Meet Our Pattern Shop: A tour with Tim Wenninger
The C.A. Lawton Co. strives for high-quality castings and with that, pattern shops are a necessity to reach those standards. This week we’re touring The C.A. Lawton Co. De Pere pattern shop with supervisor, Tim Wenninger.
- Review the Casting Shape
The design review process begins with the customer and the foundry’s casting engineers. Together they review the casting shape. Our engineers put together patterns that consist of drawings or models of casting-friendly patterns and one or more core boxes. Our highly-skilled, in-house pattern makers follow strict manufacturing guidelines to ensure the highest quality castings.
2. Design the Pattern
Once the plans make it to the pattern shop, we sit down and brainstorm how we’re going to construct this. Things are constantly changing so we’ll sometimes have to revamp our process.
Pattern shops are essential when creating a strong functional casting. The patterns determine the shape and dimensional accuracy of the casting, which then contributes to the iron’s integrity. Successful pattern design balances an intimate knowledge of the casting process, annual volume, investment, and material selection. Each layer of the pattern is fabricated separately in six-inch increments, then combined to create the whole pattern.
“My favorite part of the job is mentoring. I enjoy working with the young guys and teaching them along the way. Pattern making is a tough trade. It takes about ten years to build a good pattern maker.” – Tim Wenninger
3. Choose the Right Material
The Lawton De Pere pattern shop offers styrofoam, pine, mahogany, and red board patterns.
Styrofoam patterns are low-cost, low-tolerance, and can only be used once. When styrofoam patterns are cast, their internal components are destroyed in the process from being pulled out of the sand. Wood and red board patterns can be used over and over.
Wood patterns are moderate in cost, tolerance, and lead times. These patterns can be used up to or over 100 times! Patterns made from pine can be reused but their lifespan isn’t as long as mahogany patterns. Our location’s most popular pattern is made from mahogany.
Lastly, our red boards are our highest quality pattern. Red board patterns have a high tolerance, excellent durability, and higher cost but can be reused over 500 times! Well worth the investment! Read more about the pattern material.
“It’s always fun seeing the pattern after it’s been constructed. You built that! You constructed that! It’s a neat feeling.” – Tim Wenninger
Our location has both a pattern shop and a machine shop. To maintain a steady workflow, both departments communicate their projects.
Thank you for letting us tour the pattern shop, Tim!
If you have any questions regarding our pattern shop process, get in touch!