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Technical and scientific knowledge for the CREATIVE FOUNDRY

Editor Lynn Postle reports on the 73rd World Foundry Congress – Krakow, Poland, 23rd-27th September 2018

With over 900 delegates from 43 countries taking part in the 73rd World Foundry Congress in Krakow in September, the significance of the Polish foundry sector and its impact on the global industry was in no doubt. The level of attendance was high and the feedback positive – further proof of the stature of the event.

Throughout the five-day event at the ICE Congress Centre in Krakow, delegates were treated to 200 technical presentations, divided into 21 technical sessions, 22 scientific sessions and a young researcher’s session targeting those at an early stage of their cast metals careers, which attracted over 100 students, young researchers and practitioners.

This was supported by 180 poster sessions, 50 international supply company exhibitors, a selection of industry visits, a full social programme with dinners, cocktail parties and entertainment and plenty of networking opportunities; plus a visit to the Kielce exhibition centre for the METAL Fair.

Speaking at the opening ceremony Tadeusz Franaszek, president of the Polish Foundrymen’s Association, organisers of the event, said: “Gathered here are hard-working individuals working in one of the most beautiful of all disciplines of engineering, one which combines fundamental scientific and technical knowledge with a passion for art and beauty, a passion which finds expression in nearly every piece that comes out of the creative foundry. A discipline which is, moreover, absolutely essential to every modern state and society.”

He explained that the “honour” of hosting the World Foundry Congress in Poland was a fitting tribute in 2018 as it is the 80th anniversary of the first time Poland hosted the event in 1938 in Warsaw and Krakow, and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. The university has produced many engineers, metallurgists and founders who are well-known and respected in Poland and around the world and delegates were able to visit the university during the congress.

WFO president Mark Fenyes FICME said he too was “honoured to welcome delegates to the World Foundry Congress 2018”. He praised the “hard work and significant efforts” of the Polish Foundrymen’s Association to realise the vision of the event and to match the World Foundry Organization’s expectations. He explained that the WFO is a uniting body and the World Foundry Congress is an important part of the WFO’s commitment to bring together the global foundry industry to network and develop the industry through shared experience and information. He reminded delegates why attendance at the congress was so important: “The industry is going through profound change and with knowledge comes power for those working in our sector to make informed decisions for the future.”

Exchange of information and the ability to discover new solutions is an important part of developing an industry and continued professional development is an aspect that is fundamental in terms of meeting quality criteria to ensure a company is embracing change and progress. Those taking part in the World Foundry Congress had plenty of scope to do this.

Polish foundry industry

The Polish foundry industry currently produces over one million tonnes of castings a year, exporting around 60 per cent of these, predominantly to Germany, Italy, France, Czech Republic and the UK. The country ranks amongst the top 16 global producers of castings and eighth in Europe (fifth for aluminium castings).

There are 455 foundries of which 240 are non-ferrous, 180 are iron foundries and 35 steel foundries. They are predominantly small and medium sized enterprises, employing around 24,300 – 8,300 in non-ferrous foundries, 12,500 in iron foundries, and 3,500 in steel foundries.

During 2017 the automotive, construction and machine industries were the main customer bases.

The Polish Foundrymen’s Association also reports that from 1st July 2018 the country has been assigned as a special economic zone, which means tax exemption for up to 15 years offering a real opportunity for investment.

Living up to the reputation

Poland has also hosted the event on two other occasions – in 1965 and 1991 – with many who took part in those events still boasting of the “excellent hospitality”. Now 2018 can be hailed in the same manner, with participants relishing the opportunity for the first time at a World Foundry Congress to listen to so many technical AND scientific presentations from around the world, delivered in the same venue and offering quite simply something for everyone. The decision to hold a young researcher’s event in conjunction with the congress enabled the future of our industry to mix with giants. Chairman of the organising committee, Jozef Szczepan Suchy said this was an “especially important” aspect of the event. He explained: “The Polish foundry industry currently has great potential, it is open for investments and has a strong scientific and educational background.”

