Facility Expansion, New Equipment Translate into Increased Business for Investment Caster
The company saves costs for customers by processing numerous metals under one roof, eliminating the need to use multiple suppliers, and by using the same mold to cast parts from different alloys
Since Alphacasting expanded its production facility by 19,000 sq. ft. a year ago and invested in a wide array of new equipment, it has seen its aerospace and SLA rapid prototyping businesses boom through new capabilities and processes.
The Montreal investment casting company is now making an aluminum jug for aerospace giant Bombardier Inc. that measures 1.5 meters long, a testament to the bigger size casting ability the company now has due to the equipment expansion, said Frederick Centazzo, vice president of sales and operations at Alphacasting Inc. "We had to reorganize the aluminum foundry, buy a bigger oven for bigger melting units, and we changed our mold room to accommodate that size of shell," he said.
Last year, the company spent $1.5 million on new equipment, including live x-ray inspection equipment, burn-out ovens, a vacuum heat treatment oven, and gas quench oven for steel. "We did this mainly to respond to some customer requests to go on casting bigger with aluminum. So we expanded our mold room, expanded our foundry, and we also expanded the sizing department," Centazzo explained. "We are now quoting some larger parts in aluminum and we are quoting some larger parts in exotic alloys. Mainly aerospace is booming for us right now, but we've also developed new customers in military." Centazzo could not discuss the secret military contracts, but said some new alloys are being developed for the sector.
Due to the expansion, aerospace has grown 30 percent over last year, he said, adding that the company is working with an aerospace customer to have the live x-ray inspection equipment approved for final inspection work. For a few "top secret" projects the company is working on with aerospace and military, Centazzo is expanding the NDT (non-destructive testing) departments, as well as getting NADCAP approval for heat treatment. The company recently received NADCAP approval for welding.
Alphacasting (www.alphacasting.com) was recently selected to manufacture titanium pieces for a medical company. This major contract is the result of persistent efforts and sustained R & D investments by Alphacasting. "We've had a couple orders for medical instruments and we're also working on some implants for knee and hip replacement. These are a bit of a long process because the final parts need to be FDA approved," he said.
The company's new burn-out oven has helped create bigger castings and improved capacity for SLA projects. "It opened up a brand new niche for us," said Centazzo, explaining that about a year ago, the company had only produced three or four pieces. "But we're doing more and more rapid prototyping in-house and we are able to do rapid prototyping on bigger castings. SLA has boomed a lot for us because of the burn out oven and new shell room. This year, we have made probably 80 pieces on about 30 different projects," he said.
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