“Casting Solutions, LLC (formerly Burnham Foundry, LLC) has been a member of the Iron Casting Research Institute for over 20 years. During that time, we have used ICRI as a resource for technical information, as well for as on-site observations and consultation.
With a small technical staff at our facility, ICRI has proved to be an invaluable source of information and guidance that is easily accessible with just a phone call.
Here are several examples of how our membership in ICRI has helped us become a more efficient and effective foundry organization:
1) Round Robin Spectrometer Analysis – Twice per year, ICRI members participate in a round robin spectrometer analysis study. Each participant runs the same samples and provides the results to ICRI. A report is issued, which shows how each member compares to the other members, on a confidential basis. Within sample and between sample statistics are presented. If your particular analysis differs statistically from the rest of the group, it is highlighted. Imagine the cost to do this with outside labs.
2) Defect Analysis – Dozens of samples have been sent to ICRI for casting defect analysis. Conclusions and recommendations are made in a timely manner, in writing. Unlike defect analysis that is done by a supplier’s lab, one can be sure of an unbiased analysis and meaningful recommendations. They tell it like it is.
3) Operator’s Meetings – The purpose of the operator’s meetings is to share information and technology as well as to encourage discussion. All presentations that I have observed over the years have been very well done by member supervisors, managers, technical directors or guest speakers. Many topics are geared toward the shop floor personnel that need and can use the information. Hosted by a member foundry, other members also get a foundry tour and the opportunity to ask questions and perhaps more importantly, meet folks that face many of the same challenges that they do. ICRI encourages members to interact on a regular basis, not just at meetings.
4) Lined Cupola Project– In 2002, we switched from an unlined to a refractory lined cupola. ICRI was part of the project from the beginning, along with our refractory supplier and equipment vendor. With no lined cupola experience, we needed guidance.
ICRI provided the expertise that we needed to make the project a success from day one. Coke reduction was the driving goal of the project and we have been able to exceed expectations.
While these are a few examples of how we utilize ICRI to our advantage, there are so many more: Analysis of test bar results, gating assistance, thermal analysis expertise, assistance in equipment selection, on-site observations of your foundry practices, getting to know you and your employees, focusing on your issues, literature searches from an extended library, etc.
With the various membership levels now available, the cost to try ICRI is so reasonable. I highly recommend that you speak with Bruce Blatzer, our Executive Director, for a more in-depth overview of ICRI and how it can make you a more successful operation as well.”
“Through bi-annual meetings, ICRI provides some of the best opportunities in the industry to network with other foundries. Formal presentations, informal round-table discussions, and break-time conversations allow attendees to ask questions relevant to their operations and listen to their peers discuss what problems they face and how others have dealt with similar issues. The staff is an excellent resource that complements our in-house lab and personnel in the detailed analysis of casting defects or machinability issues, and determining the most likely causes and possible solutions. We utilize their resulting reports as a third party assessment when discussing technical issues with our customers.”
Tim Opar, Director of Quality & Technical Svcs.
Rochester Metal Products, Rochester, IN
“Eight years ago, our Sales Director suggested to me that we use ICRI to help us eliminate a quality problem we had at the time. My reaction was “NO”, “We don’t need help”. About one year later a new President came on board and he suggested we use ICRI as technical support. I felt to say “NO” again would not be a smart thing. We became members of ICRI.
It was the best decision we have made as far as having technical support always available to teach us or even to be a good listener. Having “outside eyes” available to assist us in technical and quality issues has a positive impact on both the success of our business and resolving difficult customer technical issues. ICRI comes to Aarrowcast once a year for a process evaluation or more often if needed. Often we will phone them to discuss technical issues relating to improving our process. They have access to volumes of literature about foundry processes and, upon request, can supply to the customers as a backup to technical explanations. ICRI has considerable depth of experience in melting, gating, sand systems, defect analysis, etc.. Some of the projects we have worked together are;
- Development of ferritic DI with high impact requirements at low temperatures.
