In our blog series, Casting Advocates, we get to know organizations and industry leaders who work to elevate the metalcasting profession. This installment focuses on the American Foundry Society (AFS).
The American Foundry Society is a national organization with a mission to "advance the success of its members and the metal casting industry through advocacy, education and innovation." In support of this mission, AFS works constantly to support technical innovation, advocate for beneficial policies, promote positive perception of the industry, develop workforce skills and provide a range of services and networking opportunities for casting facilities.
The use of robotics in manufacturing, including metalcasting and machining, has grown steadily since the 1970s. Industrial automation increasingly relies on robotics as a way to improve efficiency and replace monotonous, repetitive human tasks.
Robots are used for a wide variety of tasks in manufacturing, from transportation to assembly. In metalcasting and machining, robots can be used to complete nearly any programmable task, from dipping and pouring to grinding and milling.
One major factor that sets leading foundries apart from the rest is the product design process. Foundries that follow these five steps are much more likely to produce quality cast parts that function as expected, with low rates of returns and defects. They also frequently delight customers with innovative design suggestions and efficient processes that lead to better parts, lower costs and higher quality.
In the 1980s and 90s, product design procedures were so varied that major American automakers created a set of standard guidelines for their suppliers to follow. These manuals led to the modern practice of "Advanced Product Quality Planning," or APQP.
Ask a group of 5th graders what they want to be when they grow up, and you'll get a long list of answers: firefighter, detective, athlete, musician, astronaut. These (and other top kids' dream jobs) are certainly vital to our society, but as proud and forward-thinking manufacturers, we have to ask: Wouldn't you rather be a metal caster, or a machinist, or a Six Sigma coach?
Maybe the answer is "yes," but the issue is that not many kids have been asked this question. That's where programs like Foundry in a Box come in. Dedicated professionals in the manufacturing industry visit schools and introduce students to the basics of metalcasting, and manufacturing careers, through hands-on projects. Programs like this not only expand students' horizons, but they're also vital to the future of manufacturing in the United States.
It all started on a routine facility tour
While touring a client’s facility, representatives of Eagle Precision Cast Products noticed a cable clamp assembly–a relatively complex fabricated part that they believed would be an excellent candidate for fabrication to casting conversion.