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AFS reveals new research plan.

The U.S. metalcasting industry is composed of 3260 foundries that manufacture cast metal components for a variety of machines and other assemblies. Castings are the foundation of America's industrial prowess.

Since 1980, the number of foundries decreased by over 22%. Industry officials have identified several key factors that affected progress.

* Industry Makeup -- Over 80% of U.S. foundries employ 100 people or less.

* Attrition of Engineers -- By the year 2010, it's expected that the shortfall of engineering baccalaureates in the U.S. will be 700,000.

* Nonproductive Capital Requirements to Remain Current with Present and Proposed Government Regulations -- In the next five years, the metalcasting industry will be required to spend over $750 million in nonproductive capital equipment to comply with environmental legislation.

* Foreign Competition in Research and Development -- This has favorably impacted the advancement of technology in foreign countries. Import penetration of the U.S. ferrous castings market rose to 7.2% in 1989.

AFS developed a new research and technology plan for the U.S. metalcasting industry. Of the 12.25 million tons of metal castings shipped in 1991, AFS members produced over 93%. The plan was developed through the AFS committee structure involving 818 North American metalcasters and suppliers.

The plan outlines six objectives that research programs or projects should address:

* Research must expand casting markets and applications.

* Research must aim to reduce or eliminate the environmental risks affecting foundries and their employees. Additionally, it will address risks that the public may face as a result of a foundry's product.

* Research must maximize foundry efficiency. Programs that improve total metal yield and reduce casting rework are of major importance.

* Research must reduce the energy costs of cast components.

* Research results must include economical application of the technology to most of the targeted foundries.

* Programs should focus on effectively transferring research technology to segments of industry.

There are several major programs identified by the plan. AFS and industry are addressing various parts of the programs with focused projects. These programs focus on: identifying foundry process waste; clean cast metal technology; cast properties determination; alternate casting processes; cupola furnace optimization; post-casting process technology; and dimensional control.

Over the past four years, AFS worked closely with its technical committees to identify and prioritize the research needs of the U.S. foundry industry. Each of the 11 divisions supplied research project requirements. Suggested projects were categorized into two areas.

The first area was in materials. Projects were identified for steel, aluminum, copper and cast iron. Figure 1 identifies and ranks the major topics. Universal ideas included: clean cast metal technology; cast metal design property development; in-process testing techniques; and increasing foundry productivity.

The second area was in processes. Projects were identified in green sand, chemically bonded molds, investment casting and expendable pattern casting. Most of the prioritized research needs were common throughout the processes, such as waste stream identification and characterization; gating system design; dimensional control; and determination of penetration defects.

Analysis and interpretation of the metals and process diagram were next in developing the overall list of prioritized research and development needs. A systematic approach incorporated the industry needs into programs that will accomplish the goals and objectives defined by the industry. The plan was additionally balanced against the impact the programs would have on specific segments of the industry.

Finally, the list of program needs contains topics that are considered to be the "root" causes of the problems confronting foundries.
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Title Annotation:Research Update; American Foundrymen's Society
Author:Twarog, Daniel L.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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