Development of electric vehicles market by 2030

Speaking at the plenary session, Dr Carsten Kuhlgatz, managing director of Hüttenes-Albertus (HA) Chemische Werke GmbH, spoke about the ‘Development of the electric vehicles market by 2030 in Germany, Europe, US and China.’

Utilising statistics from a comprehensive study by The Center of Automotive Management (CAM), an independent scientific institute at the University of Applied Sciences (FHDW) in Bergisch Gladbach, on behalf of the German Industrial Association of the Foundry Chemistry (Industrieverband Gießerei-Chemie e. V) he considered the further development of electromobility.

He explained the importance: “The development of the foundry industry is reliant on the development of electric vehicles. The market in Germany, Europe, the US and China is currently dominated by mild hybrids, which are equipped with internal combustion engines.”

He said that the great potential in India for global car sales would shape the sector but that China would still dominate. He explained that the statistics should be investigated in more depth to highlight additional opportunities. For example, Norway still leads the way for e-vehicle registrations with 39.3 per cent of total sales, whereas in China it is only 2.7 per cent but there is a greater number of sales in China and the number of e-vehicle registrations showed a 60 per cent growth rate on the previous year.

In terms of the diesel engine argument he said: “Sales of diesel engine vehicles is falling but they emit less CO2 than petrol engine cars. Also the diesel argument is only relevant in Europe, where there is a high percentage of diesel cars.”

In terms of the development of the electric vehicles market he highlighted four key factors – battery cost, range, charging infrastructure and government regulations.

He warned that in Europe battery costs are still in the range of €12,000 to €19,200 and the range suffers at high speeds. In terms of the charging infrastructure, much still has to be done as around 85 per cent of electric vehicles are currently charged on private properties with only 15 per cent charged at public locations. He said many more charging points were needed. “Germany currently has 7,200 charging points and will need 70,000 to accommodate the potential growth.”

He told delegates that he was confident that 75 per cent of vehicles will still have internal combustion engines in 2030 and that the automotive industry will continue to grow constantly at least until that time, estimating that there will be around 120 million vehicles by then compared to 92 million in 2016.

Overall, he explained that scenarios show that the supplier market for combustion engine components in Germany will shrink from the 2020s onwards and companies need to prepare for this by developing and implementing appropriate adaptation strategies.

From laboratory to application

Natalia Sobczak of the Foundry Research Institute, Krakow, Poland then gave a presentation entitled: ‘Liquid metal engineering for the creative foundry – from lab to fab.’

She reminded delegates how the utilisation of waste heat was a new but also a very important development for the foundry sector. She spoke of how reliable data was paramount for the further development of the industry and the transfer of new knowledge from lab to fab and finally to app (laboratory to fabrication to application) was critical.

She said: “Research should focus on understanding the structure of high temperature molten alloys and the effects of molten metal treatment on mechanical, physical and utility properties of cast alloys by application of liquid metal engineering, as a new technology for large-scale production and better component performance.”

She said further research should focus on significant improvements in:

·         Computer-aided design.

·         Multicomponent alloy synthesis by utilising the vast amount of information that might be extracted from phase diagrams.

·         Testing methods and procedures that mimic real casting processes.

·         Interdisciplinary research for utilising knowledge and experience from other liquid-assisted or high-temperature processes, advanced non-destructive materials characterisation, big data analysis to predict materials behaviour as well as for alloy development.

·         Theoretical modelling and experimental verification of liquid-metal/ceramic interactions.

·         New design opportunities in cast metal-matrix composites and joining cast alloys (e.g. welding, brazing, soldering).

Consequently she said: “Progress in measurement methods, validated testing procedures and standards is a prerequisite for successful knowledge-based liquid metal engineering and subsequent fast implementation of creative foundry solutions. It is an essential factor for competitiveness of the metal casting sector.

