost

Christenguss about 1.5 million Swiss

francs (around 1,3 million euros).

Focus on essential parts

“In order to be able to continue producing

competitively in Switzerland

everything is going in the direction

of high-end production,” Christen

summarizes and adds: “Otherwise it

is impossible to keep up with the prices.”

Business is therefore increasingly

based on the ‘speed’ sector nowadays,

in other words components that

have unexpectedly failed, or been forgotten

about, and now urgently need

to be produced and delivered. Christen

calls these particularly important

castings for plant operation ‘essential

parts’, and companies sometimes only

require one unit. “In the high-voltage

current sector, for example, plant

downtimes cost about 250,000 euros

a day – then it is irrelevant if the finished

component costs ten, twenty or

thirty thousand euros to produce over

the weekend,” emphasizes the family

business operator. The speed sector already

makes up 50 - 60 % of his business.

The rest of the roughly 7 million

euros in annual sales is made up

of orders with a time horizon of 2 - 3

months. The product range consists

of components made of sand-cast aluminum

and copper alloys for the construction

of special machines, for the

high-voltage current sector, pump assembly,

conveying systems for liquid

nitrogen, defense technology, and agricultural

equipment. The more than

300 customers include Hilti, ABB, General

Electric, Siemens Verkehrstechnik,

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 31


3-D printers can print the most complex

structures. Here a skull made of molding


Swiss art print: This art print from Christenguss has 1.35 billion individual surfaces and

is currently being exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris

Bombardier, Rheinmetall, General Dynamics

and numerous so-called ‘hidden

champions’ from Switzerland, i.e.

SMEs who are world leaders in their

business fields. The production quantities

are very modest: 120 tonnes of aluminum

castings and about 40 tonnes

of copper castings leave the works every

year. The average batch size is just

15 units.

Ideas for achieving capacity

utilization of the 3-D printer

Speed in a foundry demands maximum

flexibility. And this is precisely

what the new 3-D printer offers– entire

molds with integrated cores or core

packages can be printed overnight. In

the meanwhile, Christen and his team

are also trialing the printing of pattern

plates – with great success, because the

plant prints out structures of all kinds

to an accuracy of one-tenth of a millimeter.

In order to make money with the

high-tech machine, however, the printer

must run 24/7 all year round despite

the low energy price in Switzerland.

Capacity utilization at Christenguss is

still below this, at about 70 %, but the

high value creation of the works largely

offsets this: based on drawings, CAD

data or the reverse engineering of components,

the company can deliver finished

cast, machined and surface-treated

parts within an average of 3 - 4 weeks.

And the quality demands are high:

“The products have to look perfect and

cannot have a single pore,” according

to the Managing Director. Christen has

sought out another business field with

good potential in order to achieve higher

utilization of the printer: art printing

– which is, however, still in its initial

stages. Still, one can now see an

impressive work of art from the molding

sand of his 3-D printer at the Pompidou

Center in Paris, a hub for art and

culture. Just 156 gigabytes of data resulted

in a 3.5 meter tall, 3.1 meter wide

and 2 meter deep work of art made up

of an astonishing 1.35 billion individual

surfaces. This piece shows what is

technically possible with the current

state-of-the-art, and contains the most

complex of structures that would be impossible

to achieve without a 3-D printer.

Florian Christen is also playing with

the idea of using the printer to produce

higher-priced designer furniture in the


32 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Classic aluminum and copper alloys are

still cast in the works halls of Christenguss.

The employees will have to cope

with numerous changes in the coming

years and decades

From hand molding to fully

automated production

The 3-D printer is just one component

in Christen’s concept of creating an ‘intelligent’

foundry in the tranquil hill

country of Bergdietikon, near Zürich.

If everything goes according to plan,

a foundry the like of which has never

been seen will be created here in four

phases during the coming 20 years.

Christen intends to invest one to oneand-a-half

million euros every four to

five years and thus initiate a permanent

process of change – in accordance with

the motto of his father, Theo Christen:

“Stagnation is regression”. Then in the

works halls – where hand formers still

hammer down sand in the molding

boxes; and molding plants, blasting

machines and core shooters noisily do

their jobs – autonomous transport systems

with robots could be driving from

station to station, and all the processes

could be networked by linking machines

and sensors with artificial intelligence.

