In one month, the World Technical Forum and the 59th IFC will take place in Portoroz on the Slovenian Adriatic. Under the motto "Castings as Complex Components", the program scientific committee and organizational committee has put together an interesting and challenging program in the Mediterranean ambience.
Before the gates open from the 18. - 20. September 2020, we want to ask our host, M.Sc. Mirjam JAN-BLAŽIĆ, president of the Slovenian Fondrymen Society and Chairwoman of the event's organizational committee, about the state of preparation:
M.Sc. Mirjam JAN-BLAŽIĆ, are you looking forward to the big event and is everything going according to plan in preparation?
I can say that all of the preparations and other needed activities for the joint foundry event of the WFO and Slovenian Foundrymen Society are going according to plan. These days we are preparing the final texts for all printed and digital materials for the Forum and Conference. This is a fairly large volume of materials, given that there are as many as 95 lectures and 10 poster presentations. The number of all participants will increase this year as representatives of WFO members from around the world come to Portorož. The forum and conference are traditionally accompanied by a foundry exhibition with participation of over 70 exhibitors. In organizational terms, this year's event in Portorož is more challenging because of the significantly increased volume of active participants, i.e. lecturers and exhibitors. One day before the official start of the event, we also offered participants the opportunity to visit two of our foundries and also two tourist programs around Slovenia.
The Slovenian Foundry Conference takes place every year in Portoroz. How is the World Technical Forum and the IFC different?
Comparing the WFO-Technical Forum and our traditional IFC that is being organized for the 59th year, I do not see any significant substantive differences. In both cases, these are professional international foundry events. IFC is attended by renowned foundry scientists and experts that mainly come from European countries. Representatives of universities and institutes outside Europe (such as India, Egypt and Japan) also came in smaller numbers. The WFO-Technical Forum is globally oriented to its members located all over the world, therefore, the number of participants at the Forum will be larger and will offer more lectures that are thematically presented in several sections.
Which highlights from the event program would you particularly recommend?
At this year’s joint foundry event, we have organized the lecture presentation so that on the first day we will start with six plenary lectures by renowned scientists and foundry experts from the UK, Germany, India, Poland, Austria and Slovenia. They are open for all participants, which is why we recommend them to all of those that will attend the Forum and Conference. After that, we continue with four sections that cover lecture is the field of iron castings, non-ferrous alloys, technologies for foundry industry and development trends. On the second day, the work will continue in the already mentioned sections from the first day with an additional section which will be participated by doctoral and master’s students and young researchers. In this wide variety of presentations, participants will surely be able to choose the ones that are particularly interesting and relevant to them.
Which guests of honor will be in attendance?
- As the Honorary Patron of this foundry event, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor will be represented at the opening of the conference by his envoy, academician prof. dr. Boštjan Žekš, a physicist by profession,
- Mrs. Irena Meter, Head of Enterprise and Technology Development, representative of SPIRIT Slovenia and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, who are national partners of our event.
- Authorized representatives of a number of foundry societies and associations worldwide WFO Executive members and representatives of WFO Commissions
„Castings as Complex Components“, iis this the formula for the future foundry industry?
The Scientific-Programme Committee with the President, Prof. Dr. Alojz Križman justifies this motto as a formula of the future for the foundry industry with the following explanation:
»Casting is a process that provides very high quality and demanding products that can only be moulded with modern foundry technology and many different skills such as: construction of tools and moulds, material knowledge, foundry technology, thermal and mechanical processing and, more recently, information technology skills. For any demanding outer and specific inner product design, casting is the most rational path to such a product. As a result, a complex field of technology called "complex castings" has become known in the technical field. Additive technology processes (3D-printing) and complex casting processes such as investment casting, lost wax process and lost foam process, high pressure and low pressure die casting, and the development of computer programming of CAD tools and moulds, casting and solidification processes and visualization of 3D data throughout the entire casting and processing chain make it possible to produce the most demanding thin-walled complicated castings for immediate installation in demanding final products.«
They represent the Slovenian foundry industry for years passionately and exemplary in the whole world. Where is the industry in Slovenia in terms of adjusting to digitization and changed demands on the casting industry, eg. B. in electric mobility?
Achieved economic indicators for Slovenia in 2018 indicate relatively favorable trends. Real GDP growth reached 4,5 % which is above the European Union average (it is slightly lower than in 2017 when the GPD growth reached 4,9 %). Last year, Slovenia achieved an increase in gross domestic product per capital in the amount of 22.182 EUR. The relatively favorable economic trends in Slovenia were accompanied by a part of the foundry industry, especially Al and Zn alloys, as well as ductile and malleable castings, but there was significant drop in production (16 %) recorded in
Gray iron, that is why only as moderate growth of foundry production was achieved, only 2 %.
Due to the slowdown in the international environment, economic growth in Slovenia and thus in the foundry industry is slowing down this year. Those who have ambitious plans for high growth this year are likely to achieve a moderate percentage growth compared to 2018, or will remain at about the same level as in 2018. Others who are less ambitious will certainly see a fall. Slovenia is a major partner of the German automotive industry, so foundries that are suppliers of this part of the German industry are particularly sensitive to these economic trends.
Our foundries are aware that without further automation, digitalization and the introduction of industry 4.0 approaches, they will not be able to stand and meet the new and emerging challenges that are coming with great speed. In Slovenia, we have a well-developed supporting environment for integrating and upgrading information systems. On the other hand, there is already close cooperation with the manufacturers of basic equipment regarding the necessary upgrades.
Our foundries today direct their focus on E-mobility and products that are independent from the drive components. Of course, it doesn’t go without the majority of the portfolio in the field of classic plants, also because foundries and their customers have to remain in partnership – meaning that they have to their transition and support it.
New products give our foundries a much greater chance of being profiled as development suppliers, which also represents their comparative advantage. Most of our foundries have so far been one step ahead and had the right strategies, so the vast majority of them have successfully survived all crises and recessions. I hope and wish that would continue in the future.
Good luck and all the best for your event. See you in Slovenia!