Pouring molten metal at William Cook Cast Products in Sheffield, England.

William Cook Opens High-Tech Foundry

May 29, 2017
U.K.’s largest producer of steel castings starts greenfield operation Parts for energy, infrastructure, specialty engineering Large-dimension 3D printing 200 foundry workers

William Cook Holdings Ltd., a British engineering and manufacturing group has inaugurated a new foundry in Sheffield, a £6-million (est. $7.8 million) project that revives one of the group’s original capabiltiies, metalcasting.

William Cook was founded in 1840, and the present operation in Sheffield dates to 1883. William Cook Cast Products is one of three business units, the others being Cook Defence Systems and William Cook Rail. It is described as the U.K.’s largest producer of steel castings; it specializes at producing “high-specification castings” in critical alloys for energy, infrastructure, and specialty engineering programs.

The new William Cook Precision Foundry is a greenfield operation that incorporates a large-dimension 3D printer to produce sand molds, plus an extensive application of automated systems and robotics to optimize the production of cast parts. With the start of the new plant, William Cook is closing an older operation in Sheffield, though it continues to employ 200 foundry workers.

Its castings are supplied to manufacturers operating in the oil-and-gas, defense, aerospace, transport, and energy sectors.

Sir Andrew Cook, the industrialist who revived the family company beginning in 1981 and returned it to private ownership in 2004, spoke with confidence on the occasion of the new plant’s start-up. He described the new project as the latest effort to improve and advance the business. “I have changed the focus of the group many, many times over the last 50 years to cope with big market changes,” he recalled.

“Today is like opening a shop,” he continued. “If we get it right, people will buy from us; if we haven’t there’s nothing more I can do. But there will be growth, there has to be growth to justify the investment, and we have 40 apprentices coming through the system.”