The enormous quantity of

Molding line with a maximum box size of 650 X 500 X 500 mm³. Parts weighing between

0.1 - 150 kg can be cast here. The melt is supplied by induction furnaces from


data could then automatically flow

into optimizing processes, every point

in the production chain could be precisely

documented enormously improving

planning security, also with a

view to the future orders to be expected.

The consequence: maximum transparency

of all production steps for producer

and customers – with numerous

benefits and savings potentials.

Phase 1: the transparent


The transformation of the works is currently

in full swing. The aim is to automate

all peripheral work. “The workers

should only be creating value, also

because our batch sizes are so small,”

stresses Christen. For this purpose, in

a first phase, the fettling shop, administration,

and feedback from process

steps are to be automated.

The automated administration is already

reality: invoices are scanned in,

compared with customer data and automatically

booked. “My bookkeeping

costs have halved as a result,” says a

satisfied Christen, a qualified business

economist. Balance sheets and income

statements are now available daily in real-time.

Because one thing is important

for the Swiss entrepreneur: “We want to

act and not react. Only then can one so

optimize the single percentages that

one can remain competitive, even in a

high-wage country like Switzerland.”

The feedback from the work steps,

currently still handled manually,

should in future be take place using

tablets: “The worker can then call up

photos, production data, CAD data

and documentation via the mobile

computer and input the start and end

times of all process steps,” enthuses

Christen. It would then become clear

how much time could be saved by

changes to production parameters.

Christenguss is collaborating with

Prof. Markus Krack’s Foundry Institute

at the University of Applied Sciences

and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

(FHNW) on automation of the fettling

shop by 2019. The Faculty of Digital Architecture

at ETH Zürich is another research

partner. The hardware costs will

be almost 1 million euros. The additional

software costs have not yet been

quantified. A special algorithm is being

developed at FHNW to massively simplify

programming of the robots.

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 33


An employee sprays a core with a release


straightaway prepares the tools (such

as separation and saw attachments,

grinders and millers) required for the


Automation of the fettling shop

is receiving particular attention because

of the enormous wage costs in

Switzerland. One fettler at Christenguss

earns about 5,000 Swiss francs a

month, roughly the same amount in

euros. Less than 250 kilometers further

south in Italy the fettler would be

paid just 1,000 euros for the same job.

Switzerland thus has no chance in an

international comparison. “The job

is back-breaking work. It would make

sense if, in future, employees were responsible

for equipping a fettling robot.

With all due respect to the work

our fettlers do, the robots can do the

job longer and with consistent quality,”

Florian Christen is convinced,

and explains how the fettling process

should work in future: “We have the

component with the gating system

and it needs cleaning. It is clamped,

scanned and compared with the CAD

data in a target/actual comparison.

The metal colleague thus finds out

what it should cut away from where.

The movements are worked out by the

so-called cyber-physical system on

the basis of existing programs, and it

Phase 2: the reactive factory

The first processes will be interlinked

with the help of a dynamic Manufacturing

Execution System (MES) in

Phase 2. If data in a dynamic MES is altered,

it automatically leads to changes

in other systems. The data from the

automated fettling shop (CAD data)

include, for example, a perfect dimensional

inspection that can be used for

equipping the machining plants –

leading to considerable time savings.

This interlinking of processes should

in future also be extended to the molding

shop and shake-out plant. In addition

to time savings, this would provide

another advantage: customers

could track the progress of their order

on a website (as offered by online retailers

such as Amazon). In order to be

able to implement this step in reality,

however, an identification system via

a code in the sand molds and on the

casting itself would be necessary.

Phase 3: the self-regulating


Things come to a head in Phase 3: now

the peripheral work, such as equipping

and box provision will be automated

– though without cutting any

jobs, as Florian Christen stresses. The

range of activities of the workforce is

to be adapted with training. After implementation

of this phase, robots

will equip the filter and insulation

sleeves and collect the material from

the shelves autonomously. Driverless

transport systems, like those already

active in the new Industry 4.0 foundry

of Kurtz Ersa in Hasloch, could also be

introduced for this purpose. Christen:

“The robots can work 24/7 and could

The wages for fettlers are considerably higher in Switzerland than in other countries.

But there are still not enough skilled fettlers in Swiss foundries

34 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

make the necessary preparations for

the next day’s work in advance.”

