Our editorials and blogs often preach about the need for casting customers to reach out to their metalcasting suppliers to establish a partnership in which both parties can benefit from design and engineering collaboration. Some of the onus for collaboration must fall on the casting supplier, as well.
In the last couple of months, I’ve spoken at length with three end-users from three different industries on real casting projects that were made possible and/or profitable thanks to collaboration with their casting supplier. Two of these instances were casting conversions, and two were unique rapid tooling developments. (One was both). The customers’ approach to these projects is commendable, from the initial creative spark to try out something new and unfamiliar, to the patient development work conducted between metalcasting supplier and customer.
On the flip side, the metalcasters involved in each project were up to the challenge of trying out something new. Many casting suppliers may be satisfied with accepting a finished design and supplying it in the same proven casting method, even if it means higher scrap rates and longer lead times. However, for those who wish to stand out from the group, a niche of casting customers looking for supplier partnerships exists.
In my conversations with the end-users, it was evident the collaboration was mutually beneficial. The customers ended up with casting designs that were less expensive, involved fewer parts, and had lower lead times—all of which gave them an edge over their competition. The metalcasting suppliers cut their own internal defect and machining costs, lowered their lead times, and gained more business and trust from their customers.
As much as we talk about casting end-users needing to be open to input from the metalcasting supplier, when they do approach you for collaboration, will you as metalcasters be ready, willing and able?
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