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Beijing meeting stresses international cooperation.

Nearly 700 metalcasters from 38 countries took an indepth look at advanced foundry technology and production management.

The history of metalcasting has its roots buried deep in the continent of China. The first castings ever produced are believed to have been made there some 3500 years ago. Those beautiful ornamental bronze parts cast by the world's first foundrymen set the stage for nearly every important industrial development in the history of mankind.

Despite its long metalcasting history and huge foundry industry, it wasn't until 1995 that China hosted its first international conference on metalcasting. Nearly 700 foundry researchers and operators from 38 countries gathered in the Chinese capital of Beijing on September 24-29 for the 61st World Foundry Congress. With the theme of "Advanced Technology and Production Control in Foundries," the meeting featured more than 100 technical presentations along with plant tours of prominent Chinese foundries.

The meeting, organized by the Foundry Institution of Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society, was sponsored by the International Committee of Foundry Technical Associations (CIATF), an organization comprised of 36 of the most prominent metalcasting associations in the world. The primary goal of the CIATF is to "promote the whole foundry industry and connected industries in the scientific as well as the applied field."

International Cooperation

In his opening address to the 61st World Foundry Congress, Ituo Ohnaka of Osaka Univ., Japan, and president of CIATF, stressed cooperation between countries in fending off the threats posed by other metalforming processes. Ohnaka pointed out that iron castings were first produced in China about 2500 years ago, nearly 2000 years before they were made in Europe or Japan. Much of the technology to produce these castings was in fact learned from the Chinese.

Offering an early example of international cooperation, Ohnaka related the story of the casting of the great statue of Buddha nearly 1200 years ago. He described how "united technologies from Greece, India and China contributed to the production of a great monument. Without that international cooperation, the world's greatest copper casting would not have been made.

From this brief look back, we can learn two things. The first is that the history of casting and foundries is as long as the history of human civilization. The second thing we can learn is the importance of international cooperation."

Ohnaka noted that the "world is changing drastically. Many old systems and old ways of doing things are no longeracceptable to modern society. These changes are also resulting in more serious international competition. So, should we be fighting among ourselves? I say that we must compete fairly, but should not fight with each other. What we should fight against are the other processes and other materials, not other foundries.

"We should also improve our technologies and develop new castings and at the same time inform our customers of the real advantage of using castings," Ohnaka continued. "Mechanical engineers and designers know less and less about castings, so we must make sure we give them the information they need to enable them to choose metal castings over other materials and methods."

Ohnaka closed by adding that "I have no doubt that we shall all cooperate more closely in the near future. We can create enough momentum to take us to our goals."

Technical Exchange

This 61st meeting of the CIATF Ohnaka fulfilled both President Ohnaka's goal of international cooperation and the theme of the meeting, Advance Technology and Production Management in Foundries. In total, 46 papers were presented orally during the five day meeting. These were accompanied by an additional 58 papers which were graphically depicted in a poster session.

The official U.S. Exchange Paper in particular met these criteria and was voted by the CIATF Executive Council as the co-best paper of the Congress. The U.S. paper, titled "Application of Artificial Intelligence to Power Input Control in the Modern Foundry," was authored by Norman Bliss and Jeff Moberly, Neural Applications Corp., Univ. of Iowa, and Paul Bartelt, John Deere Foundry, respectively.

The paper described the successful application of an artificial intelligence-based power input controller on a 16-ton arc furnace in a gray and ductile iron foundry. The controller uses neural network algorithms in conjunction with three phase awareness to produce a control system capable of both feed forward prediction of furnace operation variables such as electrode position. It also provides continuous adaptive control capability to compensate for variations in furnace and scrap conditions.

According to the authors, this control system has been in daily use for six months. Results to date include a 15% reduction in electrode consumption and approximately a 2% increase in furnace productivity. The technologies incorporated in the controller are currently being adapted so that they may be applied to other difficult to control industrial processes.

Technical Forum

In addition to the main technical program, each World Foundry Congress also features a Technical Forum. This series of presentations features a variety of international experts speaking on one specific topic.

This year the Technical Forum concentrated on the "Solidification and Properties of Casting Alloys." It featured eight papers by authors from six countries, including two from the U.S.

Doru Stefanescu, professor from the Univ. of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, looked at the fundamentals of solidification processing of iron-base alloys and composites. In it he reviewed the fundamental processing, microstructure and property correlations developed for iron-base materials. He also emphasized the newest processing techniques and materials, such as countergravity casting, clean metal technology and melt quality evaluation through cooling curve analysis and oxygen measurement.

The second U.S. author participating in the forum was Allen Ackerman, Casting Operations, Ford Motor Co. Dubbing his presentation "Vision 2000: Aluminum Casting Technology," Ackerman characterized some of the more prominent processes used to produce lightweight powertrain components. These, in addition to providing pure weight reduction by simple material substitution, also accomplish iterative weight reduction effects throughout the entire automobile.

Ackerman also offered a comparative analysis of process parameters, materials properties and structures, relative costs and facilities.

AFS to Host 62nd WFC

The American Foundrymen's Society will organize and host the 62nd World Foundry Congress in Philadelphia, April 23-26. The international conference will immediately follow the 100th AFS Congress and CASTEXPO '96 which will take place April 20-23 in the same location.

The 62nd WFC is themed "Progress during into the 21st Century," and will feature more than three dozen individual technical presentations and poster sessions. In addition, the annual Technical Forum will also be held and will focus on "Automation and Computerization in the Foundry Industry."

For more information on the 62nd World Foundry Congress, please contact AFS at 800/537-4237.

RELATED ARTICLE: China and Its Foundry Industry

For most people China remains a mystery, due in large part to its history of being a closed society. While it remains the largest Communist stronghold since the mid-1980s, China has moved increasingly toward more market-oriented policies, presenting significant opportunities for some and real or perceived threats for others. If it maintains its present course, this "walking giant" is on course to become world economic power by the turn of the century.

In land area, China's 3.7 million square miles is nearly identical to that of the U.S., which occupies some 3.6 million squares miles. By contrast, China's population exceeds 1.2 billion people, or about one-fifth of the world's total population, almost five times that of the United States' 260 million.

The Chinese foundry industry, too, is imposing, though still lagging behind the technical and productivity levels common in more advanced industrial countries. An estimated 10,000 foundries are operating in China today producing more than 10 million tons annually. The U.S., on the other hand, with 13.5 million tons of castings in 1994.

Rapid progress is marking the Chinese foundry industry's current transition. Today, more than 50 Chinese universities offer major degrees in foundry technology or related specialties. Seven offer doctorate degrees while 26 can confer masters degrees in metalcasting.
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on China's foundry industry; 61st World Foundry Congress
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Dec 1, 1995
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