CASTcon 2018

2018 saw the re-launch of a UK conference and exhibition totally dedicated to the cast metals industry. The highly successful event, organised by FESA in conjunction with the Cast Metals Federation and with financial support for apprentice attendance from the Tor Lodge and Applecross Trust, was held at Cranfield University on 27th and 28th March 2018 and attracted 185 delegates.

CASTcon 2018 included evening presentations and a panel debate followed by a full day of technical and business lectures, tours of the casting-specific facilities at the venue – Cranfield University – and a table top exhibition with 27 exhibiting companies taking part.

Practical experience with new castings was the focus of a presentation given by Will Jeffs of Castings Technology International (Cti), when he told delegates of the organisation’s “different approach” to prototyping. He gave several examples of castings developed at Cti in case study form. He said: “Prototyping should not just be linked to a single technology – a variety of techniques should be applied to extend the ‘window of possibilities’. It is possible to reduce cost and use additive layer manufacturing (ALM) where it is most appropriate – this is our philosophy. I would recommend companies to take advantage of ALM – we are even looking at casting in inserts. Don’t ignore it, better to know thine enemy!”

Taking part in the AM versus casting debate, Keith Denholm of Grainger & Worrall spoke about how sand printing is a rapid process at G&W. “We can undertake cylinder head printing (toolless) in less than a week, with CNC cut plastic tooling it takes around four weeks,” he said.

“The best application is that it complements what you have. Hybrid is an option. Is it cost-effective? That is subjective but it does open the designer’s mind to the art of the possible. If you can get your head around what it can do, it will make more use of itself.

“At least two thirds of Formula 1 engines have printed cores, we do them. I am not sure of the other third but they may be the same. Whilst it sits well in our business, the question does remain – how do you industrialise and upscale it? We need UK support, a lot of this technology eminates from Germany. It is a perfectly sensible thing to integrate into existing production but it won’t replace traditional casting any time soon.”

Dr Rob Scudamore of The Welding Institute (TWI), concurred. Speaking specifically about metal additive manufacturing he told delegates: “In terms of size and scale – additive is nowhere near casting but it is a tool for you to use. I would say that casting is what additive wants to be when it grows up.”

He outlined the advantages of additive manufacturing as:

  • Greater design freedom.
  • Novel geometries –assemblies.
  • Decreased costs – no tooling.
  • Reduce lead time – CAD to part.
  • Reduced waste – not compared to casting but to subtractive techniques (recycling powder).
  • Personalisation/customisation.

A keynote address was given by Iain Wright, business deveIopment director of Williams Advanced Engineering, who discussed the changes involved in evolving from a Formula one team to an advanced engineering team.

Formed in 1977, the Williams Group has won 16 world championships. Around 250 of the 950 people on site at the company work in advanced engineering, the remainder focus on F1. Iain Wright  told delegates: “Williams is commercialising technology that is emanating from the Williams F1 arm. We are moving into the automotive market. We will take carbon composites into high volume production.”

For a more detailed report refer to the June 2018 printed issue of Foundry Trade Journal, www.foundrytradejournal.com

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