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Investment Casters: They're Just Like Us!

Investment casters sometimes seem detached from the rest of us. Not only are they a subsection of the overall metalcasting industry, but they often serve a more specialized group of customers. (Think aerospace, jewelry, prosthetics and golf clubs.) However, in a lot of ways, they're just like the rest of us.
Following are a few comments heard at this year's 12th World Conference on Investment Casting & Equipment Expo, held in Dallas, Oct. 20-22. Some of the sentiments might sound familiar.
"Our sales guys think we can make just about anything."--Mike Moore, Carley Foundry, Blaine, Minn.
"To determine the cause of defects in your plant, create an inclusion dictionary and compare [the results of nondestructive testing on scrap castings] to the definitions. The inclusion dictionary allows less experienced engineers and shop employees to accurately identify the source of the problem and make improvements."--Yoshihiro Ando, DIA Precision Castings, Utsunomiya, Japan
"As shipping prices increase, we may be forced to pursue local sources for alternative [raw] materials."--Mario Bochiechio, Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, Conn.
"In the past, [some investment casters] pushed the technological envelope. But in the last 10-15 years, not much has happened. A lot of guys are saying the industry is stangnant in terms of technology."--Henri Fine, Uni-Cast, Londonderry, N.H.
"The level of alpha case generated, the slurry stability, how often you have to make the slurry, these are all things that make up the cost equation."--Charles Matzek, Remet Corp., Utica, N.Y.
Okay, so maybe that last one doesn't sound too familiar. But in most cases, investment casters are dealing with the same issues that plants working in other casting processes are. They just come home smelling like wax and ceramic instead of green sand.