Face CASE22 Face

Casting Module 2, Engine Plant, Suzuka Factory, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The first-generation Fit (released in June 2001) was a major hit.
The first-generation Fit (released in June 2001) was a major hit.
Cylinder sleeve is inserted into the cylinder block
Cylinder sleeve is inserted into the cylinder block

Spincast was adopted for production of cylinders sleeves for the first-generation 2001 Fit.

 Around 12 years ago, in June 2001, Honda released the Fit, a subcompact car featuring a wide range of innovative technologies, including a center-tank layout positioning the gas tank below the front seats.
  Boasting superior driving performance, fuel economy, and the most spacious interior of any subcompact car to date, the Fit quickly became a market celebrity. The model fetched orders totaling some 48,000 units in its first month—six times the original monthly sales target of 8,000 units.
 The engine in the first-generation Fit employed cylinder sleeves manufactured using a new method developed by Honda. Cylinder sleeves, also called "cylinder liners," are cylindrical parts that are contained inside the cylinder block. These cylinders are a critical component in the engine, as they form the container in which the pistons slide up and down at high speeds.
  Until the Fit, Honda manufactured cylinder sleeves by casting them in sand, a method commonly used for producing cast metal parts. Honda replaced this method with its new proprietary Spincast method. The first-generation 2001 Fit was the first Honda automobile to employ cylinder sleeves produced using this new process.
 Sand casting has been around for millennia. The method has been used not only by Honda but by various industries for manufacturing a wide range of products. However, sand casting comes with many problems, including an extremely hot and dirty work environment. The Spincast method did away with these problems and contributed to a dramatic improvement in working conditions surrounding cylinder sleeve production as well as a significant reduction in environmental impact.
 Now, twelve years later, the cylinder sleeves in all Honda automobiles produced globally are manufactured using the Spincast method.
 Ever since its deployment in manufacturing, the Spincast method was kept confidential to maintain possession of the technology within the company. Now, Honda has decided to disclose information on this technology for the very first time on Face. We interviewed the developers to hear their stories behind this innovative process.

Yoshihiro Furukawa, Engineer, Casting Module 2, Suzuka Factory

Yoshihiro Furukawa, Engineer, Casting Module 2, Suzuka Factory

Associates use hammers to break product parts from the gates

Associates use hammers to break product parts from the gates

To improve the work environment and reduce environmental impact, Suzuka Factory would need an alternative to sand casting.

 While there are many ways to shape metal, casting is one of the most common. Metal casting is the process of heating solid metal into a liquid at high temperatures and pouring the metal into a mold. The casting of metal in a mold made of hardened sand is called "sand mold casting" or "sand casting."
  Engineer Yoshihiro Furukawa has been working in casting ever since joining Honda in 1977. Now part of Casting Module 2 at Suzuka Factory, Furukawa told us just how harsh the conditions surrounding sand casting work used to be.
 "We had two cupola furnaces for melting iron, and it was tough working with those things. They burn coke to melt the iron, so we would get covered in black dust that hung in the air. We had a dust collector but it couldn't keep up. And we had to replace the coke everyday. Everyone had to do that job. Another job that was hard was gate breaking. Parts that come out of a sand mold are attached to these metal frames called gates, which look like the frames in plastic model kits. We had to hit the parts with a hammer to break them off. It takes a lot of force, so whoever was in charge of gate breaking would get worn out from doing it over and over again."
 Furukawa tried several times to automate the process in order to do away with these extreme conditions, but precision requirements and other factors made it impossible. To improve the work environment, Furukawa came to the conclusion that they would need to stop sand casting altogether.
 The work environment wasn't the only problem. Sand casting manufacturing generates massive quantities of crushed sand molds. Approximately 80% of this sand is reused to make new molds, but the remaining 20% ends up as spent sand (industrial waste).
In the late 1990s, spent foundry sand accounted for roughly one half of all industrial waste generated by the entire Suzuka Factory. In other words, Suzuka Factory had no hope of improving its environmental performance and becoming a "green factory" if it couldn't reduce the amount of spent sand that came out of its sand casting operations.
 Said Furukawa: "I think it was around 1997 when Suzuka Factory took it upon itself to find an alternative method to sand casting."

Page Top

Honda Worldwide site

Home | Site Map | Site Index | About this Site

Copyright, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.