How to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead in Pumps & Valves

In the late 1960s, Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) was one of the top producers of impellers in North America. More than 50 years later, impellers remain our top produced part, along with other crucial pump and valve components. In honor of our Top 6 most produced parts, we’ve collected the Top 6 ways to get ahead and stay ahead in the foundry industry.

 

1. Do something no one else is doing. SF&E’s high-level status in the 1960s was because of a sand technique we developed that was superior to our competitor’s offerings. For impellers, it’s all about the mold. The SF&E technique produced a smooth surface finish inside the impellers. A smooth surface finish is especially important for closed impellers, which can be difficult to clean when clogged. For many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the SF&E sand technique made all the difference.

semi-open impeller
Closed Impeller

2. Treat every part like it is high specification. The volume of high specification work at SF&E has increased so much in the past five years that we invested in a high spec inspection cell to avoid bottlenecks on the commercial production line. But our investment in 3D modeling software such as MAGMASOFT® helps SF&E teams treat every part like its high spec. MAGMASOFT allows foundries to create an automated virtual test plan to ensure we are set up for success and will avoid rigging that produces inclusions, porosity, or cause a part to collapse.

 

3. Maintain a strong metallurgical department. It may come as no surprise that foundries receive a lot of requests for projects they have never tackled before. With every unique request, the SF&E metallurgical team leverages their expertise to develop a custom solution. The outcome helps the customer, but also helps us adapt and expand into new industries and markets. It’s how we went from primarily an austenitic stainless-steel foundry 75 years ago to our foundry of today, pouring more than 250 different alloys.

Parts blurred

4. Evolve constantly. SF&E’s market leadership in the 1960s would have ended there if we only bet on the technique we were known for then. Sand technology in particular has changed drastically over the past few decades. When Terry Groth, foundry engineer, and Pat Behlmer, estimator, joined SF&E 40 years ago, cores were made from oil sand, which had to baked in an oven for hours. Now, SF&E produces cores with air set sand that performs just as well as the now-obsolete oils sand. Across all departments, SF&E strives to evolve as the technology in the industry evolves. Otherwise, we run the risk of falling behind.

 

5. Leverage customer partnerships. Improving products for customers can also benefit our own production process. SF&E started working with Kamyr when it was a startup valve manufacturer. At the time, the industry standard to produce a stem ball was to cast two parts, then drill and screw the stem into the ball. This required assembly work and came with a high risk of failure. SF&E and Kamyr developed a technique to cast the ball and stem as one piece. We have been producing stem ball valves this way ever since.

Stem Ball

6. Push the envelope. A willingness to work outside of our comfort zone is the only reason we have been able to broaden our capabilities to pour new alloys, serve new industries, and produce parts ranging in size from 1 lb. to 7,000+ lbs. Turbonetics challenged SF&E to push boundaries when they came to us to produce their custom-designed double suction volute casing using our trademark ILLIUM® PD. SF&E produces a lot of pump casings, but typically out of stainless steel or martensitic steel known as CA6NM. Our foundry engineering and metallurgy teams successfully completed the casting, which had a final pour weight of 6,800 lbs. Turbonetics now has a pump that can last longer in an abrasive environment, saving their customers time and money.

Pump Casing

According to industry experts, a successful foundry needs a niche and a competitive advantage in order to stay ahead in the market. Over the decades, SF&E’s niche is in our ability to pour 250+ alloys, offer sand and investment casting, and produce shorter runs of nearly any size casting. Our competitive edge comes from our continuous investments in equipment, process improvement, technology, certifications, and top talent.

 

If you are looking for a foundry partner with a wide-ranging expertise in pumps and valves, contact us at sales@stainlessfoundry.com. We’re ready for our next challenge.

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