Light Metal Casting
Electric Mobility Offers Opportunities for Light Metal Casting
The automotive industry is showing a strong trend towards electromobility. The use of light metal castings will also increase significantly with the market penetration of electric cars, claims Striko Westofen, manufacturer of thermal process technology for the light metal casting industry.
Not only the automotive industry, but also its suppliers are currently undergoing structural changes. The topic of electromobility is becoming increasingly important. Undoubtedly, the e-vehicle industry will experience an enormous upswing by 2025 at the latest. This development opens up new opportunities for the light metal casting industry: In order to be able to offer longer ranges and cheaper batteries for electric vehicles, weight reductions are required — and thus lighter components. In this area, aluminium casting is directly competing with alternative production processes and materials. Its competitiveness is therefore defined by the cost per cast.
Plant Manufacturers Influence Costs-Per-Cast
In the conventional aluminium casting production process, about 65 % of all costs are attributable to the metal used, whereby the loss of metal in the foundry is already taken into account. A further 15 % is caused by the energy consumed, half of which is used in the melting process and half of which is used to keep the melt warm. Personnel costs also account for around 15 % of the total costs, plus five percent of the investment costs for the plants themselves. Plant manufacturers therefore have a decisive influence on the costs per cast. “If we want to be among the of this structural change, it is up to us to provide appropriate solutions," Rudi Riedel is certain. The managing director of Striko Westofen, manufacturer of thermal process technology based in Gummersbach, defines a number of factors: User-friendly, low-maintenance and energy-efficient products, automation solutions, detailed advice on the overall plant design and process optimization, fast RoI and a strong international presence with consistent service and product quality — these are just a few of the areas in which the plant manufacturer is responsible to act.
Future-Oriented Technology Available Today
In order to produce light metal castings economically and in a high quality, an "all-in-one" system is essential. The focus thereby is on melting and dosing as well as on heat treatment. The concept of Striko Westofen aims to guarantee a high availability of the entire process, and also to take the optimization of individual process steps into consideration. For the melting sector, this means an increase in metal yield. The company relies on targeted temperature and flow control, state-of-the-art burner technologies and minimized excess air. The manufacturer also optimizes the energy efficiency of its Striko Melter melting furnaces by using waste heat. In addition to dosing accuracy and process reliability, the topics of metal yield and energy efficiency are also at the forefront. The corresponding products — such as the Westomat dosing furnace or the Schnorkle melt transport system — are therefore designed in the form of closed systems in which the melt is removed below the surface of the melt.
Components Made of Cast Aluminium or Magnesium Must Remain Affordable
During the production of cast aluminium parts for electric cars, special attention is also paid to the final heat treatment. The starting point for Striko Westofen is the holistic view of the process. Therefore, all necessary steps can be precisely coordinated. Progressive automation of all processes is intended to ensure that capacities are used optimally at all times, thus saving time, energy and manpower. Affordability remains the most important argument. “As long as components made of cast aluminum or magnesium are not only convincing in terms of quality but also remain affordable, we see strong growth in electromobility as an opportunity rather than a threat,” Riedel sums up. The company recently expressed their optimism: an electrically powered company car is now parked on the courtyard of the Gummersbach headquarters at its charging station.
This article was first published by konstruktionspraxis.
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