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FLEXICAST Report Summary

Project ID: 314540
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 3 - FLEXICAST (Robust, and FLEXible CAST iron manufacturing)

Project Context and Objectives:
The Robust and FLEXIble CAST Iron Manufacturing (FLEXICAST) project presents knowledge-based technologies that aims to follow the way to transform the conventional (batch-by-batch) foundry process into a flexible (mould-by-mould) process. One of the most important objective is a new melting shop, denominated cast iron manufacturing cell".
Cast iron manufacturing cell is a DEMO prototype for the validation of FLEXICAST expected results, and will be a starting point of a future lean manufacturing systems (no included in the FLEXICAST project).
For the cast iron manufacturing cell, each component has been designed independently, following a development methodology the so-called "step by step". The cell, from a conceptual point of view, is basically composed by a hybrid heating system (induction and plasma), a pouring unit, a multiple inoculation system, as well as the sensors and instruments necessary to assess the quality of the cast iron.
The proposal technologies will be applicable not only to new cast iron foundry lines, but also is readily available to be retro-fitted to existing plants.
In relation to WP2, all RTD activities have been finished during the previous 2nd period, except for the Flexicast furnace cover lining development, which has been necessary for DEMO prototype.
For WP3 and WP5, which constitute the “smart control and knowledge platform” in the project, the main efforts were dedicated towards the experimental validation of software codes (soft & hard computing).
This platform integrates: Data gathering and Statistical Process Control Systems, Artificial Intelligence Systems (decision-making tools), Sensors/Devices (among others: melting and pouring temperatures, chemical composition, DTA parameters, X-ray on-line inspection approach, sand parameters, quantities and velocities of inoculant agents) and modelling of cast iron pieces for mould filling and solidification.
Basically, this activity it reflected through deliverables:
D5.8 Experimental validation procedures and results.
D5.7 Casting process simulation (final report)
D5.5 Specific pieces design
In relation with the WP4, related with the automation based on robotics for foundry process. The aim of WP4 was the improvement of automation level of cast iron foundry through the introduction of robotized cell. All RTD activities have been finished during the previous 2nd period, except for the automation of test samples cell and the development of the innovative gripper for grinding and deburring for a robotized solution in foundry environment, which has been necessary for DEMO prototypes.
The main goal of WP6 (DEMO activities) is to validate the final demonstrators according to the FLEXICAST specifications. The specific activities related with DEMO for this 3rd period (37-48 m) were:1- Assembly, installation and validation of cast iron manufacturing cell in Fund. de Roda facilities:
-Induction furnace (and auxiliary equipment)
-Pouring units (and auxiliary equipment)
-Plasma equipment
-Multi-inoculation system
-Nodulizing system (converter)
2- Assembly, installation and validation of the following equipment in F Roda facilities:
-DTA systems and corresponding software.
-Robotized Cell Prototype for Moulding Box
3- Assembly, installation and validation of X-ray equipment and cabinet prototypes
4- Assembly, installation and validation of converter equipment prototype
The activities were in line with the objectives and targets of this period. All DEMO prototypes are already located in Fund. de Roda, but for internal reasons of production, the cast iron manufacturing robotic cells (sample cell and deburring cell) have been installed and validated in CNR facilities.
Finally, for the WP7 and WP8, the main goal was to gather the knowledge and experience accumulated along the progress of FLEXICAST project.
The specific activities related with both work-packages for this second period (37-48 m) were:
• In relation with WP7
1-Capitalise knowledge generated
2-Formalising results of the project in guidelines and pre-standards:
-Experimental test benches and procedures.
-Best practices rules and safety procedures.
3- Life cycle assessment is being treated in order to have ways to measure the efficiency of the environmental aspects on a number of selected manufactured cast iron pieces.
• In relation with WP8
Flexicast Exploitation Plan for all those exploitable results obtained during the project lifetime and, in particular, after the project termination has been proposed.

