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Committee Q&A: Dr. Robert Tuttle

The AFS Steel Division is primarily focused on research required for the advancement of knowledge related to the casting, use of, and quality of steel castings. Modern Casting caught up with Dr. Robert Tuttle, a long-time committee volunteer and current chair of the division. Tuttle is an associate professor in the Engineering, Design, Manufacturing, and Management Systems Department at Western Michigan University. He teaches Principles of Engineering Materials, Casting Simulation, and Metalcasting and co-advises the AFS Student Chapter at WMU. Along with the Steel Division, Tuttle also participates in the AFS Standards Committee of the Engineering Division and the Industry 4.0 and Mold/Metal Interface Reaction Committees. He’s also a member of AIST, ASEE, and ASM. He has published more than 50 papers on steel grain refinement, metalcasting, and surface defects. Tuttle has been awarded the AFS Applied Research Award among many others.  

Robert Tuttle
Dr. Robert Tuttle

Modern Casting: What’s your role in the Steel Division and how did you get involved?
Tuttle:  I became involved in the Steel Division and its various activities about 20 years ago. For me, I knew that it’s important to get out of your day-to-day work and interact with other professionals and experts. None of us knows everything and having people you can call on when you have a problem, even as a professor, is critical to success. Other people have either seen it before or can give a different perspective. It also helps in having that broader connection to the industry so you don’t feel alone.

MC: What is a recent contribution the division has made to membership and the industry?
Tuttle: The Steel Division provides tons of benefits to the industry. We are the main organizers and content recruiters for the steel-related programming at Metalcasting Congress. This year, we are having a panel on finishing automation in addition to our usual set of papers. In terms of research, we have sponsored work on understanding the effect of gating systems on inclusion content. The division is pretty active with conducting webinars. Some examples are webinars on setting up quality labs, 3D printing of patterns, and fiber optics for temperature measurement. 

MC: What foundry issues is the division tackling right now, and how?
Tuttle: Right now the division is looking at continuing our successful webinar series with looking at 3D printed versus cast metal parts, data analysis, and quality topics. We’re still actively reviewing the papers for the upcoming Metalcasting Congress, but also thinking of new research directions. Some of the ideas are related to deoxidation practice and inclusion formation, argon stirring, and protecting the pouring stream to prevent inclusions.

MC: What message do you have for someone interested in becoming involved in the division?
Tuttle: We would love your perspective on the types of problems your facility faces and want to help with any questions you or your company have. Please become a member. Just email me at robert.tuttle@wmich.edu and I’ll make sure you’re invited to the next meeting! We provide a pretty welcoming environment and make sure new people feel comfortable.