Inside the walls of the iron foundries of Faircast Inc., a mysterious process occurs. A phone call is made or an email sent, and as a result, machinery springs to life and, eventually a fresh product, whether it be an air compressor tank or body for a new gate valve, finds its way onto a truck. Sometimes it’s a one of a kind custom order; sometimes those new products come out by the thousands. This is known as metal casting.
How does the metal casting process work? What happens within the foundry walls that converts a conversation into a piece of machinery that will build the next generation of rockets? Or a pump for a dairy farm? Let’s look at some of the steps needed to make this happen.
As any good manufacturing process should, it starts (and ends) with the customer. In the beginning, the customer has an idea for a new product, a bulldozer blade, for example. The customer’s engineers have determined a unique curvature will improve efficiency. They’ve also designed new mounting points where the blade connects with the actual vehicle. When that client calls the foundry engineers of Faircast Inc., those engineers get to work refining the concept and determining how our iron foundry can best produce the desired product.
With the design finalized, the engineers set to work determining the materials, machinery, and the amount of time needed to complete the metal casting order. This first of all involves a lot of computer work, modeling the blade and all of its aspects in our design software. From there, the foundry engineer moves onto things like determining the sand castings that will be needed, designing the molds, and potentially designing reconfigurations of the mold machines, the furnaces, and whatever other machinery might be necessary for the work to be done. Others will then be able to weigh all the costs in material, electricity, maintenance, and of course, wages to give the customer a quote.
With the price and a timetable agreed upon, the real work of metal casting begins. Buyers procure the necessary material. If needed, hiring will take on additional personnel. The engineers get to work with the trained professionals on the production line, making the required adjustments to the foundry’s equipment.
If that sounds easy, wait, there’s more. Especially in the case of a brand new product, there is more to it than just programming the machines and letting them run. A test run or two will be in order first. The sand castings, molds, and everything else will need to be tested to ensure that the finished product can be produced effectively and within budget. The blade will also be thoroughly inspected for any defects, making sure that there are no clear stress points, bubbles, holes, or other flaws that could cause sudden catastrophic failure of the blade itself or its mounting points. If any are noted, the foundry engineer will work with the craftsmen to determine if there is a flaw in the design, the material, or the process. Once the cause of the flaw has been determined, the necessary adjustments will be made, and a second test run will occur. Assuming that the second run produces a blade, free of flaws, the process will be locked in. With all the preparation and testing complete, production begins.
The foundry springs to life. Sand castings are produced and sent to the molding machine. The ore is fed into the furnaces, melted, the impurities removed, additives are included to provide whatever additional properties are needed for the final product. That molten iron is then poured into the molds. Once cool enough, the blade is broken free of the mold. It will then be sent to have any excess metal ground off before inspection. The blades that pass inspection (and we fully expect them all to do so) will be sent to wait in a warehouse until others are completed, and they are ready to get trucked out to their destination.
Once in the hands of the customer, they are placed on the bulldozer and put into service. With all of the skill, knowledge, experience, and craftsmanship of the Faircast team behind them, it is certain that they will be precisely what the customer ordered.