The automatic commercial platform

should also be implemented during

this phase. According to Christen’s

plan, it should be possible for customers

to upload CAD data onto an online

platform and immediately receive

a price for their order – once all the

work steps and the preparation of all

the process information has been automated

in Phase 3. “Then, of course, the

casting system with cores and mold

separation must also be visualized,”

admits Christen. “But when I see what

the ETH Zürich has already developed

in the way of algorithms with automation

functions I have to say that we are

no longer so far away from this goal,”

he adds confidently.

Phase 4: the functionally networked


After completion of this massive company

restructuring, Christenguss will

not only be a lean, automated and, in

all regards, optimized foundry, but will

also have the possibility of being an

“integral part of the customer’s product

life-cycle”. The foundry remains an

independent supplier but is in a position

– thanks to its enormous production

flexibility and speed – to take over

a customer’s complete cast spare parts

business. Why? At present this business

is enormously wasteful and expensive

for companies because parts must

be stored in order to be able to deliver

them on-demand. Rent has to be paid

and one must order in advance. Outsourcing

to foundries is therefore more

satisfactory, as all the types of castings

can be rapidly delivered in any numbers

required. “One day, the spare parts

business for the high-voltage current

industry will be possible for us; we have

transformer stations that are 40 or 50

years old. Some of the parts don’t even

have drawings available – production is

then only possible with the help of reverse

engineering,” explains Christen.

Daqri, a so-called ‘augmented reality’

helmet for industry, which can enormously

expand human capabilities,

should also be integrated in the process

chain at some time during this change

Removing sand at the 3-D printer: air vortices are created, potentially damaging the

molds, cores and core packages

process. “Even amateurs can service an

aircraft engine with Daqri,” enthuses

Christen. Camera-supported glasses

monitor every hand movement made

by a worker, and the helmet tells them

about any mistakes. Christen: “Then the

machines and plant will set the rhythm

– people will have to follow it.” A vision

of the future? No, the Daqri industrial

helmet is already being used at the German

company Bosch, for example.

The pitfalls of the young 3-D

printing technology

Back in the present, however, Industry

4.0 pioneer Christenguss is still grappling

with the vagaries of the young

3-D printing technology. “Many have

missed the boat regarding Industry

4.0. We also started from the bottom

up. One can only try out things

when one actually has the technology

in the works,” Florian Christen has

learnt. The 3-D printer is hidden away

at Christenguss behind a smart yellow

roller gate. The molds, cores and art

works are printed in a 1,800 X 1,000

X 700 mm³ box layer-by-layer with

molding sand – sometimes they manage

seven boxes a week, sometimes

only two. Just now, the sand is being

removed from a core (about one me-

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 35


Collection of molds and cores printed on the 3-D printer. They are ready for further processing

ter tall, one meter wide and two meters

long) with a kind of vacuum cleaner.

“Our biggest problem is that the removal

of sand generates sand-carrying

air vortices. Then it only takes a

few seconds for a few millimeters of

the molding sand of the printed part

to be removed, because these air vortices

can be extremely abrasive,” Christen

points out. The result: if the removal

of the sand does not work out, a

core package must be separately printed

again and glued into the mold. The

advantage of the printer – being able

to generate the most complex of structures

– cannot then be fully exploited.

And the 3-D printer producer’s readiness

to help solve this problem has its

limits. Christen is also critical about

their sales policy: raw materials and

other consumables must be purchased

directly from the producer – giving it a

monopoly and thus a lot of additional

business. “This is not a free-market

economy,” complains Christen. In addition,

the printer sand is still offered

with furan binders instead of with environmentally

neutral inorganic binding

agents. “The chemistry involved

must become more environmentally

friendly – but please, not by means

of a new plant but with an upgrade,”

hopes the father of two children, aged

one-and-a-half and three-and-a-half.

The manager believes that production

should be as sustainable and environmentally

friendly as possible –

not just because he is thinking about

his children’s future. Although he does

admit that certain emissions are inevitable

when casting, due to the incineration

process. “But if one can succeed

in increasing the hit rate per produced

part to approaching 100 % (so that one

does not have to make anything twice

and thus does not waste resources unnecessarily)

that is sustainable production

in my opinion,” he explains his

attitude, and adds: “until one day, perhaps,

a revolution will also take place

in the melting process.”

High-tech leads to change in


With his wealth of ideas, Florian Christen

fits in well with the overall image

of an intact, innovative and future-enabled

Switzerland – despite all its problems.

