Foundry Star Alliance Holds First International Forum on Advanced Light Metal Applications in the Automotive Industry

Riccardo Ferrario (IDRA Group) opened the First International Forum on “Advanced Light Metal Applications in the Automotive Industry” at a winery close to Brescia/Italy. On behalf of the Foundry Star Alliance (FSA) Companies, Ferrario was proud of the fact that 170 participants from more than 50 top international foundries attended.

The professional program began with the requirements of big OEMs like BMW, Daimler, FAW, FCA, JLR and Tesla, and lectures were carried out from important Tier 1 companies, alloy producers, aluminum experts and a range of foundry equipment suppliers and associations.

FSA is an independent group of leading supplier companies who decided to cooperate and combine efforts with the aim of better support within the rapid growth of the global light alloy high pressure diecasting markets.

FSA companies include IDRA, CoStamp, Fondarex, I.E.C.I., Stotek and Wollin.

The FSA vision is based on the challenging business of Industry 4.0, Foundry 4.0 and HPDC 4.0. Integration, interconnectivity, 3D diagnostic, hub system and traceability should be possible with strong cooperation, but it will be simpler with common standards and more reliability.

Due to the increased demand of cast parts of the automotive industry, the global diecasting industry is doing well. For all car segments, the proportion of aluminum and magnesium is increasing, while trucks, buses and trains seem to be planning for more lightweight parts in the future. OEMs are investing in their plants, looking for more supplier capacities, and asking for higher requirements and more flexibility to achieve new designs which contain more aluminum and magnesium usage.

Today´s limit of CO2 emission will drop from 123g/100km to 95g/100km in 2020, and to avoid strict penalties, the OEMs will have to meet the severe targets.

The history of the proportion of lightweight components during the last 45 years shows exactly the engineering reactions due to relevant factors. During the petrol crisis in the 70s the OEMs started to develop smaller and more efficient, aerodynamic cars. The light metal share was about 30 kg in a medium car, mainly in wheels, smaller engines and gear components.

Aluminum and magnesium usage increased during the 1980s up to 60 kg per car as a result of green economy duties, so cylinder heads were made of aluminium. Even more development and requirements in the 1990s, when passenger´s safety and comfort was a must, like ABS, all-wheel drive or air condition, which means more weight compensated by light weight parts up to 90 kg per car.

Today the average aluminum, magnesium weight is about 150 kg per car in a medium class car, but the weight is still about 1 ton like in the 1980s.

The forthcoming CO2 emission limit will motivate the OEMs to accomplish the legal requirements and there is a potential of more than 220 kg par car in lightweight constructions like not only wheels, engine parts and transmission, but also suspension components, body and white structural parts and seat and door frames.

Frankly speaking, the OEMs are interested in the most efficient processes and the best results and trend setting technologies. HPDC is in an excellent position, but they have to follow for instance the engine evolution from diesel gasoline engines to hybrid and full electric vehicles, with different engines and different lightweight parts.

Furthermore, plastic parts, carbon fiber elements and other aluminium technologies beside HPDC should be followed with advisable respect.

The International Forum was an excellent step in the right direction to be prepared and was advantageous for the entire diecasting industry.

The exchange of ideas, requirements and future milestones supports all participants from the production to the supply chain.