German aluminium company Trimet is contributing its expertise in materials development to the SUPA-Wheel research project. The joint project from the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts aims to develop an aluminium wheel that meets manufacturers’ technical, commercial and environmental requirements for different drive systems.
The project members are working on a cross-industry and cross-material development and design methodology that calculates a product’s carbon footprint before factoring this into the manufacturing process. The objective is to reduce CO₂ emissions, ideally preventing them altogether.
As part of the project, Trimet has been tasked with developing, characterising and producing recyclable materials and materials made with recycled precursor materials for wheel production via low-pressure die casting. Equilibrium, micro-structure and property simulations, laboratory castings and specific heat treatments are evaluated using a development methodology based on the design of experiments (DoE) technique. By conducting a subsequent property screening, an iterative process identifies the alloy that best fulfils the requirements at hand.
In characterising and evaluating the laboratory materials, Trimet is primarily pursuing the goal of using the highest possible proportion of recycled aluminium. This includes suitable pre-treatment and cleaning processes for the recycling material, after which various development alloys are melted to determine the maximum possible proportion of recycled material. In addition, Trimet specialists are investigating alloying techniques in order to achieve the required properties as cost-effectively as possible. In its testing facilities, the company manufactures the most promising alloys in a pre-production context and on a production scale. The project partners then process these alloys on the appropriate scale using low-pressure die casting.
The other partners involved in the SUPA-Wheel project are German companies Borbet and Jordan Spritzgusstechnik as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology (IGCV). The project, which will run until the end of 2025, is being funded by the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action with resources from the Technology Transfer Programme for Lightweighting.