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Casting Winners and Customer Trends

Shannon Wetzel

For over 20 years now, AFS and its magazines have held its annual casting competition to celebrate the capabilities, opportunities, and advantages of the metalcasting process and North American foundries. It’s a delight to announce Waupaca Foundry’s Plants 4 and 5 have won this year’s Casting of the Year award for a backhoe bucket converted from a steel fabrication. The story is on page 20.
It’s not a requirement to be a casting conversion to win Casting of the Year, but they often do win. Judges score them highly because of the obvious benefits to the customer and expansion of the casting market. 

Waupaca’s 12-in. backhoe bucket for a compact utility tractor is the first in the market to be cast, but Amerequip is already looking into converting other sizes to casting.
The last few years, casting submissions to the competition also have reflected the trend of domestic manufacturers shoring up their supply chain to avoid disruptions and delays—which was the case for Waupaca’s winning entry this year. 

Waupaca discovered this opportunity in a walk-through of their customer’s facilities—where they examined all the components being assembled to identify any that might be a successful casting conversion. Kudos to Waupaca for taking the initiative to look for ways it can help its customer and increase its market; and kudos to customer Amerequip for recognizing that the efforts of redesigning the bucket would be worth it in the end.

The cast result of a part consolidation can look so refined that it seems a natural, forthcoming design. But the engineers know that’s not the case! As Terry Schwalenberg at Amerequip pointed out regarding the backhoe bucket—they were on the phone every morning to discuss the design, and it ultimately took over 80 simulations to find the optimal solution. “We can’t thank the engineers at Waupaca enough for not giving up,” he said.    

Beyond Waupaca’s bucket, the 2022 casting competition had several intriguing entries. Check them out in this issue; I’m looking forward to sharing them in more detail in the coming year.    CS