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couple more machines to its model shop to accommodate larger parts and the increased usage of the rapid tooling method. “After I got my printer, of course


every brand wanted one,” Davis said. Te rapid tooling method is more than a time saver. “For every custom opportunity,


new tooling is required. Who’s going to absorb that?” Davis said. “A lot of times we would do it ourselves to get the job for the payoffs later. [With the new method] the tooling cost went from the standard $10,000 to basically the cost of the plastic.”


Illuminating In-House Casting The choice between sand or per-


manent mold casting depends on the design, Davis said. Some design ele- ments are less expensive and easier to achieve in sand casting, where mold aids such as floating inserts can be used. Historic designs based on the early 1900s often feature sur- face finishes that are not as smooth and thicker, heavier elements that are more cost effectively produced in sand casting. But permanent mold offers better dimensional accuracy and is more cost effective for larger volumes. Acuity works with several casting


sources, including a vendor in Saltillo, Mexico, to procure cast iron components. “We determine our source based


on tooling cost and lead time cost,” Davis said. The tooling engineer works with Acuity’s central sourcing group to make the decision. The role of Acuity’s in-house metal- casting facility in the production of rapid custom jobs has made it a more frequent choice. “When I came to corporate


headquarters in Georgia, some of our people didn’t know we had a metal- casting facility,” Davis said. “Now that they do, a lot of tools and processes have been migrated down to Mat- amoros. It makes more sense to feed ourselves, if you will.” Te casting facility might have been a little known secret at Acuity Brands 10 years ago, but its existence helped kick off Davis’ rapid tooling idea into fruition within six months.


February 2013 MODERN CASTING | 35


“We are definitely ahead of


the game, and we rely a lot on our foundry,” Davis said. He believes it would have taken considerably longer working with an outside vendor. “I am sure this was disruptive to the


casting supplier because it’s different,” Davis. “Could it have been done [with an outside supplier]? Yes, but not in a comfortable amount of time.”


With work picking up, the facility in Matamoros has acquired three new CNC machines in the last three years. Acuity also is considering adding diecasting to the sand and permanent mold casting processes in Matamoros for higher volume production. “[Te workers at Matamoros] see


the factory as finally growing up,” Davis said.


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