‹ Back to Columns

Finding Solutions

Alfred Spada

The ultimate goal for a trade magazine is to provide solutions.  These could be solutions to problems you currently are having or problems you might have down the road.

The funny thing is, your manufacturing process, metalcasting, is fundamentally the same thing.  The strength of metalcasting is its ability to provide engineers with solutions others can’t.  Metalcasting is the process that can provide engineered metal components when no other manufacturing process can provide one.

This idea of being a solutions-provider relates to three of our features this month.

The first two, “Optimizing Melting Expansion at ME Elecmetal” on p. 22 and “Tonkawa the Tough” on p. 26, showcase two metalcasters solving melt–related obstacles:

  • ME Elecmetal had significant constraints across its operation, but it knew it needed to add melt capacity.  The question was how. By performing an analytical review of its processes and understanding all the variables involved, this firm was able to enhance existing capacity and add new capacity to reach its goals.
  • Tonkawa’s struggle was due to a technical failure that ravaged its power supply and melting furnace. For many small metalcasters, this would signal the end for the plant.  For Tonkawa, it became an opportunity to utilize the resources and support the firm foundation it had developed in its 65 years and re-emerge a stronger plant.

The key for both was an understanding of who they were as metalcasters.  A critical step in any problem-solving venture is to be able to effectively analyze the situation to understand your true self.

The third feature, “Solving Customer’s Problems” on p. 40, looks at three metalcasters’ experiences in solving their customers’ casting-related struggles. The answers they provided were a conversion-to-casting design, reverse engineering and utilizing rapid prototyping to produce a casting:  

  • Weldments redesigned to castings often improve components’ performance, quality, aesthetics and cost as illustrated with the ag part described in this feature.
  • Through reverse engineering, an investment caster took a 30-year-old aluminum fabrication and turned it into a few dozen military-grade investment castings.
  • A metalcaster used rapid prototyping to produce a pattern for a component rather than rely on worn tooling to generate two 30-in. impellers at 50% the lead time and reduced costs.

While these three solutions are not new to the world of metalcasting, they are three ways metalcasting differentiates itself from the competition. They also are three ways metalcasting can provide solutions.