You know by now that foundries are essential for all kinds of industries. They make tools and equipment, as well as automobile parts.
But did you know that there are more types of foundries than just a metal foundry? Or how old the art of metalwork really is?
Here are seven facts about foundry processes you might not know.
1. Materials Used in Metal Foundry Processes
Contrary to popular belief, there is more that goes into a metal foundry than just common metals like iron and copper.
In order to charge the furnace, virgin material, external scrap, internal scrap, and alloying elements are used. The most common virgin material used include aluminum and cast iron, but other metals such as bronze and brass are also used to produce castings in foundries.
The key to the process is removing any impurities from the metal used in the casting. Sourcing from local sources allows greater control over the quality of the product and ensures problems can be dealt with quickly.
2. Different Types of Furnaces
There are multiple different types of furnaces you can utilize for your foundry processes.
The four most common furnaces you’ll see are induction, crucible, electric arc, and cupola furnaces.
Induction furnaces tend to offer the highest quality and most ease of use, producing 65 tons of steel at each charge. They utilize an electromagnetic field to melt the metal and stir the steel.
Crucible furnaces are simple and range greatly in size, making them great for jewelry makers and hobbyists.
Finally, an electric arc furnace uses an electric current to heat the metal, while a cupola furnace uses coal-coke. The latter is used less commonly today when compared to the more efficient alternatives.
3. The Foundry Process Goes Back Thousands of Years
In fact, the casting process goes back more than 5000 years.
Before large foundries and manufacturing plants were created, casting was most widely used for sculpture, jewelry, and making weapons and tools. In other words, it has always been used to make complex shapes that are otherwise very difficult to create.
Sand casting, specifically, was first documented in 1540, and now over 70 percent of all metal castings are produced by sand casting. The technique really blew up alongside the mass production of automobiles.
4. How Many Ways You Can Cast
There are two main types of mold casting: expendable and non-expendable.
For expendable casting, the molds are temporary and non-reusable. For non-expendable, molds don’t need to be reformed after each use.
Metal casting can be done in either category, but those two types break down into many more different methods of casting, such as loam molding, shell molding, die casting, and continuous casting. Without going into too much detail, all you need to know is it’s a lot more complicated than you probably thought.
Foundries are actually where microchip designs are manufactured, which obviously require a different cast than automobile parts.
5. The Foundry Business is a Complicated One
Every industry out there has its competitive side, and metal casting is no different. There are many things to take into consideration when operating a foundry as a business.
For one, most U.S. foundries operate off of a jobbing business model. That means, much like freelancers, they are hired to do occasional work rather than working full time with a company or business.
As such, customers have a lot of bargaining power, whether it’s by driving down prices or encouraging foundries to find repeat customers.
Suppliers also have some amount of bargaining power, since the materials required for metal casting are just as important as customers that pay for the finished product.
There are also competitive rivalry and substitute products to consider since both can greatly affect supply and demand.
6. Common Equipment Produced
Foundries are capable of producing pretty much any part under the sun, and those parts go into making a lot of mechanisms.
As it turns out, elevators function with parts made in foundries, such as iron pulleys, motor casings, and the elevator cars themselves. Air compressors used in mechanic shops and furniture factories are also produced in foundries.
Stators and housing for generators are examples of metalworking that greatly impacts people because the parts made in a mold could go on to live in a nuclear power plant or produce emergency power in hospitals.
Even semi-trucks originate in factories where they were cast and molded-in furnaces.
7. Finishing the Product – Foundry Processes
Contrary to popular belief, the casted product doesn’t come out perfect and finished.
The final step involves grinding or sanding the component to make it match the specifications. Any little notch or error in the part could mean a complete breakdown of whatever it eventually goes into.
Afterward, some foundries also put finishing touches on the component such as paint to prevent corrosion or assembling castings into completed machinery before shipping.
These processes are increasingly being done by robotic machines, which provide fewer work injuries but also eliminate positions in the industry. However, they can also increase productivity and limit human error.
Finding Foundry Processes to Match Your Needs
Whatever foundry you land on should be large enough and provide the appropriate type of castings to meet your needs. In the midwest, you don’t need to look any further than Faircast, Inc.
With multiple molding lines for gray iron and ductile iron casting, we can help you from the quoting process all the way to shipping the product to your door.
We offer water walled cupola use, induction melting, and more at our foundry. Contact us today and we’ll get you started.