Metallurgy Research Centre

  • 7 de octubre de 2019

The 2nd Carl Loper symposium gathers more than 160 participants from 21 countries to share the most advanced technological innovations and applications of cast iron

Organized by the IK4-AZTERLAN Metallurgy Research Center, along with the American Foundry Society (AFS), the World Foundry Organization (WFO) and the Tabira Foundry Institute, this outstanding international framework has reviewed the metallurgy fundamentals of cast iron by sharing some of the latest research and technological developments for the industry. The event has also outlined some of the opportunities for this material that keeps giving response to high-demanding applications in sectors like automotive and energy, among others.

The 2nd CARL LOPER Symposium has taken place in Bilbao on September 30th and October 1st, gathering more than 160 professionals linked to cast iron metallurgy and its transformation technologies. More than 85 companies and organizations from 21 countries have taken part in this international working frame.

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Ramón Suárez, R&D Director of IK4-AZTERLAN, welcomes the Symposium

By an outstanding working program formed by 40 technical presentations, experts and technicians from the industry and the academia have discussed the latest innovations aimed at improving the efficiency of industrial processes, optimizing tooling design and enhancing physical and mechanical characteristics of alloys and components, as well as their resistance to corrosion, oxidation and wear, among others.

Through different topics such as the control of graphite nucleation, or the effect of different chemical compositions and inoculating elements on the formation of the microstructure of alloys, various authors have offered clues to improve the properties of iron alloys, analyzing into detail their involvement in this complex manufacturing technology.

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Attendees at one of the working sessions of the meeting

The Symposium has allowed to showcase advanced testing methods and innovative software developments for predicting metallurgical quality, for designing parts and tooling or for configurating mold feeding systems. Among the novelties presented, new heat treatments and innovative processes, such as the application of high thermal plasma or some developments for the recovery of spent foundry sands, could be found.

The 4 Invited Key Note Lecturers have presented innovative experiences related to cast iron materials and processes, as well as a market-oriented vision on the evolution of cast iron components in the automotive sector and the energy sector.

The first of the guest speakers, Mr. Jorge Fesch, CEO and President of SAKTHI PORTUGAL, has shared with attendees to the Symposium the importance of incorporating innovation into the corporate culture of the foundry. In the words of Mr. Fesch, building strong ties with suppliers, customers and workforce based on values like trust, transparency, commitment, proximity and excellence, while "keeping a clear focus", is fundamental to succeed.   

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Mr. Jorge Fesch, CEO and President of Sakthi Portugal, during his speech

With a view closer to the product development, Mr. Per Samuelsson, Head of Metallurgy at MAN Energy Solutions, has presented a case study on how a casting of compact graphite was used to build cylinders for heavy duty marine engines. The new material offers a significant weight reduction compared to the lamellar graphite casting used to date in this kind of applications, achieving good properties related to wear and to high temperature requirements.  

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Mr. Per Samuelsson, Head of Metallurgy, MAN Energy Solutions, during his presentation

Iron casting challenges and opportunities in the automotive sector

The Symposium has offered the chance to share the vision and strategy of the automotive industry regarding this material, through the presentation of the company RENAULT as a reference European car manufacturer. Mr. Loïc Vaissiere and Mr. Eric Albertalli, experts in foundry materials and technologies, showed the attendees evidence of how the weight lightening strategies implemented by the industry, transitioning towards the gasoline engine and the "imminent and inevitable" jump to the electric engine, represent a steady reduction in the presence of cast iron components in the high volume passenger vehicles. In Vaissiere's words, "these strategies respond to public policies aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the vehicles. To achieve so, it is necessary to act at 3 strategic levels: decreasing the size of the components by improving their design, optimizing the production processes and continuing the development of materials that offer similar performances with less weight”. Regarding weight reduction, Vaissiere and Albertalli have identified aluminium (forged and cast) and steel (forged, cast and stamped) as potential substitutes for key car components that currently are produced in cast iron.

The Renault representatives have predicted that by 2035 there will be an annual 1.85% reduction in the presence of cast iron components in their vehicles. A vision that sets a real challenge for the industry, which is under a continuous demand to improve the mechanical properties of its products and to optimize its production processes.

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Foundry experts from Renault, Mr. Eric Albertalli and Mr. Loïc Vaissiere, along with Dr. Susana Méndez (IK4-AZTERLAN) during the technical discussion following their presentation

As a very interesting counterpoint to this vision, Dr. Steve Dawson, CEO and President of the company Sintercast, has blamed "miss-communication by the casting industry and by the automotive industry" for the decrease of cast iron parts in cars. By showing a complete life cycle analysis of the components, the Sintercast representative has shown that the incorporation of aluminum as a substitute for iron casting fosters a CO2 emissions increase resulting from the environmentally unfriendly production and processing of this metallic material. Likewise, in the words of Dr. Dawson, the automobile industry is penalized for an issue that in reality corresponds to the energy generation industry. Without a doubt, the incorporation of the electric vehicle "will increase the demand for energy, moving the problem to another area".

Similarly, Mr. Dawson has defined the electric vehicle promotion strategy a "mainly European trend", which does not correspond to the reality of other markets such as the American market "where the consumption trend is for larger vehicles" and, subsequently, continues demanding cast iron components.

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Dr. Steve Dawson, CEO and President of Sintercast

Honoring Dr. Carl Loper

The memory and the figure of Dr. Carl Loper have been present throughout the Symposium. During the opening and closing ceremonies, through the technical presentations of many speakers and in some of the social events, words and anecdotes about the late Dr. Loper have been shared. He has been defined as a prolific researcher, "professor of professors" and an international reference in the field of iron metallurgy.

Bilbao has had the honor of hosting the 2nd Symposium in the name of Dr. Carl Loper. 10 years after the first celebration of the event in Madison (Wisconsin, USA), we have been able to enjoy a world-class international technical framework, sharing two days of intense working sessions with technicians and specialists from more than 20 countries.

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Prof. Dr. Doru M. Stefanescu shares emotional memories of Dr. Carl Loper

The Organizing Committee for the event wants to highlight and appreciate the collaboration and involvement of a good number of companies (not only from the auxiliary sector, but also foundries), which have supported this international framework through their sponsorship: HA ILARDUYA (gold sponsor), ASK Chemicals (silver sponsor), DRAXTON (silver sponsor), SQ INSERTEC (silver sponsor) and FOSECO (bronze sponsor), as well as the support of the Education Department of the Basque Government.