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Development centre in sustainable casting for increased competitiveness for the Swedish manufacturing industry

Through a letter of intent between RISE and Volvo Cars, the Volvo Group and Scania, work has commenced on the planning of a national centre for sustainable casting for new sustainable materials, technologies and processes in the manufacturing industry.

The background to the initiative is the development that is taking place in high pressure diecasting, so called, mega-casting, which can provide tangible benefits in, for example, vehicle manufacturing. In 2023, RISE led a feasibility study together with Volvo Cars, Chalmers University of Technology and the School of Engineering at Jönköping University to investigate the possibilities and conditions for establishing a national centre for sustainable casting in Jönköping (Sweden). “This investment is crucial for the Swedish manufacturing industry to maintain its leading position in the world. The fact that industry and academia join forces with us, the Swedish research institute RISE, shows the importance for the competitiveness of Swedish companies and for the development towards a more sustainable industry,” says Malin Frenning, CEO, RISE.

Initially, the centre will focus on high pressure diecasting of light metals. High pressure diecasting enables serial production of complex components and the development towards mega-casting adds size that means that several components can be replaced by one, which can provide benefits such as increased flexibility in the design phase, a more sustainable industrial process, shorter lead times and increased opportunities for circularity on the raw material side. There are several applications in the automotive industry, but also in telecommunications, in the manufacture of handheld machines and furniture.   “The Center for Sustainable Casting at RISE will be a national strategic resource for a number of different industries. Here, companies will get help to evaluate and verify new sustainable materials, processes and products on a scientific basis,” says Pernilla Walkenström, head of the materials and production division, RISE.

Volvo Cars, the Volvo Group and Scania are three committed industrial partners who see several opportunities. Ninna Aronsson, head of vehicle platform, Volvo Cars, explained: “High pressure diecasting is a crucial manufacturing method in our ongoing transformation towards becoming a fully electric car manufacturer by 2030. Car structure in cast aluminium offers both industrial gains and efficient product development. It is also a step towards offering more sustainable products through weight savings and one hundred per cent recyclable materials. This initiative is an important investment for Swedish industry and a significant step towards Volvo Cars’ ambition of more sustainable car manufacturing.”

Erik Grönlund, director manufacturing solutions, Volvo Group, concurred: “The transformation of the truck industry continues and the focus on cost and flexibility is high. Mega-casting provides more opportunities through weight reduction, increased flexibility and also a simplified supply chain. The Center for Sustainable Casting will be important for creating sustainable solutions and also new technologies for both the Volvo Group and our suppliers.” “Scania has for many years worked closely with both the School of Engineering in Jönköping and RISE. We look forward to work in broad co-operation with Sweden’s producers and users of castings, and through this initiative, contribute to strengthening the research and education environments for a sustainable knowledge building and technology development in the field,” said Jessica Elfsberg, specialist in cast materials for heavy vehicles, Scania. The centre will also be part of strengthening the industry’s long term supply of skills through the development of various educational initiatives, from basic education to higher technical education.

“The Center for Sustainable Casting will be an important resource for society’s sustainable production. For Chalmers, it would mean an opportunity for our researchers to develop research programs and collaborate on tests in a unique environment, and we will at the same time be able to contribute to collaboration and development by making the university’s instrumentation, time and resources available,” says Lars Nyborg, professor of surface engineering and head of Chalmers’ area production.

Ingrid Wadskog, president of the School of Engineering in Jönköping is equally enthused, she said: “The School of Engineering in Jönköping has world leading research in advanced casting techniques. Together with other partners, this would be a further strengthening of our competencies in this high tech area.” RISE is Sweden’s research institute and innovation partner. Through its international collaboration programmes with industry, academia and the public sector, the competitiveness of the Swedish business community is ensured on an international level and a contribution is made to a sustainable society. Around 3,300 employees at RISE engage in and support all types of innovation processes. RISE is an independent, state owned research institute, which offers unique expertise and over 130 testbeds and demonstration environments for future proof technologies, products and services.