When to Convert Costly Fabrications into Castings
Do your fabricated parts consist of multiple components that need to be cut or machined to size and go through weld fabricating before being machined as one? If so, your parts might be an ideal candidate for a casting.
Metal casting is a more cost-effective option for mass producing complex parts because of time, material, and overhead savings alone. Foundries mix custom combinations of elements, iron, aluminum, magnesium, zinc, steel, and copper to create different appearances, corrosion resistance, and strength characteristics. When castings are removed from their molds they are near net shape with minimal finishing work needed.
The Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) engineering team partners with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to convert machined and welded parts to single form castings. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with a functional design that will improve the quality and increase the life of the product, reduce maintenance costs, and offer immediate cost savings.
Conversion to Casting Saved 50%
The SF&E engineering design team worked with an industrial heat treating manufacturer on a series of fabricated hangers that were experiencing failure. The team used 3D CAD simulation to develop a cast solution for one part in the series. Because of the flexibility of investment casting, the design could be optimized and material selection could be based on the application with no reliance on welding.
The design team developed a solution that offered significant quality improvements, reduced inventories, and is more visually appealing. Casting provided a more repeatable process for future needs and solved failures the customer experienced with previous fabrications. The investment casting is now accepted as the standard for the OEM. It has resulted in an overall cost savings of 50%.
The images below show additional examples of successful conversions.
What Makes a Good Conversion?
Most times, when multiple components are cut, machined and welded, a conversion to casting is ideal. There are four main factors to consider when deciding if a design is a good candidate for conversion to a casting: cost, quality, lead time, and performance. See the fabricated assembly vs casting comparison chart below.
|Cost||The more the components that need to be welded or bolted together, the more the manufacturing complexity. From creating unnecessary inventory, to additional labor and materials, it quickly adds up.||Part designs for castings can include features such as clearance holes, slots, pockets, bosses, cast lettering, or artwork. This eliminates the need for additional welding, machining, and other secondary processes.|
|Quality||Repeatability in manufacturing fabricated/welded assemblies that utilize multiple components or sub-assemblies and fixtures may make the needed dimensional accuracy difficult. In addition, weld joints can diminish the integrity of the weld, leading to part fatigue or failure.||Castings are one component and produced from one tool, making the manufacturing process more repeatable, dimensional tolerances generally superior, and appearance visually appealing with a uniform surface finish.|
|Lead Time||Average industry lead times vary greatly between 8-30 weeks.||SF&E recently implemented process improvements that have reduced lead times to 4-6 weeks.|
|Performance||Material selection for fabrication may be limited to material availability or weldability. This makes it more difficult to account for the stresses the product will see.||Single piece castings offers flexibility in material selection, which offers customers more opportunity to select materials based on performance properties and product applications. It also allows the designer to add mass to increase strength. Wrought metals are directionally stronger in one direction. Since castings are uniform, they provide equal properties in all directions.|
Develop a Cost-Effective Solution
SF&E’s goal is to offer customers the least cost option for their metal part needs. Converting fabrications and assemblies to castings not only presents cost savings opportunities, but can help improve the overall product.
Contact the SF&E foundry engineering team today to see if your part is an ideal conversion. All we need to get started is your assembly drawings and/or a 3D file of your fabrication. We will review in detail, share and exchange ideas, and provide casting design proposals to help you make an informed decision that is best for your business.