Collaborates with GM to Upgrade the Lost-Foam Process
Motors Powertrain, a CAMP Corporate Member located in Massena,
NY, completed the first phase of a $1.37 million project designed
to upgrade the quality of the plant's lost-foam casting process.
This ongoing research effort is a partnership between General
Motors (GM) Powertrain, Clarkson University's Center for Advanced
Materials Processing (CAMP), the New York State Energy Research
and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE).
lost-foam process makes use of a polystyrene foam which is
similar to the kind used in coffee cups. The foam is used
to make molded patterns for engine block and cylinder head
castings. First the foam mold is placed into a box of compacted
sand. Then the molten metal is added and its heat vaporizes
the foam. Once cooled, the metal takes the shape of the mold.
lost-foam process uses 25 % less energy than the traditional
casting technique and also uses less metal. Their high-tech
process allows for patterns and molds to be designed in very
complex shapes. This saves additional energy and natural resources
because it eliminates many of the downstream finishing steps
at machining plants.
In addition sophisticated measuring equipment, developed in
part by Buffalo Wire Works in collaboration with CAMP and
support from NYSERDA, is being used to analyze the coating
applied to the molds and the sand packed around the coated
patterns used in this project. (The New York State Office
of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR) provided
an $ 81, 000 technology transfer grant to Clarkson University
to enable it to partner with Buffalo Wire Works to develop
the prototype for the particle size and shape analysis instrument
being used in the lost-foam casting process.) Buffalo Wire
Works is a CAMP New York State Associate.
members collaborate on the Lost-Foam Process. From left: Dr.
Calvin K. Johnson (Consultant), Ms. Joanna M. Jenack (Process
Engineer at GMPT), Professor Dayakar Penumadu (CAMP / University
of Tennessee), Ms. Gail Rink (Marketing Manager at Buffalo
Wire Works Co., Inc.), Mr. Ross Johnson ( Manager of Manufacturing
Engineering at GMPT), Dr. Dana Levy (Project Manager at NYSERDA),
Mr. Gunnar Walmet (Program Director at NYSERDA), and CAMP
Deputy Director Edward McNamara. Also on the team is Mr. Scott
Hutchins (Program Manager for the U.S. DOE).
Ross Johnson (Manager of Manufacturing Engineering at GMPT)
describes the Lost-Foam Process used at GMPT in Massena, New
W. Bessette, M.D., Executive Director of NYSTAR, said "When
Governor Pataki announced the funding for the development
of the Buffalo Wire Works prototype project, he did so in
full realization of the economic potential the technology
could offer manufacturers. The development of a process to
automatically analyze the particle size of materials is a
significant manufacturing advancement, and it signals the
success of the Governor's efforts to enable the creation of
new technologies to build the economy of Upstate New York."
teamwork approach to improve the lost-foam process has received
praise from State legislators. "Attracting substantial federal
funding to match our New York funds offers us the chance to
show our North Country innovation, technology and skills.
With much of this coming from our own Clarkson University,
this is truly a North Country project that holds great promise
for GM and the people of St. Lawrence County," said Senator
Raymond A. Meier.
future of GM's Powertrain plant in Massena is brightened by
this project. NYSERDA, DOE, and Clarkson are teaming to produce
very positive trends for our Northern New York Region, and
we appreciate this progress,' said Assemblyman Chris Ortloff.
This joint effort to improve the lost-foam process is an ongoing
project. Specifically it will improve the lost-foam casting
process through the use of in -process controls resulting
in higher quality, lower scrap rates, and a reduction of aluminum