Metalcasting is an art, a science, and a business, and making all those objectives work harmoniously can be tricky for foundry operations. It’s one reason that advanced, data-driven technologies are so well appreciated by producers of cast metal products. Take for example Willman Industries, a green-sand and no-bake jobbing foundry in Cedar Grove, WI.
Willman casts all grades of gray iron and ductile iron in parts ranging from 1 lb. to 30,000 lbs., for critical parts like manifolds, heavy-section hydraulic pumps, valves, housings, flywheels, clutch plates for heavy machinery, as well as parts for machine tools and power-generating equipment. It’s an ISO 9000-certified operation that lists several Fortune 500 businesses as its customers.
With all that to its credit, the foundry needed some technical help to support its dimensional control methods. Through Exact Metrology, a provider of contract measurement and scanning services, as well as metrology hardware and software, Willman purchased a 3D scanning device to assist in tracking and documenting the dimensional accuracy of its patterns and castings.
Willman technicians were familiar with the advantages of 3D scanning, and wanted to upgrade their technology from an older-model laser scanner and measuring arm. Efficiency working with large castings (up to 30,000 lbs.) was the critical factor in its selection of the Artec 3D Eva scanner, according to Exact’s Steve Young.
The Eva is lightweight structured light 3D scanner recommended for making a quick and accurate 3D model of a target object. It scans quickly, capturing precise measurements in high resolution, without the use of additional equipment.
Based on safe-to-use structured light scanning technology, Eva offers ease of use, speed, and precision, which has made it essential technology in a wide range of industrial applications, from rapid prototyping to quality control. That now includes Willman Industries.
“With the larger castings, the Artec scanner can be taken to the casting rather than having to move the casting to where the scanning arm is,” according to Dana Green, an account manager for Exact Metrology. “That, along with the large field of view allows for faster capture rates compared to that of the arm and scanner. Additionally, the accuracy tolerances are well within the Eva’s capabilities.”
Since the purchase, Willman quality manager Randy Parker noted the Eva has been in use practically every day, for various tasks. He estimated that the Eva had been instrumental in QA on approximately 50 jobs so far, “working out well beyond expectations.”
“We’ve made numerous improvements to our process with it. Our dimensional control has improved not just from measuring the castings but from checking multiple process inputs with the Eva,” Parker said.
Dimensional control is carried out to determine if the quality of castings meets expected values by comparing the data captured with the scanner against known CAD files. This also helps resolve issues that develop during the casting process, such as core shift. The Eva captures data with a degree of accuracy that is well within the quality requirements for the castings, capturing and processing the data of larger castings much quicker than a laser scanner.
“Using an arm and laser scanner could take hours to scan a large casting, add to that the processing of the large data sets and it may take a day to get results,” Green said. “With the Eva, the casting can be captured in less time and provide processed results faster, thus allowing faster feedback on the production process to maintain quality.”
According to Parker, Willman Industries have greatly expanded the primary use that prompted the Eva selection, including tooling analysis, pattern and mold scanning, reverse engineering, and problem solving.
Unplanned problems like uneven cooling create problems in metalcasting, leading to production errors. With the faster data capture and measurement results, Parker can see errors in portions of a casting that can be attributed only to uneven cooling — which helps foundries like WIllman Industries to make the necessary adjustments in production methods, and resulting in lower production losses in time and materials.
Parker said he knew the Eva would help supply layout castings more rapidly, but he is impressed by the pace of that improvement: some tasks are accomplished in 75% less time, he noted, and some castings that might have taken seven to 10 days to measure and certify are now being finished in six to 10 hours. He described the Eva as “crazy efficient,” adding, “The rate at which you can capture data is fantastic.
“Without a doubt the Eva has saved our company money,” Parker said. “We definitely promote it to customers as a valuable tool that will enable us to meet their castings’ requirements.”