Aerospace and automotive production continues to offer a strong level of demand for aluminum castings, creating highly competitive conditions for foundries supporting those markets. So, it is not surprising that aluminum foundries are looking at equipment options that will help them provide the best possible castings to their customers at the most attractive cost. 

To some of those foundries, it’s surprising that some manufacturing and equipment options, all proven effective and widely available, can be deployed to help those operations establish and maintain competitiveness in aluminum automotive and aerospace sectors. Here are some of the options foundries should consider to gain those competitive advantages.

Low-pressure semi-permanent molding — These are often fully automated production centers used to produce castings designed with the material integrity requirements of thin-walled castings. During the automatic sequence of operation, these completely enclosed machines are able to set cores automatically; extract castings; set gate screens; blow off the drag mold; and present the castings to the operator for inspection.

Some of the standard design features that promote high productivity include dual-cope ejection, for two cavity molds; up to 20 channels of cooling water/air; loose piece capabilities; heavy-duty, six-sided pulls for the drag mold; and manual tool locks to ease the tooling loading sequence.

Other features to look for that will promote high productivity include variable tooling capability, up to 55x64x34 in. (WxDxH); a holding furnace (e.g., 4,500-lb capacity) with automatic door for loading and unloading; safety pawls and ratchets to handle the main platen; and a preheat combustion system.

For low-pressure, semi-permanent molding, the typical mechanical dry cycle is designed to be 75 sec/cycle. For a typical solidification, depending on the customer’s tooling requirements, a casting-to-casting production time in the range of five minutes may be expected. To provide a complete turnkey system installation, ancillary systems (also readily available) would include core machines, gas generators, core conveyor handling systems, platforms, tooling loading systems, and mobile recharging furnaces.  

Turntable semi-permanent, vertically parted molding — Design changes to these system over several years have improved operations, reliability, and maintainability to meet current production requirements. Some manufacturers’ turntable systems use five casting benches arranged around an electric motor-driven turntable, with a diameter of about 26 ft. A system like this is designed with a minimum platform height of 39 in., so there is no need for a casting pit with such an installation.