João AzevedoProject Manager – Product Development Engineering, AAPICO Maia
AAPICO, large enterprise in Portugal, is specialised in the production of safety critical components in nodular cast iron, intended primarily for the automotive industry in the European market. Over the past years, AAPICO has demonstrated technical and environmental excellence, being considered a reference company in the foundry industry. The Company produces lightweight casting solutions, grouped as follows: powertrain, brakes, engine and suspension.
Currently, AAPICO is providing safety components in ductile iron directly to OEMs (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Renault, PSA Group, Daimler Trucks and Ford) and to the main automotive Tier1 (Continental, Dana, Linamar, CIE Automotive, among others) to markets all over the world.
Within the DigiMAT project the main goal of AAPICO has been to develop and produce two digital materials, one of high elastic yield and another one of high machinability, reducing operating costs. João Azevedo, Project Manager – Product Development Engineering, AAPICO Maia explains the main outcomes and achievements of the project for the foundry company.
Which have been the main challenges for AAPICO within DigiMAT project?
In the two first years of the DigiMAT project the main challenges in both materials was the identification of the elements that can modify the behaviour of the mechanical properties, their direct impact on elongation, yield and hardness, and whether they are combined or working alone.
Which have been your biggest learnings and the improvements experienced in your own casting process?
The developments carried out, over time, in the production unit of AAPICO allowed us to build knowledge and control on the productive process of critical safety components in nodular iron, in such a thorough way, that a completely disruptive project was designed in order to empower all the value chain by reducing final components weight and manufacturing costs of each produced piece.
For sure, AAPICO will beneficit with the development of these digital materials, one with high elastic yield and the other one with high machinability, that will allow energy and raw material consumption reduction representing savings of the total manufacturing cost of the component.
Thanks to DigiMAT project the component hardness could be maintained in the range of 170-210 HB while increasing machinability and reducing manufacturing costs. This will be done by set up and validate a digital material smart module, “DigiMAT Smart Module”, for attaining new cast iron grades developed by VEIGALAN, supported by AZTERLAN and demonstrated at AAPICO and CONTINENTAL facilities with the manufacturing and validation of the new components.
Do you think DigiMAT project’s outcomes will have an impact on the castings industry and your client sectors?
AAPICO will have installed the new Smart Digital Module in its facilities being the first one in the worldwide market able to offer to their important automotive clients tailor made cast iron digital materials. The material properties window will be drastically reduced rendering into more competitive finishing operations and leaner final component designs. Thanks to the introduction of this module in AAPICO, our clients will be able to supply high technological products to differentiate their Company in other aspects apart from quality and cost.
The development of this new materials will benefit AAPICO as a supplier since they will directly contribute to increase the company’s reputation within the automotive market.
What is next for AAPICO in this field?
AAPICO will be the first one in the worldwide market able to offer to their important automotive clients tailor-made cast iron digital materials. TIER1 such as AAPICO expects to increase its sales volume in automotive market by 35% in the next 5 years thanks new business opportunities with customers such as CONTINENTAL, Brembo, TRW and Akebono.
With this project AAPICO aims to reach new markets with the introduction of these new innovative materials and grow as a leader in the market of critical safety components.