Project Results:
During this 3rd reporting period, the partners have worked on the construction and commissioning of the following demo prototypes and equipments (Figure nº 2):
1- Assembly and installation of cast iron manufacturing cell in Fundiciones de RODA:
-Induction furnace (and auxiliary equipment) ONDARLAN
-Pouring units (and auxiliary equipment) F. de RODA, UPC
-Plasma equipment TECNALIA
-Multi-inoculation system PROSERVICE
-Nodulizing system (Converter) and Inoculants. FOSECO
2- Numerical modelling and experimental validations
-Indiana software. EURECAT
-Filling and solidification experiments. PUT and CIMNE
3- Assembly and installation of the following equipment:
-Sensors and data acquisition system with wireless. ARC
-Experimental benches. UPC, F de RODA, TSS
-DTA systems and corresponding software. PROSERVICE
-Robotized Cell Prototype for Moulding Box, COMAU, CNR & F. de RODA
4- Assembly and installation of X-ray equipment and cabinet prototype. INNOSPEXION
In relation with WP5, the ultimate goal of process modelling was to predict the final mechanical properties. The mechanical properties (hardness, tensile strength, yield strength, and elongation) of cast iron pieces are functions of composition and microstructure. The graphite shape, graphite structure, graphite amount, carbide content, and matrix structure (pearlite, ferrite) all affect the mechanical properties of ductile iron castings.
Research activity carried out deal with the numerical simulation and experimental validation of the cast iron pieces filling and solidification process. The model pieces were two types: specific Flexicast reference pieces and simple geometrical pieces (like samples). This work (numerical and experimental tests) included:
A-Shrinkage test
Comparison of different HTC
Analysis of results of experimental-simulation tests
B- Castability of Cast Iron
Status quo based on cited references
Castability trails
Computer simulation of castability trials
C- Virtual mould (figures nº 15 and 16)
Casting of reference piece -2525
Description of simulations for versions of 2525 casting
Version 1 (classic sand risers)
Version 2 (2 exo-risers)
Destructive testing realized by Fundiciones de RODA
Preparation of simulation in Procast code
Simulation Procast MICRO
Solidification results
Simulation Procast MICRO – micro model results
Additional validation tests
On the other hand, life cycle assessment was developed in order to have ways to measure the efficiency of the environmental aspects.
In order to perform the LCA analysis it was necessary to know, in detail, both the input and output data of the whole manufacturing process and relative environmental emissions (figure nº 3).
The input and output data of materials and resources consumed (water and electricity) have been obtained in collaboration among IMAMOTER C.N.R. and partners of the FLEXICAST project. The meetings among the involved partners have been necessary to identify the useful data to collect in order to perform the LCA analysis of the whole manufacturing process. Then the data have been elaborated and implemented within the GaBi software.
A complete Life Cycle Assessment was developed to compare the impact, in term of Eco Indicators, of the solutions introduced (and developed) during the project. The LCA presented in these pages is probably the first example of a complete environmental impact analysis of the cast iron production cycle. Life cycle assessment was included in deliverable D7.7.

Potential Impact:
The activities carried out under the scope of the FLEXICAST exploitation plan were:
1.-FLEXICAST exploitable results
2.-Specific Products (results) Portfolio
3.-Exploitation plan partner by partner
4.-Future Plan (Short term) for each exploitable result
5.-Exploitation plans by scenarios
6.-Exploitation plan of F. Roda (as a Demo partner)

Also, all Flexicast partners consortium met in Modena (TSS facilities) in order to assist a seminar tutored by Mr. Dario Mazella from ESIC (Brussels). It was a great help for all partners in order to fulfil the Flexicast exploitation plan. The Exploitation plan was summarized in D8.4.

The economic impact methodology chosen was to evaluate the possible impact in the European foundries who decided to incorporate the FLEXICAST achievements, and for that the impact in several “type foundries" incorporating several combinations of FLEXICAST achievements has been considered. (What here are presented as “scenarios”). Some major results are exposed in :
D8.4 Exploitation Plan (Final report)
D8.5 Socio-economic aspects
D8.9 Cost/Benefit on a selected processed pieces
In relation with dissemination activities, the continuous scientific work of all partners did lead to numerous scientific publication and media coverage.
The publications covered scientific topics from metallurgic & mechanical engineering to robotics applications.
1.Relevant results publications of the research activity carried out in peer-review journal (20 papers)
2.Publication of relevant results coming from the research activity in Conference proceedings (9 publ.)
3.Oral and Poster presentations of relevant results of the research activity in Int. Congresses (26 oral presentations)
4.Patents (1)
5.Workshops related with FoF:
a. Impact of the Factories of the Future PPP of relevant results of the research activity in EU projects. (4 editions)
b. Let's 2014 (1 edition)
6.Attendance to Industrial oriented Fairs either as invited guess or expositor
7.Publication articles in different newspapers or e-news web-sites

In order to increase the visibility of the Project, the official public web-site ( has been continuously revised with the most up-to-date information. General information for the public and the scientific community is disseminating regularly through brochures, posters, newsletters, and press releases. The industrial partners are promoting the Project at different fairs to stimulate commercial exploitation of the Project results.

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