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NFTN showcase upgraded Foundry Technology Centre to the metal casting sector

On Thursday, 14 March 2024, the National Foundry Technology Network (NFTN) together with the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR) hosted a site visit to the CSIR’s newly established Foundry Technology Centre (FTC) at the CSIR campus in Pretoria.

The event, attended primarily by members of the NFTN Industry Advisory Forum, highlighted a much-needed step in the building capacity to support the country’s metal casting sector, where research and development (R&D) funding has decreased in recent years. Recognising the significance of revitalising R&D efforts in this field, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) allocated funding over the past two years to support the establishment of the Centre.

NFTN Principal Project Manager, Sandy Majatladi hopes that this initiative will encourage innovation and foster growth within the local manufacturing landscape, offering essential backing to the foundry industry.

“The NFTN has invested in the FTC to allow expansion of RDI facilities for foundries. The sector needs shared, neutral facilities where they can access technology and equipment that they are not able to purchase themselves. Also, many foundries do not have the luxury of in-house metallurgy skills, so the NFTN works with the CSIR and others such as UJ and VUT to ensure there are centres of excellence where the industry can get access to this expertise,” said Majatladi.  

Centre champion and CSIR Principal Researcher, Prof Sylvester Bolokang, believes that one of the key objectives of the FTC is to afford industry the opportunity to benefit from R&D and innovation skills the CSIR has built over the years.

“The FTC can equip industry with the latest technological advancements and developments, providing crucial insights for businesses to steer their future investments effectively.”

“This initiative also aims to develop new foundry skill processes, fostering an environment conducive to innovation and growth within the sector. Moreover, the anticipated outcomes include a boost in employment opportunities and an enhanced market share for South Africa in the global economy, particularly in emerging sectors like electric vehicles and energy,” concluded Bolokang.

 Access to the Foundry Technology Centre

Prof Bolokang explained that the CSIR is committed to ensuring the affordability and accessibility of services offered at the FTC.

Collaboration with the DSI and the dtic will play a pivotal role in subsidising any work conducted at the FTC, thereby significantly easing the financial burden on businesses.

“The FTC aims to streamline the R&D process for industry participants. Therefore, rather than spending valuable time and resources on R&D and product development internally, foundries can leverage the expertise and facilities available at the FTC. This direct-to-production approach not only saves time and minimises stress but also ensures that industry players benefit from the CSIR’s extensive knowledge and experience in R&D.”

Bolokang also added that industries with niche or specialised requirements that require low volume castings, the Centre can offer a viable solution to enable direct production and as a result can eliminate the need for costly setup and tooling processes.

To find out more or express an interest in making use of the state-of-the-art infrastructure for co-creation solutions, please contact Online booking via the CSIR website is in the pipeline, be on the lookout for it.