Advanced Casting Research Center opens new metal processing facility

The Advanced Casting Research Center (ACRS) unveiled its new state-of-the-art metal processing lab at University of California–Irvine on March 3. Researchers, professors, and leading metallurgists from around the country gathered for the grand opening event. 

“After more than a year of remote learning, students really appreciate hands on experience,” said ACRC Board of Directors Chair Randy Beals of MAGNA. “The new ACRC lab at UCI allows the undergrad students to become more engaged, which makes it easier to understand the challenging theories and concepts behind materials science. It also equips ACRC researchers with the state-of-the-art tools to be successful in their cutting-edge casting research programs and in their professional lives after school.”

ACRC, which relocated to UCI in 2020, is one of the largest industry-university consortia in North America dedicated to collaborative research in metal processing and manufacturing. Its focus is metal casting and digital manufacturing. Built under the direction of Diran Apelian, ACRC founding director and UCI distinguished professor at UCI’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the new foundry and lab are equipped with:

  • A modern foundry that houses two Inductotherm 35 kW induction furnaces for the production of alloys.
  • State-of-the-art vacuum melting system with capabilities for atomization (Arcast 200) with various geometry molds to process refractory metals.
  • Complete Spectro lab for chemical analysis.
  • Buehler Center of Excellence (for metallography).
  • Olympus Microscopy suite, including a laser confocal microscope.
  • SLM-125 laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) system with Yb fiber laser (400 W) for AM manufacturing of material components.
  • VJ Technologies Veda CT 450 an x-ray computed tomography (CT) is being installed, which will be equipped with a 450 kV power source for macroCT imaging and a 250 kV power source for microCT imaging.
  • The CT is equipped with a Deben CT 5000, which allows the testing of samples under loading and interrogating and imaging with the CT under load.
  • The Deben system has a 5KN testing stage for X-Ray CT applications.
  • For mechanical testing, an MTS Nano Indenter XP, and Instron Model 8801 and Model 5985 testers.
  • Buehler 2004 microhardness tester and an Instron E3000 microtester allow the execution of mechanical testing of miniature specimens.
  • Digital image correlation (DIC) system (model: VIC-3D v7, manufacturer: Correlated Solutions, Inc.) is also available to measure strain and subsequent evaluation of corresponding stress.

“The new ACRC facility has the state-of-the-art equipment and lab space for research and development in advanced metal casting and digital manufacturing,” said Alan Luo, director of Lightweight Materials and Manufacturing Research Lab and Professor at Ohio State University, who attended the unveiling of the new lab. “It’s a one-of-its-kind center in the United States for fostering industry-academia collaboration, which is indispensable for the metals and manufacturing sectors in the nation. I was also impressed by the top-notch researchers and students who I had the pleasure to meet and discuss many technical challenges facing the industry.”

ACRC Member Kevin Anderson, Brunswick Senior Fellow at Mercury Marine, said, “It is a rare opportunity to build a materials laboratory from the ground up. Everything from new state-of-the-art equipment to the facility itself was very thoughtfully constructed. Even the greatest laboratory needs an excellent staff and the professors, and students at UCI are clearly up to the challenge. Not only will this serve the ACRC well, it will be a place of learning for the students, UCI faculty, industry, and frankly our nation for years to come. What an accomplishment. Great job!”     

More information about ACRC’s research is available at: