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Success for lightweight engine block

The flagship Component of the Year Award at the Cast Metals Industry Dinner in the UK went to Grainger & Worrall Ltd for the company’s engine block development for the Ford US pickup truck, the first CGI petrol production engine in the world.
G&W received the recognition for the component in front of 160 peers at the sell-out dinner in November which celebrates the ‘Best of British Casting’.
In 2010 Grainger & Worrall was approached by Ford in the US to prototype an ‘all new’ cylinder block concept for a super lightweight iron block for its F150 best-selling pickup truck. This would require taking the F150 engine block and trimming it down from the 5.4 litre V8 to a 2.7 litre V6 and was clearly a massive statement of intent by Ford to reduce its CO2 emissions. At its heart was to be the first ever compacted graphite iron block for a production petrol engine, code named the Nano.
Delivering all aspects from concept through simulation, tooling and manufacturing, G&W delivered an iron block that was considerably lighter and smaller with an architecture of thin walls (down to 3mm) and a skeleton like structure, maximising on the properties of CGI. The block is further characterised by cast-in main bearings, that are then machined and fractured along the centreline to form the two halves for the crankshaft. The two fracture faces are then reassembled for the perfect fit avoiding the need for cross bolting. The company also developed, optimised and then transferred high yield production methods and know-how to the nominated high volume producer. 
The vehicle was launched to the world with great acclaim at the 2014 Society of Automotive Engineers Show in Detroit and the project has helped G&W remain at the forefront of CGI developments in engine castings, has demonstrated the continued competitiveness of cast iron for engine blocks as well as showcasing the capabilities of the UK foundry industry.
The other shortlisted companies in this award category were PMS Diecasting and United Cast Bar.

Company Achievement Award
The Company Achievement Award went to Thomas Dudley Ltd for success in turning round the company, investing for success and considerable educational and development activity. 
A family-owned and managed business, the foundry division of Thomas Dudley Ltd has made phenomenal strides over the last 18 months, investing in its people, equipment and facilities. Faced with a sustained downturn, due principally to cheap imports of low value and low quality parts, the company drew up a strategy for recovery and growth. 
Over £7million has been spent by the company since 2010 to equip the foundry with world-class manufacturing capabilities including two new Disa lines, a new quality suite and a new advanced centre of engineering for patternmaking, coremaking and 3D scanning and printing. 
Named Business of the Year in the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards 2013, the business has achieved record turnover this year and has now returned to profitability. 
The commitment to its people and the wider community continues. It has helped set up the ground-breaking foundry apprenticeship training scheme with the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and other partners; has a Careers in the Classroom initiative in conjunction with Dudley College; opened a visitor centre to help showcase foundries as part of the manufacturing supply chain and promote careers in the foundry industry, and has become a sponsor of Black Country Living Museum's Schools Membership Scheme, all in the last 12 months. 
The other companies shortlisted in this category were Grainger & Worrall and Alucast.

Innovation Award
The 2014 Innovation Award was won by Blayson Olefines Ltd for research and development of a new investment casting wax with greatly reduced thermal hysteresis.
Within the investment casting process, the dimensional accuracy of wax patterns is fundamental, yet up to the present time little has been understood regarding the impact of raw materials and the effect they have on wax patterns through wax thermal hysteresis. 
Blayson Olefines set out to fill this knowledge gap with an innovative approach to formulating and testing the wax materials. This resulted in the use of two-dimensional lasers which significantly reduce the distortion impact when measuring the wax; modified wax formulations reducing dimensional distortion by 30 per cent have now been developed; and the use of a wax annealing method reducing distortion by up to 90 per cent. 
This has led to the company developing a new high strength pattern wax with virtually no wax thermal hysteresis currently under test in production conditions which should significantly reduce dimensional variations in the wax patterns and lead to an improvement in the dimensional accuracy of castings.
The other companies shortlisted in this category were Grainger & Worrall and PMS Diecasting.