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Eck Industries is a leader in metalcasting research and development initiatives, but it doesn’t take them on without first considering their practicality. SHEA GIBBS, MANAGING EDITOR

challenge to Eck Industries. But those are the parts he’s learned to target in his few short years as a manufactur- ing engineer with his family’s nonferrous casting plant in Manitowoc, Wis. “[VP of sales and engi-


yler Eck sees a lot of castings he knows will pose a

Eck Industries, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Molding Processes: Nobake, green sand, low pressure permanent mold, tilt-pour permanent mold, shell.

Metals Cast: 200, 300, 500, 700 and 800 series aluminum, experimental alloys.

Annual Melt: 8 million lbs. per year. Employees: 220.

neering] Dave Weiss looks at a job and says we can do this, and I point out the chal- lenges in engineering a sound casting,” Eck said. “Our collaboration usually produces a very nice part. When you get into those types of programs, you realize what you’re capable of. You have to push yourself. You can’t just be making the simple stuff.” Eck Industries specializes in

casting 200-series alloys, coveted for their high strength both at room and elevated temperatures. Te company became involved with the alloys several decades ago when military requirements started pushing demand for high strength, light weight applica- tions. Adding them to the company’s repertoire was no easy task—the mate- rials are difficult to cast and require exacting metallurgical controls. Over the years, Eck Industries has

18 | MODERN CASTING June 2012 Facility Size: 220,000 sq. ft.

“We’re always looking for the next 206,” Eck said. In addition to growing

its own bottom line and industry capabilities, Eck’s devotion to R&D has earned the company the title of MODERN CASTING’s 2012 Metalcaster of the Year.

R&D Initiatives Much of the alloy

research Eck Industries performs is interrelated and

helped push research on 200-series alloys industry-wide, but the company doesn’t do so for altruistic reasons. Improving its own ability to make quality 200-series parts has made it a complex castings market leader. “We are not doing Mother Teresa

kind of research,” Weiss said. “We are doing research because our custom- ers say, ‘it would be great if we could get another 100F out of an alloy or 10 KSI in yield strength or if we could improve the toughness by 10-20%.’ Tose are the things our customers are asking us to do.” Te 200-series alloys aren’t the

only materials Eck Industries wants to improve. With research and develop- ment a critical part of its history, it is now looking for the next frontier.

draws on the original 200-series alloy work. Still, for practical purposes, the company organizes the projects into their own respective buckets. Its cur- rent and ongoing research includes: • Nanocomposites. Using a 206 aluminum base, Eck Industries is helping a group of researchers find a commercially viable way to produce castings with nanoparticles embedded in their microstructure. The particles stand to make alumi- num castings 100-120% stron- ger than traditional alloys. “Eck Industries’ role in this program is to produce real castings using the material,” Weiss said. “We are to the point now that we expect to produce our first scaled up version of nano-reinforced 206 aluminum

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