Metal casting has now become an industry which is integral towards not only our economy but also to our way of life. Today these products can be found in 90 percent of manufactured goods and equipment. This includes critical components for automobiles to surgical equipments and home appliances. According to 2021 data, the Asia Pacific region holds the major market share in the metal casting market
and the market value of the global metal casting industry is estimated to reach USD 119.24 billion by 2028. A recent report from IMARC, a leading market research firm highlights the growth potential of the Indian metal casting industry. It found that the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 percent between 2022 and 2027.
The Indian metal casting market is primarily driven by the developments happening in the foundry industry. Rapid industrialization as well as urbanization has also increased the utilization of metal casting process across the country. The increase in the manufacturing of automobiles is yet another facet which is boosting the growth of the market. With the metal casting industry holding so much significance in our day to day lives, lets analyze some of the most important trends that is reshaping the metal casting industry.
Sustainability and Green Sand Casting
Most of the primary operations happening in a foundry consume a lot of energy. On top of that, these segments also contribute towards climate change as they release harmful greenhouse gases. Shifting towards renewable energy sources, and improving waste production as well as handling are crucial for the metal casting industry to turn things around for the better and stop harming the environment. While switching from conventional energy sources towards renewable energy sources is gaining more popularity in the market, making the whole process less wasteful still isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Green sand casting is one of the most reliable casting methods in the world right now. While companies only use the mold once in this casting process, some organizations have come up with recycling programs that utilize the sand which is used in the process for other purposes. The green sand casting process involves the consumption of bentonite and carbon and the majority of it is wasted by the end of the process.
French multinational company Imerys, with their RIKO technology is becoming a game changer when it comes to waste disposal. They are able to generate fully hydrated bentonite as well as coal from foundry waste streams. This also results in better performing bentonite. This innovative process is able to utilize the waste stream as a source for materials when it comes to green sand molding. This will result in the creation of a sustainable product which is of high value. There are multiple other advantages to this process including enhanced molding sand properties, improved molding sand performance, reduced bond consumption, and elimination of dust disposal. Other than that, it will also help in improving mold stability during the casting process. This in turn will result in fewer casting defects.
Increasing efficiency without compromising on quality is a top priority in the metal casting industry. While many other industry verticals have shifted their focus towards digital technologies to improve their operations, the metal casting industry still to an extent remains hesitant to adopt new-age technologies. Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation, ABB did introduce the first smart factory solution for the metal industry. Some of the benefits offered by the technology include melt shop productivity, saving energy as well as improving employee safety. This unique solution offers real-time ladle tracking. It also provides automated crane scheduling as well as a thermal modeling engine. These features will help companies to shift towards autonomous operations. This in turn will allow them to eliminate manual co-ordination.
Data analysis is another innovative process which can help metal casting companies to get accurate and dependable information. This can be about the overall productivity, errors, as well as process times. One of the BMW Group factories created 4.3 million cast metal parts in one year. This includes engine and vehicle body components. The company stores thousands of details about the different process. This includes data about storage times for sand cores to temperature and pressure specifics. This allows the company to have data transparency which in turn helps them to ensure component quality. It also enables the casting technologists from the company to put together an optimum parameter for individual casting systems.
When it was first introduced, Additive manufacturing or 3D printing had limitations when compared to other traditional methods. Now, that is not the case. Additive manufacturing has rapidly developed and it can now be used to work with plethora of materials including metal. This technology also allows companies to create more precise and high quality components as well as products. It can even be used to build large structures. Additive printers can also build complex components and products which traditional casting methods will struggle with. New Zealand based company, Foundry Lab has created a pioneering process which can speed up casting. The company has reportedly created break shoes for cars. It only took them eight hours to do this by using computer-aided design, 3D printing as well as a giant microwave. On the other hand, usually, it will take traditional casting methods anywhere from one to six weeks to finish this.
With new companies mushrooming in the market constantly, the competition is getting tighter in the metal casting industry. While these afore-mentioned trends will have a drastic impact on the future of metal casting and give companies a competitive edge over the rest, business leaders should have a clear idea regarding how to incorporate these technologies into their operations before taking a final decision. This will not only help them to improve the quality of their operations but at the same time, it will allow them to get better returns on their investments.