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Smart solution for connecting process with material characteristics to achieve new generation of digital materials for the automotive industry.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DigiMAT (Smart solution for connecting process with material characteristics to achieve new generation of digital materials for the automotive industry.)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

Automotive is a sector with significant weight in the European Industry, GPD and employment. It is a very competitive market in which the main driving force is to improve performance while the costs are maintained or even reduced. The DigiMAT project focuses on the validation in real condition of the technological and methodological solution of developing two new digital cast iron materials: higher yield strength material (15% strengthened) and a high machinability material (10% improved) to be applied to brake anchor and housing, respectively. The lighter and cost-effective brake will be homologated in CONTINENTAL bench tests, fulfilling all the strict automotive standards.

The DigiMAT project will launch into the market smart module “DigiMAT” able to develop the intelligent algorithms to connect process with material characteristics to achieve new generation of DIGITAL MATERIALS with tailored characteristics, demonstrated its performance in lighter components and reducing energy and raw material consumption in their manufacturing process.

The new smart data management module “DigiMAT module” has been developed by VEIGALAN SME specialized in ICT solutions for foundry sector. Its development is supported by a sensor network and an advanced data management system already running in AAPICO iron foundry (see attached figure).

Digital materials can have a wide impact in industry and society. The smart DigiMAT module consists on a specific algorithm for each digital material developed combined with an automatic protocol definitions system that will conform a specific methodology, this methodology is leaded by Azterlan. The system acquires, stores, processes and analyses the data coming from a previously defined set of trials. Its validation is going to be completed with the homologation of new digital materials by CONTINENTAL (TIER 1) and by their introduction in the AAPICO foundry portfolio. In parallel, CONTINENTAL has developed a lighter anchor based on the developed high yield material. This lighter anchor integrated into a new brake system will be functionally homologated in DigiMAT project.

Finally, partners are developing a business plan for quick take up of the project results. It is expected that the new developed solution will reach in next five years to the 35% of the European iron foundry market and 10% of the Worldwide level.
WP1 is devoted to the management of the project, leaded by VEIGALAN as project coordinator and by AZTERLAN as technical manager, with the involvement of the rest of the partners. Main management activities during this second reporting period were: organisation of seven Skype meetings, the preparation of second amendment, and management of Covid-19 pandemic effect on the project execution.

WP5 devoted to dissemination and exploitation activities leaded by AAPICO continued in 2020. However, some of the scheduled activities were postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic. First economical assessment concerning the cost of manufacturing new grades at AAPICO and machinability cost reduction at CONTINENTAL was performed.

Technical contribution is concentrated in WP3 and WP4, as it is described below. Concerning the WP3: “Setting up of Smart module for new material grades” , the battery tests for machinability optimization were performed, the actuation protocols were adapted to achieve the specifications for High machinability grade. The first version of smart module was installed at the beginning of 2020 in AAPICO.

Concerning WP4: “New material grades and lighter anchor validation”, several activities were performed:
- A new model for High yield strength with an accuracy of 90 % was installed at the end of December 2020 in AAPICO’s facilities. The manufacturing of new high yield strength grade controlled by this new model has been validated with 7 new manufacturing trials, achieving the target of 420 MPa in yield strength and 7 % in elongation.
- Validation of the high machinability grade is on-going. The manufacturing of 60.000 housings following the defined actuation protocols was scheduled in 2020 for its manufacturing at the beginning of 2021.
- Two manufacturing batches have been already performed with conventional (OLD) and High Mechanical properties (NEW) grade with the conventional anchor design (OLD Design).
- Design of lightweight anchor (3.7 % lighter) was delivered by Continental to AAPICO at the beginning of 2020. The pattern modification to lighter design will be performed at the beginning of May 2021, after validation of the two manufacturing batches performed with the OLD design.
Main innovations of the DigiMAT Project are:
-DIGIMAT SMART MODULE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF TAILORED MADE GRADES: Product data analysis based on statistical control tools and process adjustment based on human decisions is improved by “A digital prediction modelling based on the best combination of 8 mathematical models such as Artificial Neural networks, Bayesian Networks, Naïve Bayes, etc.”
-METHODOLOGY FOR IN REAL TIME PROTOCOL APPLICATION: Decision system is based on expert people and after data analysis is improved by “on-line intelligent system that allows to forecast the results and if unexpected deviation occurs, the new established actuations protocols are applied”.
-CAST IRON PRODUCT WITH HIGHER MECHANICAL PROPERTIES: Existing cast iron manufacturing grades allows significant variation ranges in mechanical properties and thus high security coefficients are applied in the design phase of the components; are improved by “New cast iron grades with tailored made mechanical properties and with a reduced variation range”.
- CAST IRON GRADE WITH IMPROVED MACHINABILITY: Many processes and product variables affecting machinability are unknown nowadays; which will be improved by “expert knowledge on main process variables and product characteristics affecting machinability”.

The main exploitable results are:
R1-The smart module for digital materials manufacturing.
R2-Actuation protocols and specific controls for tailor-made digital materials implementation.
R3–Digital material 1: Cast iron grade with higher mechanical performance and the relevant manufacturing route.
R4–Digital material 2: Cast iron grade with improved machinability, and the relevant manufacturing route.
R5–Improved brake system, based on the new lighter anchor and cost-effective housing.

Veigalan and AAPICO is working in an extended agreement to further define the IPR management to exploit R1 results. In parallel, CONTINENTAL and AAPICO are working in an extended agreement to facilitate the exploitation of each project results after the project.

The DigiMAT project will have a high impact in all the partners of the consortium, and it is expected a cascade impact on the EU industry, having its main influence on automotive sector. The project will have direct impact on different applications initially where ductile iron and specific parameters are desired such as yield strength or machinability. Thus, different automotive components are related, and several European iron part manufacturing processes and end-users will receive a significant impact.
Smart Digimat module