Alloying elements are an essential part of the value chain in the foundry industry. They allow a specific, individual adjustment of the mechanical and chemical properties of the finished product, whereby customer requirements and technical standards can be fulfilled. For this reason, the desired product properties as well as the direct and indirect costs for alloying elements must be taken into account when developing a tailor-made alloying concept. For many foundries, this is where significant savings potential can be hidden!
Economic advantages can be achieved by using alloy specifications that are optimally adapted to the metal markets and by possibly substituting cost-intensive products by less expensive ones. Despite the potential, in practice specifications of alloys are rarely validated and compared with market standards and upcoming trends.
What are specifications and why do they exist?
Specifications or standards are clearly defined guidelines that inform suppliers, consumers and producers which standard and quality of the particular products they can expect when concluding a contract and thus contribute to a fair and efficient metal trade. Specifications of ferroalloys and metals used in the foundry and steel industry are mainly provided by the following institutions.
- ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials)
- ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
- DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.)
- MMTA (The Minor Metals Trade Association)
The standards contain information about the origin of the alloys and metals, their delivery conditions and tolerances as well as the most common packaging in which they are delivered. A chemical analysis included in the specification and a defined dimensioning allow the consumer to obtain exactly the alloys and metals they need to manufacture their products.
To make the results generally acceptable, the standards also contain detailed guidelines on how individual alloys and metals in their various forms should be weighed, tried and tested.
Is it worth checking my specifications?
The specifications used today by many foundries have often been passed on verbally by foundry engineers for several years without questioning them. Many of the specifications used are neither up to date nor in line with current market standards. These partially outdated specifications limit the number of possible suppliers and therefore generally lead to higher prices than products that meet the more general, current market standards. The development of a tailor-made and cost-optimised alloy concept thus requires a systematic review of the currently used specifications in comparison to the more commonly traded and cheaper standard specifications and the resulting cost-saving potential.
On the way to tailor-made and cost-optimised alloy concepts
On Metalshub's digital marketplace, various ferroalloys and metals of different specifications are bought and sold every day. It is not surprising that product enquiries that meet the most common specifications receive significantly more offers and therefore better prices. Metalshub has started a pilot project with the Foundry Institute of RWTH Aachen University to advise users of the platform on the most common specifications or the potential substitution options of different alloying elements. Participating in the pilot project is also the iron foundry Metallwerk Franz Kleinken from Dorsten whose specifications will be analysed and potential savings estimated. "We are looking forward to the cooperation and are very excited about the results of the investigation of our specifications”, the managing director Jörg Meyer explains. In the course of scientific research work, a series of melting tests will be carried out at the RWTH. Join our pilot project and contact us for further information!
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