CSIRO Clayton has a suite of casting resources, both equipment and personnel, than represent a unique offering within Australian research and technology development organisations. The casting group has been developing and delivering casting technologies for over 30 years and has a strong track record of working closely with, and delivering benefits for, industry.
The challenge – Innovate or Perish
The Australian manufacturing sector faces significant challenges in their quest for sustainability in the face of cheaper imports. The casting industry has experienced gradual decline over the past 20 or so years. Recently with the announcement that all the OEM car manufacturers will close in the coming few years, casting companies have been seeking alternate industries like rail, mining, medical and aerospace. What is becoming very apparent is that casting companies cannot compete with imports of commodity products, so the industry must innovate or perish. CSIRO can help in providing technologies that will not only improve productivity but will enable companies to manufacture products that others can’t, or would find very difficult. The ultimate goal for Australian casting compaies is to produce technology intensive products.
Our response – Transformational Technologies
CSIRO has invested in developing casting technologies for many years and has a range that is ready for adoption by Australian companies that have the will to innovate. These cover casting processes like High Pressure Die Casting, Low Pressure or Permanent mould casting, Sand casting and Strip casting of sheet, in aluminium and magnesium alloys. In addition there are associated technologies related to heat treatment and a novel shear runner design (ATM) for high pressure die castings, long life die coatings for low pressure and permanent mould casting, and interrupted quench heat treatments for permanent mould castings. All of these provide immediate opportunities for Australian casting companies to improve the quality, productivity and in general acquire the capability to make technology intensive products that are superior to overseas offerings.
CSIRO has a long history of working closely with the Australian casting industry to develop solutions to meet their business needs, such as improving productivity and reducing the cost of manufacture. This has been made possible in part by the calibre of our scientists and engineers who predominantly have prior industry work experience. This capability makes it possible for our group to develop robust solutions that work in production environments. This expertise coupled with a hands on approach at clients’ facilities, backed up by a substantial body of past research and experience into casting related processes, means CSIRO has a unique capability in Australia that the casting industry can utilise.
At CSIRO Clayton there is a range of casting equipment and associated capability which includes:
Toshiba 250 tonne HPDC machine, Rimatic LPDC machine, Hunter twin roll casting machine, Rauch MDU250 mobile magnesium melting furnace, various heat treatment facilities from small to large, X-Ray fluorescence machine, hardness and tensile testing, MTS fatigue testing (250kN), creep testing, magnesium and aluminium melting furnaces, metallography preparation and microscopes.
Finally in 2015 CSIRO will be installing a 3D sand printer along with other 3D metal printers and surface coating facilities that will be made available to industry to develop new products and markets for their companies. The 3D sand printer will provide near complete design freedom for sand moulds and cores, enabling the production of complex castings that would not be possible using conventional moulding practices.
CASTvac vacuum HPDC technology.
CSIRO developed CASTvac for Nissan Australia within the CAST CRC. It is a vacuum valve and control system that provides a vacuum evacuation rate equal to the market leaders but at a reduced total cost of manufacture for the caster and with reliability unmatched by other vacuum systems.
Component life extended at lower cost
An automotive transmission component often failed prematurely in service. The problem was solved by conversion to manufacture by low pressure die casting – and production costs were cut as well.