Additive Manufacturing and Digitization are Changing the Die Casting Industry
Topics such as 3D printing, digital transformation and electromobility dominated the event Druckgusstag at the end of February in Schorndorf, Germany.
The 19th Druckgusstag (Die Casting Day) was organised by Verband Deutscher Druckgießereien (Association of German Die Casting Foundries) together with Bundesverband der Deutschen Gießerei-Industrie (Federal Association of the German Foundry Industry). The ten presentations focused on new processes, upcoming technologies and the changing economic circumstances. As one of the latest technologies Ulrich Schwab (Adolf Föhl GmbH & Co. KG) presented the nanocoating for innovative corrosion protection on zinc die cast parts. This is used, for example, in the thin-film passivation of zinc die cast parts to protect them from damage and corrosion.
Even additive manufacturing is still a rather new technology. But what role does 3D printing actually play for foundries? Georg Zwick (Voestalpine High Performance Metals Deutschland GmbH) addressed this question and presented the use of additive manufacturing for die casting moulds. By the way, Voestalpine will have invested around half a billion euros in their technology development by 2021. The preparatory work for a production facility for 3D printing metal powder has already been completed.
Marcello Fabbroni (Bühler Group) demonstrated how digital transformation can lead to greater efficiency in die casting, because "going digital...is the new normal". With cell management and smart factory clouds, Industry 4.0 could be implemented customer-specifically in foundries. Bühler Group is convinced that "for the next big thing in die casting we cannot touch single components only, we have to touch the system to boost productivity”.
Ronald Radecker of Deutsche Bank AG addressed the frequently criticized electric vehicles. Electric mobility was already one of the major topics at this year's VDI Symposium in Magdeburg. It is a fact that in order to expand electromobility across the globe, particularly large sums would have to be invested in a charging infrastructure. And, above all, not enough raw materials such as cobalt and nickel would be available. The parallel technological developments of different powertrains are extremely cost-intensive for the industry, not to mention the uncertain market potential. According to Radecker, the automotive industry is facing historical challenges. In addition to increasing digitalization, Germany puts a lot of pressure on emission limits, so that customers are avoiding diesel vehicles and prefer to buy fuel-intensive SUVs. And then there are the stricter CO2 limits from Brussels, which demand approx. 37.5 % less CO2 emissions by 2030. In order to be able to meet these limits, OEMs must sell more vehicles without emissions. Former Daimler AG development director Thomas Weber, however, takes a critical view of this development as long as there is no interest in buying electric vehicles.1
Many of the changes already mentioned were taken up in the concluding lecture by Johannes Messer on the "4 Challenges in Aluminum HPDC". All challenges can be seen here exclusively in the whitepaper.
In a rapidly changing world, we are increasingly dealing with the challenges of the future. But where do die casters actually come from? Marco Beier highlighted how Oskar Frech GmbH + Co KG has become an excellent company with new paths in tool technology and is already celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
1) Tagesschau, 2018, available at https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/eu-abgas-grenzwerte-101.html.
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