Workmanship, lead times, and dependability are common qualities any manufacturer looks for when selecting parts producers. But when the part is a custom-made, complex impeller for an industrial pump that needs to run continuously, the necessity of these qualities becomes non-negotiable. A Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) customer recently learned their former foundry partner’s impeller was failing in the field and needed to be replaced. Time – but more importantly, the ability for the OEM to make things right – were on the line.
SF&E Improves Castability and Production Timeline for Complex Impeller
The customer’s impeller design was geometrically complex. And, it was made of a specialty austenitic stainless steel material specifically utilized in highly corrosive operations, which can be a challenge to get the chemistry right. An impeller was already installed at a customer site, but part geometry was causing premature wear. The end customer, who had a large operation, submitted a warranty claim to have it replaced, and needed the spare as soon as possible for proper back-up.
“As soon as possible” for a 500-pound, complex, custom-machined part would normally take 12 weeks, at minimum. The OEM knew they would need to modify the pattern in order to correct the quality issues, which only added more time to an urgent need. The OEM approached SF&E with the project because of our track record for on-time delivery, our experience producing the different alloys required, and our relative proximity in facility location. In addition, we had already worked with the OEM on various, less-challenging projects and delivered positive results.
The SF&E team got to work with a focus on improving quality while reducing expected lead times. First, SF&E metallurgy became familiar with the material. The material had not been poured at SF&E in decades and was composed of a very high chromium and nickel content with minimal carbon, so the SF&E team learned more about the properties and how to achieve a successful pour.
Next, SF&E foundry engineering utilized our MAGMASOFT® solidification modeling software to slightly tweak the cast design in order improve castability. Knowing that the vanes were extremely important, SF&E utilized 3D printed cores to offer better quality and quick turnaround. Additive manufacturing eliminated the need for hard tooling changes, which saved our customer 2-3 weeks of time.
Not only was the impeller delivered to the customer site earlier than expected, it adhered to all specifications. Our customer needed a foundry partner that could provide quality products and dependable, on-time delivery. SF&E is now working on additional parts with the OEM, also with high specifications and complicated materials.