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Birmingham meeting sounds an optimistic note.

The AFS Southeastern Regional Conference ushered in its 60th annual meeting by presenting one of the broadest foundry information programs in its long history. The speakers and their subjects were indicative of the new opportunities and changes resonating from the vital U.S. foundry industry, according to Buck Barnhart, general conference chairman.

Among these new opportunities are the ongoing modernization of existing foundries, and using new production materials and techniques to meet the impending economic upturn. The international market reshuffling that has vexed the metalcasting business worldwide has been met head-on by domestic foundries and supplier industries. Their leadership, adaptability and vision are making a mark worldwide, Barnhart said.

That leadership was amply evident in the number of strong conference presentations covering sand preparation and reclamation, new materials, an alternate source for scrap, waste control, academic achievement and foundry management. Barnhart applauded the entire program--held February 5-7 in Birmingham, Alabama--as a hallmark of American resolve to survive and ultimately prosper in difficult times.

George Metevelis, Foseco, Inc., spoke of new ways to increase molding yield using new feeding aids such as insulating and exothermic riser sleeves that facilitate molten metal flow. Depending on their size, these devices can save on the amount of molding sand required and allow the use of smaller flask sizes.

He also described the utility of riser insulation pads to reduce heat lost through radiation and explained the practicality of such insulating aids to allow the placing of more patterns on a plate.

Gas defects in castings were discussed by William Henning, Miller and Co. He said the culprits that merit close attention are oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen. Hydrogen is particularly damaging to aluminum castings, he said, pointing out that its universal presence in a foundry environment and the molten metal's affinity for it make it a target for maximum control efforts. Hydrogen damage is evident as internal voids and surface bubbles. Left unchecked, the gas can ruin aluminum castings.

Among his observations was the complex hydrogen-nitrogen pinholing that can masquerade as shrinkage or graphite film. Henning noted that blowholes from molds or cores are easily corrected, adding that they are usually caused by wet sand, improper venting, high seacoal content and cold metal.

New Materials

Steven Imm, Waupaca Foundry, Waupaca, Wisconsin, reported on the efficacy of using steel cans as a source of his foundry's cupola furnace scrap. Although foundries used to shun this process, he said that his experience has been positive in terms of cheaper, cleaner scrap.

Spurred by a state mandate that all steel cans be recycled by 1995, Waupaca began an experimental program of melting steel cans in a cupola to produce gray and some ductile irons. Imm said the experimental stage is over and the cans are used in regular daily production. The can scrap is cleaner than most scrap delivered to the foundry, containing virtually no contaminants or foreign matter, he added.

The cans are delivered in 200-600 lb bales. Each furnace charge averages about 3000 lb. Charging the cans required a short learning period until melt techniques were mastered. Imm said the cans represent a readily available supply of scrap with a metal chemistry varying little from melt to melt.

Tin content is no problem, he reported, because it is present in such limited amounts per ton of cans. A heat of can scrap uses only small amounts of copper and only when necessary to adjust the melt, Imm said. Much larger copper additions are required when the foundry uses regular scrap.

Joseph Ponteri, Lester B. Knight Cast Metals, Inc., urged foundries to look beyond their individual metal specialties and consider the opportunities that light composites and other materials may hold for them. Weight and wear resistance are two major concerns for users of castings, particularly for customers in the automotive and consumer products fields, he said.

Foreign foundries already have a formidable lead on American foundries in the move to lighter materials, particularly aluminum and, lately, metal matrix composites. Rather than seek mandated refuge from foreign competitors now fully competent in lightweight castings, North American foundrymen should attack the materials gap quickly and vigorously, Ponteri said.

He cautioned that it may be unwise to rely solely on traditional metals to maintain or expand market share. Ponteri said the technology for aluminum is mature now and that it is readily available for MMC.
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Title Annotation:1992 American Foundrymen's Society Southeastern Regional Conference held in Birmingham, Alabama
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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Next Article:Handling changes spells success in the '90s.

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