Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

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

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DigiMAT (Smart solution for connecting process with material characteristics to achieve new generation of digital materials for the automotive industry.)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-01-31

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 (12.5 % 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” was developed by VEIGALAN SME specialized in ICT solutions for foundry sector. Its development was supported by a sensor network, advanced data management system and manufacturing digital twin already running in AAPICO iron foundry before the start of DigiMAT project (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 was leaded by Azterlan. The system acquires, stores, processes and analyses the data coming from a previously defined set of trials. Its validation was completed with the homologation of new digital materials by CONTINENTAL (TIER 1) and by their introduction in the AAPICO foundry portfolio. In parallel, CONTINENTAL designed a lighter anchor based on the developed high yield material. This lighter anchor (3.07 % lighter) was integrated into a new brake system and was functionally homologated in DigiMAT project.

Finally, partners developed a business plan for quick take up of the project results and to spread the results of the project in a cascade mode in Europe and worldwide.
The main management activities (WP1) during this reporting period were the organisation of 21 remote meetings, and the preparation of two amendments to extend the project to manage the effect of Covid-19 pandemic and semiconductor shortage on the project execution.

Technical contribution was concentrated in WP4 in the validation of the two digital grades.
For the validation of HIGH MACHINABILITY GRADE, AAPICO manufactured more than 250.000 housings with the new High Machinability grade that were machined at CONTINENTAL facilities to evaluate the performance in a long term machining trials. The machinability target 10% was achieved and exceeded to 16%, that can result in an improved economical processing of casting housings with two main factors:
- Less tool wear within the machining process will result in a reduced consumption of tools.
- Increment the relative uptime / availability of machining equipment.

For the validation of HIGH YIELD STRENGTH grade:
- The new predictive model for High yield strength was further validated with 10 new batches performed at AAPICO covering conventional EN GJS 550 grade and new HS420/250 grade. The smart DigiMAT module running in AAPICO's manufacturing digital twin is shown in the attached figure.
- A 3.07 % lighter anchor manufactured with the new grade passed all the homologation tests at CONTINENTAL and similar fatigue life was observed for EN GJS 550 grade and new HS420/250 grade.

WP5 devoted to dissemination and exploitation activities was leaded by AAPICO. Some of the scheduled dissemination activities postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic were performed, with an emphasis on online dissemination activities. Economical assessment and final business plan considering the 16 % improvement in machinability process of the housings and the 3.07 % weight reduction in the lighter anchors were issued.
The main exploitable results of DigiMAT project 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.

After performing several bilateral meetings between IPR representatives of Veigalan and AAPICO; and between AAPICO and Continental, two agreements were achieved for IPR management after DigiMAT project to exploit the full potential of each industrial business case. The three industrial partners have freedom of operation to exploit DigiMAT results since 2023.

The DigiMAT project will have a high impact in all the partners of the consortium, the business plan was first addressed for CONTINENTAL, including potential saving for both grades. Then AAPICO business plan included the anchor and housings units forecasted by CONTINENTAL to be supplied by AAPICO and additional castings for other clients. VEIGALAN business plan was presented, considering the new CONTINENTAL’s suppliers forecasted in its business plan for both DigiMAT grades (High machinability grade and High yield strength grade) and additional clients forecasted from the companies who had already signed collaboration agreements or other potential clients. Finally, AZTERLAN will beneficiate directly and indirectly of all the commercial activities performed by all the rest of the partners: AAPICO, CONTINENTAL and VEIGALAN promoting DigiMAT solution.

Thus, a cascade impact on the EU industry, is expected 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 running in AAPICO's manufacturing digital twin