“International forum on advanced light material applications in the automotive industry” is the international forum on the advanced applications of light alloys in the automotive industry, organized by a net of enterprises grouped under the name “Foundry Star Alliance”. All reference leader suppliers in the die casting sector, each of them with its own specialization, allied to offer integrated solutions and automated machining isles, besides the latest trends in the automotive sector, more and more focused on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
150 the participants, coming from twenty Countries, which met in Brescia. The contest speakers, the so-called OEM: Fiat Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, Daimler, BMW, Tesla, the Chinese FAW; as well as some Tier 1 Groups and then Tier 1 suppliers of the automotive and those entrusted with the responsibility of the primary or fundamental design for the implementation of the final product: Meridian, Magna Cosma, Endurance, but also Raffmetal and Metra, with their innovations in aluminium alloys and in the steel structural works for the bodywork of various vehicles, in addition to the six partners of the Foundry Star Alliance.
The challenge is global and they have renamed it “The CO2 challenge”: from an average of 130 g/km of carbon dioxide emission, the European Community imposes a maximum level of 95 g/km within 2021. Moreover, for not-compliant ones, penalties are terrible, some thousands of Euros per car. Highly concerned Volkswagen, with the “dieselgate” in America, where, what is more, regulations are currently much more permissive and the adaptation to the new standards slower.
The two-day convention in Brescia was opened by Pietro Parona and Ruggero Zambelli from Raffmetal who presented the innovations in aluminium alloys and the latest trends, under the strong boost towards high environmental sustainability. Marcel Pfitzer from Daimler illustrated the structural aluminium castings for the bodyworks of Mercedes-Benz cars worldwide, while Mike Blow from Magna Cosma, one of the most global Groups in the supply of die castings, the demands of OEM producers to a Tier 1 supplier. The 75% of “uptime”, i.e. of availability of a die-casting machine is no longer, for instance, an acceptable percentage. Paolo Airaldi from FCA Teksid, of Carmagnola factory in Turin province, explained the strategy of Fiat Chrysler Group for the future ecologic motors and John Stokes, from Idra, the new frontiers of Industry 4.0, specifically in the die casting machine ambit, involving the integrated electronic management, too. Richard Berkmortel from Meridian, another foundry with factories worldwide and able to represent a world supplier in the automotive industry, illustrated the applications and the most recent developments for magnesium castings while Jaguar Land Rover the prospects of the next ten years in the manufacturing of bodywork components. Mario Bertoli from Metra Group the most innovative applications in extruded components for the transport industry and Felix Weber from Amag evaluated the alternatives of aluminium components produced by rolling. Werner Stärk, director of the BMW foundry at Landshut presented a significant case study concerning the “Cross car beam” of the car series 7 BMW, a product to which a good 130 kg. have been subtracted, casting die-cast in two cavities and in a magnesium alloy, with a particular optimization of the cavity filling also thanks to the use of a special camera inside the container; Hans Henrik Würtz from Stotek illustrated the superior quality achievable with dosing furnaces. With the speech by Claudio Mus, they turned to East, with a market survey of die castings in India, a rising Country (where anyway the aluminium use has not reached the levels of other nations), whereas with Hai Feng Liu of FAW, the biggest die-casting foundry in the entire China as well as autochthonous automotive company, they showed how, there, the use of magnesium castings in cars is already a consolidated reality.
Michele Tombini from Costamp illustrated some successful cases in the process development and in the solution of problems of big-size casting dies, intended for particularly complex castings. “Collaboration among machine manufacturer, die maker and caster is key to reduce down time” is what stated Jaguar Land Rover during their speech, a statement that even more justifies this strategic alliance, the Foundry Star Alliance.
Johann Emmenegger explained how the application of Fondarex vacuum can help in the production of structural castings and Bijorn Wollin the possibility offered by a more innovative die lubrication system, for instance with the application of a minimum quantity of lubricant on its surface.
Finally Sebastiano Longhi from IECI examined the advanced temperature control of the die through the analysis of its thermal drift, because we should never forget – as already underlined by Magna Cosma – : “Diecasting is a thermobased process”. Speeches ended with the report by Gianmaria Adamo from Tesla, the futuristic company that produces hybrid cars in California, (a State that pursues the ambitious target of having soon only zero-emission cars circulating), who clarified how a transition is in course, even better a world revolution towards an actually more sustainable and ecologic transport.
What is the Foundry Star Alliance?
The members of this alliance – Idra, Ieci, Costamp, Stotek, Fondarex and Wollin – have shared their specialized competences to offer integrated and automated solutions in die-casting, faced on their whole and not by single phases. Especially thanks to a very exacting main outlet market, what is precisely the automotive industry, the casting process of light alloys is evolving too quickly to allow single companies to be able to satisfy all demands and especially the continuous challenges. Within 2025, fully new car models will be in fact necessary, with radically changed operation concepts. The organization of events where it is possible to share the “STATE OF THE ART” of the sector and discuss the future prospects, is one of the aims pursued by this alliance among Italian and European companies; a net that also intends to pursue training goals, (indicated also by the numerous speakers-users of plants as one of the key factors for the good foundry running), and the supply of more and more innovative and forefront automated machining isles.