“Of course, we all know the problems,” she said. “There are many materials involved in the casting process and high temperatures. However, if we compare our industry and capabilities to that of the medical sector, we are similar. From one drop of blood, the medical profession can diagnose illness and from one drop of liquid metal we can diagnose defects. We have the technology. Currently, there is only one laboratory in the world that can look at drop assisted methods and offer simulation at high temperature testing.” The Centre for High Temperature Studies at the Foundry Research Institute in Krakow, Poland is the only laboratory that can perform very sophisticated tests that mimic real industrial conditions. The unique high temperature facility has been designed and built by the team there to enable the study of thermophysical properties of molten metals and alloys and their high temperature interaction with refractory materials up to 2100°C using conventional as well as unique testing methods and procedures that are impossible in any other laboratory in the world. Moreover, the tests are performed under non-isothermal conditions, i.e. similar to those taking place in industry.

For whom the bell tolls

Attendees were then given an insight into the highs and lows of producing the largest swinging bell in the world in a presentation by Piotr Olszewski of church bell manufacturing company Jan Felczynski.

Olszewski recounted the three-year journey to produce the world’s largest swinging bell made of bronze (78 per cent copper and 22 per cent tin) and weighing 55 tons – the equivalent of ten African elephants – with a diameter of 4.5m and a height of over 4m (the size of a giraffe). 

The initial work on the bell, known as ‘Vox Patris’, commenced in 2013 when the first consultations took place. Jan Felczynski’s bell foundry from Przemys´l was then looking for a foundry capable in terms of technical equipment to handle the project of that size as the premises in Przemys´l were not sufficient to cast such a giant. The requirements were not only the necessary space, modern and powerful furnace but also such things as cranes, appropriate location and professionalism. Hence after weeks of discussions, co-operation with the foundry Metalodlew in Krakow was initiated.

The initial challenge was to prepare a casting hole large enough – 7.5m x 7.5m and with a depth of almost 6m. The concerns regarding this construction were mainly relating to the resistance of the crane’s poles as well as the strength of the casting hole itself so it wouldn’t collapse. The casting hole was prepared using sophisticated pilling technology.

The next start-up challenge related to the necessary construction equipment to build the mould. With the extreme size it was necessary to analyse in detail every element. A circle track was created and a steel profile was mounted to this track enabling works in various areas of the mould’s creation process. Additionally, a channel was created below the ground level of works to accommodate a powerful blowtorch to heat the mould from inside.

Then the challenge of the core! Ten thousand bricks were used to prepare a base for further works. The core was empty inside allowing appropriate heating process with the use of a deflector system. The core was then covered with mould material called HS, used in the bell foundry manufacturing process, to reflect ideally the inner side of the mould.

The second part of the mould – the false bell – is an exact shape of the bell created temporarily to allow further decorating process in lost-wax technology. The false bell is also initially made of HS material and then covered by beef tallow to ideally reflect the line of the bell and then decorated with the ornaments, reliefs and inscriptions made in wax.

To decorate the bell over 100kg of specialised casting wax was used – equating to two year’s demand in the normal bell preparation process. Using computer simulation, visualisation was prepared followed by the production of the reliefs, which were then placed on the bell.

Then the coat had to be produced. The coat is also made of HS but in comparison to the typical bell manufacturing process it must be more reinforced to assure two areas:

  • The process of coat lifting, which is extremely important and must be done very carefully considering that the sole coat that needs to be lifted weighs around 30t.
  • The process of casting itself as the pressure that impacts on the mould’s first lock is around 85,0000N.

The coat was reinforced with steel elements.

One of the most important parts of the process of production was the heating process both from inside (using the blowtorch located in the channel) as well as from outside using a system of heaters located in the corners of the casting hole. The whole process was monitored by the system of 32 thermocouples placed in various locations of core and coat. Both the core and the coat had to be dry but not overheated because with high temperatures the strength of HS material suddenly reduces.

