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The Sinto FDNX molding line is a core element of Sure Cast Foundry’s new operation, establishing more production capacity, faster cycle times, and better working conditions for employees at the Minnesota aluminum foundry.

New Molding Machine Offers a Fresh Start

Dec. 13, 2022
Sure Cast Foundry installed a new flaskless molding machine, gaining the possibility of more production and greater productivity, and improved ergonomic standards for its workers.

Sure Cast Foundry is an aluminum, green-sand foundry in Blaine, MN, that’s been producing premium-quality sand castings for over 40 years, and specializing in low-volume, short-run programs. Last year, started planning to increase production volume and improve product quality. Also, and most important, it sought to improve ergonomics and safety for its employees.

The plant – one of two owned by Nordstern Group – was producing molds with three jolt-squeeze machines and a Rota-Lift machine. Molding cycle times were too slow for the productivity goals, and the mold quality was variable due to all the manual processes and limited sand control. The manual processing led to many safety issues too, with workers lifting patterns and lifting molds. These factors, and Sure Cast’s goals, led to the selection of a Sinto FDNX-1 16x20 flaskless molding machine in September 2021.

“We definitely want to grow and have a bigger offering for our customers,” according to Sure Cast Foundry general manager Andrea Lindquist. “And from a staffing perspective, it’s extraordinarily challenging these days––right now, everybody’s having issues with labor... We have an opportunity to bring in additional talent going forward because we have such a nice facility.”

According to Sinto, FDNX flaskless molding machines are designed as a “first step” for foundries switching from manual molding to automatic molding, with no compromise in the quality molds produced. It’s also a compact design that makes it possible to replace a manual molding line in one day, in part because the FDNX does not need to be installed in a pit.

Installing an FDNX molding machine is simple because it connects to a 110-volt power supply and requires system air pressure of 80- psi.

The FDNX molding process uses an air-over-oil compressed-air system rather than conventional hydraulic power: compressed-air allows the machine cylinders to generate “smooth, hesitation-free, and consistent movement,” without hydraulics and pumps, according to the developer. Aeration is the design feature that results in high-quality molds, as patterns with deep pockets and minimal draft become less challenging.

FDNX-1 flaskless molding machines operate any 16x20-in. pattern, or smaller with an adapter, and achieve an average maximum production rate of 90 molds per hour.

In June of this year relocated to an all-new, 19,000-sq.ft. plant across the street from the original location, gaining 5,000 more square feet of storage and administrative space, and designed for future expansion of 10,000 sq.ft. for more workspace. (A near-term plan is to integrate the operation with Sure Cast’s machine shop.)

The new FDNX molding line was installed, with help from Sinto’s service team. Sure Cast is nearing completion of the initial goals – more production capacity, faster cycle times, and no more ergonomic concerns for foundry workers.

Along with the new molding line, Sure Cast installed a fully automatic, customized sand-return system (installed indoors for all-weather reliability.) The new foundry is laid out with conveyor systems to improve mold handling.

Two large silos for the no-bake sand system were installed, too.

There are future plans, too. “We are planning to invest in more automation in molding,” Andrea Linquist said. “We hope to eliminate more jolt squeeze machines and our Rota-Lift machine and replace those with more automatic machines over time. We also plan to vertically integrate and add machining capabilities to our facility.”