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Press Platen


Saguenay Foundry, Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada, produced this 7,200-lb.sand casting using a proprietary manufacturing process dubbed “Nopatech” that eliminates the need for patterns. Nopatech involves robotically machining programmed sand molds. It is a rapid prototyping process well suited to short production runs of large castings. T is 60-40-18 ductile iron


casting is part of a plastic injec- tion molding line. Its overall size is 55 x 61 x 32 in. “Our customer, Athena


Automation, was a start-up company designing a new line of product,” explained engineer Alex Rouleau. “T ey had already developed the 150-ton variant, but they had an extremely short lead time to develop the 300-ton version.” T e company needed to do a trial run of the large, heavy


platen casting in a fast and cost-eff ective manner. “T e total lead time was eight weeks to procure two castings for each of two diff erent presses,” said Rouleau. (Not shown is a similar 6,500-lb. casting.) T is had to include casting, clean- ing and painting. “T e lead time for the two patterns would have been more than eight weeks with our pattern suppliers.


Furthermore, our customer was unwill- ing to invest in tooling equipment anyway because their design was not set,” he said. Saguenay applied its Nopatech pattern-free mold- ing technology. “Rapid proto-


typing is becom- ing more and more present in the casting world and this casting


really showcases the possibili- ties of our process,” Rouleau said.


While some rapid prototyping options


are limited in size, the robotic mold machin- ing process can tackle even very large castings. “[T ey are made] from a 3D drawing without the use of traditional or foam patterns, open- ing up new possibilities for our customers,” he explained.


One example of such a possibility is the failure of an old casting for which the original pattern can’t


be located. In other cases, its low startup cost eliminates the need to use steel weldments for short production runs. “It allows companies to improve substantially their


development cycle in the research and development department,” Rouleau said. Eight weeks after this project was put on order, all the


castings were shipped for a total $22,500 savings versus using traditional patterns.


The Nopatech in action at Saguenay Foundry produced this mold, shown half painted during production, at right.


30 | MODERN CASTING April 2014


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