ADCA Research and Development Policy



  1. Definitions
  2. Successful Research and Development
  3. Investment in Research and Development
  4. Key Strategy for Research and Development
  5. Supporting Actions
  6. Project Types
  7. Issues of Research and Development Interest
  8. Technology Transfer
  9. ADCA Policy Summary


We refer to Research and Development as it is usually understood : the systematic accumulation and application of scientific knowledge and innovation to the development or improvement of a process, product or technique.

The Australian Die Casting Association is interested in Research and Development which may have an application in any of the Die Casting processes:

  • High pressure Die Casting;
  • Low pressure Die Casting;
  • Gravity Die Casting;
  • Semi-solid Die Casting;
  • Squeeze Casting.

By technology take-up we mean that the end result of the Research and Development has actually been applied and used in a commercial Die Casting process. In other words, it has resulted in an economic or competitive advantage to the Die Casting business.


From industry’s point of view, Research and Development is only considered successful when it has resulted in technology take-up.

When it becomes possible to apply and use the technology, and it is readily available, affordable and understood by manufacturing personnel, and when companies incorporate it into their business, then it is considered to be SUCCESSFUL.

Conversely, when Research and Development does not progress from the laboratory, or the computer screen, or the phase diagram, when it remains locked up in technical papers, or peoples heads, or it turns out to be economically unviable, then industry will not consider it to be successful.

Side Benefits

The process and organisation associated with Research and Development activities often results in beneficial side effects. Some examples include :

  • improving the knowledge and skills of people;
  • publishing technical papers;
  • attending international conferences;
  • establishing networks;
  • establishing prestige and publicity;
  • obtaining higher qualifications.

Generally these side benefits fall into two main categories :

  • Educational;
  • Promotional.

There is no doubt that these side benefits can be very worthwhile and very important. However, in the final analysis they cannot, and should not, be regarded as the main outcome.

Side benefits should not be confused with success.

From industry’s point of view, Research and Development is only SUCCESSFUL when it results in TECHNOLOGY TAKE-UP.

Other Points of View

The various organisations involved in major Research and Development activities each view the process from a different perspective.

A University, for example, has by its very nature and charter, a responsibility to educate people. Therefore, University participants will be very interested in research projects which are aligned to the skills and capabilities of post graduate students, or to the ability to link to the publishing of formal papers, and to eventually obtain higher academic qualifications.

Research organisations have to ensure that a sufficient and continuing source of funds is available to pay for new equipment, salaries and general running costs. In this light, promotional and networking aspects of Research and Development become important.

Die Casting companies also, want to ensure that they have an intelligent, well experienced workforce, and therefore, exposing people to systematic study disciplines and the application of sophisticated techniques will be given weighting.

With all this activity, and different points of view it is not hard to see how the end objectives that will benefit the Die Casting industry can become lost in the details.

But, in the long run, if the activity does not lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs, or an increase in quality or yield, or some form of competitive advantage for Australian industry, then industry will not consider it to be SUCCESSFUL Research and Development.

The Australian Die Casting Association is only interested in supporting Research and Development being successfully taken up by manufacturing plants in Australia. We have no interest in activities which will primarily benefit plants in other countries or in Research and Development projects which are aimed primarily at selling technology rights overseas.

We have, in Australia, some excellent organisations, facilities and human resources which have the potential to greatly benefit our own manufacturing base. The Australian Die Casting Association wants to see that potential converted into reality, and to assist all the participants to be successful.

Unsuccessful Projects

Having previously outlined what industry would consider a successful outcome for a Research and Development activity, it follows then that projects that do not result in technology take-up will be viewed as being UNSUCCESSFUL.

This means that all Research and Development Projects start off in the “unsuccessful” category. During the initial research and learning phase, the preliminary ideas and alternative stages, the project is still UNSUCCESSFUL.

It will only be when the objectives of the project are achieved that it can become successful.

Viewing projects in this light might appear to some as a negative approach; one that might dampen enthusiasm and kill creativity. On closer reflection however, it is a much more realistic view and in many ways, a more healthy approach, and one that will lead to better decisions.

By and large, this view is in alignment with the somewhat hard-edged, commercial reality perspective of most manufacturing industry.

3. INVESTMENT IN Research and Development

this explains the somewhat reluctant and usually cautious view taken by most industrial companies with regard to Research and Development. Whilst they accept it as important, and vital for future success, it is seen as risky business.

