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Expanding a Market Through Customer Education


With request for quotes for cast components a shadow of what they once were, O’Fallon Casting implemented a customer education program that grew demand for aluminum investment castings. BRUCE WILLSON, SALES MANAGER, O’FALLON CASTING


A


business axiom states that between 70-90% of a product’s cost is the result of design decisions.


As companies struggle to manufacture affordable products, the “low hanging fruit” in that equation is to optimize product designs while they are still fluid. It follows then that it is in the best interest for members of a supply chain to assist their customer/engineers in making prudent design choices. O’Fallon Casting (OFC), O’Fallon,


Mo., came to realize that engineers possess an astonishing appetite for technical information. To better address this hunger, the investment casting business began to provide customers with new educational and collaborative services and is being rewarded for the effort. OFC is a small business that has


manufactured aluminum investment castings since 1969. Te major benefit from investment casting is derived from its ability to combine multiple pieces into a single near-net-shape structure that reduces the part count of an engineered product. Aluminum investment castings, because the metal is relatively easy to machine, are advan- tageous mostly by reducing the part count of an assembly. Although the castings manu- factured by OFC can be elegant,


Investment Casting Institute statis- tics indicate aluminum investment castings represent only about 5% of total investment casting sales. Alu- minum investment casting remains a small industry in part because the market is niche but also because good applications are poorly understood. In retrospect, the industry has done a somewhat lax job of teaching engi- neers to identify good opportunities to


utilize investment casting capabilities in their product designs. Over the past decade, OFC has seen substantial growth that has masked a contraction in the size of the overall aluminum investment casting market. Tis decline in the market is evident in a business metric employed by OFC to track the number of quota- tions issued for new business oppor- tunities. Te long-term quotation


O’Fallon Casting saw request for quotes for its aluminum investment castings decline to one-third of what it had been in the 1980s, so it looked for ways to expand the market.


November 2015 MODERN CASTING | 37


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