casting - Cast Products, Inc.

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casting - Cast Products, Inc.
CASTING
In the heart of the Midwest, Cast Products, Inc., has six international design awards, 28 four-slide die cast
machines, and the production and price power it takes to keep customers from being lured overseas.
By Rebecca Carnes
W
“Exclusively casting zinc alloys for
ith nearly 50 years of experiCompany president, Zoli Salata, stands next to
nearly
50 years has put Cast Products,
ence as a producer of zinc
the newly-acquired Techmire 88NTX, four-slide die
Inc., at the top of the industry with an
die castings, Cast Products,
casting machine. It can quick changeover a twoslide mold in as little as 15 minutes. Photo courtesy
award-winning, innovative approach to
Inc. (CPI), has developed into a company
of Cast Products, Inc.
creating parts using the unique producthat prides itself on working closely with
tion advantages of four-slide, hot chamclients from the beginning stages while
ber, high-pressure, precision
creating its own dies and indie casting,” said vice presivesting in the latest four-slide
dent of sales and marketing
technology. The result has
Scott Guttman in an e-mail
been high-quality, innovative
response. “We are a leader in
products, and a low-cost advannew techniques of mold maktage for customers, including
ing, producing in-die degating
those who have had bad experiand flash-free parts to exacting
ences overseas.
specifications. Because we can
The four-slide Techmire
consistently produce precision
equipment used by Cast Prodnet-shape parts, it often offers
ucts lends itself to highly-prethe lowest cost alternative
cise, net-shape parts with thin
to component selection. We
walls, spiral threads, through
consistently find cost-reducing
holes, fins, and pockets. In
solutions in the early stages of
addition, wave forms, spheres,
product design.”
lettering, and symbols, as well
Cast Products (www.castas etchings of every description
products.com), based in Norridge, Ill., strives to work with its
and complex geometries, can be produced to a customer’s exactcustomers at the earliest stages of design and has won six NADCA
ing specifications. The company’s latest purchase in October was
(North American Die Casting Association) International Design
a Techmire 88NTX, the largest die-casting machine offered by
Awards during the past five years, said management representaTechmire. It reportedly has a dry cycle speed of 2,100 cycles per
tive Helen Salata, daughter of company co-founder Paul Salata.
hour with a “quick change” feature that allows die changeover in
Entries were judged on design, quality, cost savings, ingenuity,
as little as 15 minutes. The machine allows for a nominal die size
and innovation. The company also was given a magnesium toolof 8x10 inches, a clamping force of 45 tons, and a shot weight of
ing design award from the International Magnesium Association
23 ounces, and can produce zinc parts under one pound.
in 2009, as well as numerous safety awards.
Company executives say they purchased their first four-slide
die cast machine in 1989 and currently have 28 such machines,
In-house Die Making Ensures Quality
demonstrating the company’s commitment to investing in new
at Lower Cost
technology. Although the majority of current production utiCompany president Zoli Salata, Helen’s brother, said the
lizes the multi-slide die casting process, Cast Products is equally
company fabricates its own dies to have more control over the
strong in the manufacture of larger, conventional, hot-chamber
quality. “By doing it in-house, we can monitor all of that activdie castings.
ity very closely and thereby ensure quality, ensure our on-time
delivery, and really offer a much better quality tool,” Zoli Salata
said. “It means much better quality parts in the end. If you have a
good-quality die—that means in the first-shot run off—you have
a much better shot of being successful on your first go-around
when you’re sampling.”
The company maintains their dies over the life of a project and
offers a “one million shot guarantee” because of their confidence
in the design and quality of their tool, said Helen Salata.
“A common reason for customers to seek a new die caster is
due to poor quality and poor tool performance, since maintenance of that tool is a hidden expense. Many casters just fail to do
timely maintenance to avoid bad parts,” she said. “So Cast Products has a continuous tool maintenance program and we check
and refurbish tools after every production run. We accept that
tool responsibility and then keep the overall tool maintenance
cost as low as possible.”
A good quality die the first time around translates to a lower
net cost to customers because they’re not waiting around for
samples or changes to the die because of mistakes or errors, Zoli
Salata explained. While the competition is delayed waiting for
tool shops to complete a job and working around those shops’
schedules, Cast Products is creating its own dies with an in-house
machine shop that allows them to offer far better lead times than
the competition. Production lead times are also cut because the
four-slide process does not require trimming and often eliminates
other secondary operations.
The Techmire multiple-slide, hot-chamber die-casting machine has moveable slides, which carry die blocks that have one
or more cavities on its face. The molten metal is injected into the
complete cavity. A clamping system holds together the mating
faces of the die blocks and the injection is made perpendicular
directly on the parting line, which eliminates sprue associated
with conventional die-casting systems.
Cast Products CEO Ron Paquet said that getting in early on a
project, planning ahead of time, and understanding the customers’ requirements cuts down on lead time. “We find that if we ask
the right questions up front, we can eliminate the surprises and
delays later. So that gets the shorter time for tooling,” Paquet
said. “Many die components are common sometimes from tool
to tool, so we pre-build those and that gives us a one-to-two-week
jumpstart on any kind of new tooling.”
Paquet’s father, Adolph “Duffy” Paquet, started the business
in 1966 with Paul Salata and William Vichotka, using only two
25-ton casting machines built in a Chicago bungalow basement.
