VSTE academics and Motor Jikov are working on improving technology of ductile iron casting production

Global competitiveness of Czech Budweis company Motor Jikov Slévárna will be significantly improved by improving the technologies of ductile iron casting production. A highly complex project promoting Czech export is carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Technology and Business (VSTE). The total cost of the project is CZK 38.5 million, which makes it the largest research project in the history of VSTE. For the implementation of the project, VSTE received a state subsidy of CZK 10,5 million, Motor Jikov received CZK 9,3 million and invests the amount of CZK 18,7 from its own resources.

“The academics from our school thus help increase the competitiveness of another company in the South Bohemian region and tis core business. It is also great that some selected students from our institution can participate in smaller parts of the research, which represents great added value and an invaluable bonus to common lessons,” says Vojtěch Stehel, a vice-rector of VSTE. Mostly it is about shafts for agricultural machines manufactured in Italy, and wheel suspensions for golf carts and four-wheelers, which Motor Jikov exports to the USA.
According to doc. Karel Gryc from the VSTE Environmental Research Department, traditional foundry material such as ductile cast cannot be left without significant optimization modifications, otherwise it will lose its importance for the Czech economy.
“Both Motor Jikov and our school have a quality background and know-how. We are therefore able to implement state-of-the-art methods of quality operational and laboratory study, including virtualization tools,” says doc. Gryc. He and doc. Ladislav Socha are involved in this project, whose expected termination is in 2022.
The basis of the extensive cooperation is an expensive and systematic mapping of the current state, identification of critical production parameters and subsequent implementation of concrete findings in the whole production process.   
The latest industrial research approaches are used including the methods of numerical simulations. Their proper setting, however, requires plenty of data on production and properties of the materials used as well as the properties of concrete castings manufactured. “For virtualization and checking the dimensions of the models, moulds and castings in the individual research phases, advanced technologies of 3D scanning will be used,” explains doc. Gryc.  
Motor Jikov Slévárna has already been cooperating with VSTE on research of new components for truck manufacturers. This project with the termination at the end of 2022 will cost almost CZK 35 million. Even within this project, new technological processes to reduce the cost of preparation of the melt and streamlining die and low pressure casting from aluminium alloys are sought.    
“To be competitive at least at the European level means to produce high quality components efficiently. In this case, these are the castings with high requirements for mechanical properties and weight. It is also necessary to achieve the best possible material and mechanical properties of cast iron with maximum purity,”
says Tomáš Prášil, Project Management Director in Motor Jikov Group. He appreciates the cooperation with VSTE, which is able to ensure a part of research and development activities and enables to test a whole range of optimization ideas without affecting the normal production process.