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Pushing for Larger-Dimension Diecastings

Posted by Hill and Griffith Company on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 06:12 PM

From Foundry Management and Technology, November 2016

Lightweight vehicle designs need high volumns of complex cast parts, prompting a wave of projects for large pressure diecasting machines.

Walker Die Casting, a Lewisburg, TN, producer of aluminum components for automotive and truck manufacturing, has ordered a 4,500-ton cold-chamber diecasting machine from HPM North America, to be delivered in 2017. According to the contractor it is the largest cold-chamber machine it has produced to-date in North America. But, that distinction may not last long.

There is an outbreak of demand in North America for new discasting capacity on that scale, machines sized to produce a range of highly engineered parts in aluminum alloys. It's demand prompted by motor vehicle manufacturers working on new production programs keyed to lighter vehicles, with lighter component parts for powertrains, drivetrains, and structural systems.

But lighter car and truck designs are not the only factor in the wave of new diecasting capacity: Mercury Casting, a business unit of Mercury Marine, ordered a new large-scale diecasting machine as part of a plan to expand the group's stern-drive engine platform.

The 4,500-ton Series II cold-chamber machine for Walker Die Casting machine will be built by HPM North America, Marion, OH, and its corporate parent, China's Yizumi Group. In operation, it will produce 125- to 135-lb. castings.

Series II machines have a C-frame support for the shot-end; a five-point toggle clamp, with a high-strength, cast-steel linkage, hardened pins and bushings; and a crosshead that is fully supported by Allen Bradley CompactLogix plc and IO production process controls.

The developers claim the Series II provides the diecasting industry's lowest total cost of ownership.

The machine ordered by Walker Die Casting will be engineered to HPM North American specifications by an HPM/Yizumi engineering team led by HPM North American president William Flickinger. He said Walker's procurement decision was based on the reliability of several HPM diecasting machines operating now at the Tennessee plant, and, on the performance of new HPM North American diecasting equipment at other major auto parts producers.

Also influential in the decision was the HPM/Yizumi plan to build the machine with SAE bydraulic fittings, inch fasteners, and inch tubing. North American suppliers will provide the machines' major hydraulic, electrical, and control components, and HPM will complete final assembly and test runs of the 4,500-ton diecasting machine at the Yizumi facility prior to delivery.

llustration of typical diecasting machine from Hill and Griffith. Not part of FM&T's article)

Expanding In-House Capacity

BuhlerPrince Inc., Holland, MI, is building Mercury Casting's new diecasting machine for delivery in June 2016. The model 4575CCA machine will have 75 inches of free space between the tie bars, space that Mercury Castings unit will use to help expand the dimensions of its in-house casting capability. BuhlerPrince described it as "the largest high-pressure diecasting machine bult in North America.

"We are excited to bring this new machine into our porfolio," stated Samir Mesanovic, director of Mercury Castings. "It will be a welcome addition to our production and increase our capabilities to produce the largest and most complex parts for both Mercury Marine and other customers."

Mercury Marine is widely known for manufacturing outboard motors up to 60-hp, but it also builds MerCruiser sterndrive motors (inboard/outboard drive) and inboard motors over 75 hp.

Mercury Castings casts complex aluminum and lost foam castings for Mercury Marine programs, as well as for manufacturers of automotive, agricultural, and industrial systems.

According to BuhlerPrince, the new machine will give Mercury Marine the abiltiy to produce the largest automotive structural parts, and parts for other industries where lighter designs are needed to address fleet vehicle carbon-emission reductions, to achieve better fuel efficiency, or both. It's a wider trend that has seen automotive and other vehicle designers shift specifications from iron and steel structures to aluminum and other ligthweight materials, a shift that favors high-pressure diecasting production.

BuhlerPrince, Holland, MI, is an operating division of the Swiss manufacturer Buhler Die Casting. It produces machines ranging from 200 to 4,500 toms of clamping force, and offers retrofit and/or remanufacturing services, spare parts, and service and support for diecasters in North America.

"Buhler is very proud to partner with Mercury for their expanding diecasting equipment requirements, " stated BuhlerPrince president and CEO Mark Los. "Continued investment in equipment and people allows BuhlerPrince, as the only diecasting machine builder in North America, to provide innovative products to our customers, enabling them to be competitive on a global basis."

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