Quality control and improvement of the aluminum alloy castings for the next generation of engine block cast components.

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering


Engineering, Industrial.




This research focuses on the quality control and improvement of the W319 aluminum alloy engine blocks produced at the NEMAK Windsor Aluminum Plant (WAP). The present WAP Quality Control (QC) system was critically evaluated using the cause and effect diagram and therefore, a novel Plant Wide Quality Control (PWQC) system is proposed. This new QC system presents novel tools for off line as well as on line quality control. The off line tool uses heating curve analysis for the grading of the ingot suppliers. The on line tool utilizes Tukey control charts of the Thermal Analysis (TA) parameters for statistical process control. An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) model has also been developed for the on-line prediction and control of the Silicon Modification Level (SiML). The student t-statistical analysis has shown that even small scale variations in the Fe and Mn levels significantly affect the shrink porosity level of the 3.0L V6 engine block bulkhead. When the Fe and Mn levels are closer to their upper specification limits (0.4 wt.% and 0.3wt.%, respectively), the probability of low bulkhead shrink porosity is as high as 0.73. Elevated levels of Sn (∼0.04 wt.%) and Pb (∼0.03 wt.%) were found to lower the Brinell Hardness (HB) of the V6 bulkhead after the Thermal Sand Removal (TSR) and Artificial Aging (AA) processes. Therefore, Sn and Pb levels must be kept below 0.0050 wt.% and 0.02 wt.%, respectively, to satisfy the bulkhead HB requirements. The Cosworth electromagnetic pump reliability studies have indicated that the life of the pump has increased from 19,505 castings to 43,904 castings (225% increase) after the implementation of preventive maintenance. The optimum preventive maintenance period of the pump was calculated to be 43,000 castings. The solution treatment parameters (temperature and time) of the Novel Solution Treatment during the Solidification (NSTS) Process were optimized using ANN and the Simulated Annealing (SA) algorithm. The optimal NSTS process (516°C and 66 minutes) would significantly reduce the present Thermal Sand Removal (TSR) time (4 hours) and would avoid the problem of incipient melting without sacrificing the mechanical properties. In order to improve the cast component characteristics and to lower the alloy price, a new alloy, Al 332, (Si=10.5 wt.% & Cu=2 wt.%) was developed by optimizing the Si and Cu levels of 3XX Al alloys as a replacement for the W319 alloy. The predicted as cast characteristics of the new alloy were found to satisfy the requirements of Ford engineering specification WSE-M2A-151-A2/A4.* *This dissertation is a compound document (contains both a paper copy and a CD as part of the dissertation).Dept. of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2005 .F735. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 66-11, Section: B, page: 6201. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2005.