Excerpt from the October 2015 issue of Modern Casting
Every metalcasting facility is unique, but a department-by-department examination may highlight ways to improve operations and reduce costs.
No matter the size of a metalcasting operation, whether it’s a small, family-run shop or a mega facility with volumes in the millions, the question of modernization is not an “if” but a “when.” Machinery fails. Maintenance gives way to replacement. Upgrades need to be made.
Projects can be as simple as swapping out an old welding machine for a new one. They also can involve many more moving parts, such as a new molding line, which requires engineering and logistical planning far more advanced than simply sticking a plug in the wall. Every improvement project requires planning and engineering to ensure it fits into the broader facility-wide material flow and handling.
Considerations for a casting facility’s sand system include available floor space, core and metal removal, shakeout, sand mulling and sand delivery. New sand storage hoppers should be located along an outside wall with the return hopper located as close to the sand muller as possible, usually inside the building. The sand cooler is located after shakeout, with the metal and core removal system prior to the sand cooler. After mulling, the sand is then transferred back to the molding machines.
Green sand shakeout systems require separation of sand and cores from the castings and the elimination of core sand from the return sand. Chemically bonded molding systems may not require core sand separation, but metal must still be removed from the sand prior to reclamation, which will improve the quality of the sand returning to the muller.
“Recent price increases for silica sand have made reclamation systems (both mechanical and thermal) financially viable for many medium and smaller sized casting operations,” said Wil Tinker, president, Tinker Omega Mfg. LLC, Springfield, Ohio. “You want to close the loop as much as possible.”
Many reclamation installations are added to existing sand lines, which will lead to specific engineering considerations. Collaboration between engineers from the equipment manufacture and the metalcaster can help improve the material flow and handling of such add-on projects.
Design considerations for metalcasting equipment are different for every plant, but almost every site needs to consider available square footage, building size and configuration, placement of existing equipment and the relationships between departments.
The melting department should be located on an outside wall due to the high volume of metallic materials required for the melting process. Material handling in the melting department is important because it involves both newly acquired metal and returns from within the facility.
When making improvements to or installing new molding equipment, four key features must be considered during initial planning and engineering:
- Selection of a molding machine system.
- Method of handling the molds away from the molding machine.
- Method of core delivery from the core machine to the mold.
- Location for setting cores in the molds.
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