GF Automotive Plans New R&D Center

Plans to commercialize new "turbulence free" casting technique


Georg Fischer AG's GF Automotive subsidiary plans to build a new research center in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, to replace its current laboratory at Mhlental. The project is budgeted at about $21 million, and will house all of GF Automotive's current research and development functions, as well as the group's corporate management and some key corporate functions.

GF Automotive is one of three business units of Georg Fischer AG, and produces iron, aluminum, and magnesium automotive components by sand casting, gravity diecasting, and pressure diecasting at plants in Germany, Austria, Canada, and China.

According to the company, the new R&D center will demonstrate its "determination to secure long-term competitive advantages through in-house innovation in materials development and product and process technology."

Construction is due to start in February 2008, and the new center should be available by spring 2009. It will include an experimental foundry, a laboratory, and offices, in a 10,700-m 2 building, with room for further expansion. Along with R&D and sales and procurement offices, the new center will have a reception area with a showroom.

One of GF Automotive's previous developments is nearing full commercialization. LamiCast, a casting method that draws its name from "laminar" (i.e., the opposite of "turbulent"), has been successfully demonstrated and production orders have been secured, and as a result manufacturing capacity is being prepared at the group's Garching plant, near Munich.

In the LamiCast technique, liquid iron flows upward into a mold, creating a "turbulence free" cast that makes it possible to form thin-walled castings. "LamiCast is highly suitable for large-surface aluminium cast components, such as oil sumps or front and rear axle support frames," GF Automotive states.

The group did not indicate elaborate on the orders it has received for LamiCast products.

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