By Steve Ebert
Casting design is a two-part equation that must meet many requirements. The first focus is product functionality; the design and material performance that is needed for the end product on whatever component it is placed on. There is consideration for size, geometry, strength, noise and a host of other expectations that must be met in order to meet the performance requirements. The second side of the equation is the “castability” of the design, within the foundry manufacturing process. This will have an impact on how well the casting performs and the cost associated with producing and machining it.
Design Engineers typically do not understand how a casting’s design and material selection impact the quality and cost of a casting. Likewise, foundry personnel rarely understand what the casting they produce is going to be used for and what limitations on size, shape or tolerances have on the finished product and its relationship to everything else around it.
The only way to resolve this disconnect is for both sides to collaboratively work together on the initial casting design. Certainly this can be done once a product is launched and unfortunately, that is too often the case. There is cost associated with having to go back and do something over again. A casting that is more difficult to produce will, in most cases, have a higher cost to manufacture and less than desired quality performance. There are also costs associated with revalidating a new design, which often is a requirement from the OEM.
At Waupaca Foundry, we pride ourselves in the fact that we have casting engineers who can assist in this process. For those customers choosing to work with us prior to finalizing a casting design and material type, there is opportunity to reduce cost and improve quality. In many cases, this collaborative effort has resulted in a part that we originally may have declined to quote to one that we can successfully produce, benefiting both companies in the process. Our simulation technology allows us to see up-front what will be most successful.
Waupaca Foundry welcomes any invitation to participate in casting design, especially before casting designs are final (and prior to product launch or production). Clearly the answer to the question of when is the best time to work together on casting design is without a doubt very early in the design stage; before the first castings are ever produced.