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Metalcaster Uses Unique Tooling for One-Off Casting One-off castings present unique

challenges for metalcasting facili- ties. Normal considerations—de- sign, lead time and mechanical and physical properties—are still parts of the equation. But tooling costs, considering the end result is a single component, need to be minimized for the project to be feasible for both the customer and supplier. Eck Industries Inc., Manitowoc,

Wisconsin, tackled such a challenge with a massive 1,400-lb. (635 kg)

coil support housing for a classified project. Not only was the aluminum casting tricky in its design and execu- tion, the customer also had a tight timeline, needing the part in 10 weeks. Early communication between the customer’s and supplier’s design team helped the project move forward. “Te customer was very upfront with us in regards to time, design and cost,” said Dan Hoefert, Eck’s lead engineer on the project. “Tey understood if we had to recommend

modifying the design to get a sound casting, they would do everything they could to accommodate. We ran the de- sign through simulations to optimize the part, going through 7-8 iterations for gating and risering.” Te customer emphasized sound- ness in the cast housing, measuring 59 in. (1.5 m) diameter and 45 in. (1.14 m) tall. While the engineers finalized design, Eck investigated ways to mini- mize tooling costs for the one-piece casting. Te design included a parting line that minimized draft. Addition- ally, 14 cores were needed to produce the complex geometry. Eck opted to use high-density foam for the tooling, which would produce a sound casting while reducing costs for the customer. “Some of the internal cores would

traditionally be wood and plastic,” Hoefert said. “We used foam because the customer couldn’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in tooling that might change in future designs. Tis approach saved more than $100,000. It basically allowed the project to move forward.” Various chills were used to balance

The aluminum casting included 14 cores made out of high density foam.

solidification and reduce stress on the semi-fragile foam tooling. Internal feeders, which were removed in the machining process, were used to ensure solid walls on the inner diameter. Once the design was finalized and tooling was produced, Eck began preparations to actually pour the 1,950 lbs. (862 kg) of aluminum it would take to produce the casting. “We trust our engineers and our

ability to simulate complex castings,” Hoefert said. “But you always have to hold your breath because the process is out of your hands at a point.” Once the massive casting was

poured and cooled, the gates and risers were removed and the housing was heat treated. After passing dye penetrant inspection, it was then sent to a third party for machining before eventual delivery to the customer within the tight timeframe. “We heard the customer was satis-

The 1,400-lb. casting met the customer’s soundness specifications. 44 | MODERN CASTING April 2016

fied,” Hoefert said. “Doing a one-off project like this can be a challenge be- cause there’s so much riding on getting it right the first time.”

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