The European Casting Industry –

Where the Sector Might Be Heading and the Impact of Changes – Part 1 by Stephen Pilbury


fter 48 years in the precision investment casting industry as a foundryman and as a supplier to

the industry, I have seen many changes in the technology, applications, markets and global development. In this first paper I will highlight

what is happening in the markets the Precision Investment Casting (PIC) is serving. In a second paper in another issue of INCAST, I will focus on the changes in the processes, equipment and alternative, complementary and competing processes which can and are being used. Let

us start with developments

in the following markets served and where they may be heading: • Gas Turbine Engines • Airframe • Automotive • Medical • Protection and Defence • Commercial

Gas Turbine Engines In 2016, the market size was $19.8bn with a CAGR of 4.8%. The market is commonly split into three main sectors as shown below: • Aerospace • Marine • Power Generation and Industrial (Pumping liquids and gas)


Aero engine development has been integrally linked to modern PIC processes since the early days of Frank Whittle and the evolution of the aerospace jet engine - initially with the Austenal process and subsequently with the many variants of the ceramic shell process to direct metal sintering of rapid prototype (RPT) parts. In the Commercial

Aerospace 12 ❘ October 2019 ®

market, the cost per passenger mile or payload cost per mile are key, so engine efficiency is a prime driver. In recent times the large 4 engine

aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 are giving way to 2 engine planes such as the Airbus 350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, meaning fewer engines are manufactured and potentially fewer spares, especially if companies limit the number of aircraft types in their fleet. However, demand for air travel is growing and plane numbers will continue to increase.

What Does the Future Hold? The PIC Aerospace market is in a healthy position with increasing demand, but continuing developments in alternative energy, weight saving, and efficiency will drive the change process. Examples include: The hybrid electric aircraft engine being jointly developed by Siemens, RR and Airbus. The E-FanX demonstrator is planned to launch in 2020 with Siemens providing a 2MW electric motor and RR providing the engine based on the AE2100 turboshaft engine. I have no doubt that other manufacturers are also developing this engine type.

Changes in alloy and thermal barrier and corrosion resistant coatings. Engine efficiency and power is increased by higher fuel burn temperatures maximising calorific value. How high can we go with the currently available alloys in the combustion chamber and exhaust system? Are there any alloy step changes on the horizon which need new casting processes? Can yttria stabilized zirconia coatings or others take us further? Changes in ceramic, carbon fibre, carbon titanium (CTi) composites and

graphene technology produced by complementary RPT (Rapid Prototype) and other processes.


Although most ships use diesel or diesel/electric propulsion systems, at the end of 2016 there were more than 4K marine gas turbines used for ship propulsion and another 1K used for onboard power supply. The primary manufacturers are: Company GE

Rolls-Royce Zorya

Vericor P&W Perm

Percent % 43 20 18 16 2 1

Some turbines have been

specifically designed and some are marine variants of aerospace gas turbines which have been modified, including alloy changes to operate in corrosive environments. Drive options include:

• Direct drive – the most common • Geared direct drive • Electrical propulsion – internally or externally housed.


(ABB brand name) and Azipull (RR brand) systems are gaining momentum

Thrusters, Waterjets & Pumpjets Used to increase ship maneuverability, speed (power and vibration control), PIC components are in several of the unit types provided. Manufacturers include: • Rolls-Royce • Konsberg Maritime • Wartsila • Doen

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