Sustinable production - environmental and economic solutions for the foundry industry

Düsseldorf, June 28, 2011 - Technologically sophisticated casting products make a major contribution to preventing emissions and saving energy. Against a background of these ever-increasing requirements, foundries face national and inter-national competition more than ever before. Energy and material efficiency, sustainable production procedures and climate-friendly technologies are among the most important strategic challenges in this industry.

In addition, the tightening of emissions legislation in all regions requires new approaches in the foundry process. From both, an environmental as well as an economic perspective, reducing or preventing emissions in the casting process constitutes a major challenge on the road towards sustainable production in the foundry industry.

Innovative foundry chemicals and additives, used from the very start in the production of castings, are of help in meeting these requirements. Headquartered in Hilden, Germany, ASK Chemicals is one of the world’s largest suppliers of foundry chemicals. For many years now, the company has been engaging in intensive and continuous research work as it rises to the challenge of developing customized products for foundries in order to meet these requirements.

A comprehensive product portfolio with emission-reducing products for every step in production is the result of this research work. New developments in all product lines support sustainable and efficient work during the casting process from both an environmental and economic perspective. The ASK Chemicals product range encompasses all the resources necessary for casters such as binders, coatings, additives, feeders and metallurgical products.

Technological leaders for inorganic binding agents:
Fewer pollutants – better quality

The need to reduce pollutants while maintaining or improving quality standards has a particular influence on the selection of core manufacturing methods and their optimization. Inorganic binding agents, particularly for light metal casting, are slowly becoming a viable alternative to the organic cold-box binders currently in use. ASK Chemicals is a global leader in this field and sets the benchmark with the inorganic INOTEC® technology.

This system has already proven itself in practical situations in automotive series casting. The automobile manufacturer BMW (Munich, Germany) uses INOTEC® to produce compound crankcases in its Al - alloy foundry. In addition to achieving a 98% reduction in emissions, this new method also has a positive influence on the material properties of the casting. A success story which can primarily be attributed to the good interaction between ASK Research and customer-friendly implementation. Additional economic benefits are achieved through cost reductions in areas such as air treatment and tool maintenance.

Drawing on this success, ASK Chemicals commenced series production of sand cores for engine casting for automobile manufacturers in its plant in Moosburg last year. It uses the INOTEC® method for this.

Further progress in iron casting

The next generation of inorganic core binders arises through the use of the inorganic binder system INOTEC® in iron casting in particular. There is an increasing number of iron casting applications in which INOTEC® has already proven its value. To this end, the mode of operation has been adapted to the conditions which predominate in iron casting. The high casting temperatures require modification of the binding agent, whose properties can be expanded in the form of a modular system and customized to the relevant requirements.

Research findings and applications developed in conjunction with SHW Automotive GmbH, (Tuttlingen, Germany) show that INOTEC® is perfectly suitable for manufacturing cores for iron casting in GJL brake disc production.

The mechanical characteristic values determined show that the properties of the brake discs that were produced with a PUR Cold Box or INOTEC®-bounded core do not differ significantly. All tests carried out (behavior during casting, core removal/cleaning capability, wedge compression test, surface hardness, X-ray inspection, machinability, crack test, structural examination), which were conducted as part of the direct comparison between INOTEC® and PUR Cold Box production at SHW, are comparable and show that it can be used successfully for emission-free casting.

Whether used in aluminum or iron casting, the INOTEC®  binder system developed by ASK Chemicals for manufacturing inorganically bound cores sets the benchmark and makes a symbiosis of productivity and environmental compatibility possible.

Emission-reduced cold box binder systems of the new generation

Cold-Box binder systems have been in use for a good 40 years and still have a market share of over 60 % (in Western Europe). This technology is reliable and safe, although emissions were a problem for a long time.

Not all companies were able to switch their production to inorganic methods in a single step. As a result, the ASK researcher team developed more efficient additives for use in this field as well. And they met with success: The Company is setting new standards with its HE (high efficiency) systems.

This new generation of low-emission, high-performance binders features high reactivity and productivity with a 25% reduction in the use of binding agents and catalysts. Mineral additives can also reduce the development of odors. Thanks to the lower added amount and the resulting reduction in emissions, these systems are also environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.

Additional progress in productivity is achieved through lower contamination of the tools as well as longer availability of tools and permanent molds thanks to the prevention of condensation. This means that even thin core geometries, such as those required in cylinder heads or engine blocks, which are exposed to heavy thermal loads, can be manufactured using reliable processes and in an environmentally friendly manner.

The use of inorganic or optimized organic systems is essential, especially for high-technology customers which, as manufacturers, must also present their sustainability credentials. Alongside the enormous reduction in pollutants and an improvement in the quality of cast parts, such product developments also make an essential contribution to the improvement of productivity by means of reduced costs for maintenance and emissions provisions.

Interaction of the systems – special coatings

Whether used in sand or permanent mold casting, the requirements to be met by coatings and release agents in the casting process are increasing due to further development of molding material binding agents. With the passage of time, this has resulted in complex multi-material systems which are constantly being adapted to meet changes in demands. Drawing on its existing expertise, ASK Chemicals is designing a whole new generation of coatings, whose properties allow them to also contribute to sustainability.

