Casting Research Powerhouses

Doug Kurkul, CEO of AFS

This issue of Modern Casting magazine focuses on a topic that is dear to the hearts of many members of the metalcasting community: research. Foundry leaders, suppliers and academic experts alike know that the competitiveness of the $44 billion foundry industry depends on the continual discovery and implementation of new insight in casting processes, quality and efficiency. 

Among the organizations most sharply focused on casting research is the American Foundry Society. Fostering innovation is one of the pillars of the AFS 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, and research is a critical element of driving innovation. At AFS, research takes on several forms. 

The first form is AFS-funded research. Over a recent three-year period, AFS independently funded about $700,000 in research, with another $300,000 being contributed by the industry. A percentage of every dollar of corporate membership is dedicated to research, generating a pool of research funds that most years is supplemented by an additional funding authorization from the Board of Directors.

The decisions on which research proposals to fund is made by the Research Board, a five-member board whose membership is selected to encompass a broad range of industry expertise and experience. Each Research Board member serves a five-year term. Every year, one individual rotates on, and one rotates off, thereby ensuring both continuity and the introduction of new perspectives on an ongoing basis.

Most research proposals reach the Research Board via the recommendation of AFS technical divisions. Over the last several years, AFS has funded research proposals in a variety of areas, including aluminum, steel, cast iron, EHS/silica, additive manufacturing, copper and lost-foam casting. The Research Board awards research contracts, prioritizes projects, and holds researchers accountable for progress and results. AFS works with respected foundries, suppliers, casting users and educational institutions in completing this work. These researchers are true heroes in our industry. 

AFS corporate members are the first to receive the reports on completed research – a reflection of the fact that they are the ones, in large part, who are funding this important work. Results are later published in Modern Casting, as well. 

Just how influential is AFS research? One recent project serves as a vivid example. The EHS Division asked AFS to conduct research into the effectiveness of existing non-HEPA sweepers relative to OSHA’s silica standard. After completing the research, AFS submitted the results to OSHA, which concluded that based on the findings, existing sweepers were satisfactory for meeting the needs of the standard. At an average cost of $30,000 per sweeper, this AFS research project saved foundries millions of dollars. 


A second area of focus for AFS is important outside research. AFS is involved in about $2 million in outside-funded research partnerships. AFS is a founding member of the American Metalcasting Consortium, which supports the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) through new tech-
nology, process improvements and technical expertise in casting procurement to ensure warfighter readiness. Additionally, AFS is a supporter of the Advanced Casting Research Center (ACRC), which has expertise in thermodynamics, kinetics, melting methods, alloy development and other specialties. 

The third area of research focus at AFS is the International Journal of Metalcasting, which is the world’s leading peer-reviewed source of casting research. Edited by industry expert Thomas Prucha, the IJMC recently published its 50th issue. With an international audience of scientific and technical leaders, IJMC leads in the transfer of research and technology for the global foundry industry. Is it truly a global publication? Since 2016, authors from 59 different countries have submitted papers for consideration. It has a five-year impact factor of 1.108 and receives more than 40,000 downloads per year. Every AFS corporate member company receives unlimited digital access to IJMC articles. 

If you have an idea for a possible future AFS research project, we’d like to hear from you. Please bring it to the attention of the appropriate AFS technical committee, or contact Steve Robison at Member involvement is a key element in driving our research agenda. We appreciate your support.