Today, the topic on everyone’s lips in many industries is environmental awareness and reducing the burden on the environment, and the foundry industry is no exception. In the foundry industry, the trends include cleantech, silica dust monitoring, finning, and 3D printing.
Cleantech Is an Environmentally Friendly Concept
Cleantech refers to products, services, processes, and entire concepts that promote the sustainable use of natural resources and also reduce emissions. Clean solutions that help reduce the burden on the environment is one way of tackling global environmental challenges. Cleantech raises awareness and develops solutions that minimize the pollution of the environment and climate change impact and, consequently, ensures the availability of sufficient resources.
General environmental awareness should be visible in all aspects of circular economy and not just in the monitoring of material flows and waste. Rather than focusing on individual actions, the aim should be to strengthen the entire process and prevent waste generation, which would reduce the focus on maximizing the reuse potential of waste as either raw material or energy.
Health Effects of Silica Dust
The processing of quartz sand generates silica dust in the workplace air. Silica dust is extremely dangerous if it enters the airways, and its best-known health risk is silicosis, a lung disease characterized by inflammation and scarring of the lungs caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust. Exposure to silica dust can also cause cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The most dangerous compounds of silica dust are the smallest and practically invisible particles that remain suspended in the air for a prolonged period of time, meaning that the finest dust particles may remain in indoor air for a long time if the area is not properly ventilated.
As the health risks associated with silica sand are so severe, policymakers may need to consider limiting the use of silica sand in the future. Due to this, the foundry industry strives to monitor the extent of the health risk of silica sand and to react to it in time by developing new methods and applications to monitor silica sand levels and reduce the amount of dust.
Finning Is a Common Casting Defect and the Sand Used in 3D Printing Is Waste
Finning is a type of casting defect that occurs when molten metal penetrates cracks in a sand-casting mold after the mold has been filled. The cracks are caused by thermal expansion of the sand. Finning is a common problem in the foundry industry, and it naturally has a direct negative impact on the quality of the end product. One solution to reduce the occurrence of finning is the use of thermally treated sand, which benefits from more stable thermal expansion behavior when the mold is filled.
Today, foundries can use 3D printing, which makes it possible to create complex molds and to improve the quality and delivery rates of casting products. 3D printing is especially useful in the manufacturing of complex sand molds and sand cores. However, while this new technology is innovative and agile, it has the drawback of producing waste sand that cannot be reused in any way, unless the sand used in 3D printing is regenerated. In other words, the sand used in 3D printing cannot be reused as it is, meaning that it is disposed of in landfills unless it is treated.