In conjunction with the Investment Casting Institute’s annual technical conference and expo, the ICI has announced the winners of its investment casting contest. “We had more entries this year than ever before, and consequently, competition was very stiff,” said ICI’s executive director Michael Perry. “For the first time, two awards were given for defense. It was simply impossible to chose only one in this category.”
Joining defense in the contest design categories were aerospace and industrial products. The four winning entries in these categories took top honors. Additionally, seven finalists were recognized, too.
The contest is open to members of the Investment Casting Institute. It was established to recognize on an annual basis the plants that manufacture components that best illustrate and promote the benefits and flexibility of the investment casting process, or that demonstrate problem-solving techniques for the customer.
Top of the list
Recognized as the 2009 winner in the aerospace division, Alcoa Howmet’s (Georgetown, ON) — a perennial contestant in the ICI program, and a frequent honoree. The 12 11.5 16-in. component includes multiple complex internal passages that are necessary to control fuel flow in a commercial aircraft jet engine. Cast of Aluminum C35, it features 11 intricate internal passages, formed by proprietary shellbuilding techniques — without the use of ceramic coring. The part is currently in production and helps Alcoa achieve low cost and low-weight requirements for the customer.
Dameron Alloy Foundries (Compton, CA) was the winner in the industrialcasting category This is a complex casting functions as a part within a part. The intricate stainless steel body casting/roll seal valve is used for marine, industrial, waterworks, and ground fueling purposes. The part has a complex internal ‘grid’ (seen here in its wax mold) enabling the finished part to function as designed. The grid feature is uniform around the internal diameter. It is very difficult to access, and the cost and difficulty of rework in this area may be prohibitive.
The new valve replaces a welded assembly of castings and machined parts. It is cast in 316L stainless steel or Monel, depending on the application. During the conversion from welded assembly to the casting, special attention was focused on wall thickness, grid design, and ‘mating’ of the two structures. Special problem-solving techniques, such as proprietary drying techniques, were used to successfully produce the part.
The first of two winners in the defense category, O’Fallon Casting (O’Fallon, MO) demonstrated its ability to combine multiple parts and features into a single piece. The electronics housing unit measures 7.5 7.5 10-in. and is cast in A356-T6 aluminum. The design is highly complex and incorporates a number of attributes, such as undercuts, lightening pockets, card-guard slots, heat-sink fins, mounting features, thin walls (0.060-in.), and demanding tolerances. It is lighter and of higher precision than a comparable fabrication of multiple parts, minimizing the amount of secondary machining required to finish the part.
Another repeat winner, Uni-Cast/Cera-Met (Bethlehem, PA) was recognized in the defense category for its large aluminum casting that provides the customer with cost savings over selecting fabricated or fully machined components. Measuring 27 24 24-in., it serves as a support structure for military targeting. It features multiple thick-to-thin sections, as well as Grade B X-ray and no-weld zones.
ICI Design Contest Finalists
FENICO Precision Castings Inc. (Paramount, CA)
TechCast Inc. (Myerstown, PA)
Aristo-Cast Inc. (Almont, MI)
TPM Inc. (Sugar Land, TX)
SeaCast (Marysville, WA)
Wisconsin Precision Casting (East Troy, WI)