Project GAP


The project aims to develop and make available innovative materials (austempered spheroidal cast irons, high silicon spheroidal cast irons, foundry and plastic deformation process aluminium alloys). The materials will be completely characterised (including their post-production technological treatments), in order to facilitate their inclusion in the Italian and international regulatory framework applicable to the sector. Processing-microstructure-properties maps will also be created that allow an innovative and scalable approach to the design of high-performance components.

Unilab Laboratori Industriali participates by supporting collaborative R&D activities for the development of new sustainable technologies, and new products and services.

One Veneto Regional Council-funded research project the company is currently engaged in is:

Approval Decree No. 31 dated 15/03/2018
Participating organisations: SPRING Consortium – Strategic Partnership for Researched-based, Innovative and Networked Growth
Regional Innovative Networks involved: SINFONET – Smart and Foundry Innovative Network 

PROJECT “High Performance Cast Iron and Aluminium Alloys for Innovative Components (GAP)
Agreed budget 2,452,581.43 Euros


Unilab regional partner contribution 103,951.38 Euros
Project duration 07/11/2017 to 06/11/2019
Participating companies: 10
Participating research organisations: 1


Brief description of the project:
The Project is presented by SINFONET, a Regional Innovation Network in the foundry sector. In the various areas of industrial production, increasing attention is being focussed on the design and manufacture of high-performance components made using highly innovative materials, such as cast irons (austempered, high silicon, and compacted graphite) and light alloys (aluminium-silicon or aluminium-magnesium alloys, with the addition of elements capable of optimising the microstructure). These materials fall within the field of what’s known as “lightweight design”: their enhanced mechanical characteristics, possibly combined with low density, allow for the creation of lightweight components, with reduced thickness and low environmental impact, meaning considerable advantages for transport, consumer goods, and mechanical engineering sectors.

However, there are still several factors hampering the application potential of these materials being fully realised. Project GAP aims to analyse and overcome them by:

  • creating various types of samples, representative of actual working conditions and suitable for studying innovative solutions (for example heat treatments, welding, and coatings). These will optimise functionality and performance, and provide new engineering solutions, also potentially using multi-material components
  • Full understanding of the technological potential of the families of materials being considered (aluminium alloys and cast irons), through characterisations conducted with conventional and advanced methodologies
  • Creation of an engineering benchmark, which involves the development of correlations between production parameters and microstructural and mechanical characteristics, the developing of databases to provide designers with immediate support, the development of microstructure-property-process models to be used during the design process.

The project falls under the umbrella of Smart Manufacturing, which employ enabling technologies of Advanced Materials (light alloys and innovative high-performance cast irons), Advanced Production Systems (introduction of microstructural models to support design and production), encompassing also drivers of environmental sustainability (creation of “lightweight” components, capable of reducing environmental impact and resource use) and energy efficiency (reduction in consumption, greater efficiency in the use of materials).
The project’s principal development and technological aims fall within the areas of SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND PROCESSES (aim # 2, focussed on the development of high performance and high-sustainability metal components (cast iron, aluminium)) and ADVANCED DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGIES FOR MANUFACTURING (aim # 6, focussed on tools and models for integrated, innovative and scalable design, and # 8 focussed on the development and production of innovative materials (next generation cast irons, new aluminium alloys).