In a normal investment, a sum of money is put in with an expectation that it will return an income gain (interest or appreciation) and that all of the original investment will be returned at a future date.

With Research and Development, money has to be put in with a high probability that it will all be lost and return absolutely nothing. There is a small expectation, that it may lead to a real financial benefit well into the future.

4. KEY STRATEGY FOR Research and Development

For industry, the key strategy for Research, Development and Technology Take-up is :

To maximise the probability of technology take-up.

If we can maximise the success rate, we will achieve many benefits, some of which include :

  • an increased average return on Research and Development investment;
  • encouragement for more companies to participate;
  • an increase in the amount of funds that individual companies will invest in Research and Development;
  • an increase in the amount of Research and Development carried out in Australia.

The means by which this strategy can be put into effect is through a set of consistent supporting actions. These are set out in the next Section.


1. Set a target for technology take-up.

It is inevitable that not all projects will result in successful technology take-up. How much money are we prepared to write-off without a successful result?

A good target would be the following:

Sixty percent of the total expenditure on Die Casting Research and Development will be on projects which result in successful technology take-up.

2. Clarify Project Objectives.

Before commencing a Research and Development project, clearly identify the links between the project’s objectives and the potential for Technology Take-up.

If it is not clear how or if Australian manufacturing industry can take up the technology, then it should be given a low project expenditure, or none at all.

3. Minimise project time-lines.

The longer a project takes, the longer it stays in the “unsuccessful” category. Therefore, effort should be made to compress time-lines, to achieve knowledge or prove out in a shorter time frame. A mix of larger and smaller projects will assist in this aim.

4. Review projects critically and regularly.

Informed, constructive criticism is an important element of keeping a project focussed and on track. Therefore, it should be encouraged as much as possible, and made transparent. Ultimately, the customer will decide if it was successful or not, and it is best to find that out as early as possible.

Because Research and Development is inherently risky business, there will be plenty of opportunity for wasted effort. Therefore, skills in being able to assess the progress of a project, and the likelihood of success must be valued and encouraged.

5. Redirect or abandon projects where required.

When a project is going off the rails, getting nowhere, or going backwards, then action must be taken as soon as possible to minimise the expenditure going into the “unsuccessful” category.

If particular skills are needed, and not available in the team, look wider to find them. Take people out of the project if required. Scale down a project if it is looking unlikely to succeed, but still has a few loose ends to explore. Seek a fresh approach or a re-appraisal from someone new.

And in the end, if it appears a lost cause, abandon the project altogether, and get on with something else.

6. Be creative and involve people with a range of experiences.

To be successful you need a certain amount of good fortune as well as skills and knowledge. But successful teams make their own luck. They explore issues efficiently by quickly getting to the heart of the matter, and they look in places that others have not thought of.

Encourage innovation and creativity tempered by informed critical review

Project teams need to include people with a range of experiences :

  • scientific;
  • engineering;
  • industrial;
  • commercial;

In some cases, the answer will be found in the application of a straight-forward idea or principle with a greater attention to detail.


Research and Development Projects can usually be classified into one of two types :

Type 1 :  Those which companies want to pursue for their own competitive advantage. The end result would be used only in their own operation (or perhaps with a few others by mutual choice).

Type 2 :  Those which are important for international competitive advantage but which the company cannot or does not want to pursue alone. These projects will cover issues which are more generic, more commonly based and (usually) more difficult to solve. Multiple company involvement will be mandatory for these types of projects.

The Australian Die Casting Association is interested in encouraging and assisting all types of Research and Development in Australia. It is those of the second type however, in which it has a greater interest, and can assist companies and organisations to pursue and ultimately achieve successful technology take-up.


The detail of the subject of interest in individual Research and Development Projects will change continuously, but there are some broad areas of interest to the Die Casting industry.

Reducing Waste

Here “waste” is used in the most general of meanings – waste of material, machine time, failed equipment and dies, waste of effort and non-value added processes.

The concept here is that prices are determined broadly by the market and are essentially fixed. By reducing waste, the business obtains a better return on its sales without impacting the customer.

Subjects of interest include :

  • Eliminating soldering in dies;
  • Minimising heat checking in dies;
  • Reducing sprue, biscuit and runner mass;
  • Maximising the life of furnace components;
  • Decreasing die and development costs;
  • Eliminating warm-up shots;
  • Identifying and eliminating in appropriate equipment and technology.

