The Practical and Effective Deployment of Virtual Casting
It can be an interesting journey when a foundry moves from quite conventional process design methods to one based on virtual prototyping technology, i.e. computational or virtual casting. Specific examples are discussed that highlight some of the issues that were encountered during that journey to optimize the investment in a virtual casting approach. Such a virtual approach allows the investigation of multiple configurations with a range of process parameters, all within the computer, without having to make physical design changes on the foundry floor. One case involved the casting of ductile iron rings that are fully machined and hence demand lowest porosity levels. As a regular casting that has been made in large numbers with relatively high reject levels it was run through the simulation early on to prove the concept. Based on the existing method an improved method was developed and trialled successfully. In another case discussed, conventional theoretical calculations determined that what was being demanded was beyond the limit of what the foundry could cast (1.5 tonnes). However, data from the simulation model established the weight of metal precisely, and has since proven to be a far more accurate calculation. The predicted weight was well under the limit proving the job feasible. Other cases are also discussed. In most cases simulated, it was clear that improvements of the process design were achieved when compared to past practices. Using simulation tools as part of the virtual casting process has helped to reduce significantly the time to evaluate the optimum set of process parameters to produce sound castings. And in a specific case, it showed that it could provide answers that were simply not available using conventional calculations.