- Effect of S and MN ratio on mech. properties of GI.
- Effect of Bismuth on DI nodularity & nodule count.
- Effect of Antimony on DI nodularity & nodule count
- Effect of Antimony on chunky graphite in heavy section DI with various rare arth elements.
- How to avoid flake graphite layer on the surface of DI castings.
- Important factors in green sand system control.
- Eliminating slag defects in DI castings produced by in-mold process.
We do believe ICRI is an important asset to help any foundry. Don’t wait too long to make a decision to join our group.”
Cesar Braga, Technical Director
Aarrowcast Foundry, Shawano, WI
“Having been employed in the North American foundry industry for about twenty years, over time, I have seen a decline in foundry technical expertise. Today, the number of operating foundries is greatly diminished. Many of those with significant foundry knowledge have retired or moved on to other professions.
However, the Iron Casting Research Institute (ICRI) is one resource that has been consistently available to me over the course of my career. ICRI maintains a staff of experienced foundry professionals.
I have used their services for many different and important reasons including: defect analyses, literature searches, process reviews, and networking opportunities with technical and operations people in other organizations.
I strongly encourage my peers and coworkers to utilize ICRI for their valuable services, especially in these times of diminishing expert resources.”
Scott McIntyre, Process Engineering Manager
Casting Center of Excellence, John Deere, Waterloo, IA
“Tyco Anniston became a member in 2005, when our Director, Bob Smith, joined the company. While we are members of other foundry “fraternities”, he believed that the most valuable resource of the ICRI group is that they address operational problems without supplier bias and offer solutions on a variety of levels.
Since we do not have a degreed Metallurgist on staff, we seek their help for in-depth analysis which includes defect recognition, SEM analysis, and image analysis, etc. This service has been invaluable when doing discovery for customers. Customers like the fact that we use a third party approach to problem solving which most often lends credence to our own lab findings. With a recent porosity issue with a customer part which utilizes a core, the Staff was able to absolutely identify that the porosity contained green sand with some surrounding slag, as opposed to core sand. In most instances, a member of the staff calls to give a preliminary report ahead of the formal report. The reports are always thorough, accompanied by photo micrographs, SEM, etc, discovery comments, and recommendations for solutions.
The round robin Spectrometer analysis has helped to hone in onthe accuracy of our Spectro results. By running the three samples over 5 production shifts, the Lab Tech’s learn to look for changes in any given element, and they are motivated to get a “clean report without any “h’s” or “k’s.” Besides sending the data compilation out to the membership, the Staff also looks for trends or drifts in our spectrometer results. On one occasion, they saw a drift in our Boron levels which had occurred over a long period of time.
As a result, we were able to get the maintenance service in with a Boron standard to verify and calibrate the machine. This led us to purchase another ductile standard that had a measurable Boron level in it.
ICRI has an extensive library of information regarding ductile iron mechanical properties, effects and interactions of elements, furnaces, latest technology. Information is offered freely in addition to very sound discussions of any issues we are facing.
I refer to “The Staff”, because it is hard to single out any one of them, but Bruce, Bob and Susan do work as a Team. If need be, they hand off to each other to ensure smooth and timely feedback. I highly recommend membership in ICRI as an adjunct to your own metallurgical and laboratory resources.”
Don Perry, Quality Manager
Tyco Fire Protection Products – Anniston, Alabama
“We have found ICRI to be an excellent resource that seamlessly complements our technical team. We appreciate the wide range of services ICRI provides as well as their many areas of technical expertise. There have been many times that ICRI has helped Lawton and a customer figure out what is causing defects through science and statistical analysis. It is during these times that we collaborate with customers, lead, thru ICRI, the investigation, and add considerable value to the relationship. Other examples would be regular operating audits, best practice reports and the Annual Spectrometer survey.
The C.A. Lawton Company has been a member of ICRI for over 20 years and we value our partnership with their organization.”
Chief Operating Officer
C.A. Lawton Company – DePere, Wisconsin