Based in Wednesbury, West Midlands, AluCast Ltd is an award-winning aluminium foundry with a reputation for the supply of high-integrity structural parts.
The company, which is accredited to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO/TS 16949:2016, can manufacture casting weighing up to 50kg and has a weekly capacity of about 25 tonnes — using both manual and automated production methods.
AluCast’s high-pressure die-casting facility manufactures castings up to 3kg at production rates up to 200 castings per hour.
Gravity die casting is used for medium- to high-volume production and results in a near-net-shape product, while the company’s sand casting production method is used for the manufacture of prototypes, as well as for regular production items.
AluCast also supplies fully machined parts based on CNC capabilities that include five-axis machining to tolerances measured in microns.
The drive for improved fuel efficiency has prompted the global automotive industry to develop ever lighter components. As a consequence, AluCast’s advanced aluminium casting and machining offering has enjoyed high levels of growth over the past decade.
The company is now a major supplier to the automotive sector, with products currently made including structural under-body parts, hydraulic valves and vacuum parts, as well as traditional gearbox housings requiring high-strength characteristics.
To ensure that the company’s 100-plus workforce can keep pace with increasing demands, significant investments have recently been made in casting plant and machine tools; and to ensure that inspection can keep pace with increased production volumes, AluCast’s quality and technical director Martin Haynes recently began a search for an accurate yet speedy metrology solution. However, rather than Mr Haynes “finding the ideal solution to AluCast’s inspection needs, it found him”.
After being tasked with casting a range of urgently required prototype parts, AluCast completed all of the relevant casting processes in record time.
However, when told that the parts were ready except for the required dimensional inspection process and that this would take another day, the customer decide to speed up delivery by visiting AluCast and inspecting the parts with its own equipment — a Faro ScanArm portable CMM (www.faro.com
Impressed by the Faro equipment’s speed of set-up and its ability to quickly scan each of the components and gather all of the required data, Mr Haynes was convinced that a ScanArm was the solution to AluCast’s inspection needs.
Mr Haynes said: “Prior to seeing our customer’s Faro ScanArm in action, we had been considering several inspection options from major metrology companies. However, the performance of this equipment convinced us that this was the way to go.
“As well as being impressed by the dimensional accuracy achieved and the clear presentation of the captured data, we were astonished by the equipment’s speed of operation.
Indeed, we estimated that the inspection results our customer achieved in just 1hr would have taken us over 8hr, using our existing equipment.
"Soon after the customer’s visit, we organised a demonstration of a Faro Edge ScanArm HD on a cross-section of both cast and machined components to confirm our opinion.
A Faro UK sales engineer was able to quickly set the instrument up and complete rapid and precise scanning routines on each of the parts we presented.
“After taking delivery of an Edge ScanArm HD, I attended a training course with two of our operators. The simplicity of the device enabled us to quickly master its controls; and while we have access to Faro UK’s telephone help-line, we have only used it on a couple of occasions. We received prompt replies both times and were quickly guided through the appropriate processes.”
The compact Edge ScanArm HD combines the convenience of a FaroArm with the power of a Laser Line Probe HD, creating a flexible high-performance contact/non-contact portable measurement system that provides point cloud capture with high levels of speed, resolution and accuracy.
Furthermore, advanced functions allow users of Edge ScanArm HDs to seamlessly scan across a diverse range of materials — regardless of their contrast, reflectivity or part complexity — without the need for the application of special coatings or target placements.
Although relevant to a wide range of applications, common Edge ScanArm HD uses include reverse engineering, part certification, prototype part scanning, first-article inspection, on-machine inspection, in-process inspection and final inspection.
The instrument’s extra-wide scan stripe and fast frame rate help to boost users’ productivity by increasing coverage and reducing scanning time.
Also, training time is minimised due to advanced features such as a ‘crosshair’ and a ‘rangefinder’, which provide real-time scanning feedback.
Furthermore, intricate components can be captured in fine detail as a result of the Edge ScanArm HD’s 2,000 actual points per scan line and the use of a new blue laser that features noise reduction technology.