Project Description

SEM-net

Smart Energy Management Network for the HPDC process

IECI Srl is one of the partners of the international project SEM-net, aiming to study and to prototype an innovative control system for the series manufacturing of HPDC cells. The project started on the 1st March 2018, and will last 24 months.

The SEM-net consortium has been formed carefully selecting each of the partners to ensure the commercialization of the new innovative product to be developed.

It encompasses the entire value chain (from process equipment suppliers, to manufacturers and the validator. Working together the partners with their complementary backgrounds, knowledge and skills will implement a relatively mature technology in a lighter and competitive new aluminium parts.

Participants:

The European Framework

SME-NET has received the funding from the MANUNET initiative, that supports innovation-driven, close-to-market research and development projects in manufacturing. It aims to encourage cross-border value chains that emerge from advancing technologies.

The need

Cars are in fact responsible for around 12% of total CO2 EU emissions, and to this concern, EU Regulations are pushing the passenger car industry to reduce its greenhouse and toxic emissions by setting mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars. Car producers are therefore compelled to go towards lighter vehicles.

Aluminium is more and more adopted, thanks to its lower density compared to steel and thanks to a lower cost compared to magnesium and carbon fibers. Components are designed to match increasing requirements in terms of safety and impact resistance, while maintaining performance and sinking prices. The resulting product for foundries is the so called “aluminium structural part”, which is currently a challenge for HPDC, due to its technical difficulties.

Partners of the Project are keen to reach this market with SEM-net, a competitive system which allows to continuously monitoring the process increasing the productivity and modifying automatically key parameters during production in order to achieve the best quality of the part both with a smart energy consumption.

The approach

SEM-net is an innovative control system for the series manufacturing of HPDC cells. The objective of the project is the implementation of an innovative system based on the interaction between a stereo thermographic device called Die Thermal Control (DTC), thermoregulation units and the spray head in the Vacuum High Pressure Die Casting (VHPDC) technology for the manufacturing and commercialization of new aluminium structural castings. For this purpose during the project the new structural castings, as demonstration products and the VHPDC Dynamically Thermal controlled process (VHPDCDTC) will be validated to manufacture structural castings in a continuous and robust manner.

The benefits

  • Develop new structural VHPDC parts with improved mechanical properties, non-quality parts less than a 5% at competitive costs.
  • Continuous and systematic monitoring of the process to increase the productivity of the cell unit up to a 20% by avoiding deviations in the process.
  • Thermal stability of the process thanks to a self-balancing approach, able to distinguish between a long term tempering units and short term tempering.
  • Reduction of energy consumption of 50% during start-up phase thanks to reducing lubrication cycle a 50% and, in regime phase, thanks to continuous tuning of peripherals energy absorption.
  • Longer die life: around 30% more by avoiding thermal shocks, both on the surface and inside of die’s steel.
  • Scrap reduction in HPDC processes above all for structural castings from current 25% to 5% which mean less re-melting rate, overuse of energy and high competitiveness on the structural market.
  • Increase quality of the parts reducing casting defects due to an excess of lubrication, heating or cooling of the die with consequent reduction of scrap rate after machining up to 25%.
  • Reduce setup time to start the production, in a field where the number of changes of materials and dies grows up continuously by reducing start-up phase, as mentioned, of 50% of lubrication time.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s MANUNET Programme and from Regione Lombardia- MNET17/ADMA-2299