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Once Blackhawk set its sights on castings from 200 to 700 lbs. (approx. 100 to 300 kg), Gil and his team had two options: expand the current green sand operation or opt for a nobake process to handle the larger castings. Al Alagarsamy, a metallurgist


who had previously worked with Blackhawk before joining the team of experts to help with this expan- sion, was an advocate for a nobake line, thanks to the process’s lower tooling costs and relatively less complex sand system for heavier section castings. “You can still make this type and


size of castings in a green sand flask,” Alagarsamy said. “But costs can go up with the larger castings. Te sand system can be very complex. I think


”We decided to install a nobake line with automation and good equipment, because we want to be a big player that’s not relying on labor in Mexico. Tat’s temporary.” —Patricio Gil


Blackhawk made the right choice with nobake.” Te lower tooling cost also


encourages shorter run parts, with Blackhawk aiming for orders in the low- to medium-volume range of 500-5,000 parts. “You are able to lower the cost of


patterns because you can use plastic, wood and other materials,” Gil said. “Tere’s less stress and lower volume, so it’s easy to justify new patterns.” Te investment associated with the potential expansion also favored the nobake option. For 12,500 met-


ric tons per year in additional capacity, the nobake option would cost around $20 million, while an alternative plan to increase the green sand operation by 40,000 metric tons per year would have


required $50 million to be competi- tive. When Blackhawk approached its parent company with the two proposals, Quimmco opted for the nobake option. “We presented the two alterna-


tives,” Gil said. “And the board came back and said, ‘OK, let’s first go with the smaller project and see where we’re at.’”


Building a Team Blackhawk began clearing space


for its expansion in late 2012 and construction began in February


The pilot nobake plant was built alongside Blackhawk’s green sand line and is still in operation. 22 | MODERN CASTING April 2014


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