Foundry increases CNC pattern making capacity
Wallwork Cast Alloys, making high temperature resistant castings, has a new piece of kit to streamline the pattern making process.
Wallwork Cast Alloys may be our best kept secret. This specialised foundry in Bury makes the baskets, trays and grids that we use in our own HT operations throughout the company. The unit also has a thriving trade supplying heat resistant castings to other hot trades throughout the UK and in Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain.
Being users, as well as producers, we have an insider’s understanding of customer needs. Essentially we all want castings with high strength and low mass castings that will withstand many cycles of use before replacement and do not absorb too much energy in the furnace so that cycle times can be minimised. This requires carefully designed patterns that use material economically while retaining sufficient strength in key areas.
The pattern manufacturing process starts with SolidWorks, a virtual design package that records all key dimensions and allows the product to be visualised from any angle. Once the design has been optimised this is converted by the CAD/CAM software into a digital file that is transferred to our new CNC milling machine. Working with medium to high density resin board, the machine then mills away all excess material to create a single-piece precision pattern that we can use in the foundry again and again.
Foundry manager Alex Beck commented, “We had a smaller CNC machine that convinced us of the benefit of this technique but this was too small to produce some of the larger patterns that we need. With the new machine we can reduce the manufacturing cycle time on new business, lower costs and be more flexible and competitive. Patterns made by this method have a good working life, but all designs are stored digitally so we can easily replicate patterns if needed.”