In November 2016 the casting was attempted but there was a leak from the mould because of pressure of material, so the process had to be started again. The successful casting took place on 1st August 2017. As the temperatures of that summer were very high the decision was taken to pour the material and cast the bell overnight.

Metalodlew had to produce 60t when the capacity at the time was only 25t for iron and 15t for steel castings with a possibility for 60t in non-ferrous! Seven furnaces were used, and an appropriate ladle was acquired. The foundry also built additional moulds for emergency pouring, should they be required. The mould had to be poured within three hours after melting.

Metalodlew had to obtain over 60t of bronze in one attempt! After casting, the bell was left for three months to cool. Once it was dug out, the additional annealing process was carried out to reduce any residual casting stresses.

With videos played of the successful moment, the audience was able to feel the trepidation and finally elation of those involved in the project who had worked together as a team to solve a seemingly impossible task.

Olszewski told delegates: “Working with a team of good people who have passion, you can move mountains.”

The bell is destined for the Eternal Father Basilica in Brazil, which is visited by ten million people a year. Before that though there are still several challenges to overcome, such as the casting of the clapper, construction, shipping and mounting. The bell will remain in Krakow whilst the story continues.

More detailed technical papers from the 73rd World Foundry Congress will be published in future issues of Foundry Trade Journal and in a special digital supplement in the coming months. For more information contact: Marion Cottrell, email:

WFO Best Paper Winners 2018

As part of the World Foundry Congress, the World Foundry Organization (WFO) selects three technical papers that the organisation deems to be outstanding and presents WFO Best Paper Awards to the authors of those papers.

The WFO Best Technical Paper Awards are sponsored by Huttenes-Albertus and the Awards (cast plaques) are produced by Mark Sutton Non Ferrous Foundry in the UK. The authors or their representatives were presented with plaques and cash prizes at the closing ceremony by Dr Carsten Kuhlgatz of Huttenes-Albertus and Andrew Turner, WFO general secretary.

This year’s awards are as follows:

Best Paper – Gold Award

‘Cast components in super duplex alloys – intercomparison between bench moulding and 3D printing’ by Yusuke Tomita, Kimura Foundry Co Ltd, Japan; Hidetoshi Fuji, Osaka University, Joining and Welding Research Institute, Japan; Julian Izaga and Ibai Gallastegi, IK4-Azterlan Metallurgical Technical Centre, Spain.

Best Paper – Silver Award

‘Problems and improvements on the production of large casting with Hi-Si ductile iron’ by Toshitake Kanno, Kimura Foundry Co Ltd, Japan.

Best Paper – Bronze Award

‘Process performance and environmental impact of the CaO-A12O3 slag system as alternative to calcium carbide for desulfurisation of nodular cast iron’, by Rodrigo Lencina and Emmanuelle Henry-Lanier, Kerneos Aluminate Technologies, France; Yves Roux, Procastyr, France.

In addition, scientific papers were also recognised with the WFO Best Scientific Papers Awards, sponsored by AnyCasting Software Co Ltd.  The awards were presented by Dr Sung-Bin Kim, CEO of Any Casting Software at the closing ceremony as follows:

Scientific Paper – Gold Award

Time resolved and in-situ – 2D/3D imaging of solidification in ductile cast iron’, by Prof Yasuda Hideyuki, Kiattisakri Chatcharit and Kohei Morishita, Kyoto University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Japan; Akira Sugiyama, Osaka Sangyo University, Japan.

Scientific Paper – Silver Award

‘Microstructure quality assessment of isothermed ductile irons through tensile tests’ by Franco Zanardi, Zanardi Fonderie SpA, Italy.

Scientific Paper – Bronze Award

‘Development of a squeeze semisolid high pressure diecasting process for magnesium structural parts’ by I Vicario, I Crespo, D Val, U Weiss, D Cao, I Martinez de la Pera, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Spain.