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Foundry Industry

The foundry industry in Austria comprises 38 producing foundry companies, which with about 7,000 employees achieve a turnover of more than 1 billion euros per year. The structure of the Austrian Foundry Research Industry is characterised by small and medium-sized enterprises. Almost half of the total of 38 Austrian foundries have less than 100 employees and only 4 foundries employ more than 500 people.

The direct and indirect export ratio is about 80 %. Apart from a few finished products, such as piping systems, fittings, rolls and channel castings, the majority of products go to the automotive sector. Cast products from Austria are held in high esteem worldwide thanks to their high quality and reliability. Due to the freedom of design and the diversity of material applications, the foundry industry is one of the innovative sectors with major sustainability effects (lightweight construction).

As the annual report of the European Foundry Association (CAEF) shows, Austria, despite a decline in 2019, is still in a very good position in terms of production volume and value, but also in terms of the number of employees. Austria's good position in a European comparison is mainly due to the fact that all foundries for the automotive industry are equally affected by the decline or are active as niche producers (e.g. roll casting or cast tubes).

One trend triggered by the automotive industry is energy- and resource-saving lightweight construction, which increasingly leads to complex thin-walled and multifunctional geometries. Combined with modern simulation techniques and topology optimisation, the casting process is more suitable for this trend than any other process. Both light metal casting materials and high-strength iron and steel casting materials are used. In both cases, the production processes have to be optimised and coordinated, but also the casting alloys have to be further developed in a targeted manner with regard to increasing the performance to exploit the strength potential.

Another general trend that also affects foundry processes is electromobility and the digitalisation or increasing automation of processes under the keyword "Industry 4.0". However, one of the greatest challenges of the future will be the greenhouse effect and the associated global warming. Therefore, in terms of sustainability, a holistic view and reduction of the use of energy and resources must be taken from the manufacturing processes over the entire life cycle to the recycling of products. The manufacturing process of casting offers significant, not yet fully utilised potentials to produce castings with the lowest possible energy and resource input. The realisation of this potential is an essential contribution to a modern environmentally friendly circular economy and to achieving the EU target in the Green New Deal of reducing greenhouse gases to zero by 2050.

The foundries are assigned as a professional group to the Professional Association of the Metalworking Industry and, as full members of the Association for Practical Foundry Research, have been operating the Austrian Foundry Research Institute as a non-university cooperative research institute for more than 60 years.

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