Innocast Inc. (www.innocast.co.kr) is a young South Korean company specializing in the supply of highly complex cast magnesium components to the electronics and automotive engineering industries. With some 60 employees, Innocast Inc. – which was set up in the summer of 2000 – achieved 2004 sales of about 10 million US dollars. It has signed partnership agreements with the large Samsung, LG and GM DAT.
Magnesium is the lightest metal that industry uses. It has a high thermal conductivity, withstands high stresses, and is easy to melt. This allows the manufacture of extremely thin-section components offering good electromagnetic shielding properties. Magnesium is therefore particularly suitable as a casing material for electronic devices such as notebooks, projectors, and CD players. In automotive engineering, magnesium components are applied for their low weight in engine and gearbox production. However, magnesium die casting is demanding. For a long time, high scrap rates, high costs, and the risky handling of this engineering material prevented efficient production of cast magnesium parts.
Venturing into export
The South Korean company Innocast Inc. has essentially mastered these problems and built itself a reputation in the industry. As a successful magnesium caster using hot-chamber die casting machines, Innocast has now set its sights on manufacturing also large castings for the export market. For this project, the magnesium caster relied on assistance from the specialists of Bühler Druckguss AG. With Buhler as a know-how partner, Innocast Inc. set out to generate new business with foreign automobile manufacturers for casting magnesium gearboxes and steering knuckle arms.
But before any supply contracts were signed, Innocast had to take a number of hurdles. For example, the company had to prove its future customers that it could supply high-grade cast samples. Moreover, it had to convince its customers that they could rely on a competent and reliable partner capable of ensuring a flawless die design and the correct machine specifications. The applications engineers at Buhler, racing against deadlines, provided the required simulation programs and die proposals to allow Innocast Inc. to order the dies while the new die casting machine – an Evolution 66D – was still being built. In addition to the Evolution 66D, Buhler also supplied a magnesium melting furnace and a particularly space-saving, automatic casting cell.
In order to save time as well as expenses, Innocast personnel were trained on site by Buhler experts. When the special-purpose dies finally arrived at Innocast, the new Buhler die casting system and its operating personnel were ready. Once the dies had been mounted on the Evolution 66D, the first test shots were performed. The benefits of the procedure selected became evident after only a few sample castings. Simulation and the optimized die design allowed the new die casting system to be fine-tuned within a very short time after just a few adjustments. Nothing could now stand in the way of volume production.
“We set up Innocast to enable our customers to seize new business opportunities, to help consumers obtain more convenient products, and to offer our employees a better life and work in a company they can be proud of.”