Rapid Prototyping & Minelco Minerals
Rapid Prototyping and the Minelco Minerals SeqiOlive project.
ICME West Midlands Birmingham and Coventry Branch Technical meetings
In February the branch was treated to an excellent explanation of rapid prototyping, its development, current state and its future by Peter Bond of Castings Technology International (Cti).
Peter began by outlining the history of pattern manufacture going back 10,000 years BC forming shapes in stone and developing into the use of wood or clay. He also spoke of the development of Investment casting from clay and dung wrapped around a pattern to lost wax and polystyrene.
The arrival of CNC pattern manufacture eliminated ‘patternmaker’s licence’, produced defined, repeatable shapes and saved time by not having to create template gauges or set-out sheets.
It was the need for speed that motivated Rapid Prototyping as known today and of which Cti is a major player. Peter explained in fascinating detail the processes carried out at Cti, wich include:
• The Patternless ® process
• Hybrid developments
• Rapid Prototyping for casting at Cti
• Sand ‘printing’
• Reverse engineering
The March meeting of the branch was addressed by Dr Tony Hutton of Minelco Minerals, to discuss the project to mine, process and distribute olivine sand from a new site in Greenland. A deposit of 100 million tonnes has been discovered and found to be of consistent quality and homogeneity having <48% of MgO, necessary to create the refractory properties desired.
The site is in the south of Greenland and access by water is free from ice the year round and gives access for vessels up to 50,000 tonnes. The first shipment of 46,000 tonnes was made in December 2005 with a capacity of two million tonnes per year and currently one million tonnes per year.
Initial processing takes place at source with secondary processing in Sweden, Germany and the UK; with the UK consignments arriving in the Humber estuary and being transported along the River Trent to Flixborough.
Tony highlighted the unique properties of olivine sand comparing it with silica sand, chrome sand and zircon sand, also comparing the cost.
The majority of output goes to the sintering plants of LKAB with foundry applications for core and moulding sands, backing media for the lost foam process and stucco for the lost wax process. Resin systems requiring acid catalysation present problems due to the high basicity (pH 9.4 – 9.6) of the material. Suitable resin systems are ester cured alkaline phenolic resoles, alkyd urethane no bake binders, some urea modified furfuryl alcohol systems and silicate binders.