Casting technology is a growing area. Radio frequency (RF) induction melting combined with either gravity casting or the new Constrained Rapid Induction Melting Single Shot Up-Casting (CRIMSON) process gives a unique capability.

Improving resource efficiency by reducing energy and water usage, and by dematerialisation, underpins the specific process understanding. Computer models which simulate casting processes are used to provide solutions to companies in addition to the expertise of our research staff.

The applied nature of our research in the area of sustainable design and manufacturing results in impact in research and industry. Developments have ranged from new production process technology through to new software products.

Our research

Auditing of processes to identify energy and material inefficiencies are carried out using staff expertise and computer software.

Casting process simulation using software such as Flow-3D and Magmasoft identifies material waste and efficiency and reduces scrap rates by understanding defect generation. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of liquid material processing uses Flow-3D.

Our facilities

The new Constrained Rapid Induction Melting Single Shot Up-Casting (CRIMSON) capability uses a high-powered furnace to melt just enough metal to fill a single mould in one process in a crucible.

It transfers the crucible into an up-casting station for a highly controlled filling of the mould against gravity. This method only holds the liquid aluminium for a minimum time reducing the energy losses incurred when holding metal at temperature and removing the need for ‘degassing’ as other elements from the atmosphere are not absorbed or thick layers of oxide allowed to form.

The castings produced are of a higher quality, leading to a reduced scrap rate and decreased re-melting energy costs. Another benefit is that the yield can be increased to somewhere more than 50% thus also reducing the energy and materials used. The melting capability can also be used for traditional gravity processes.

Working with us

We engage with businesses in a varieties of ways. These can start with simple and fast mechanisms such as individual staff providing consultancy on a per diem basis.

Students on our taught modules can be used to rapidly solve specific live problems. At the other end of the spectrum are long-term research partnerships to bring early research challenges to pre-production state.

Medium-term engagements include contracting individual four-month student projects and three-month team projects to address significant strategic challenges. Our students develop significantly during these periods and our collaborating companies gain rapid development of projects using our students supported by our academic experts.

Longer-term we regularly partner with industry on development of processes, technology and people. We work with companies to gain funding through UK and EU government funding to address changes on production system design to through to process technology development. Examples are six-36 month Knowledge Transfer Partnership programmes (KTPs), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) fundamental research and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) technology transfer programmes or fully industry funded research fellows. The agenda is set in partnership between Cranfield and the company (companies) and will be determined by the financial commitment and the technology readiness level. Many of our research students are registered part-time whilst maintaining the employment in the partner companies. This enables long-term development of staff as well as embedding new capabilities within our partner companies.

Other short engagement include company staff presenting their expertise to our students, as well as setting problems at the beginning of the week of a taught module by web conference and receiving a presentation at the end of the week of outcomes of their analysis of the problem. We also run short courses which maybe bespoke or more general.