Like Germany Switzerland has

meanwhile also decided on its own energy

transition with an approval rate

of 58 %. According to Christen, numerous

new innovative start-ups are under

starter’s orders in the field of renewable

energies, and are ready to expand the

country’s energy industry. Switzerland’s

direct form of democracy (with

many referendums) also has its drawbacks,

as the referendum to restrict the

free movement of foreigners showed.

The consequence: the shortage of engineers

that is also a problem in Switzerland

will simply worsen.

The vision of a high-tech foundry of

a completely new kind, which Christen

is working to achieve, also fits well

into the picture of modern Switzerland.

But the external image must be

right, which is why Florian Christen

is simultaneously working with the

award-winning Rheintal-based Agentur

am Flughafen to improve the company’s

image. “One needs the right image

if one wants to do high-tech,” he

is convinced. The reaction of his employees

shows that the concept works:

“They enjoy the technology and it

blows away the cliché of foundries as

a dirty old industry,” Works Manager

Milot Shala has observed. Increasing

automation in the foundry sector thus

kills two birds with one stone, improving

both competitiveness and image!


36 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017



Economical blasting technology for high demands

More and more emphasis is placed on

surfaces. Economic concepts for the

blasting of heavily stressed surfaces are

required. AGTOS presented its technology

for the first time at the trade

fair Agritechnica in November 2017 in

Hanover, Germany.

The manufacturer from Emsdetten,

Germany, provides almost all types of

shot blasting machines. The robust design

with good maintenance possibilities

characterizes the machines. In addition,

used blasting machines are offered,

which can be modernized in a technically

perfect condition and tailored to

customer requirements. A comprehensive

service program completes the service


As an exhibit, an AGTOS high-performance

turbine was on display. It stood

as an example for a whole series of

smaller and larger sizes and versions. Interested

visitors were shown the advantages

of the tried and tested AGTOS shot

blasting machines. High performance,

economical operation and good accessibility

in the event of maintenance are

the most important criteria here.


AGTOS-Continuous overhead rail shot

blast machine for the blasting of welded

construction before the powder coating

(Photo: AGTOS)

Demonstrate your expertise with professional reprints

Take advantage of the excellent reputation of CP+T

Casting, Plant and Technology International

Please contact us for further information

Gabriele Wald

Phone: +49 211 6707- 527


Giesserei-Verlag GmbH

Sohnstraße 65 · 40237 Düsseldorf, Germany · www.cpt-international.com

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 37


600 exhibitors and 12,000 trade visitors are expected at EUROGUSS 2018. The three exhibition halls are now fully booked

(Photo: NürnbergMesse)


International die casting trade fair is fully booked

EUROGUSS will take place at the

Exhibition Centre Nuremberg, Germany,

from 16 to 18 January 2018. With

around 600 exhibitors and more than

12,000 visitors expected, it’s the leading

trade fair for the entire die casting

supply chain, from raw materials

through technologies and processes to

finished products. An attractive supporting

programme featuring the International

German Die Casting Congress,

a finishing technology pavilion,

practical workshops and awards ceremonies

for die-casting competitions

for aluminium, zinc, and for the first

time, magnesium, make EUROGUSS

the No. 1 gathering for the European


Vibration machines and conveying technology

Project planning – Manufacturing - Service

www.convitec.net · 069 / 84 84 89 7- 0

die casting industry. The Nuremberg

trade fair experts are also involved in

other die casting events worldwide in

2018: at China Diecasting from 18 to

20 July in Shanghai, China, at Fundiexpo

in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the

first time from 24 to 26 October, and

at Alucast in Delhi, India, from 6 to 8


“The preparations for EUROGUSS

are going really well,’’ says a delighted

Christopher Boss, Exhibition Director

at NürnbergMesse.”Around 600 exhibitors

– more than ever before – have

registered for the event. Many exhibitors

have chosen to have larger stands

than they did at the last event. Naturally,

all the market leaders will be out

in force again, but we also have new exhibitors

on board. Every last square

metre of the three exhibition halls has

been booked, so we are absolutely full.

This shows just how important die

casting is for lightweight construction.”

More than half of EUROGUSS exhibitors

are international. After Germany,

the biggest exhibiting nation is Italy,

followed by Turkey, Switzerland,

Austria and Spain. Around 38 % of the

exhibitors are die casting foundries.

