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Past, Present and Future

Shannon Wetzel

This issue of Modern Casting and the supplement “AFS Celebrating 125 Years” mailed with it were fun projects. With the anniversary supplement, we look at the past—how AFS came about and the impact metalcasting has had on the U.S.  While in the regular issue, we look at the present and the future with a foundry profile, case studies, and a research review of the potential for cast magnesium foam.

Foundry owners in the U.S. have grouped together almost since the birth of the nation, but for the first 100 years, it was mostly by region and as informal gatherings or meetings.  However, in 1896, 220 metalcasters voted to form and join a united trade association representing foundries across the whole country.  The momentous occasion occured at the first Metalcasting Congress.

As Howard Evans, partner in S. W. Paxton and Company, a foundry supply dealer, wrote in a magazine article encouraging industry members to attend:

“The object of this convention is to bring about a more friendly feeling among the foundrymen of this country, and to allow the presentation and discussion of papers on interesting subjects, and to encourage the formation of Foundrymen’s Associations in every part of the United States ... believing in the end, good results must follow.”

As we hope to show in this issue and “AFS Celebrating 125 years,” good things have followed since those men joined forces over a century ago. And it’s Modern Casting’s mission to share the new ideas and practices that have stemmed from academia, AFS committees, and work performed at the plant-level. 

In this issue, we show how one foundry—Buck Company, Quarryville, Pennsylvania)—has challenged itself to be an “Employer of Choice” for its county (see “Buck Company: Becoming a Foundry for the Future” on page 24). The steps the foundry is taking to create and maintain a safe, healthy and engaged workforce is notable, from capital investments to a shift in management’s approach to decisionmaking.

In “Foundry-Retail Relationship Works Out” on page 20, we share a reshoring story of a major retailer working with a domestic metalcaster to meet pent up customer demand for home gym workout weights. This certainly represents a foundry stepping up to meet a present and pressing need. 
Manufacturing and metalcasting are in the midst of a technological jump in terms of data analysis.

While data collecting has been going on for some years, businesses are becoming more savvy with how to use the data to make real decisions in their operations. Two metalcasters share their approaches in “A Practical Implementation of Industry 4.0 in Foundries” on page 32.

Finally, take a look at what scientists are researching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on page 38. They are studying the potential of casting magnesium foam structures that could be used in energy absorption applications, such as automotive, and for fixing bone defects in segmental bone breaks where natural bone regrowth is not enough.

This industry is constantly evolving. Researching AFS’s history was a reminder of how far the industry has come, and inspiring to imagine how far it can go—especially when collaboration across the industry can continue.