Dr.-Ing. Ingo Hahn, Dr.-Ing. Götz Hartmann
The simulation of die filling and solidification processes was first applied in foundries more than 20 years ago. Although casting simulation is still a young technology, it has gained wide acceptance. More than 150 foundries in Germany use simulation programs. In addition to larger foundries and direct automotive suppliers, simulation has become an established practice also in SME foundries. They use simulation mainly as a tool for testing the quality of castings for new or modified equipment.
Due to the multitude of factors affecting the quality of castings and the complex interactions of physics, metallurgy and casting geometry, empirical knowledge was the principal resource on which "optimized manufacturing engineering" relied. Foundry simulation can quantify experience and therefore only test a "state", whereas the conclusions from the calculations and improvements require the hands of an expert. Continuous improvement and optimization is a succession of trials and errors, both in reality and in simulation.
In recent years, response time of simulation software has improved and now integrates parallel process computers. The computing time needed for one variant of the casting process to be optimized can thus be completed within a few minutes. Combining simulation software with an optimization program makes is possible to automatically analyze calculated variants with regard to the defined target criteria (e.g. low porosity and low rate of returns), to create new variants and to analyze them in the same way. The vision of automatic computer-assisted solution-finding for casting problems has become reality. A number of examples can be found, first and foremost, in gravity casting. Here, especially the optimization of riser technology should be mentioned, but also the geometry of runners and gates is increasingly designed by this technology. This paper looks at examples of the application of this next generation casting process simulation in pressure die casting. [...]
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