Increasing the Performance and Quality of Die Castings

Here the objective is to create Die Castings which have better physical or chemical properties, or are more consistent. This will enable them to be specified and made for more demanding applications and hence increase the market and business opportunities.

Subjects of interest would include :

  • Eliminating porosity in Die Castings;
  • Improving metal quality;
  • Improving machine shot control;
  • New or improved Die Casting processes (e.g. SSM, Vacuum);
  • Shot blasting;
  • Eliminating chill layer;
  • Improving heat treatment of Die Castings;
  • Improving the performance of tooling.
  • Improving the Predictability of Die Casting Processes

The further in advance that the technical performance aspects of a process can be predicted, the lower the costs and the better the performance.

By providing reliable information, better decisions can be made about product design, die design, machine selection, material specification and so on.

Subjects of interest include :

  • Metal fill modelling;
  • Uniform Die temperatures;
  • Die construction materials;
  • Thermal modelling;
  • Solidification modelling;
  • Die design of gravity Casting;
  • Die design of low pressure Die Casting.



From the industry’s point of view, Research and Development is viewed as high level technical problem solving. The research phase includes defining the problem to be solved, postulating possible solutions, collecting information and testing in a theoretical framework with equations, computer programs and other techniques.

The development phase usually concludes with a verification of the technical outcomes by demonstrating them on pilot, prototype, laboratory or simulated equipment.

However, with most projects (if not all), to move from this “laboratory proven” stage to the fully implemented “production proven” stage requires a large amount of additional time, effort and expenditure.

All the actions, activities and infra-structure which supports this transition process, we refer to as Technology Transfer.

These activities include :

  • Adapting, modifying and de-bugging the technology;
  • Simplifying or refining the technology;
  • Making the technology reliable, repeatable and user friendly;
  • Passing information on to others;
  • Teaching, training and educating people;
  • Developing manuals, texts and training materials;
  • Transferring staff between Research and Development and Manufacturing and vice-versa;
  • Collaboration between project participants;
  • Developing know-how.

These activities are extremely important, for without them, the work done in the Research and Development phases will never make it to industry take-up and will be of no use to anyone.

Most Research and Development projects fail at the Technology Transfer phase – due to insufficient resources, budget, planning, or understanding of the feasibility of the Technology Transfer phase.

In order to maximise the probability of Technology Take-up, we must put more effort into Technology Transfer activities. We therefore need to add three more supporting actions to our previously identified six.

Additional Supporting Actions

1. Identify Technology Transfer Requirements

As early as possible, and under constant review as the project progresses, identify and quantify the resources, skills, expenditure and time which will be required for this phase of the project.

2. Extend the Responsibility of Research Workers into Technology Transfer

Research workers must take responsibility and be willing to facilitate, participate in, and guide and monitor this technology transfer phase of the project. They need to touch the technology in its home environment.

3. Extend the Commitment of Industry to Technology Transfer

The industrial project partners must commit to making available sufficient personnel, with the right level of education, skills and attitude, to the Technology Transfer phase. By working alongside one another “technical know-how” is created where it is most needed and two-way learning takes place – research workers gain valuable industrial knowledge and industry workers lift the depth and breadth of their technical understanding.


The Die Casting industry considers the development of Best Practice Manuals to be a very worthwhile activity. Whilst they may not be considered mainstream Research and Development activity, they provide the means by which a plethora of technical detail and experimentation can be summarised, and put into a form that people can use in a manufacturing environment.

It is an essential activity of Technology Take-up.

Some of the topics which should be considered include :

  • Fluxing of metal;
  • Degassing Metal;
  • Metal Cleanliness and Quality;
  • Cleaning and Maintenance of Furnaces;
  • Die Lubricants and Coatings.



Research, Development and Technology Take-Up

Key Strategy: Maximise the probability of technology take-up.

Supporting Actions:

1. Set a target for technology take-up.

2. Clarify project objectives.

3. Minimise project time-lines.

4. Review projects critically and regularly.

5. Redirect or abandon projects where required.

6. Be creative and involve people with a range of experiences.

7. Identify technology transfer requirements.

8. Extend the responsibility of research workers into technology transfer.

9. Extend the commitment of industry to technology transfer

Key Industry Research and Development Interests

Projects which focus on:

a. Reducing all kinds of “waste”.

b. Increasing the performance and quality of Die Castings.

c. Improving the predictability of Die Casting processes.

d. Developing “Best Practice” Manuals.