Spotlight on Quality & Engineering – a 75-year Evolution at SF&E

Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) has “engineering” in the name because we aren’t just a particularly focused alloy foundry, we produce over 250 different ferrous & non-ferrous alloys. Metallurgy has always been a strong focus that enables us to create solutions for our customers. In continuation of our 75-year anniversary celebration, Mike Porfilio, Director of Quality, provided the following insights into how SF&E has been able to offer expertise and capabilities over the years that enable us to deliver both high-quality, high-tech castings as well as commercial grade castings to our customers.

Sand Casting Pour

Looking back, how would you summarize where SF&E was, and where it is now in terms of quality and engineering?

 

Porfilio: In 75 years, there have been so many changes in the technology of casting production.  I remember running chemical analysis samples on an x-ray spectrometer and then pulling out the corresponding graphs to verify counts and make furnace additions. Now, we use solid state equipment which at times runs completely with computer chips. Hardness testing devices still resemble those of the past for the most part, but Leeb rebound style tests are always evolving. Dimensional inspection used to require long rulers (scales), which has been replaced with computerized coordinate measuring machines (CMM), which allow us to scan parts and collect hundreds of millions of data points of measurements. Where will technology take us next?  

What were some of the key foundry milestones from an inspection, metallurgy and quality perspective?

Porfilio: It is difficult to pinpoint the most important tool or concept that has shaped SF&E – there have been many and opinions will differ between technical associates. For inspection, I would say the digital film technique for radiography has been significant. Technicians can insert a DVD of information into their computer and see a true radiographic image. For metallurgy, the solid state power source for spectrometric analysis has been consistently changing. Solid state replaced vacuum tube technology, providing us with extreme repeatable results offering validity to method. For quality, the most important milestone must be ISO 9001:2000 – true continuous improvement but with production and test adherence to a standardized method.

 

What are SF&E’s key certifications and what do they mean to customers?  

Porfilio: The standard of the industry for manufacturing is ISO 9001:2015. SF&E obtained ISO 9002 in 2000. It changed the way we do business benefiting our entire customer base with standardized business practices and production techniques. The EU’s Pressure Equipment Directive (PED); 2014/68/EU, has brought a sector of conformance to European conformance elements. This standard allows for SF&E to be a participant in the process of castings destined for European usage. The future looks bright for the UK’s BREXIT United Kingdom’s Conformity Assessment (UKCA). This the English version of the EU’s PED. SF&E will be certified to this directive in February 2022. This is exciting. We were the first to be EU PED certified back in 1999 and we will be the first foundry in the US for the UKCA. SF&E always strives to be first!

What contributes to SF&E’s industry reputation for being a premier foundry?

Porfilio: Reputation is earned. SF&E is looked at as one foundry that knows how to get it done. Many foundries make 10 alloys where we produce at least 250 different ferrous and non-ferrous materials. We pour these grades with great volumetric soundness both in sand and investment divisions. Our reputation is stellar in the food, general machinery, nuclear energy as well as Naval and military industries. We are industry leaders in steel, stainless steel, brass and bronze, and nickel base alloys, employing high end processing and advanced technical practices. We have been recognized for many industry achievements solidifying our place as a premier foundry.

 

How does SF&E contribute to the future of the industry?

Porfilio: SF&E has been a constant presence at technical conferences around the US. We speak and publish papers on advanced manufacturing techniques such as water blasting of shell removal in investment casting, metallurgical issues that deal with microstructure, alloys such as third generation duplex stainless steel, and special quality programs. We are active in organizations surrounding the foundry industries like American Foundry Society (AFS) and the Steel Founders Society of America (SFSA). We fully understand that the foundry industry needs to work together as needed. Additionally, we are very involved with ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) with numerous technical and quality associates sitting on influential committees to drive the direction the industry flows.

The goal of every employee at SF&E is to drive competitive on-time delivery of cast materials that are processed using the best practice techniques available. Modern inspection, metallurgy and quality systems keeps us ahead of the pack. When working with customers to meet their complex needs, we take the approach, “It is better to be a willow than an oak,” (Bob Uitz, SF&E QA Welding Program Coordinator and SFSA Master Artisan of the Year 2020). We listen and bend to meet your technical and commercial needs.

 

For more information on our Quality Systems, please contact us at sales@stainlessfoundry.com.

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