The remaining exhibitors will be showcasing

die casting technology like machines,

peripheral equipment, furnaces,

molds, metals, alloys, release agents

and operating materials. There will

also be displays covering the after-treatment

of castings, hardening

and surface technology, quality management,

control and drive technology,

rapid prototyping and software.


38 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017


New opening in Ulm

Since 1972, the international company

IECI Srl, headquartered in Brescia, Italy,

has been manufacturing machines and

systems for mold thermoregulation.

With its new branch, “IECI GmbH”

in Ulm, Germany, IECI is now able to

offer its products and services directly

to the German die-casting industry.

The new premises of the branch offer

optimal accessibility and a fast on-site

service all over Germany. Here, qualified

technicians, spare parts, machines

for prompt delivery, as well as a workshop

for maintenance work and repairs,

are available to the customers.

The company IECI is specialized in

the production of pressurized water

and oil thermoregulators, multizone

water distribution systems, quenching

tanks with indirect heat exchange, tailor-made

insulated systems for the

connection of thermoregulator and

die-casting molds, systems for rapid

mold exchange and stations for the

preheating of molds even with the application

of high temperature pressurized


An important innovation is the remote

monitoring system (IIOT), which

can check the correct functioning of

the thermoregulator and perform a

predictive diagnosis of possible anomalies

via Wi-Fi. In case of implementation

of this technology, the customer

is guaranteed an extension of the warranty

period to 4 years.

IECI is an innovative company constantly

looking for solutions to improve

the performance of its products.

Particularly noteworthy is the flow

control by means of an inverter on the

circulating pump. The software detects

the difference in temperature between

the supply and the return from the

mold and varies the speed of the pump

in order to keep the temperature difference

within a predetermined temperature

interval. This ensures the best possible

performance and trouble-free

operation of the pump. The system is

called “adaptive”, because it automatically

adapts itself to all types of systems

and molds.

IECI Srl, which manufactures

its temperature

control equipment in

Breschia, Italy, now also

operates in Ulm with a

workshop, a spare parts

technicians (Photo: IECI)

Additional important features of

IECI’s high temperature water themoregulators

are: the forced pressurization

circuit controlled by expansion

vases with air cushions, the heating

system with PID controller, the externally

mounted heating elements

(IHCS, IECI patent) without contact

with the water, the proportional

3-way cooling system and the innovative



Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 39



PTC has created the new facility at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre in

Lucknow (Photo: Cti)

Castings Technology International (Cti)

has helped pioneering Indian foundry

group, PTC Industries, Lucknow, India,

launch the Asian subcontinent’s first

ever Titanium casting facility.

PTC has created the new facility at its

Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Centre in Lucknow in response to demand

from customers at home and

abroad and with backing from the Indian

government’s ‘Make in India’

campaign. The development is the latest

fruits of a long-standing relationship

with Cti which operates its European

centre of excellence providing

independent R&D, technical support

and consultancy services to the castings

and metal related industries.

PTC’s managing director, Sachin Agarwal,

said: “Our company has been

growing at an extraordinary pace and

is determined to meet the future needs

of a rapidly evolving global industry as

well as the growing Indian economy.

“With Cti’s help we are building on our

existing technological strengths and

have been able to rapidly adapt and respond

to the demand for the Titanium

castings which our clients require.”

Cti, based on the Advanced Manufacturing

Park at Catcliffe, near Sheffield,

helped PTC design and equip its

Titanium facility, which will produce

high integrity castings for safety critical

applications, including valves for

the US and European oil and gas sector.

Cti foundry process consultant James

Collins, who recently returned from

assisting with PTC’s first Titanium cast,

said: “We have been delighted to be

able to use our expertise in designing

new foundries, Titanium casting and

providing on-site support to help a

technically advanced client like PTC to

add an important new capability.”

Cti advised on the acquisition and

installation of PTC’s consumable electrode

VAR Titanium melting furnace,

which has the capacity to deliver just

over 60 kg, both statically and centrifugally.

The organisation helped PTC

overcome the challenge of converting

the furnace, originally designed to run

on a US mains supply, to Indian specifications

with the capability to be powered

by a generator. Cti also advised on

pre and post-cast operations, provided

training and commissioning services,

made sample parts and carried out trials

of Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIPping)

equipment, which is essential for processing

Titanium castings. As a result,

PTC has not only become the first Indian

foundry to make a Titanium casting,

it also has India’s sole HIPping facility,

with the capability to process

castings up to 1.2 m in diameter, far

larger than those it can currently make

using its furnace.

