Pacific Steel Casting Company (Pacific Steel) graciously opened its doors yesterday for Liftech engineers to tour their Berkeley steel foundry. The tour was guided by some highly experienced Pacific Steel employees, including the president, Joe Emmerichs, and a knowledgeable technical sales representative, Dave Standafer.
The tour began at the technology center, where we learned how computers help determine the optimum mold arrangement to reduce shrinkage voids and residual stresses for the various casting geometries. The technology office looked like a regular engineering office with computers and ergonomically arranged work stations, but one thing was very different–every minute or so the ground shook several times as the operators at the forge next door dropped their giant hammers.
After an interesting demonstration of the software, we headed over to the hot part of the foundry, the electric arc furnace. We were lucky enough to witness a batch being heated and then poured into a large ladle for transport to the molds. After the appropriate quantities of materials are weighed and put into the furnace, the mix is heated by two 6 to 8-inch diameter electrodes. The sound of the mix heating is exactly as you would expect, the sound of viscous liquid sloshing with undertones of buzzing electricity.
We also toured the area where they make the molds. The molds are primarily made of sand and resin, and are formed from a wooden pattern. The patterns, which are outsourced, are quite pricey at several thousand dollars per pattern.
The second half of the tour was all about finishing the castings. We learned about form removal, cleaning, visual inspection, dye penetrant and ultrasonic testing, cutting, and welding. We also caught a glimpse of some of the finished products ready to export to clients. The size of castings fabricated at the Berkeley foundry range in weight from a few ounces to several thousand pounds.
You can learn more about Pacific Steel at Pacific Steel.
Thanks for a great experience, Pacific Steel!