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An innovative method for constructing casting-dies for the production of the aluminium components in the automotive sector

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PUZZLE_DIE (An innovative method for constructing casting-dies for the production of the aluminium components in the automotive sector)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

One of the most important objectives of the European automotive industry is to reduce the weight of a mid-sized engine segment vehicle by about 200 kg by 2020.Consequently one of the main guidelines for action is the gradual replacement of steel and ferrous alloy structural components with aluminium components. The current limit is the production cost of these manufactured products. Since they are made with the die-casting process, they have very high costs because of the special dies employed and their limited lifetime (100,000 to 150,000 pieces).

The goal of our project is to develop a new method for constructing dies that doubles the limit of 150,000 pieces, today considered insurmountable, while reducing the cost of the offshoot product, making it cost-effective even for the category of cheaper cars.
The Pilot Trials have further confirmed the efficacy of our process in prolonging the die-life, improving the temperature control inside the die and reducing the entity of the stress areas. Our process is based on the concept of the “puzzle die”: to fragment the die along the lines of “major fatigue”, which were identified using simulation tools whose reliability has been verified in the feasibility study.

Two producers of die-casting aluminium components for automotive gave their availability to use “puzzle dies” in real production to test their performances; at the same time three important car manufacturers sent us letters of interest about our innovation.

The patent search has confirmed that there is not any existing patent that could interfere with our invention, which is consequently patentable.

All potential risks which can harm the project have been identified, with the probability they could happen. Risk-mitigations have also been clearly identified.

The Business Plan, although based on cautious assumptions, foresees a boost in company’s growth: the turnover is expected to increase by 47% more than with the simple growth from the development of traditional dies, and the profitability will rise by 7% from 2018 to 2023.

All these results encourage us to continue the project.
Thanks to our invention it will be technically and economically feasible to produce aluminium car components also for mid-size cars: besides the clear advantages for components’ producers, the use of these aluminium components on cars with a mid-sized engine would, on the European level, offer a reduction of CO2 emissions equivalent to 317,000 tonnes/year.