In order to work under quasi-production conditions the fully automated casting unit from FRECH is equipped with all necessary peripheral devices:
- Hindenlang KLEM 1200 crucible furnace with a capacity of max. 1.000 kg Al
- Meltec AVDL linear dosage system with a capacity of 5 - 20 kg Al
- Wollin spray device
- Robamat mould tempering units for heating and cooling
- KUKA cast part-removal and -insert robot
The cold chamber die casting machine with a horizontal casting unit will be applied for casting of Aluminium parts up to 20 kg in industrial scaled research projects. At a clamping force of 12.000 kN and at a mould height of max 1.2000 mm it will be possible to cast vehicle structural cast parts. In the near future the plan will be extended by a Magnesium melting and dosing equipment.
LKRs research work is actually focused on Aluminium and Magnesium alloy development and on the process development respective process optimization. New mould temperature control techniques like near-surface cooling, enabled by additive manufactured mould inserts, temperature control units and by innovative mould spraying techniques will be investigated. This research will lead to improved mould lifetime and shorter cycle time.
Horizontal continuous casting line
After a one-year development phase, the new horizontal continuous casting line was commissioned at the LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen in 2017. The tailor-made plant technology was developed by scientists of the LKR together with partner companies as part of the project BAWeRIA (Bavarian-Austrian advanced Welding Wire Research and Innovation Action). The new HSG makes it possible to produce semi-finished products from special alloys on a semi-industrial scale, including those for the production of welding wire, with a short delivery time and at low costs. The current research focus is on further developing the process technology in order to produce customer-specific formats in top quality suitable for direct further processing without intermediate steps - from semi-finished product to finished product. The objective is e.g. to be able to integrate and dynamically operate all core processes from the melt to the finished, drawn wire. In addition to the modern in-house vertical continuous casting technology for magnesium and aluminum alloys, the horizontal continuous casting line rounds off the experimental portfolio of the LKR.
High-tech materials for Additive Manufacturing
The increasing industrialization of additive manufacturing methods is also increasing user demand on the material properties of the mate- rials to be used. The LKR has recognized this need and is developing new, modified aluminium and magnesium materials which are used in the form of powders or wires as an additive material for the rapid prototyping using the additive manufacturing route. The challenge is to create the alloys in such a way as to meet both the high demands of the processes and the expected properties of the resulting components. From a sustainability and cost reduction viewpoint, the LKR also pays great attention to alloys that do not require expensive chemical elements, so that a wider variety of affordable materials will be available in industrial applications in the future. With the step of material development of light metal alloys for additive manufacturing, the LKR is in the process of developing a research topic with great potential and far-reaching effects on the production of the future, says Andreas Kraly, Managing Director at the LKR.
Materials for Tomorrow: Flame Resistant Magnesium Alloys
In a research project at LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen, scientists have succeeded in developing flame-retardant magnesium alloys which self-extinguish in the event of a fire. This improved fire-resistance was achieved through the selective addition of alloy elements which significantly stabilise the materials oxidation behaviour when subject to fire: We are primarily investigating calcium alloys because calcium is cost-efficient and readily available. We can also add extra rare earth elements into the alloy to positively influence other material properties and to optimise the alloy for a particular application, explains AIT Scientist Stefan Gneiger. Magnesium is in great demand in lightweight construction as a means of reducing weight and emissions in the mobility sector.