For example, the absorption of waste gases in absorbent coatings is an environmental alternative to cost-intensive and technically complex air cleaning systems. ASK achieves this using a coating with heavily absorbent properties. These absorbent components can also be adjusted to the binding agent recipe in the molding materials, thereby also improving the efficiency of waste gas treatment. The absorbent capacity of the active CLEANTOP® coating prevents the dispersion of a large share of BTX pollutants. This method in turn offers foundries an effective alternative for reducing pollutants and odors.

Further special coatings are used in engine casting, for example. The easy removal of the coating and the sand in difficult-to-reach internal casting geometries as well as the prevention of residual dirt in the component are major requirements here. ASK Chemicals has developed a solution with MIRATEC TS® to meet these demands. In addition, the effectiveness of the refractory materials was optimized in these special coatings for sand cores exposed to a particularly strong thermal load. This prevents the usual casting defects such as veining, penetration or gas-induced effects.

Emission-absorbent coatings or special coatings for engine casting represent highly effective aids in foundries, both for preventing casting defects as well as for reducing emissions. These high-performance coatings from ASK Chemicals have a significant influence on the sustainable production process in foundries despite their low share in production costs.

Interaction of the systems – solvent-free molding release agents for molding systems

The demolding process of model tools is given effective support by the use of modern and highly effective release agents. Emissions can also be avoided in this work step through the use of solvent-free release agents. ASK Chemicals developed the solvent-free molding release agent Bentogliss® 121 particularly for bentonite-bound molds. Without chemical aids, the release agent minimizes the environmentally hazardous, volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Using this release agent also facilitates the molding process by significantly reducing adhesive forces between the model and mold walls. This, in turn, reduces wear and tear on molding tools and contributes to their greater durability. Overall, maintenance costs for the models are reduced many times over. A further contribution to sustainable production in casting.

Interaction of the systems – further developed zero-carbon feeder design

Against the background of sustainability, the carbon balance has also become an important issue for foundries. In particular, modern feeder technology offers huge potential for this. ASK Chemicals has developed an inorganically bound feeder under the label Exactcast for this purpose. This design encompasses all the standard exothermic and insulating feeder variants right up to the high-end variant, a dynamic system with an extremely small contact area.

It is free of carbon compounds and can even be used in positions believed to be impossible. This means that Exactcast feeders make a further contribution to the ecology in the casting process, in addition to providing an excellent performance.

Research and practice through collaboration

The development of emission-free foundry aids in the ASK Chemicals GmbH research and application centers has a high priority. Thanks to its locations on three continents, the company is in an ideal position to achieve this goal. In research and development facilities, over 90 chemists, engineers and technicians develop new product lines. In addition, intensive cooperation between the worlds of science and research gives rise to new products and applications which not only work in an innovative, efficient manner but also set new technological standards. In this way, ASK Chemicals does justice to the requirement for an ecological rethink as well as the desire to be as heavily involved in the market as possible from a productive perspective.

The practical relevance of this also has a high priority for the company. In order to adapt the new foundry products to its clients’ requirements quickly and efficiently, they are tested in test and application technical centers in Germany or the USA. All process steps of a foundry can be reproduced and optimized using these facilities. The interaction of all additives offered by ASK Chemicals in individual customer processes is also simulated there.

The international cooperation of the teams enables the developments in the process chain to be adapted to meet conditions specific to individual countries. Systematic experience is available to customers throughout the world in equal measure.

ASK Chemicals specialists have a deep understanding of foundry processes, which ranges from the design of castings via simulation services and the transfer of research results from the laboratory to production status right through to efficient series production of high-quality castings. The advanced technology developed in laboratories and pilot systems provides customers with highly efficient support in the constant optimization of their processes.

ASK Chemicals GmbH –
New molding of added value in the casting process

Anyone who wants to increase added value must use raw materials more efficiently, optimize manufacturing processes and facilitate the creation of products to ever higher quality standards. This is exactly what the foundry chemicals and additives of global supplier ASK Chemicals do. Innovation and sustainability are values which are integral to the corporate identity and represent a constant challenge during product development for chemical specialists. To this end, the company makes above-average investments in research and development.

The global player clearly sees itself as a leader in technology. Proof of sustainable production procedures, energy and material efficiency and emission reduction is provided by the product lines; process optimization is a daily business task. In making this claim, the company lives up to its obligations to society as a whole.

“Pollution control and economic efficiency are two pillars of our strategy,” says CEO Stefan Sommer regarding the portfolio of ASK Chemicals, Hilden. “Under this premise we develop sustainable solutions for the foundry industry, and give our products and services priority for what is known as Clean Tech. The use of our products and procedures increases efficiency, enhances output and productivity while also reducing emissions and protecting resources,” continues Sommer.

With its complete system of foundry aids and additives, the company makes a decisive contribution to meeting the future environmental and economic requirements of the foundry industry.

Together with its competent contact partners from its global locations, ASK Chemicals GmbH can be found at GIFA 2011 in Düsseldorf from June 28 to July 2 in Hall 12, Stand A 24. The company’s experts will be on hand with presentations and to discuss problems currently affecting the foundry industry.

You can find further information about the complete ASK Chemicals product range on Pictures of the products you will find at the data stick.

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