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Metallurgical Reason to Watch the Super Bowl

For all you metal heads and sports fans, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has revealed the history behind the Pittsburgh Steelers helmet logo in time for the upcoming Super Bowl between the Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

According to AISI, the Steelers adopted the logo in 1962, borrowing it from the institute’s Steelmark logo.

“The Steelmark was originally created for United States Steel Corporation to promote the attributes of steel:  yellow lightens your work; orange brightens your leisure; and blue widens your world.  The logo’s meaning was later amended to represent the three materials used to produce steel:  yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap.”

Feel free to drop this nugget of trivia at your Super Bowl party this weekend.


Another Reason to Stay Up on Industry News

We recently saw a news story on a vaguely familiar website that made us think differently about metalcasting facility closings. Go check it out. We’ll wait.

(What, we can’t comment on our own news stories?)

At first blush, you might read this article and groan. “Ugh. Another metalcasting facility goes down. Woe is our industry.” But if you look at the article in another way, you might decide the most important point has been buried. In the last sentence of the second paragraph, the article reports that “TRW [Automotive] is currently exploring the sale of [its Warrenton Casting Center]…with the help of a consulting firm.”

If for no other reason, this is why MODERN CASTING has a responsibility to publish information about closings. The company in the article wants to sell a metalcasting facility, for heaven’s sake, and we have the ear of the very people who have the chops to bring it back from the dead.

Two MODERN CASTING profiles published within a year (“Boosting Production at Boose” and an article on Goldens’ Foundry and Machine, Columbus, Ga., to be printed in February) feature metalcasting facilities that had been looking to expand their existing plants but ended up buying entirely new facilities instead. Both Boose Aluminum Foundry Co. Inc., Reamstown, Pa., and Goldens’ abandoned the idea of shutting down operations to perform an expansion and decided to integrate failing plants into their business models.

These were companies that kept a close eye on the state of the industry. They knew what their options were because they read the news. And perhaps more importantly, they read the news with an open mind. Follow in their footsteps, and what looks like bad news could be the secret to your firm’s continued success.


Can Castings Go Electric?

An editorial in the New York Times got us thinking. As fuel economy standards become more stringent and increasing numbers of hybrid and electric cars hit the roads, how will the metalcasting industry be affected?

The assumption may be that with fewer internal combustion engines tooling around the highways and byways, fewer metal castings will be needed for the manufacture of automobiles. But it’s definitely not certain that this is the case.

First, if the rise in electric and hybrid cars stimulates a car-buying boom, the industry will almost certainly see a boost. However many metal castings find their way into those next-generation vehicles (there will at least be a few), selling cars is most definitely preferable to not selling cars as far as metalcasters are concerned.

Second, how long will the power-plants that go into electric cars last? If the cars turn out to be less long-lived than their predecessors, then they will have to be replaced more often, leading to an increase in casting consumption.

Third, the weight savings sometimes offered by metal castings may make them more desirable in hybrid and electric cars than metal components produced in other manufacturing processes.

It’s hard for anyone to say with certainty how this issue will shake out. But that shouldn’t stop you from sounding off. Comment here, or enjoy relative anonymity by answering our monthly online poll (located in the right hand column of our homepage). The results could be shocking.


Duesenberg Prediction Comes True

An article in the November 2006 Buyer’s Guide edition of MODERN CASTING ended with a heck of a prediction.

The soothsayer was Jim Schneck, subject of the article “Put It in Reverse,” which detailed the plight of a group of metalcasters looking to recreate the engine cylinder head of the rare and expensive Duesenberg Model J. (No need to dig up your back issues—see a full, printable PDF here.)

“Jay Leno called,” Schneck told a MODERN CASTING reporter at the time. “He’s interested in this project.”

Boy was he ever. Now, after having bought the first head successfully produced by Schneck and his team, Leno has written an article for Popular Mechanics heralding the efforts of metalcasters and other craftsmen in keeping classic cars on the road and in the showrooms.

Leno’s discussion of the metalcasting process is cursory, and he gets a touch mushy with nostalgia for the old days, but his ability to put the Duesenberg in automotive context makes the article worth reading. In case you don’t have time to get through the whole piece, here’s the last paragraph.

“Thanks to Jim Schneck, you can make that Duesenberg run again. To anyone who plans to re-create a much-needed part for other vintage automobiles, I say: Thank you. You will be revered by those of us who cherish them.”

That’s another prediction that is likely to come true.

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