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Investment casting simulation tools

To develop casting simulation software for a range of particular products. To offer guidance and to facilitate the use of such software, should a company possess it.

Casting compared to any other manufacturing method is unique in many respects. The most important is of course the freedom of design. As Henry Ford used to say 'Everything that is possible to design is possible to cast'. Lost-wax or investment or precision casting is one of the oldest methods for casting items from metal, and the method mainly used for jewellery, dental work and industry. The most common materials cast in the marine, chemical and military industries are stainless steel, steel, ductile iron and cast iron for manufacturing turbine blades for gas and steam turbines and turbochargers. Investment casting uses a mould that has been produced by surrounding an expendable pattern made of wax, with refractory slurry that sets at room temperature. The pattern is then melted or burnt out leaving the mould cavity. The main advantages of the process are: reproduction of fine detail, close control of metallurgical properties, and series production, whereas the main disadvantage is the limitation in size and weight of the produced castings. Casting process simulation and castability analysis based on casting simulation are necessary for all enterprises that produce high quality castings. The aim is the production of profitable components and, at the same time, ensuring that the pieces fulfil the quality standards set for the components. Simulation software spans a wide range of functionality and can yield results that approach reality to different degrees depending on the type of equations for mould filling, solidification and mechanical stress that are solved, and the numerical schemes used (finite elements, finite differences, etc.). Commercially available casting software may span the range from being simple, relatively inaccurate and inexpensive to being sophisticated, accurate and very expensive. Only big companies can afford the expensive software, so a primary aim of the project is to use the software centrally in order to build auxiliary software applications that somehow 'distil' the knowledge coming from prolonged use of such software and to make it available independently. The aim of the project is to enable investment-casting companies to use simulation technology in two possible ways: To perform individual casting simulations for a range of particular products for each participating company, so as to get familiar with and gain confidence in simulation technology. According to these simulations, user-friendly front ends should be built to make the use of simulation software more intuitive. Direct access to a knowledge base of best practices and casting design rules validated using simulation that can be employed in order to ensure castability. Artificial neural network models may generalize casting rules and practices for specific part families in order to replace simulation programmes to some extent. A secondary aim of the project is to give guidance and facilitate use of such software, should a company possess it.
Acronym: 
SIMCAST
Project ID: 
3 513
Start date: 
01-09-2003
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
1 800 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Simulation
Market Area: 
Steel / Metalwork

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.