With the ability to chain together results from simulating multiple manufacturing processes, and to couple multiple physics domains such as fatigue and thermal properties, virtual performance engineering leader ESI Group observes that virtual prototyping plays an increasingly central role in contemporary state-of-the-art engineering practice. One ESI customer making notable strides in virtual prototyping is Wall Colmonoy, a global materials engineering group with world headquarters in Pontardawe, South Wales.
The company’s European headquarters in Swansea, UK began using ESI’s ProCAST casting simulation software in 2016 to assist in design and manufacture of precision cast components, mostly investment and sand castings. The software aids in rapid prototyping, design and manufacture of precisely engineered castings such as valve seats for oil and gas, valves for homogenizers in the food industry, seaming chucks and rolls for canning industry, neck rings for glass container, and roll end bushes for the steel industry.
Wall Colmonoy’s engineers use ESI ProCAST in conjunction with CAD to streamline the casting process by virtually designing and prototyping before physical manufacturing. Enabling engineers to explore multiple process iterations by virtually simulating shop-floor realities can reduce or eliminate the need for trial melts. Improved ability to foresee potential manufacturing defects in the cast design helps them manufacture parts right the first time.
ESI ProCAST is the result of more than 25 years’ collaboration between ESI and major industrial partners and academic institutions around the world. Says ESI engineer Les Fletcher, “ProCAST is specifically designed to improve casting yield and quality, and it’s been hugely successful in streamlining casting process design for companies such as Wall Colmonoy and Rolls-Royce. More than a thousand companies have adopted ProCAST since it was first developed, and every day more and more manufacturers are realizing the benefits virtual prototyping can bring to the casting process, be it high-pressure die casting, investment casting, shell casting, low pressure die casting, sand casting, gravity die casting, tilt pouring, or the lost foam process.”
“We did a lot of research into the different virtual prototyping software companies out there, but for us, ESI came out top as they could provide the best software that met our requirements,” explains Wall Colmonoy process improvement engineer Michael Shreeve. ProCAST, says Shreeve, helps his company proactively perfect its designs and optimize and improve its manufacturing processes by enabling full coupling of thermal/flow/stress analyses, and evaluations of all casting processes including defect detection, residual stresses, part distortion, microstructure and mechanical properties prediction. Wall Colmonoy’s engineering expertise, amplified through use of ESI ProCAST, gives the company flexibility, process control, shorter times from concept to production and, ultimately, optimal product quality for customers.
Looking ahead, Wall Colmonoy plans to use ProCAST to help it explore new opportunities in automotive and aerospace markets, where its capabilities and expertise are well suited to filling those industries’ needs for fabrication of especially intricate components. The materials engineering company is also looking to implement ProCAST in more of its divisions including Franklin Bronze Precision Components. Located in Franklin, PA, Franklin Bronze manufactures investment castings for glass container and many other industrial sectors including food, automotive, drilling and mining, marine, steel, and valve and pump.
With rising demand for increasingly complex part geometries, challenging performance requirements and ever-shorter turnarounds in casting today, ESI notes that virtual prototyping is proving to be especially effective here, as more and more metal casting companies adopt ProCAST to optimize design and manufacture of their metal castings. Beyond that, virtual prototyping from ESI is helping Wall Colmonoy broaden its offerings and expand into new markets and industries where great opportunities await its knowledge and expertise.
Wall Colmonoy Ltd.