Changes are happening fast in our industry

Some might be questioning the rationale behind the decision to change the GMTN (GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS and NEWCAST) exhibition that we love to attend in Düsseldorf, Germany from a four-year to a three-year cycle. See the announcement, which was made in December 2015, further on in the magazine.

I know that human nature hates change but I welcome the decision. It is after all the world’s leading exhibition for the metalcasting industry. Even though the foundry industry is referred to as a ‘black art’, recent changes, or more appropriately put, advancements in the industry including digitisation, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, are enabling the production of objects of nearly any shape without the limitations associated with traditional manufacturing methods. This has resulted in an increasingly fast speed of innovation in the foundry and thermo process industries.

If you consider that China has a foundry exhibition every year, and sometimes twice a year, India has an exhibition every year, and even the CastExpo in the US takes place once every three years it is about time the GMTN cycle was shortened. The competition from these events would have put pressure on the organisers and I am sure they took this aspect into consideration. Initial apprehension from some suppliers to the industry because of the extra costs they will incur will soon be forgotten once the benefits are realised.

However, it is the rapid developments and improvements in our industry that need to be exposed to a greater audience, and there is nothing like a well organised international exhibition for you to embrace and learn about the changes, and this includes equipment and processes. Who would have thought 10 years ago that by using software you could simulate mould filling, solidification and cooling in advance of the start of production? More critically, the software improves product design by helping to identify residual stresses and distortion, microstructure formation and property distributions in castings.

These new technical developments or process breakthroughs, over the past decade or so, are the setting in which the wider industry is defining its operating standards and future opportunities. The expanding scope of process analysis and simulation has meant that every production cycle offers the potential for new discovery.

It is now possible for foundries to conduct “virtual experimentation and automatic optimisation on-screen”. The venue in which to see metalcasting’s most significant industrial development takes place at GMTN. But it is not just about the software. Casting robots, used in conjunction with industrial robots, are demonstrating that you can operate a moulding line with very little human interface.

The GMTN event consistently brings together the largest crowds of any metalcasting event, and that fact continues to be one of its most compelling features. Tagged appropriately as “The Bright World of Metals”, the event presents a complete overview of the international metallurgy market.