From MODERN CASTING Magazine, AFS website, June 7, 2016
The American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) has finalized its release of the 2016 Metalcasting Industry Roadmap. The project culminates a two-year industry collaboration to identify future research and development needs to accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. AFS served as the lead organization in the project launched in 2014 by AMC. The goal of the roadmap is to help manufacturers identify, select, and develop technological alternatives and ensure a competitive U.S. metalcasting industry.
“The Metalcasting Industry Roadmap is a great example of collaboration among key groups in the metalcasting industry, said AFS CEO Doug Kukul. “We commend everyone involved in the project, especially Tom Prucha of AFS, who played a leading role in this endeavor. The Roadmap will be a valuable resource as our industry invests in technology, develops talent, and executes R&D planning in the months and years to come.”
The project focused on four main topic areas: process, materials, design, and workforce, with readily executable key tasks mapped to timelines in each area. The roadmap used industry surveys and a focused workshop to develop and document metalcasting capability gaps, solutions, and recommendations for areas of investment that will strengthen the U.S. metalcasting infrastructure in advanced casting production.
The grant that funded the project is a part of NIST’s (National Institute of Standards and Technology) AMTech (Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia), which was established in 2013. The AMTech program aims to catalyze partnerships between U.S. industry, academia, and government.
The final Metalcasting Industry Roadmap presents a graphic summary of high level topic areas, research focus areas, and actionable paths to advance the metalcasting industry.
Moving forward, AFS and the metalcasting industry will use the document as a guideline to help shape the direction of research and development work and as a tool to help secure additional government funding.
The American Foundry Society is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1896. With its headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., AFS provides members and consumers with information and services to promote and strengthen the metalcasting industry.
The following are excerpts from the report:
The American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) managed the development of a Metalcasting Industry Roadmap to identify future research and development needs in order to accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. Industry surveys and a focused workshop were conducted to develop and document metalcasting capability gaps, solutions, and recommendations for areas of investment that will strengthen and catalyze the U.S. metalcasting infrastructure in advanced casting production. The resulting roadmap is divided into four main topic areas: process, materials, design, and workforce, with readily executable key tasks mapped to timelines in each area. The following pages present a graphic summary of those high level topic areas, research focus areas, and actionable paths to advance the metalcasting industry.
Metalcasting is the most cost-effective method to manufacture a shaped metal component. The process consists of pouring molten metal into a mold containing a cavity of the desired shape. Metalcasting is one of America’s oldest and most important industries, established in 1642. In 1776, seven foundry men signed the Declaration of Independence. Metalcasting is vital to the economy and security of the U.S. The industry helped the U.S. become the world leader in manufacturing, science, medicine, and aerospace and is helping it to sustain this position.
Task 1: Defining the Landscape The AMC RTAC reviewed past metalcasting and related roadmaps and conducted surveys to determine baseline metalcasting industry needs. A designated “select” team of experts was developed to review the surveys, determine areas of metalcasting technology gaps, and outline general areas of R&D needs. The efforts were coordinated by the AMC RTAC and reviewed by the AMC REC.
Task 2: Preparing the Surface for the Road The AMC REC helped set the topics, agenda, discussion leaders, and framework for the Roadmapping Development Workshop. A list of invitees was established, a date and location was set, and invitations were sent out. Prior to the meeting, results of Task 1 activities, including interviews, were compiled into workshop background materials and sent to the invitees, who were asked to identify focus areas such as advanced technology, new processes, education and training, industry needs, consortium and collaboration, transformative and disruptive technologies, etc. for participation in breakout sessions. The breakout sessions were facilitated by the selected members of the REC.
Task 3: Roadmapping Development Workshop The AMC Roadmapping Development Workshop was conducted May 12-13, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. Thirty-six experts were specially selected from industry, academia, and government to attend the workshop. The goal of the workshop was to identify future metalcasting research / technology / workforce needs. Participants presented and discussed the important metalcasting issues and the required R&D / technologies / resources needed in small breakout groups consisting of six to eight people per group. Each breakout group session lasted 45 minutes and had a facilitator and a record keeper. The four breakout group areas were: process, materials, design, and workforce. Participants are listed in Table 3 and their biographies, key issues, and results from this workshop are contained in the Appendix.
Task 4: Finishing the Road and Creating a Vision for the Future The AMC REC reviewed, revised, and finalized the roadmap document. Before the final roadmap was issued, a draft document was sent out to those that participated in the roadmapping workshop for their suggestions and feedback.
Many needs have been identified to more efficiently manufacture metalcastings. These include rapid tooling manufacturing, research, technology development, advancements and integration of digital data threads, as well as transformative and potentially disruptive approaches to how cast metal components are produced. Process R&D can improve quality, enhance performance, reduce weight, reduce lead times, and improve the cost-effectiveness of cast parts. In developing a metalcasting roadmap to address the area of manufacturing process, the roadmapping development workshop participants identified eight major categories in which to group the new technologies and processes needed for metalcasting.
Research, data, and tools are needed to improve the materials used in the production of metalcastings. Material R&D can improve quality and performance, reduce weight, reduce lead times, and improve the cost-effectiveness of cast parts. In developing a metalcasting roadmap to address the area of materials, the roadmapping development workshop participants identified three major categories in which to group the new technologies and processes needed for metalcasting materials.
Tools, rules, education, and data are needed to improve the design and manufacture of metalcastings. In developing a metalcasting roadmap to address the area of design, the roadmapping development workshop participants identified five major categories in which to group the new technologies and processes needed for metalcasting design.
Significant investment in workforce development will be required in order for the cast metals industry to remain vibrant and competitive in the future. A significant portion of the industry workforce, including a large population of “baby-boomer” generation workers, is approaching retirement age. As these workers transition from the active workforce, new workers will be needed to replace them. Input gathered from industry participants during the roadmapping workshop indicated a concern regarding the availability of workers that have the requisite skills, knowledge, and aptitude to be successful in the foundry industry. Accordingly, workshop participants identified broad areas of focus that will help develop the workforce necessary to carry the foundry industry into the next decade.
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