As much as half the cost of a Titanium

casting can be in the finishing, so

PTC could acquire larger castings for

the Indian market from suppliers such

as Cti and add significant value to

them in country.



Plant modernization in the metal industry

“Virtual commissioning” provides the

possibility of testing and verifying the

perfect functioning of automation systems

and optimizing controls and process

steps before the “real” commissioning

takes place in the metal industry. Various

successfully accomplished projects at the

Gienanth iron foundry in Eisenberg, Germany,

have demonstrated that commissioning

times can be markedly reduced by

simulating the equipment and functions

beforehand – in a “digital factory”.

In modernization or rebuilding projects,

every single day counts. Once a

plant has been taken out of operation

for a rebuilding measure, everything

possible is done to bring it back on

stream as fast and smoothly as possible.

One is frequently presented with the

situation that the time left for commissioning

the electrical equipment is only

40 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

When production is restarted, many processes and sequences have already been tested

(Photo: Küttner)

very short due to unforeseeable delays

occurring during the installation of the

mechanical equipment. Against this

backdrop, the success of a revamping

project largely depends on how quickly

and reliably the hardware and control

software can be tested and optimized.

In numerous projects, Küttner Automation

– the company within the

Küttner group specialized in automation

systems – has made it possible to

reduce commissioning times and accelerate

ramp-ups by applying the approach

of “virtual commissioning”.

The process is based on the creation of

a testing environment in which all mechanical,

hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical

components of the control systems

are connected into a “digital factory”.

This simulation scenario allows processes

to be optimized and faults in the functional

sequence to be identified and corrected

beforehand, i.e. prior to the

installation on site. The result: all automation

sequences have been tested and

approved before the new plant goes live.

The control equipment is commissioned

in a virtual environment at a

very early stage of the project – in parallel

with the manufacture and assembly

of the machinery. This means no

testing and fine-tuning of the control

software under time pressure as is very

often the case when these activities

take place during the “real” commissioning.

Therefore the commissioning

activities on site can concentrate on

the signal and field level. Moreover,

the virtual approach often results in a

shorter ramp-up phase, as there will be

fewer failures and plant standstills.

Friedhelm Bösche, Head of Software

Development at Küttner Automation in

Trier, always offers virtual commissioning

as an option for modernization projects.

“Simulating the preliminary commissioning

involves some effort in the

beginning. But this pays off later on in

the form of major time savings. We

know from a great number of projects

that the time needed to commission the

real systems can be cut by up to 75 %

when the software has been pre-tested

in a virtual commissioning scenario.”

Küttner has recently revamped various

facilities at the Gienanth foundry in

Eisenberg, Germany, among others a

sand preparation plant. For this project,

Küttner Automation supplied the automation

systems, including pre-testing in

a virtual commissioning environment.

Roland Walter, Project Manager at

Gienanth, summarizes the project: “We

met all deadlines, although we only had

two weeks’ time for the commissioning.

The virtual commissioning had made us

confident at a very early stage of the project

that the processes would run as desired.

Our production staff were given the opportunity

to give their input and test the sequences

beforehand. This has greatly contributed

to a fast commissioning process.”


Visit us at


Hall 7, Booth 336



Power clamping nut ESB - simple, fast clamping of consistently large parts

Often when clamping,

there is not enough space

to put on a long lever, thus

there has to be bought expensive

special tools, often

only for single cases. A simpler

and cheaper solution

for such cases has come up

with the German company

Enemac, Kleinwallstadt.

The power clamping nut

ESB, with its integrated

planetary gear that can be

The power clamping nuts can

be used at any time, whether

as original part or as a retro-

driven by a small nut outside

the housing, easily and without

much effort, so that the

internal thread is a bit retracted,

thus the counterpart is

tightened. The principle is

simple, the effect is very large,

because by this concept a

force of 6-20 t can manually

be achieved by each worker.

Screw the power clamping

nut on the existing bolt, then

rotate at the top mounted nut

with a standard torque wrench,

in individual cases even with a

normal socket wrench, until

the specified tightening torque

and the power clamping nut

securely and fast tightens your

work piece or tool.

