Site: University of Tokyo Dept. of Metallurgy 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyoku Tokyo 113, Japan Date Visited: January 8, 1996 WTEC Attendees: M.C. Flemings (report author), W. Hayden, P.H. Mikkola, C. Uyehara Hosts: Dr. Taketeru Umeda, Professor, Department of Metallurgy Prof. Nobuo Sano, Professor, University of Tokyo Prof. T. Fuwa, Professor Emeritus, Tohoku University, Senior Advisor Emeritus, Nippon Steel Corp. Tel: (81) 03-38122111; Fax: (81) 03-58022912
The University of Tokyo is the leading Japanese university. It shares national pre-eminence in metallurgy and materials with Tohoku University. Professor Umeda is a leader in the field of foundry and solidification fundamentals. Other national foundry leaders are Prof. Ohnaka of Osaka University, Prof. Niyama of Tohoku University, and Prof. Asai of Nagoya University. The prominence of these individuals is well illustrated by the fact that Prof. Ohnaka is currently chairman of the Kansai Chapter of the Japan Foundry Engineering Society, Prof. Umeda heads its research committee, and Prof. Niyama heads the modeling subcommittee. Prof. Asai is a leader in applications of electromagnetism to metal processing.
Prof. Sano is the leading steelmaking professor in Japan, a role formerly held by Prof. Fuwa, who retired some years ago from Tohoku University to become senior advisor of Nippon Steel Corp.
Metallurgy is no longer a popular field of study in Japan. Within metallurgy, foundry is one of the less popular areas. Research funding in foundry technology is difficult to obtain, and when obtained it is best disguised under terms such as "supermetals." At the University of Tokyo last year only 15% of the graduates joined the steel industry. Five to 10% joined ceramic companies, 10% went to machine companies, and 20% to electronic companies.
Japanese academic societies relating to casting are as follows:
The Japanese Foundry Engineering Society has 15 research committees concerned with various aspects of foundry technology.
Support for foundry and solidification research in Japan comes from several sources. These include the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS), the Materials Process Technology Center (MPTC), and the Science and Technology Agency.
The JSPS has two committees relating to casting. The steelmaking committee (No. 19) deals with solidification processing. The casting committee (No. 24) deals with cast irons, molding, aluminum bronze, and near net shaping of large castings. JSPS currently is supporting research in thin-wall castings, nucleation control of cast irons, and aluminum casting including semisolid casting.
The MPTC deals with shaped castings and is concerned with education, training, statistics, and technology transfer. It is providing support in areas including solidification analysis, robotics, environmental control, and recycling.
Prof. Umeda provided the WTEC team with details of several of his own widely recognized research activities in areas including deformation behavior during solidification, phase selection in peritectic solidification and initial solidification of stainless steels. He also outlined work on thin-wall castings and directional solidification. Data he presented showed that the United States leads Japan in single crystal production for aircraft, but that Japan leads in single crystal production for power generation, e.g., for production of large blades 400 mm long.
We were provided with detailed historical statistics for the Japan foundry industry for the years up to 1994. In overall summary, the Japanese foundry industry produces castings at about the rate of 7 million tons/year, or about half the U.S. production. Foundry production reached a peak of about 8 million tons in 1990 before declining to its current level. The decline in production since 1990 has been primarily in gray iron, malleable iron, and steel sand castings. Production of nodular iron sand castings and of aluminum die castings has been essentially flat over this recent period.
By weight, the percent of total tonnage of each metal poured is about the same as in the United States, except the percentage of aluminum cast in Japan is somewhat higher and the percentage of ductile iron somewhat less. Major segments of Japanese production are gray iron (50%), ductile iron (26%), and aluminum (13%).
Annual Statistics of Materials Process Industries, Japan, 1993. The Materials Process Technology Center, Dec. 1994.