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Finding a Supplier

Shannon Wetzel, Managing Editor

Whether you are seeking your first casting supplier or looking to find additional suppliers to protect your product flow, finding a metal casting source can take time and legwork. And you’ll need to know a lot about your product before you start: the mechanical and physical requirements, size, projected ramp-up volumes and timeline, and budget.

The process seems daunting, and Metal Casting Design & Purchasing aims to help inform and encourage designers and purchasers in this quest. In this issue, the feature article, “Appraising Your Casting Supplier” on page 22 discusses a few of the main criteria to review in an existing or potential supplier. This is not meant to be a checklist. Rather they are areas of focus that you should hone in on when developing a good casting partner. These areas should be reviewed and evaluated for the processes in place to ensure continuous improvement and problem solving. If you’d like a more in depth look at casting supplier auditing, a class on this subject is offered this June in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Register at www.afsinc.org/courses.)

For those readers still in the stage of finding a supplier, the AFS and MCDP online metalcaster directory is a good first stop. This is an interactive tool using the data collected for the print Casting Source Directory. You can search for a supplier by material, casting process, part size, and geographic location. As part of this database, you can narrow your casting process choices down based on weight, section thickness, surface finish and estimated annual production volume.

This tool also has a link to a web-based program that can help designers select the appropriate alloy they’ll need for the application based on a variety of factors including section thickness, service temperature, fatigue, impact or flexural strength, and safety factor.

Finally, sometimes you are faced with a decision of whether to export the cast component from overseas or source it domestically. Often the driving factor in this decision is cost.

The Total Cost of Ownership Estimator from the Reshoring Initiative (www.reshorenow.org/tco-estimator) can help calculate what the ultimate cost difference would be between an overseas and domestic supplier. Often, the domestic metalcaster is more competitive than originally believed when factoring in risk, corporate strategy, overhead, etc.

Search engines can be helpful in delivering long lists of websites with potentially good information, but the tools mentioned here can help narrow down the sourcing process and save you time.  

Click here to see this story as it appears in the March-April 2018 issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing