Mineral Casting for Industrial Applications – Part 2

Machine beds & components

Mineral casting and ultra-high performance concrete from RAMPF are found everywhere in mechanical engineering – including in solar module production, woodworking and textile machinery, measuring, testing, and inspection technology, machinery used in energy technology, and special machines. Find out why – right here!

In Part 1, we focused on the reasons why EPUMENT® mineral casting and EPUDUR ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) have established themselves as high-performance machine bed materials in machine tool engineering, electronics manufacturing, and the laser industry over the last thirty years. 

In Part 2, our attention turns to solar module production, woodworking and textile machinery, measuring, testing, and inspection technology, machinery used in energy technology, and special machines.

Solar module production

The proportion of electrical energy generated by photovoltaic systems will continue to grow. Production equipment for crystalline solar cells and thin-layer solar modules is subject to strict requirements in terms of productivity, quality, and precision.

This gives rise to a whole host of opportunities to use alternative materials in the machine beds of equipment for producing solar modules – whether that is in the production of silicon, wafers, and glass or when manufacturing solar cells and modules.

Woodworking and textile machines

Production technology for manufacturing wood components and textiles is also having to satisfy ever greater requirements in terms of dynamics. Machine bed components made of alternative materials ensure increased vibration damping, noise absorption, and torsional resistance.

When it comes to machine bed components that are subject to extreme dynamic loads, it is important to achieve the necessary values for productivity, process reliability, and noise protection for manufacturing technologically demanding industrial textiles such as carbon-fiber woven fabric, knitted fabric for concrete reinforcement, seat heating fabric, and netting. Leading manufacturers around the world use filled steel machine beds and CFRP carriages for this.

Woodworking centers have to meet very similar requirements to typical machining centers in metal-working. This is another area where stationary machine bed components, such as beds and stands made from UHPC, are becoming more and more common.

Measuring, testing, and inspection technology

In general, industrial measuring and testing technology requirements are defined less by dynamics than by the need for ultra-precision and a high level of resistance to interference from external variables. In addition to hard stone, which is the classic material for measurement machinery, other machine bed materials are also used for various applications, for example in climate-controlled measuring rooms and harsh production environments. Mineral casting can be used to improve the physical properties of equipment for presetting tools.

A base manufactured by RAMPF consists of a single cast piece that stretches from the guide rail to the floor. It ensures improved damping of vibrations from the environment and greater thermal inertia. Further benefits are the environmentally-friendly energy balance in its production and its attractive optics.

X-ray inspection equipment is used in the semiconductor industry for non-destructive testing of sensors, electronic components, and hybrid components. In industrial use, X-ray radiation-absorbing mineral casting is an alternative machine bed material that does not just perform load-bearing and accuracy functions but also provides safety-relevant radiation shielding.

Machinery used in energy technology

Mineral casting is increasingly being used for the bases and mounts of powerful large motors, centrifuges, generators, and turbines. Both solid cast beds and welded steel structures filled with mineral casting (hybrid structures) are used. Why? Because the high-performance base and construction material significantly reduces vibrations and noise emissions.

Special machinery

Since the start of the 1980s, cavities in steel or gray cast iron machine bed components for special machinery have been filled with epoxy resin-bonded mineral casting. Initially often used as a way to retrospectively improve dynamic performance, this has since become an industrial process offered in its own right. In other words, the machine bed assembly is designed as a hybrid structure from the outset.

Why? Because

  • Mineral casting, which has outstanding damping properties, and the greater mass of steel composite structures generally have a positive effect on dynamic properties such as vibration amplitudes and natural vibration.
  • Noise emissions are reduced.
  • The natural frequencies of the machine bed assemblies are reduced and/or moved to non-critical ranges.
  • Steel composite structures are less sensitive to short-term temperature fluctuations thanks to the high specific thermal capacity and low thermal conductivity of mineral casting.
  • The coefficients of linear expansion of steel and mineral casting are closely matched.

Another important reason is the bonding strength between the hybrid partners and the moisture absorption of the filling, which are key parameters for machine bed components that need to exhibit long-term stability and consistent characteristics throughout their service life. With adhesive forces of 12 N/mm² to 14 N/mm², mineral casting has an edge over other filling materials such as concrete.

Further applications

In addition to the areas of application described above, mineral casting is also successfully used in the production of paper machines, printing presses, optical systems, and technical apparatus, and in handling and weighing technology.