The innovations the consortium wants to achieve with the proposed project are on different levels. The most important is the realisation of a "comprehensive" software tool reliably linking metallurgy, foundry practice, numerical methods and information technology. For the first time, an engineering tool will be made available for understanding and solving the majority of problems generated during the production of cast components, and will be tested and used on specific industrial cases.
- This innovation will bring together specific innovations in each field involved in the project:
- The comprehension of aluminium solidification mechanisms has been, up to now, an unattained goal. Through this new know-how it will be possible to develop simulation codes for aluminium casting that will predict the microstructure and hence the mechanical characteristics of the component after cooling. A similar code is still not available on the market.
- Criteria for describing the filling defects that originate in the die-casting process are not available: they will be set up and tested.
- Currently, procedures for linking structural design codes (or their outputs) to process simulation codes, including mechanical behaviour prediction do not exist. Such procedures will be prepared and taken up within the IDEAL project.
- When introduced into the production process, LHIP can exploit the real potential of aluminium casting alloys, eliminating almost all of the defects which originate in the process. The degree of innovation is, per se, very high, and it increases further if it is directly evaluated by the integrated software tool developed during the project.
- At present, optimisation is not employed systematically in foundries. The only kind of optimisation actually carried out is fruit of the experience of individual technicians or engineers. The IDEAL project will introduce the use of an optimisation tool that supports a more rational and efficient approach to foundry problems into the manufacturing chain.