Three leading technology providers in their respective fields, have successfully continued their long-standing partnership to develop digital core production: MAGMA Gießereitechnologie GmbH (MAGMA), specialist in the virtual optimization of foundry processes, Hüttenes-Albertus Chemische Werke GmbH (HA), leading supplier of foundry chemicals, and Laempe Mössner Sinto GmbH (Laempe), renowned manufacturer of core making equipment. The impressive progress attracted a lot of attention at GIFA.
In the production of modern, complex castings, it is important to achieve consistent quality in core production, which involves the interplay of several influencing factors and process variables. However, it is only at the end of the production process - when you have a finished casting - that you can determine whether the process can deliver 100% of the required quality. Foundries would certainly benefit from being able to identify potential deviations in advance, as this would give them the opportunity to intervene in the process at a very early stage.
This is exactly what simulation-based mapping of core production does. It makes the process transparent and predictable, considering as many process parameters as possible. Integrating these methods into the production environment is the vision that drives the partnership between HA, MAGMA and Laempe.
The three partners introduced their revolutionary concept for the first time four years ago. At the leading international trade show GIFA in June 2023, the three partners presented the progress: The concept was illustrated on an extended machine control console of a Laempe core shooter. Visitors were able to digitally follow the production of a core on three interactive screens.
Various parameters of the core making process are continuously monitored and linked to real-time measurements taken in the machine. The data is processed in real time by a unique simulation software that predicts pressures and mass flows for the sand and air throughout the machine and core box system. As a result, the impact on core quality can be evaluated and controlled by making adjustments to the shooting process, answering questions such as: What is the effect of sand height in the shooting unit on the process? What is the effect of air vent blockage or cavity cleanliness? At what pressure is the sand shot into the mold cavity? How stable is the process and what parameters need to be changed if the set quality specifications are not met?
“With this patented new tool, we have been able to combine process simulation and real core production. By coupling the properties of the sand-binder mixture over the time with the core shooter and current tooling, we can simulate the entire process holistically. In this way, we ensure a reliable core quality”, says Dr Ingo Wagner, Product Manager Core Making Processes at MAGMA GmbH. "Due to the short computing times, it is even possible to integrate the simulation into the real-time operation of the machine. We are also implementing this technology as a front-end predictor into MAGMA C+M, our core making process simulation software”.
"For Laempe, this initiative is an important building block in our digitalization initiative, which we are supporting by our Laempe Digital Cockpit software suite and our Core Vision real time inspection system", comments Rudolf Wintgens, Managing Director of Laempe. "The now established link between process data, machine control and the final core distinguishes this approach from many Industry 4.0 activities in a foundry that lack the link to product quality."
And the next step has already been taken: HA has invested in a comprehensive series of fully instrumented core making experiments to link the behavior of sand-binder mixture to the virtual system. The latest AI technologies have been used to establish a robust predictive capability between the state of the sand system at different machine settings and the final core quality. "We can now identify core defects that are not visible to the naked eye, but cause problems further down the process chain", explains Amine Serghini, member of the HA management team. "Deformation during core storage, core breakage during casting as well as casting defects are often not only caused by the binder itself, but also by parameters such as the storage time of the sand-binder mixture. A fresh sand mix flows better, has better compactability and ensures less tool deterioration and vent clogging". The virtual core shooter is used to predict whether a sand mix can still be used without causing downstream problems or how the production can be set to maintain good core quality.
The empirical data behind the direct simulations have been collected during tests at the HA Center of Competence (CoC) in Baddeckenstedt, Germany, on a state-of-the-art Laempe core shooter used there. This data allows important influencing parameters and their effects on the casting process to be accurately modelled in the machine and tooling. The CoC is equipped with a wide range of technical capabilities and provides a valuable platform for partners from different disciplines to systematically drive innovation in joint development projects.
The technical implementation of a real-time, physical and data-based core production control system has become reality thanks to the partnership between MAGMA, HA and Laempe and represents a revolutionary step towards Foundry 4.0. This approach opens a world of new possibilities for all three partners as they strive to provide their customers with intelligent solutions for optimized and robust core production at all times.