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Dal-Air Investment Castings
POINT, Tex.--After searching to find a manufacturing company to make parts for the new power tool that he invented and later patented, Oren Northcutt decided to start his own investment casting company. Dallas Air Tool was brought to life in the 1960s to provide manufacturing support for his air ratchet wrench. The company name was later shortened to Dal-Air as he began pouring investment castings for commercial and industrial companies. The highly-experienced casting company, now known as Dal-Air Investment Castings, is still in existence today in Point, Texas, a town about 60 miles east of Dallas.
It appears that good old-fashioned customer service still applies at this contract manufacturing company, reported to be the only manufacturing business in the entire county. Dal-Air's website touts the company's robust customer ethic by stating that "you'll find not only the cheerful voice of a real person when you call, but timely quotations, friendly advice, and prompt turnaround." At this 20,000-square-foot plant, there's no need for voicemail.
Besides 29 friendly, attentive people, much more awaits an OEM at Dal-Air. The ISO 9001:2000-certified company offers precision parts with fine details and good surface finishes, experience with a wide diversity of industries, a multitude of shapes and sizes for parts, and an on-time delivery record reportedly of 95% or more. In addition, OEMs can expect cost savings due to minimal machining and less excess part weight with investment casting, as well as thin-walled parts, and a large array of different metals to choose from for precision parts and components.
"Investment casting can produce a higher precision, closer tolerance part than a forging or sand casting," states Robert Jordan, the technical director of engineering and quality at Dal-Air. "There can be a lot more detail in the part that you might not have in another casting process--features like splines or teeth or detailed lettering, or features that normally would have to be machined in. So it eliminates a lot of secondary machining, and provides cost savings because part features can be cast instead of being machined, and weight reduction because you don't have to add extra stock to the part for draft."
Dal-Air (www.dalaircasting.com) manufactures a wide variety of utilitarian parts for many different industries, from four-wheel drive suspension components and cartridge holder panels for inkjet printers, to funnels and tubes for commercial turkey meat grinders and brake levers for Harley Davidson motorcycles. "For the oilfield industry, we make many different types of parts," Jordan remarked. "We make tong machine parts used to screw drilling pipes together, and slips that keep the pipes from sliding down into the drilled hole," Jordan continues. "And we make pressure valve bodies, blacksmith tools, horse bits, in-cabin aircraft parts, commercial overhead door components, and several different types of hammer heads."
Thin-walled parts with tight tolerances are one of the company's specialties. "We can get down to about 0.080-inch wall thickness with steel, and with aluminum we can go down to about 0.050-inch," Jordan points out proudly. "We have some steels that we can go down to about 0.060-inch. Normal machine stock on an investment casting is about 0.030-inch, where on a sand casting it may be about 0.100-inch." The list of metals that Dal-Air brings into play for part processing is plentiful, says Jordan, compared to the offerings of many investment casting companies. The caster's material list includes carbon steel, moly-chrome steel, stainless steel (17-4 PH, 316, 304, and 410), several nickel-based and cobalt-based materials, 356 aluminum, silicon-brass, and silicon-bronze.
"There are very few investment casting foundries that offer all of the metals that we do," Jordan affirms. "Very seldom can they do all three: steel, aluminum, and brass. But we're able to do all of these metals because we're able to pour aluminum and steel at the same plant. The demand is not very great anymore for aluminum, brass, and bronze, but we still pour them one day per week. And we're able to do something that Chinese companies may not want to do, which is small runs with several different alloys. So we're like a one-stop casting shop."
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