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Refining the process: MAT Dalian creates superb automotive castings

MAT Dalian Auto Parts Co Ltd is a state-of-the-art foundry and machine shop run by MAT Foundry Group. It was purpose-built in 2012 on a 37,000m2 site in the city of Dalian, in Liaoning Province, China. For more than ten years, a two-line Complete Foundry solution from DISA and Wheelabrator’s CT3 shot blasting equipment has helped MAT Dalian deliver consistently excellent castings. MAT Foundry Group Ltd is one of the largest auto part manufacturers in the world. It operates seven state-of-the-art foundries and eleven machining and assembly facilities on three continents.
MAT Dalian produces automotive parts such as brake discs, calipers, and brackets, and hydraulic valves and pumps, with casting weights ranging from 0.5kg to 25kg. As well as its two moulding lines, it can machine up to five million brake discs annually using state-of-the-art CNC equipment and offers in-line coating and packing developed specifically for brake discs.
“In the Chinese automotive industry, around 30 per cent of the total parts are castings and the annual demand is about ten million tons nationwide,” says Mr Liu Kai, general manager of MAT Dalian. “It’s a very promising industry with huge potential.”


High speed production with scrap below one per cent

In 2011, MAT Dalian purchased and installed a two-line DISA Complete Foundry solution, comprising DISAMATIC 230-X vertical moulding lines, DISACOOL cooling drums and Wheelabrator CT3 shot blast machines. One line is used to produce grey iron brake discs and the other is for ductile iron components, with a combined annual production capacity of about 60,000 tons.
“These lines have been running well for more than a decade,” says Liu Kai. “They are very well suited to producing auto parts and we are very satisfied with their performance and high uptime. The average scrap rate of our brake discs is below one per cent.”
All castings pass through Wheelabrator continuous through-feed Tumblast (CT) machines for desanding and cleaning. The CT’s design ensures all parts of a casting are evenly blasted while cooling both castings and sand.
Offering high capacity and throughput speeds, its barrel rotation speed and abrasive throughput are electronically controlled so it can adapt automatically to any fluctuation in line speeds to maintain a continuous production flow. MAT Dalian produces many different types of brake discs, both solid and ventilated. These must be processed separately and the CT copes easily with the demands of these shorter runs.
“The CT is exactly the right machine for cleaning brake discs,” says Liu Kai. “Brake discs are relatively flat structures and the CT ensures the inner surface is completely clean. It’s reliable and predictable high quality is vital as we supply many top automotive plants. The CT process is also very stable, fast and efficient and it can easily keep up with the high volume production of our DISAMATIC moulding lines.”

A consistently superb surface finish

“The surface finish of our castings is very smooth with almost no bumps. That reliable high quality is one of the big advantages of the CT, and it’s the main reason we chose it. Bumps are very, very few, almost zero, and this cuts our costs significantly.”
There are other benefits from this fast, economical surface finishing method. Shot blasting with the CT machines ensures that all MAT Dalian’s foundry returns are very clean and can be re-melted as scrap without any issues.
“Some argue that you shouldn’t blast scrap like the gating system that will just be remelted, but that is a false economy,” says Liu Kai. “Remelting a clean gating system means the electric furnace will consume less energy and only produce a small amount of slag. The operators will use less slag remover and need less force to remove slag. On the other hand, if you produce a lot of slag then more will remain in the liquid iron and end up in the castings, which will increase your scrap rate.”
Reliability is also excellent: the overall uptime rate of the machines is around 99 per cent, aided by MAT Dalian using only original spare parts for servicing. The support from DISA and Wheelabrator’s global service network is equally dependable. As well as a 24/7 DISA hotline, there’s also an annual service agreement with DISA that guarantees a response within 24 hours. Both DISA and Wheelabrator’s engineers will arrive rapidly on site if necessary.
“We have our own professional maintenance team with experienced electrical, mechanical and hydraulic engineers and technicians,” says Liu Kai. “We have built up our own experience, with DISA’s and Wheelabrator’s aftermarket teams giving us a lot of guidance and technical instruction. That’s helped us to fully understand the operating principles and internal structure of this equipment, which has helped us optimise our daily basic maintenance routines too.”

Fast, efficient and clean, with the lowest operating costs

An entire line can be run by two or three operators, far fewer than lines from other suppliers in China that can require ten or more personnel. With high availability and minimal labour costs, overall operating costs have been consistently low.
“Of course, we do add extra steel shot and replace wear parts on the CT,” continues Liu Kai, “but, rather than the cost of the parts or consumables, you need to look at the overall operating cost per ton of processed castings – and that is actually extremely low. Our experience in operating the CT has really helped too, for example, we have cut shot consumption by 80 per cent over the last decade.”
MAT Dalian’s factory was expertly planned from the start to offer a clean, safe and pleasant working environment. The entire production line is equipped with dust extractors that feed eleven large outdoor dust collectors. These capture any dust produced, from sand mixing to quality control. Dust cloth bags are changed annually to ensure maximum suction.
“The Wheelabrator CT3 gives you a very efficient and economic shot blasting method to produce car calipers, brackets, and brake discs,” says Liu Kai. “We will stick with this CT blast machine and, if a new factory is built in the future, I will support using DISA and CT machines there too.”

Check out the machine at:

https://www.wheelabratorgroup.com/en-in/whats-new/wheelabrator-news/mat-dalian-ct

DISA, a Norican Group technology, develops and manufactures a complete range of metal casting production solutions for greensand foundries.
The company’s moulding product range, comprises vertical (DISAMATIC®), match plate (DISA MATCH) and horizontal (DISA FLEX). DISA also provides complete, integrated foundry lines which, in addition to moulding technology, includes complete sand plants, sand mixers, conveyor systems and cooling drums.
DISA also offers its Monitizer® Industry 4.0 solutions, developed in partnership with Norican Digital Lab, that support the whole digital journey from data collection to AI-driven casting quality optimisation. Monitizer works in all types of foundries and processes, and with any vendor equipment.
www.disagroup.com

Wheelabrator, part of Norican Group, is one of the world’s leading providers of surface preparation technology. It develops and manufactures a complete range of airblast and wheelblast equipment, and shot peening solutions including continuous and batch hanger type (HT/HB) and Tumblast (DTC/MB) machines and roller conveyer (RB) equipment, as well as offering subcontract shot peening services.
Wheelabrator also offers its Monitizer® Industry 4.0 solutions, developed in partnership with Norican Digital Lab, that combine data collection and analytics to reduce abrasive consumption, energy use and unplanned downtime.
Operating from service centres across four continents, Wheelabrator provides 15,000 active customers in over 100 countries with state-of-the-art parts preparation technology with comprehensive aftermarket and service support over the entire product lifetime. www.wheelabratorgroup.com