Auto Heinen GmbH, based in Bad Münstereifel, Germany, has been a StrikoWestofen customer for almost 40 years. The expert in special alloy die-cast parts currently operates 15 Westomat dosing furnaces and 2 StrikoMelter melting furnaces to process around 4 t/hour in peak operation.
Last year StrikoWestofen’s latest innovation, the Westomat Plus+, became a new addition to Auto Heinen’s impressive production set-up as part of a pilot project to experience and feedback on the furnace’s enhanced capabilities in a live customer environment.
leek frame that packs ‘plus’ size benefits
The crucible-free Westomat Plus+ holding and dosing furnace has been cleverly designed with a compact footprint that enables foundries to fit a larger holding capacity into a smaller space. In fact, a Westomat 1300 Plus+ easily fits into the footprint of a Westomat 900 Classic. With a smaller bath surface and a large capacity, this means more high-quality melt is available for casting.
Its compact footprint and unique design mean it is ideal for space efficient foundry layouts as the furnace can be positioned closer to die casting machines without any issue, resulting in shorter cycle times.
The right moves, and clean curves
Additionally, the furnace’s subframe has been developed to be tilted in any position, allowing cleaning and maintenance to be carried out in a fraction of the time. The furnace’s heating rods are also positioned to ensure that access is only needed from one side in order to replace them.
"We’ve been impressed by the design”, said Dean Wallrath, Director Maintenance HPDC at Auto Heinen, “and not just because it looks so smart. The super flexibility of the subframe coupled with the fact it can be fully enclosed makes cleaning and maintenance easier and safer for our team - that’s a big priority for us. Its distinct oval curves also mean no more tricky corners that can collect deposits.”
Flexibility isn’t the only important benefit for die casters. The Westomat Plus+ consumes less energy thanks to improved design and insulation. This optimized insulation, including high-quality refractory material, is particularly noticeable in the outer wall temperature of the furnace. During the pilot for example, an average wall temperature as low as 55 °C was achieved.
Rise to the challenge
Like all Westomat furnaces, the Plus+ employs a flanged riser tube to take liquid aluminium from below the bath surface to always deliver the right amount of high-quality melt to the casting machine. It also has a dosing accuracy (up to ± 1.5%) in line with the precision performance customers like Auto Heinen have come to expect from StrikoWestofen’s Westomat range.
Dean continued: “To have these trusted benefits but with the added refinements Plus+ offers, is great. As is working with a supplier so keen to have customers involved in product development. Given that our company vision is based on a commitment to ‘continuous improvement and technological development’, piloting new innovations like this is perfect for us.”
Thanks to refinements made possible by working closely with customers such as Auto Heinen, die casting foundries around the world now have access to a unique dosing furnace that convinces with its inner and outer values.
For Dr. Theodoor van der Hoeven, VP Product Development at SWO, the importance of customer involvement in the development of StrikoWestofen’s new dosing furnace solutions cannot be overstated. He commented: “With this furnace, we aimed to offer customers a modern, compact furnace, designed to make die-casting easier, more efficient, cleaner and safer.”
“Having direct customer feedback as part of our development process has been crucial in this mission and we are delighted to now showcase our answer to modern die casting and provide our customers a high-end, premium dosing solution.”
The Westomat Plus+ dosing furnace will be available in Europe in sizes from 1300 to 3100 kg holding capacity.
For further information on Westomat Plus+, visit: https://www.strikowestofen.com/en-us/westomat-plus-dosing-furnace