DGS China’s passion for lightweight casting

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By investing in the latest aluminium die casting equipment from Norican, DGS China can now produce the largest and most complex automotive parts.

As electric cars become more popular and vehicles become lighter, aluminium is increasingly the metal of choice for high-value auto components like transmission housings, steering systems and chassis modules. That means business is booming at DGS China where the motto is “passion for lightweight”.

Company profile

A wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary of the Swiss DGS Group, DGS China specialises in high-pressure die casting in aluminium and magnesium alloys. Founded in 2007, the company moved to its current foundry at the end of 2012 where it mainly manufactures high-end components for China’s thriving auto industry – the world’s largest since it overtook the USA in 2009.

Challenges

Growing automotive appetite for aluminium components

“Over the last decade, the Chinese automotive industry has been growing rapidly,” says Mr Chengliang Song, General Manager of DGS China. “Over the past five years, our company has seen rapid development. In 2012, we sold RMB 40 million in products. This year, our sales have already surpassed RMB 320 million.”

As the lightweight trend has grown, auto companies have asked DGS China to manufacture increasingly complex structural aluminium parts. These components are often large with intricate shapes and thin walls, and must meet high mechanical performance requirements – specifications that make them difficult to cast accurately and repeatably.

“Aluminium automotive structural parts are relatively new product lines in China,” says Mr Jipeng Jia, Production Director at DGS China. “To meet our requirements, we needed die casting machines with high performance and stability.”

DGS China opened its new foundry in Nansha, Guangzhou in 2012. With demand for its products still rising, it decided to install a set of state-of-the-art, highly automated aluminium casting cells. To deliver an integrated solution from pouring to deburring, DGS China turned to Italpresse Gauss and StrikoWestofen – now part of the Norican Group.

Solution

A turnkey solution for aluminium casting

Italpresse Gauss supplied two IP1650 1600-tonne, three-platen die casting machines with toggle, installed in 2013 and 2015. A further IP2150 2150-tonne machine arrived in 2016. “At present, all die casting machines above 1600 tonnes in our plant are from Italpresse Gauss,” says Song.

To automatically feed liquid metal to its die casting machines, DGS China also ordered four new Westomat dosing furnaces in 1200kg and 1700kg sizes. The Westomat is a clean, closed crucible-free dosing system that limits metal loss to only 0.06%. Liquid metal for dosing is always taken from below the bath surface, ensuring it is free of contamination and meets the high quality standards required for structural aluminium parts.

The Westomat’s closed clean system also meets occupational safety standards and is extremely energy efficient, consuming only one-third of the energy required by a classic ladle system with a holding furnace. With three 900kg Westomats already in service, DGS China now employs a total of seven StrikoWestofen dosing furnaces.

“I have been working in the die casting industry for over a decade and we have always used StrikoWestofen equipment,” says Song. “This is because their products provide stable performance, have a good reputation in the market and the service is also good.”

Two central StrikoMelter MH II-T 3000/2000 melting and holding furnaces can melt two tonnes of aluminium every hour.

Result

Impressive performance from perfectly matched equipment

According to DGS China’s Production Director Mr Jipeng Jia, Norican’s integrated casting solution has delivered outstanding results since 2012. “Over the last five years, we have been monitoring the performance of our Italpresse Gauss machines,” he says. “We are incredibly impressed with the quality of this equipment and have been extremely satisfied with its processing stability, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and product yield. Italpresse Gauss’ communication and service quality are also good.”

The StrikoMelter furnaces have proved to be extremely efficient, providing a metal yield of up to 99.75% and only requiring 525kWh to melt a tonne of aluminium per hour. Their clean, stable production process delivers excellent reliability. “In production use, the StrikoWestofen furnaces provide many advantages, such as high energy savings, high safety standards, very simple maintenance and high system uptime,” says Jia.

After seeing such outstanding results from Norican’s equipment, DGS China recently installed a further 2500-tonne IP2500 die casting machine. “This is our fourth die casting machine from Italpresse Gauss and it has the highest tonnage in our factory,” says Jia, who also praised the improved local support response and parts supply since the two brands came together as part of the Norican Group network.

DGS China greatly values the aluminium casting know-how that the Norican Group companies share with them, helping them to get the best out of their equipment and improve their manufacturing processes. 

With the use of aluminium in automobiles forecast to double from around 12% to 25% of global consumption by 2025, it looks like DGS China will continue to thrive – backed by Norican’s foundry technology.

Case story video

To gear up for future demand, DGS China opted for a complete aluminium foundry solution with die casting machines from Italpresse Gauss and melting and dosing equipment from StrikoWestofen.