Metal manufacturing professionals are a close-knit community, and just like any specialized group, we've developed our own way of speaking. To outsiders, many of whom are our friends, family and customers, metalcasting & machining lingo might seem like another language entirely. Here, we aim to demystify metalcasting & machining jargon so anyone can join the conversation.
Modern metal manufacturing offers a wide range of choices to bring designs into reality. Metalcasting has been around for millennia, and it's undergone its fair share of innovation over the years. Casting facilities can now handle almost any alloy, and can cast intricate designs with complex inner cavities that wouldn't have been possible even a few decades ago.
This year the Steel Founders' Society of America (SFSA) introduced a national competition to engage students with steel casting and help foundries connect with the next generation of manufacturing professionals. Inspired by History Channel's Forged in Fire, the Cast in Steel competition brings teams of engineering students from around the country together to find out who can cast the best Viking axe. Testing, judging and awards took place prior to CastExpo in Atlanta, GA.
The rise of CAD/CAM software largely defines the current era of manufacturing. While blueprints and dimensional charts are still widely used as reference guides, modern manufacturers rely on software to design prototypes and simulate casting processes. One of the first steps in the cast part development process is to create a 3D model. From there, engineers can improve the part shape, simulate a variety of casting processes and materials, and troubleshoot difficult manufacturing scenarios.
When done right, CAD/CAM software enables foundries to solve all the problems of casting in the virtual world, before pouring any metal. The results are cost savings for the customer, time savings for everyone, and reduction of overall waste.
Clockwise from top left: Globe valve, butterfly valve, gate valve, ball valve
Valves are employed in just about any situation involving the flow of liquid or gas. A valve controls the flow of water through your kitchen sink. A different valve brings propane gas into the burners of a gas stove. Outside the home, industrial valves are built to handle high pressure, either from fluid or gas, and to last through years of use in harsh environments. Most utilities, from water to oil and gas, wouldn't be able to function without heavy duty, industrial-strength valves.
Because many components of industrial valves are cast, foundries and machine shops like the Eagle Group often supply valve manufacturers with the parts they need to assemble finished products. The following valve types represent the most commonly seen valves for industrial applications around the world.
All metal casting processes have their own unique characteristics. When designing a new part for casting, the most appropriate process should be determined by a number of factors, including:
- Tooling costs
- Labor costs
- Design characteristics
- Desired appearance
The goal of the manufacturer and the supplier should be to find the optimal balance that produces the lowest per-part cost at a given quantity, while meeting or exceeding all quality requirements.
Here, we compare investment casting to three metal casting processes: shell mold casting, greensand casting and permanent mold casting.
Eagle Precision Cast Parts, Inc. just released a downloadable resource, titled Investment Casting Process Guide: A Comprehensive Introduction to Investment Casting.
The goal of the 21-page ebook is to make it easy for manufacturers, and anyone else who's interested, to learn the basics of investment casting. Manufacturers looking for a better way to produce parts can find information on tolerances, design recommendations and a full case study.
Investment casting, sometimes known as lost-wax casting, is a metal forming method known for its ability to produce parts with tight tolerances, complex inner cavities and accurate dimensions.
As we discussed in our Introduction to Investment Casting post, the basic technique has existed for millennia. Over the years, innovations in equipment and methodology have kept pace with demand. Today, investment casting is one of the most popular forms of metal casting.
Read on to learn more about the unique process of investment casting.
Investment casting is nearly as old as metalcasting itself, with the earliest known examples dating back to 3,500 BC. Before investment casting was invented, metal castings were created using open stone or ceramic molds. Investment casting allowed for much greater detail and smoother finish, vastly expanding the possibilities of metal casting.
Today, investment casting is one of the most versatile methods of metal casting. The process, which is still similar to that used over 5,000 years ago, allows for tighter tolerances, more intricate shapes and smoother surface finishes than other metal casting methods.