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Prizes for innovative aluminium diecastings

The winners of the International Aluminium Die-Casting Award 2020 have been announced. In all, four castings were awarded prizes at EUROGUSS 2020 in Nuremberg, while two others received special commendations.

The ninth International Aluminium Die-Casting Competition was organised by Dusseldorf-based Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie eV (GDA). It was run in partnership with the German Foundrymen’s Association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Gießerei-Industrie, BDG), the Swiss aluminium association (alu.ch) and the non-ferrous metals trade association of the Austrian Economic Chambers (Fachverband Nichteisenmetalle in der Wirtschaftskammer O¨sterreich).

Diecasting has been a successful industrial casting process for series or mass production of structural parts for decades. Diecasting foundries have become increasingly important as suppliers to the automotive sector, companies engaged in mechanical and plant engineering and other branches of industry, such as communications technology, the furniture industry and the electrical and electronics industries. The development of ever-newer die cast components is advancing rapidly. Whether it be structural elements, parts for electric cars or intelligent components for conventional vehicles, attempts are being made everywhere to make use of the outstanding options that diecasting has to offer. Together with machine manufacturers, alloy suppliers and processing companies, diecasters are constantly pushing forward the limits of the process by means of innovations. It is remarkable what innovative solutions and components have been developed.

The International Aluminium Die-Casting Competition has been a successful platform for demonstrating the high standard of quality of aluminium diecasting for many years. The aim of the competition is to increase interest in the versatile material aluminium and to highlight innovative areas of use. The criteria for evaluating the castings submitted to this year’s competition were compatibility with the diecasting process and the resource-efficiency of the design.

A jury of experts from research and practice awarded prizes to the following six entries.

1st Prize: Oil-coolant module

Hengst SE, Nordwalde, Germany
Alloy: AISi9Cu3(Fe)
Weight: 8,655g
Dimensions: (l) 443mm, (w) 340mm, (h) 195mm

The first prize is awarded for the consistent development methodology used from the design of the casting via the tool design through to the casting process, and which clearly has no taboos and is aimed at achieving optimum results. Decisive aspects were the complex geometry, with inner slides and the smallest possible demoulding drafts and low tolerances, which at the same time meets the most exacting demands for pressure tightness. The intensive tempering using all technical means available is particularly impressive.

2nd Prize: Housing for HV booster

Druckguss Westfalen GmbH & Co KG, Geseke, Germany

Alloy: EN AC-AISi10MnMg
Weight: 2,785g
Dimensions: (l) 344mm, (w) 365mm, (h) 176mm

The winner of the second prize is a diecasting with a large number of integrated functions that is subject to the most stringent sealing requirements because it has water-conducting cooling zones arranged next to zones with electricity at high voltage. Despite the thin wall thicknesses, high stiffness and dimensional accuracy were achieved using stiffening ribs. The low-copper aluminium alloy used ensures the part has high corrosion resistance and strength in the as-cast condition.

3rd Prize: Upper part of housing for dual-channel EBS

Alupress AG, Brixen, Italy
Alloy: EN AC-47100
Weight: 780g
Dimensions: (l) 193mm, (w) 98mm, (h) 98mm

The winner of third prize is a diecasting that must comply with stringent safety requirements. The aluminium diecasting has won through against injection-moulded plastic parts thanks to dimensional accuracy, with the smallest of tolerances and minimum radii, impermeability and the good finish of the as-cast sealing surface. Remarkably, the as-cast part is ready for assembly. The innovative and efficient tempering system with additively manufactured mould segments was also rated highly.

3rd Prize: Battery housing

Nemak Slovakia sro, Žiar nad Hronom, Slovakia
Alloy: AlSi9Mn (non-heat-treatable alloy)
Weight: 15,900g, Casting with extruded baseplate: 38,000g

Dimensions: (l) 1,045mm, (w) 753mm, (h) 218mm

Another third prize went to a hybrid battery housing cast on a 4,400 tonne machine using a complex 3-platen tool with four outer slides and a vacuum diecasting process. The casting is joined by friction stir welding to three extruded profiles that form the base of the housing. This provides the best possible guarantee of adherence to the stringent tightness requirements (helium tightness test). The use of a non-heat-treatable alloy eliminates the need for thermal treatment.

Special Commendation: Housing components for electric-vehicle control device

Alupress AG, Brixen, Italy
Alloy:
AISi12(Fe)a
Weight: 1,450g
Dimensions: (l) 350mm, (w) 175mm, (h) 70mm

This casting is receiving a special commendation for the savings of up to 30 per cent on installation space and weight that result from the integration of a large number of functions. The casting has an intelligent liquid cooling system with a laser-welded housing cover. From a design point of view, this meant adapting the original design and reducing the mass locally. A significant reduction in cycle time could be achieved by the use of laser welding for joining. Furthermore, the overall concept provided a cost-effective solution.

Special Commendation: String inverter

FBL Pressofusioni srl, Vobarno, Italy

Alloy: EN AC-46000
Weight: 12,000g / 7,000g
Dimensions: inner parts (2): (l) 533mm, (w) 386mm, (h) 266mm

Weight: 9,700g /9,600g
Dimensions: outer parts (2): (l) 705 x / 704mm, (w) 527 x / 527mm, (h) 150 / 150mm

A four-piece string inverter with a large number of integrated functions and mounting options for the internal electrical components also receives a special commendation. The castings are characterised by deep ribs to cool the housing. The consistent method of developing the casting system with the aim of reducing porosity or distributing it to a non-critical area is also highly commendable. 

The award-winning castings were exhibited at EUROGUSS 2020 in January.