20/09/2020

Introduction of Simulation Capabilities

Introduction of Simulation Capabilities

As part of the modernisation and expansion of PI Castings technical and engineering capabilities, we have recently acquired industry leading casting simulation software: Magmasoft. 

The advances in accessible computing power together with mathematical models that can accurately compute liquid flow and material temperature differentials has provided an excellent opportunity to take a leap into this technology and develop a stronger technical foundation to thrive in the future of casting.

What is Magmasoft?

Magmasoft allows the complete simulation of the casting system, from the moment molten metal is poured into the system then as it travels through filters, runners, into the castings themselves and then finally feeding elements. Once the pouring and filling of metal completes Magmasoft will begin to simulate the 2nd phase, the cooldown and solidification.

These two key simulations are key to the production of sound, quality castings. Initially the flow of molten metal must be controlled; the aim is to fill castings slowly from the lowest point avoiding any ‘waterfall’ effects and reducing splashing from turbulent flow where possible. The aim here is to limit the contact between air and metal in order to reduce the generation of oxides and trapped gas which reduce the integrity of castings. 

The simulation resolution can be set so high that individual droplets generated by turbulent flow can be observed and tracked, this gives the user a powerful insight to the casting process allowing for small yet calculated and efficient changes to the casting system. 

The second phase of casting, the solidification is the most critical. If the casting part is not cooled correctly and a zone of molten metal is isolated from a reservoir of molten metal it will shrink and contract causing voids or porosity, defects that can severely undermine the integrity of a cast part. Using Magma, our engineers can identify where and when these isolated pockets will form and create a casting method that will constantly feed them with molten metal until fully solidified. All before any parts are physically cast. 

In addition to simulating to visualise the casting method, Magma contains an optimisation module. After receiving specialist training, our engineer can now set up complete autonomous simulations where the program is given an objective and a set of variable parameters to alter in order to reach that objective. Using Sobol mathematical models Magma can take a problem with tens of thousands of different variations across multiple variables and calculate just a handful of recommended parameters.

How Do We Use Magmasoft

Existing customers are already benefiting from the work our technical team are undertaking using Magmasoft. Selected parts are being reviewed and casting systems redesigned or tweaked as necessary with the goals of:

  • Increasing quality and soundness of castings
  • Reducing scrap rates
  • Increasing production efficiency
  • Reducing post cast finishing time

The benefit of this work is clear: better quality castings can be produced in less time.

The greatest improvements have been through complete casting system redesigns. In a project to improve the quality and reduce scrap rate for a specific notorious part the design process was started from the ground up, starting with simulating to find ideal process temperatures and feeding patterns then designing the entire casting assembly and running simulations in conjunction with real world production trials. Designing methods in this way meant we were able to relatively quickly move through a total of 31 versions, only using time consuming production trials for progressive milestones. 

This work has reduced the defect rate by 51% already, with more trials underway at the time of writing.

An additional benefit of the tie in between simulation work and real world trials in the foundry has been an opportunity for our experienced foundrymen to see and understand a new perspective of the work they do, furthering our grassroots technical knowledge.

Moving forwards

To build upon the work we are already undertaking and progress with our new simulation capabilities, our engineer’s remit will be expanded to cover new products and development projects where possible. Undertaking new development work utilising Magmasoft will reduce lead times and significantly increase the chances of ‘right first time’.  

Where possible, it may even be appropriate to run development work to feedback and propose design changes to to aid manufacture and help produce sound, high quality castings at a lower price in less time.