The series ESB is intended

for consistently large work

pieces or tools, since the depth

of screw is limited by the blind

hole. The model obtainable

for thread of M12 to M64, also

available with special threads

on request. For power clamping

nuts that are exposed to

extreme heat, there is a high

temperature version available,

which can be used for example

in foundries or ceramics manufacture.



Molding material preparation for Turkish foundry

In recent years, Eirich, Hardheim, Germany,

has been able to deliver several

molding material preparation systems

to Turkey. As well as improving

the quality of the cast parts, this also

helps to increase plant availability

thanks to the comparatively low wear

on the mixing tools. Kutes Metal Sanayi

ve Tic. A.S. has now also decided

to opt for an Eirich molding material

preparation system for its new production

line in Çorlu.

Clay-bonded molding material is

used primarily in the production of

cast parts. There are a large number of

parameters that impact on its suitability

for use, including compactability,

gas permeability and green strength.

Only the use of optimized molding

material can ensure fault-free cast

parts. This means that the preparation

of the molding material plays a central

role in the process.

In this preparation process, sand (return

sand and new sand) is mixed with

bonding clay (such as bentonite), additives

(such as coal dust, pitch or bitumen

products) and water. Through the

addition of water, the bentonite swells

up and exhibits adhesive strength. The

water content has a large impact on the

plasticity and therefore the compactability;

it is absolutely essential that uniform

water distribution is achieved

throughout the molding material. This

is why the molding material mixer

plays such a crucial role in determining

the quality of the preparation process.

In recent decades, the Eirich mixer,

which is available in different sizes,

has established itself as the best unit

for this purpose; thanks to the design

and properties of the system, it is ensured

that optimum quality of the mix

is achieved every time, thus ensuring a

reproducible molding material quality

that meets the highest quality demands.

Another advantage is the fact

that Eirich offers complete molding

sand preparation systems for foundries

of all sizes – small, medium and large,

and no matter whether for the production

of just 5 t/h or more than 500 t/h.

Molding materials consist largely of

natural raw materials. The properties

of these materials can fluctuate, and

likewise the return sand from the caster

is not generally uniform. This is why

Eirich sand mixer type RV24 with a volume

of 3000 l for 78 m3 molding sand

per hour (Photo: Eirich)

Eirich has developed an online tester

for production control and monitoring.

This device, which is called the

QualiMaster AT1, automatically takes

samples from every mixture of molding

sand and then determines the controlled

variables ‘compactability’ and

‘shear strength’ for each sample. The

values are supplied to the process control

system, which then adjusts the addition

of additives and water as required.

This ensures that the required

molding material properties are very

uniform and reproducible.

42 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

The scope of delivery for Kutes Metal includes the molding

sand mixer, scales for weighing return sand, additives and

water, as well as a molding sand aerator, which ensures better

sand distribution in the molding box, higher compactability

on the molding machine and, as a result, improved

casting quality with reduced aftertreatment costs. The control

technology for the system will also be supplied by Eirich.



Economical Surface Technology

At the EUROGUSS exhibition, which takes place in Nuremberg,

Germany, from 16 to 18 January 2018, AGTOS, Emsdetten,

Germany, will be showing how aluminum work pieces

are deburred and provided with the right surface finish.

The focus is on process-reliable and economical operations.

Visitors will see a rubber belt tumble blast machine, type

MG 0090.

The surface treatment of aluminum workpieces is becoming

increasingly demanding. Therefore, it is a focal point in

the development of new blast machines at AGTOS. For example,

special wire mesh conveyor shot blast machines have

been developed for processing sensitive (die-cast) parts.

There are also new solutions for other aluminum workpieces,

including special blasting machines that use aluminum

as a blasting abrasive.

An important topic when investing in shot blast machines

is, in addition to the acquisition costs, the operating costs.

They are heavily influenced by the spare and wear parts. On

the one hand, material variations and quality play a role here.

Costs can be saved in this area. In addition, the accessibility

to the machine and the ease of installation are decisively.

Service starts at AGTOS during consultation and does not

end for maintenance and repair work. Exhibition visitors are

invited to convince themselves in personal discussions or in

advance on the company’s


Increasing the performance

of existing blasting

machines, which is

achieved for example

by retrofitting with better

turbines, is also part

of the performance program



your profit

with 3D printed

cores & molds.

