Fraunhofer IFAM has built up in-depth know-how and has an extensive range of facilities for die casting, investment casting, and lost foam casting, the three most important casting methods.
Die casting is the most productive of the three methods and today still has enormous potential for enhancing value creation. Key current research areas include lost (salt) cores, cast structural components, and hybrid joining of FRPs with casting materials, in particular CFRP and aluminum.
Investment casting is useful for complex and delicate structures with fine surfaces. Here, a wax model of desired geometry is prepared, embedded in molding material, and then heated. The resulting hollow space is then filled with melt in the investment casting plant.
Lost foam technology is used for casting large and small parts of high complexity directly as near net shaped parts. The method allows uniquely complex components to be manufactured with any design of channels and undercuts – without demolding grooves or burrs. Fraunhofer IFAM is a leader in lost foam technology and works closely with industry via the Verbund des Lost Foam Council e. V..
The casting materials used include aluminum, magnesium, zinc, copper, steel, and customer-specific special alloys. In addition, special materials such as metal-matrix composites are developed and improved, opening up new applications for casting and cast components.
The function-integrated cast components being developed at Fraunhofer IFAM are a growing area of work. The integration of electronic components involves function-integration during the casting process. CASTTRONICS® technology allows advanced electronic, sensor, and actuator functionalization of cast components, for example RFID component identification and sensors for load detection. Numerical simulation of casting processes and extensive analytical facilities are also available at Fraunhofer IFAM.
Furthermore, there is the unique opportunity for customers to also benefit from the expertise of other related research groups at Fraunhofer IFAM, for example in the area of corrosion protection, surface coatings, and adhesive bonding.