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Ally, Not Adversary

Shannon Wetzel, Managing Editor

In the larger additive world, a lot of attention is given to intricate 3-D printed pieces in plastic or metal. They are meant to showcase the amazing geometries achievable by printing a part directly and skipping traditional manufacturing steps.

It’s a shame this can overshadow metalcasting, which has been creating complex shapes for decades, arguably even centuries. And it’s a shame I’ve had conversations with individuals outside of the metalcasting industry who assume additive manufacturing is going to put the industry out of business.

So when I talked with Andreas Bastian, an engineer and research scientist, for our Casting of the Year article on page 28, this quote was music to my ears:

“Metal printing likes to show all these exotic shapes that can be produced, but we want to demonstrate casting is a technology that is quite well suited to those shapes, particularly when you are making something larger than a bread box. Metalcasting offers hundreds of materials to choose from compared to metal printing, and the manufacturing base is mature.”


Additive manufacturing is having an impact on metalcasting and it’s not the death blow  some were imagining. Foundries are learning how to use this technology to improve their traditional part development while still giving customers castings that meet rigid, often safety-critical, requirements. While some would argue the adoption of 3-D printing in our industry has been too slow, it is occurring—and at a growing pace. Investments are being made across the industry in 3-D printing sand molds, wax patterns and hard tooling and last year, AFS created an official additive manufacturing division with specific committees for all three opportunities. The committee has been active, and a conference on the topic will be held Sept. 10-13 in Louisville, Kentucky.    

Additive can help low volume and prototype metalcasters work faster and enable customers to wield more design muscle for stronger, lighter parts that are easier to manufacture.

Parts like this year’s Casting of the Year—a swing arm cast by Tooling & Equipment International—help throw up a blinking neon sign to metalcasting and its capabilities. The geometry may look like the typical direct metal printed examples we always see, but it’s not. It’s a metal casting produced in a proven manufacturing process in a common, standardized alloy. Design engineers have to like that.      

On a separate note, Modern Casting recently launched an updated website along with the revamped AFS website that was activated last month. The magazine website has a modern look, with an emphasis on getting more content and related graphics on the main home page. Navigation has been simplified. Most exciting, the new platform is much more mobile friendly and easier to access when you’re away from your desk. Take a look; the url is still

Click here to see this story as it appears in the May 2018 issue of Modern Casting