Rimer Enterprises Offers Complete Investment Casting Capabilities

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In the fabrication of precise and intricate metal shapes, this process offers tool & die makers, machine shops and their customers superior finishing plus significant savings of time, material and labor.

Rimer Enterprises, Inc., is now offering complete [investment casting capabilities, to create "near net shape" parts of virtually any metal, even in very low quantities. An increasing number of shops that make metal parts that are intricate, or require extensive machining, are produced repetitively or in limited quantities, are finding it to be the ideal solution.

This process offers broad flexibility of alloys while saving finishing time and material waste, while it also enables you to combine two or more parts into a single piece, saving on fabrication, welding or assembly and machining time. The range of metals and alloys that can be investment-cast is very broad, including low cost alloys such as carbon and many tool steels or costly alloys such as aluminum, stainless steel, hastalloy, cobalt and Inconel.

When it comes to making metal parts, investment casting can provide a surprisingly high return on investment for your shop and customers. It is an ideal process for those who deal with fabrication or use metal parts repetitively, whether intricate shapes or components that require precise tolerances. If those parts are between one ounce and 30 pounds in weight, they can be investment cast in remarkably close tolerances with surfaces that require little finishing.

As opposed to forming parts from bar metal, it is also beneficial for fabricators who want to combine components into a single piece, or use pricey metals and want to avoid wasted material while minimizing machine time, which can run $85 to $100 per hour including machine cost.

"I suppose that some fabricators look at the somewhat higher initial cost and don't realize all the savings in time and materials of this process, saving money in the long run. Plus they can produce a better part," says Carl Johnson Jr., vice president of Staten Island Machine Shop Inc. (Staten Island, NY).

Johnson, whose shop produces metal shafts as well as plate and sheet metal, explains that the stainless shafts he fabricates in relatively small lots are investment-cast rather than cut from bar stock or formed by sand casting and then finished.

"For one thing, in this part of the country it is becoming difficult to find qualified machinists," Johnson says. "There are few machinists or CNC operators coming out of the schools today, and that - as well as the cost of equipment and labor - has become a problem for many machine shops. To an extent, investment casting alleviates this problem, because it eliminates some of the burden of machining."

Several years ago Staten Island Machine Shop began having some of the parts they previously had sand cast instead supplied by Rimer Enterprises (Waterville, OH), that serves a variety of industries ranging from railroad to food processing.

Johnson adds that the stainless steel gears his shop now gets from Rimer, typically for marine applications, are high-precision parts that slide over or under other components. In the past, when the gears were made from sand castings, there could be significant shifting or other movement.

"This problem is far less likely to happen with investment-cast gears because the rotations are right on, the holes are exactly where they should be, and all critical dimensions and tolerances are very close, which also minimizes the need for machining," he says.

While reducing the demand on machine time is a significant savings, there is also substantial added savings in costly metals used to fabricate many parts. Chuck Myers, president of Rimer Enterprises, says depending on the metals and alloys used to make the castings, the differences in material costs could be stunning.

"For example, if you are machining a piece of stainless steel that costs $5 per lb., you might be machining 80% of the steel out for your finished product," Myers explains. "By the time the part is finished you've got 4 lbs of stainless steel chips that you end up selling to a scrap dealer for $2 per lb. If the same part is investment-cast, the near-net shape virtually eliminates the scrap, which could represent many dollars in savings per part in alloy cost as well as labor."

The general manager of an Ohio-based machine shop says that one of the main reasons he buys investment castings is that he can't get the needed material in bar stock and prefers not to use sand castings. However, the savings on materials is also significant. This shop recognizes that the consistency of this process is a noteworthy benefit.

While this process may provide quantum savings in terms of time, material and labor, some people have concerns about turn-around time. The GM, for example, uses limited quantities of orifice rings that one of his glassmaking customers uses in making bottles. "When we need castings it is usually because a customer is running the same part except that the dimension may change," the GM says. "We try to stay ahead of the game but we can't anticipate how long their production runs are going to be. So, if we get caught short, any delay in turnaround time can really hurt."

In anticipation of such problems, Rimer made substantial new investments in their in-house capabilities when they took over ownership of the business several years ago. For example, in 2006, they installed a robot dipping system to reduce lead-time through the shop and improve the consistency of products. The newly expanded facilities also include a very modern CNC tooling shop and a CNC machine shop for machining castings.

"Turnaround time in our industry is often 10-12 weeks," Myers says. "We have been able to cut that time more than 60 percent. In emergency situations, we will do everything we can to turn around the needed castings as quickly as possible."

Since 1944, Rimer Enterprises has offered complete [investment casting capabilities for items weighing from less than an ounce to 30 pounds in quantities of one piece to 1,000,000.

For more information contact Chuck Myers at Rimer Enterprises, Inc., 916 Rimer Drive (P.O. Box 27), Waterville, OH 43566; Phone: (419) 878-8156; Fax: (419) 878-6218; e-mail: rimerinc(at)aol.com or visit the web site http://www.rimerinc.com.

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HEATHER METCALFE

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