The Cast Products team said it’s proud to be a second generation
company with Zoli Salata and Ron Paquet joining their fathers
in 1983 and Helen Salata joining the team in 1995, when the
company transitioned its management to the new generation.
Located just 12 miles northwest of Chicago’s Loop and 7 miles
east of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Cast Products sees
its Midwest location as a benefit to both customers and suppliers
because of their central proximity to so many manufacturers. A
three-building campus comprising 65,000 sq. ft. of production
space is easily accessible from the airport for visits. Visiting the
company and viewing the smooth work flow and the two running
shifts on the shop floor shows customers that Cast Products runs
a high-quality operation, said Ron Paquet.
With 86 employees, Cast Products serves an array of industries,
including automotive, biomedical, appliance, construction, com-
puters, electronics, defense, telecommunications and consumer
products. Using SolidWorks modeling software, Cast Products
engineers can accept 2D or 3D data to design a mold and tooling.
Certified mold makers with an average of 25 years of experience
begin the process of writing CAM programs for cutter paths; this
data is then transferred to the CNC department. Premium tool
steel is cut to 0.005 in. and sent out to a certified source for heattreatment. The heat-treated, hardened blocks are re-squared and
hard-cut on the CNC machine to final specification.
A Hands-On Advantage
Pays Off
“We will provide parts that meet ‘fit, form and function’
parameters as directed by the customer, but may arrive at those
parts in an unconventional manner,” Guttman said in an e-mail
response. “Countless years of tooling design geared toward the
four-slide, hot-chamber, high-pressure production technology
advantages can often provide automatically degated, no-flash,
net shape parts of higher quality and lower cost than other
alternatives. In-house mold making and tooling development
give us a hands-on advantage many other suppliers cannot offer.
CPI also maintains a complete machine shop for finishing and
secondary operations. We offer complete QA (quality assurance)
resources for PPAP (production part approval process) processing and conformance, assuring accurate, consistent parts on-time
as promised.”
The company prides itself on its design-to-delivery approach.
“Once the customer contacts us with their casting concept, they
will work with a team of experienced experts all under one roof.
The hand-off from one discipline to the next happens at Cast
Products, so there are no missing pieces,” said Zoli Salata.
If involved in the early stages of product design, Cast Products
can often save a customer both time and money. In one instance,
a potential customer complained that their current supplier was
not meeting their quality and design requirements. They were
a bit skeptical about whether the die-cast process could meet
all their needs. After meeting with the customer for two hours,
Cast Products shared design ideas and discussed several options
that focused on part design strategies and practices. Company
leaders said they enhanced the part while saving the customer
more than $10,000 by reducing the weight of the part with reduction of excess material, strengthening the part, and allowing for
multi-cavity tooling.
“Burned” By Offshoring, Customer Turns To
Cast Products
One customer came to Cast Products after learning of the
many “pitfalls” of taking work overseas, said Guttman. The
customer had 15 months to design and build three complex
die castings and received aggressive pricing from an offshore
competitor. The customer faced extensive communication and
engineering problems that stalled the project with only three
months before their deadline. The customer came to Cast Products having to start from scratch and still make their deadline.
Cast Products engineers worked side by side with the customer’s
engineering team to thoroughly review designs. Communication
with the production department happened regularly, with the
result that the dies and parts were completed on schedule and
within budget.
The clarity of communications at a project’s conception is
48
This sampling of Cast Products parts includes an automotive mirror
pivot ball (center bottom), which requires near-perfect roundness and
size accuracy. To ensure quality, Cast Products performs a multi-point
measurement of the diameter to an accuracy of 0.1 mm, maintaining a
1.67 CpK for 30 samples per cavity. Photo courtesy of Cast Products, Inc.
essential to keeping projects on-time and on-budget, said Guttman. “Any errors or omissions at this point only grow larger as
the process goes on. If there’s language or cultural differences
DESIGN-2-PART magazine • February 2012
that are a hindrance to the process, it makes the relative success
of that project much more difficult.”
There is an intrinsic value to having been in business since
1966 and being centrally-located in the U.S, Guttman said. But
many companies are lured by a low-quoted price, without thinking about broader issues, such as the cost of travel overseas and a
break-down in communication that can have devastating effects.
Guttman mentioned the frustration that can sometimes be encountered when speaking on a technical level with an Englishas-a-second-language design engineer, such as communicating
‘in-die degating’ in Chinese.
“So we always think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if a customer knew
ahead of time which of these pitfalls they are going to experience?’ because we know they’re going to experience some of
them, maybe all of them. It’s just a question of time before they
recognize how costly they are to them. We have customers who
have come to us after they’ve worked overseas, and they start to
notice the leak of resources to offshore suppliers as more people
are required to pay attention to fix even the most mundane tasks
that we take for granted with a domestic supplier.”
According to the company, it has had many customers who’ve
turned to them after being “burned” overseas. “And once the
customer gets to work with us on the same project where they’ve
experienced so much pain [overseas], we hear comments from
people that they’re happy to be back with a domestic supplier.
It’s just so much easier,” Guttman said.
Word is spreading, and the lure of offshoring is starting
to wane as these hard-learned lessons keep appearing on the
news, he added. “We’re seeing that trend reversing and finally
coming back due to those lessons learned,” Guttman said. “The
advantages of going overseas are just getting smaller. The U.S.
casting suppliers have always had an excellent product—some
better than others—and it’s taken a lot of time for the customer
to recognize those hidden [overseas] costs. And I think that’s
starting to happen now.”