A step at a time – innovative casting solutions (Dec 2017)

DMTC is continuing to support industry partner Thales Australia in the identification and testing
of alternative metals that could be used in several components of the Hawkei light protected mobility vehicle platform. The potential benefits include reduced manufacturing costs and possible weight savings at equal strength and durability performance.

One component being investigated in detail is the Hawkei’s side step. The original component is manufactured from plate-welded steel. A casting version of the component using gravity casting as an alternative manufacturing route is being investigated as a way to reduce manufacturing costs and weight, and to improve the mechanical and environmental performance of the part.

Additive manufacturing solutions including sand-printing technology instead of traditional pattern and moulding technology have been utilised to manufacture sand moulds for making prototype gravity sand castings with short lead time and low cost. Three sets of prototype castings have passed maximal load case and fatigue testing and 3D dimensional scanning inspections. These test results verified the feasibility of the casting solution for the side step. Supply chain partner Melbourne Gravity is providing casting expertise. The team is now focused on taking the innovative casting solutions into a
full-rate production environment, using near net-shape mould manufacturing for the cost-effective manufacture of associated tooling.

The project team is also developing a comprehensive material database for the dedicated aluminium alloys in order to support design and testing. This will establish a foundation for the development of efficient cast aluminium solutions for a broader range of defence applications in the future.