Our experts

will be pleased

to advise you!


The exhibit: AGTOS-Rubber

belt tumble blast

machine (Photo: AGTOS)

Daimlerstr. 22 • 86368 Gersthofen

+49 (0) 821 650 630

ExOne.com • europe@exone.com


Ceramic products

4 pages, English

An outline of the range of products and activities of hofmann CERAMIC. The company

including made-to-measure solutions, and provides specialist consulting to foundries.


Molten metal transfer

8 pages, English

This brochure provides an overview of ladle lining and metal transfer solutions offered

by Foseco. It sets out the range of high-technology lining systems, including preformed

ladle lining, castable lining material, refractory bricks and mouldable or rammed refrac-


Rotary drum furnace

2 pages, English

A fact sheet about the rotary drum furnace, type DKO, offered by Jasper. This tiltable

sample-melting furnace has a capacity of 1,000 kg of liquid aluminium. It provides precise

analyses of the scrap composition and the aluminium content in the scrap.


8 pages, English, German


single solutions and mixtures. Also organic custom mixtures can be conveniently

ordered on the web shop platform.


44 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017

Refractory gunning systems

20 pages, English, German

A brochure describing the range of refractory gunning systems supplied by Velco, such

as general-purpose gunning machines and pressure vessel gunning machines, ladle

gunning installations, gunning manipulators, spraying machines, centrifugal machines,

mixing and pressure conveying machines.


Three-platen die casting machines

8 pages, English and seven other languages

A product brochure featuring the IPR series of three-platen die casting machines

offered by Italpresse Industrie. All key technical data of the various models are given

in tabular form. In addition, detailed descriptions and illustrations are provided of the

platens, the closing end and the shot end.


Vibration conveyors

4 pages, English

A brochure summarizing the technical features of vibration conveying machines supplied

by JML. Key technical data are provided of the VRMA magnetic vibrating feeder

dust-free conveying tasks.


Engineered valves

24 pages, English

A comprehensive brochure setting out the range of high-integrity valves for critical

applications engineered by IMI TH Jansen. Valve types include hot blast valves, goggle

special customized designs.


Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 45


Fairs and Congresses

IFEX 2018

January, 10-12, 2018, Ahmedabad/India



January, 16-18, 2018, Nuremberg/Germany


18th International German Die Casting Congress

January, 16-18, 2018, Nuremberg/Germany


3rd Int. VDI Congress „Casting Chassis and Bodywork”

February, 21-22, 2018, Esslingen/Germany


NADCA’S Die Casting Executive Conference

February, 25-28, 2018, Key West/USA



March, 4-6, 2018, Guangzhou/China


Advertisers´ Index

AGTOS Ges. für technische

Bühler AG - Die Casting 2


Regloplas AG 17

46 Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017


Preview of the next issue

Publication date: March 2018

Clay Guillory (center), CEO of Titan

Robotics, Colorado Springs, USA,

with NFL engineers and staff

(Photo: Titan Robotics)

Selection of topics:

Maddie Garrett: Titan Robotics brings large-format 3-D printing to foundry in West Africa

One of the largest foundries in West Africa is driving innovation and economic growth in the region by utilizing a Titan

Robotics’ large-format 3-D printer, the Atlas. The application is using 3-D printing to create patterns for metal casting.

Evaluation of intralogistic energy saving measures with a material flow simulator and an included thermodynamic

model of the melting furnaces.

Using computational fluid dynamics to evaluate filter print designs and thereby determining best practice application

techniques for the iron foundry industry.



German Foundry Association

Editor in Chief:

Michael Franken M.A.


Robert Piterek M.A.

Editorial Assistant:

Ruth Frangenberg-Wolter

P.O. Box 10 51 44

D-40042 Düsseldorf

Telephone: +49 211 6871-358

Telefax: +49 211 6871-365

E-mail: redaktion@bdguss.de

Published by:

Giesserei-Verlag GmbH

P.O. Box 10 25 32

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Telephone: +49 211 6707-0

Telefax: +49 211 6707-597

E-Mail: cpt@stahleisen.de

Managing Director:

Frank Toscha

Advertising Manager:

Katrin Küchler


Gabriele Wald

Production Manager:

Burkhard Starkulla


Mike Reschke

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ISSN 0935-7262

Casting Plant & Technology 4 / 2017 47

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