Molten metal processing and metal handling are important steps in the overall metal casting operations visited by the WTEC team. In comparison to the United States, neither Japan nor Europe -- though less so in Japan -- has an extensive infrastructure for clean molten metal processing within metal casting operations. Specifically, the casting operations in Japan do not use filtration, degassing, or other conventional molten metal processing technologies as a norm. However, both Japan and Europe have focused and continue to focus and direct much of their resources toward research and development in electromagnetic treatment of molten metal as a technology to refine the melt as well as to manipulate the solid-liquid interface conditions during solidification. The United States leads in the application of molten metal processing technologies. Japan and Europe are more advanced in electromagnetics for molten metal processing. The NEDO work in Japan is quite impressive regarding recycling activities and may have long-term benefits for the reduction of energy consumption and for the production of enhanced aluminum recycled products.
In the United States, an extended network of die manufacturers exists in the private sector to service and supply the die casting industry. In Japan, die casters produce their own dies, and thus manufacturing is kept within a given "house." This allows Japanese die casters to maintain good control of their proprietary designs; however, the rapid prototyping activities that one observes in both Europe and the United States were not as evident in Japan. Both the United States and Europe have extensive secondary aluminum production industries, whereas Japan lags behind in this area.