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A Casting Getaway

On a much-needed getaway weekend, I embarked on my first camping trip. After a couple of days “roughing it” in the woods (ok, it was a campsite), we decided to head to the neighboring town of Galena, Ill., for what I felt was a much needed check back into the real world.

To my surprise, upon exiting the visitor’s center, a sign stood before me, announcing a Grey Iron Foundry. Yes, I was a little excited, thinking I would walk right in, announce I work for AFS and tour the metalcasting facility. But I quickly realized that might be a bit of a bold approach. Also, they were closed for Saturday. I was a little disappointed.

As I walked around Galena, I found my mind was tuned in to every casting I could spot—from old, antique cast-iron stoves for sale at antique shops to the sewer gates, announcing themselves at each street corner. It’s true—castings are all around us. Oddly enough, a year ago this time, I would not have given it a second thought, let alone understand the word ‘metal casting.’

Metalcasters have a great opportunity to share with family, friends, neighbors—anyone—the age old business of casting.  


Cupolas, Crucibles and Communication

Metalcaster, Supplier to Metalcasters

AFS offers a wealth of training resources on this more than 5,000-year-old industry, its various techniques and their applications.  As new methods are created in any industry, best practices develop through an ongoing engineering process that often involves trial and error.  


Reporting and writing about metalcasting affords those of us on the journalistic side an opportunity to watch these developments take place. Our role is to gather and share your stories, providing a forum for continuous learning and the presentation of new ideas.  


According to “The Process of Metalcasting,”a video available from AFS, “In all methods, the key to quality metalcasting is a direct line of communication between the part manufacturer, the design engineer, the pattern maker and the foundry.”


The same can be said for the quality of content we run in MODERN CASTING. I’ve spoken with a few of you in this, my first week with the AFS, and I look forward to talking to more of you in the coming weeks and months. The line of communication is open, so please feel free to contact me anytime.  

dkapel@afsinc.org


Hello, metalcasters

Metalcaster, Supplier to Metalcasters

I’m getting started this week as senior editor for the American Foundry Society’s publications. My background is in manufacturing business magazines, covering a wide variety of industries. Most recently, I worked for a national publication serving commercial printers. That experience took me to a couple of metalcasting facilities in Germany, which cast the press iron for machinery used to print magazines such as MODERN CASTING.

It’s a fascinating process, and I’m looking forward to meeting many of you and learning more about the industry. If you’d like to reach me, I am available at dkapel@afsinc.org.

See you on the casting beat—Denise Kapel


Not Losing Steam

Steam Tractor

Over the weekend, our family attended a local threshing bee and steam show. Basically, it was a small fair of antique agricultural equipment and steam-powered machinery, many of which were in operation. We watched in awe as steam-powered shovels, tractors, threshers, saw mills, and flour mills puffed away. As my husband took in one of the largest pieces of equipment—a giant Corliss steam engine, he turned to me and without sarcasm said, “Shannon, there’s a lot of castings in here!”

I’m often pointing out castings in everyday use to friends and family, resulting in many eye rolls, but it’s starting to rub off. To the lay person, castings don’t seem that exciting at first. But then you start to notice them everywhere, and the applications they are used in turn out to be fascinating. Throw in a bit of historical perspective—steam power has waxed and waned but the casting process has been around for centuries and continues to be a major building block of our world—and an appreciation for metalcasting is born.

Even though we were looking at antique machinery, the castings we saw made me think toward the future of this industry. In one hundred years, a rural antique tractor club might be holding a fair of equipment circa 2010. Like the steam-powered tractors I saw last weekend, the “antique” tractors a century from now will still feature a signicant amount of castings. In 2112, tractors may run on something other than diesel power. Maybe the internal combustion engine will have been replaced by then. The parts will have changed, and maybe the alloys will have evolved. But I’d bet my house the hard-working machines will have castings.   


The Wooing of Manufacturers

Metalcaster, Supplier to Metalcasters

podium
Metalcasters, are you feeling popular these days? As political candidates drum up funds for the big push for votes this fall, much of their attention is turned on the manufacturing industry and its job-making prospects. President Obama and presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney, as well as candidates running for Congress, have been making the rounds through major manufacturing hubs to spread their message. They want to convince you their platform will best meet your needs, but they want to listen to your thoughts, too. Following are five ideas to use this election season as a chance to spread your own platform.

1. Write your Congress candidates, no matter whether you plan to vote for them, and explain what policies would enable your company to create more jobs. Invite them to tour your plant.
2. Write or email your newspaper.
3. Produce a short, simple video of your business operations with commentary on how the health of your company affects the health of the economy.
4. Attend fundraising events.
5. Get tweeting. Many candidates are on twitter. A smart tweet from you on a pertinent election topic could be retweeted to thousands of followers.
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