by the casting supplier. It will save you time and logistics management. If the metalcaster subcontracts the work to a machine shop, paint shop, etc., ask to have that information. You might not speak directly with the subcontractors, but it’s good practice to know who they are.


How can you assure me of good quality?

When you ask about

quality, remember that what you are really asking

is if the casting supplier will adhere to your specifi cations. You want to make sure the supplier can deliver the part that meets your requirements, which will be diff erent than those in other segments or applications. If something measurable, like a consistent casting weight, is important to you, you’ll want to ask if the supplier can give data showing it can achieve the appropriate consistency part to part. If you can, visit the plant before

you start doing business and review internal documents. What’s the scrap rate and scrap rate goal? What is their rate of returns from customers? What kind of controls are being used on the equipment in the shop fl oor? Is the plant operating within the parameters it has set up in its controls? Do those parameters fi t your needs?


How do I know I’m getting the best overall price?

Metalcasting facilities with efficient processes

that best match your part should result in a fair price. Ask what technology the plant uses to be cost competitive. Does it have any auto- mation, such as in grinding, material handling or high speed molding? Is the part flow through the plant direct without crisscrossing the buildings? Are parts well tracked throughout the process steps? What is the product mix the

metalcasting facility is producing currently? Are they similar to yours in size, complexity, and volume? T at’s a good indicator you are in a plant best suited to your particular needs, which

Metalcasters can offer the best price when parts fi t their operation, whether it’s a sand casting facility or diecasting shop (shown here).

will result in a more favorable cost. If your part seems like the odd duck, you likely will incur higher costs as the metalcasting facility attempts to fi t your square peg in a round hole. Additionally, as a customer, remem-

ber to consider all the costs associated with the part when determining best overall price. Included in this calcula- tion should be value-added services, inventory costs, surcharges, packaging, price of certifi cation, transportation/ shipping, and the risk associated with a missed shipment.


I have a tool/pattern, can you use it?

In metalcasting, tool- ing and patterns are made for the specifi c equipment

on which the molds or castings will be produced. If you have pattern and hope to use it at a diff erent supplier, your best bet will be to fi nd a supplier that uses that same molding machine as the original supplier. Sometimes a metalcasting facility can rework a die or pattern to fi t a diff erent machine, but depending on the complexity, the cost to do this can be almost as much as making a new pattern. A metalcasting facility also may

prefer to use tooling it has created because it can take responsibility for the quality of the castings. T e cost estimator will have more confi dence in the quality of the parts produced

on the company’s own die or pat- tern and provide a quote accordingly. With someone else’s tooling, unknown variables, such as how much grind- ing would be needed in fi nishing, will result in a more expensive quote.


Is your business profi table?

Just as a potential cast-

ing supplier will be interested in your company’s fi nances, you’ll want to know if the metalcaster is a healthy business. Finding and changing suppliers is diffi cult and you want to avoid investing money and resources in a supplier that will be closing in a year. Plus, a shop that is not profi table could raise prices six months after the tooling is built to stay afl oat. Be direct. Most metalcasting facili-

ties will be fairly open with providing some fi nancial information when you ask. You also may want to run credit reports or check credit references. If you want more proof, plan a site visit to check if it passes the “sniff test.” Is maintenance and housekeeping kept up? Have they invested in updates to equipment re- cently? What investments are being planned for the next fi ve years? Is the plant operating at least fi ve days a week? T ese are all signs a metalcast- ing facility is profi table. 


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