StrikoWestofen mobile pre-heating station for aluminum dosing furnace ceramic components.

Mobile Preheating Station for Furnace Ceramics

Feb. 7, 2022
Developed to prevent thermal shock in critical parts like dosing tubes and filling funnels, the unit allows foundries to pre-heat ceramic components just before use – right at the point of use.

STRIKOWESTOFEN launched a mobile pre-heating station to help aluminum foundries increase the lifespan of dosing furnace components to avoid unnecessary downtime. The melting and holding furnace specialist developed the concept to address a common problem affecting foundries: Ceramic component failure due to thermal shock.

“We build our Westomat dosing furnaces to last for decades,” explained Holger Stephan, VP AM sales support & service at StrikoWestofen, “but ceramic components vital to their operation – such as dosing tubes and filling funnels – are more susceptible to damage, particularly cracking due to thermal shock. If this happens, production has to stop while replacement parts are sourced and fitted.”

The crucible-free Westomat dosing furnace is a closed holding and dosing system for liquid aluminum. The system is designed to remove metal from below the surface of the bath at all times, allowing it to be transported to a diecasting machine or mold completely automatically and free of contamination.

“Ceramic material is perfect for furnace functionality, so we didn’t want to change component design,” Stephan continued. “Instead, we wanted to create a simple, affordable preventative measure to mitigate the risk of damage caused by rapid exposure to high temperatures. Pre-heating was the clear answer.”

The completely mobile unit allows foundries to pre-heat ceramic components to the ideal temperature of 400⁰C just before use. Its clever design means it can be used anywhere, is easily transferred using a forklift, and can be placed directly next to the dosing furnace.

Featuring dual heating zones to accommodate the shape and dimensions of the Westomat dosing tubes and funnels, and to heat the two components independently if required, the pre-heating station is also a much safer alternative to improvised heating solutions that often pose a risk to the foundry teams using them.

By heating components with StrikoWestofen’s new solution, foundries reduce maintenance costs, improve component longevity for improved furnace uptime, and enhance workplace safety.

The mobile pre-heating station was developed in cooperation with a Ford Motor Co. casting operation in Cologne, Germany, a long-time customer that operates multiple Westomat dosing furnaces.

In addition to making practical recommendations for improved daily use – for example regarding modifying the unit’s access ladder – Ford’s electrical maintenance team collaborated with StrikoWestofen to fully optimize the pre-heating station’s technical performance.

“Our aim is always to develop and deliver solutions for quality casting that are cost-, energy-, and resource-efficient,” Stephan said. “Crucially, they also have to be usable and well-suited to the realities of foundry operating conditions.”

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