Selecting a foundry can be a challenging and time consuming task, whether you’re involved in a new project startup that requires cast parts or if you’re just relocating patterns to have castings produced at different suppliers.
To make matters worse, if you do not have a basic knowledge of the foundry and casting process, you might be left wondering, “Where do I start?” Here is a simple four-step process that will help you to identify the right foundry for your needs.
Step 1: Know your product
The first step in the process is all about knowing your product. The more knowledge and information you have about the castings you are trying to purchase, the more productive you will be at narrowing down your list of prospective foundries.
One caution: Don’t treat this process as an afterthought. The earlier in the project you can begin the selection process, the better. Ideally, you should do so during the design and engineering phase of your project.
Answering the following questions will provide you with the basic information about your product and will allow you to move to the next step in the process.
- Is this a new product or a part being transferred from an existing foundry process?
- If it is transferred tooling, collect as much information as possible. Pictures, dimensions, number of pieces, materials, and so on will all help to expedite the process.
- What cast material is needed?
- If a material is not identified, what are the minimum material property requirements?
- What is the overall size/geometry of your part(s)? Length, width and height of the castings will all be questioned during this process.
- How much does the part weigh?
- Do you have 3D model(s) and/or drawing(s) of it?
- Are there any specifications, whether they are internal or industry standards, that must be followed?
- What are the estimated annual quantity(s) to be produced?
Step 2: Identify your candidate foundries
The second step is to identify your candidate foundries. You can accomplish this via a web search. However, many foundry websites don’t contain enough information for you to make an informed decision. But you can still use it as a first-pass screen to identify foundries who are capable of making the type of cast materials you require.
Do not base your selection on the foundries’ websites alone, especially for size, weight and quantities of castings. It is very important to make personal connections with your prospective foundries. Pick up phone or email them directly.
Using your answers to the questions from Step 1, you can start to cut down your list of candidates. Foundries may have special processes and configurations to handle different sizes, weights and quantities that aren’t listed on their websites. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they can accommodate something outside of their published specifications. If they can’t help you, they may be able to refer you to another foundry who can accommodate your needs.
Step 3: Client visits
The third step is to visit the candidates you have qualified. We understand that some companies may have small travel budgets. But an on-site visit is critical whenever you’re planning to onboard a major prospective supplier.
We are firm believers in the old saying, “Seeing is believing.” People can talk a good game and say they can do all kinds of things. But seeing their facility in action will help you determine if that’s just talk or if the foundry can actually deliver on its promises.
In closing, this is a very brief and concise look at a very complicated and challenging task. Our team here at The C.A. Lawton Co. has extensive experience in all types of foundry processes. Why not call us at 920-337-2470 or send us a message with any questions you have about the foundry selection process? We’ll help you however we can, even if it turns out we’re not the best foundry for your project.