Since 1994, the LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is delivering research on light metal alloys and sustainable manufacturing processes. Located in the high-performing industry hub Ranshofen in the province of Upper Austria, LKR is renowned for its cutting-edge research & development of safe, efficient and green mobility solutions. Time to shine a light on SUSTAINair’s project coordinator in our latest blog post.
Spearheading light metals innovation
LKR’s history is closely linked not only to the community of Ranshofen, but also to the district of Braunau am Inn in which Ranshofen is located. Braunau is located just a few minutes away from Ranshofen. It is known as the center of the aluminium and metallurgy industry in the province of Upper Austria. The district of Braunau is home to several top companies in these sectors. AMAG Austria Metall AG for example is the biggest company in the Austrian Aluminium industry sector. Moreover, Braunau am Inn borders Germany’s economic powerhouse Bavaria, which reinforces the strong economic position of the area.
LKR is a subsidiary of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, which is Austria’s largest non-university research institute. Furthermore, LKR forms a crucial part of AIT’s Center for Low-Emission Transport. LKR develops high-grade light metal alloys, sustainable and energy efficient processing methods and functionally integrated lightweight components, thus covering the entire value chain. In addition to this, LKR is organizing the reference event for light metals in Austria, the Ranshofener Leichtmetalltage (Ranshofen light metal days). They take place every two years and gather all major players of the light metals sector in German-speaking Europe. The next edition of the Ranshofen light metal days is foreseen in autumn 2022.
Cutting-edge simulation tools and research infrastructure
The team of LKR in Ranshofen includes over 50 specialists. One of the main challenges they tackle when developing lightweight components is to reduce weight, while also ensuring passenger safety, e.g. during a crash. Lightweight materials are highly sought after in the automotive industry, as this technology is increasingly used in vehicle design. The application of light metals can reduce weight significantly, which in turn also has a positive effect on the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of vehicles.
In Ranshofen, LKR specialists have both cutting-edge simulation tools as well as a unique research infrastructure at their disposal. This includes an additive manufacturing laboratory, different die casting plants (including for high pressure die casting) and an extrusion plant. Additionally, it houses multiple test centers, such as for mechanical materials tests. Thus, LKR specialists can develop and prototype new metal alloys and customized processes for casting of lightweight components and metal forming (see example in the image below).
Broad portfolio of research fields and projects
LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen is a leader in the development of high-quality light metal alloys, their sustainable processing through to the development of functionally integrated lightweight components. The research work focuses on light metal alloy development, casting technologies, forming technologies, wire-based additive manufacturing, numerical simulation and material testing & characterization.
The LKR also covers a broad variety of industrial applications in its national and EU-funded projects. This ranges from aluminium & magnesium alloys in AMALFI to cryogenic recycling of industrially insufficiently used materials in KRYOREIF. Other projects include zero defect manufacturing for thermodynamical processes in ZDM, light metal components from the 3D printer in WE3D, as well as multi-material additive manufacturing in the Horizon 2020 MULTI-FUN project.
LKR in SUSTAINair
LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen is the coordinator of the SUSTAINair project. On the technical side, LKR is involved in the research, development and characterization of novel aluminium alloys with optimum properties regarding hybrid manufacturing, repair and recycling. Additionally, it is working on feedstock manufacturing for additive manufacturing, pin manufacturing, and near net shape manufacturing of light metals using wire based additive manufacturing and high pressure die casting.
Meet the people working on SUSTAINair at LKR:
Watch LKR’s Simon Frank, Scientist in the field of Casting Technologies, explain the functioning of the cold chamber die casting machine: