Wellsville Foundry Inc. in Ohio is a “a small, specialty foundry,” according to its president, producing ductile, ADI, and CGI casting, mainly for customers and nearby states. Its specialties are heavy-section parts, meaning parts for mining and material handling equipment, and manufacturing machinery of all sorts. Its castings fit projects that require high strength and abrasion-resistance — all of which means its products require precision in design and represent a considerable capital investment.

Like many foundries in that market niche, Wellsville has done well in recent years amid steady demand for new machinery and infrastructure projects that have buoyed its customer base.

But, this is also a highly competitive segment of the metalcastings industry: buyers are able to dictate their terms for product design, quality standards, delivery, and perhaps even cost, so a foundry has to be able to control the production process and variables in order to keep the customer and make the effort profitable.

Wellsville Foundry has found some of its advantage by simulating casting processes. “We make the product in the same process that Jesus would recognize if he were down in the foundry,” according to the company’s president, C.H. Gilmore, “but everything behind the scenes is right up in the 21st Century.” 

The general concepts of casting process simulation are not new, and there are various choices available to foundries and diecasters to test pouring, mold filling, and solidification, digitally and visually, without the time, cost, and risk of the actual process. Wellsville Foundry’s choice is MAGMA Foundry Technologies’ MagmaSoft platform, now in its fifth generation, which simulates the entire sequence of casting production, from design through evaluation of results. In addition to process simulation, the MagmaSoft program also has functions for general project management, solid modeling, and interactive capabilities for result evaluation.

Gillmore put his finger on something about metalcasting that stumps outsiders and casual observers: there are some aspects of it that cannot be made simpler or less demanding. It is a hot, loud, caustic activity. It consumes lots of energy and raw materials, and it ties up a lot of capital.

Foundry operators, like Gillmore, know there is more to it than that though. “MagmaSoft gives us the ability to simulate on the computer exactly what's going to happen with the molten metal finds its way into the sand mold, and then, as it cools, it helps us identify where we may have shrinkage defects,” he explained.

“It's also helpful in terms of controlling the velocity of the metal that goes into the mold,” he continued. “If it goes in too fast, you end up blowing sand grains out of the mold and including them in the casting, which is not what you want.”

Gillmore acknowledged using an early version of solidification modeling prior to selecting MagmaSoft, “and it basically just looked at three or four elements in an iron casting process to predict what the result would be.

“But, with MagmaSoft, you don’t assume that everything inside that mold is a uniform temperature, because it isn't. As the material flows across the sand, it's cooling and the other materials coming behind it is hotter, and you can see how the mold is filling, you see some parts are starting to cool. With some of the older programs, you’d just assume that whatever temperature you pour is the temperature that's in there. It pulled its calculations on cooling rates based on that assumption.

“What's good about MagmaSoft, and the newer generation of software, is that they actually follow the fluid flow, and they can tell you a lot of things about what is happening as the mold is filling, in respect of temperatures and velocities, areas where you see a lot of turbulence, which can also create defects,” Gillmore emphasized. “It's like being in there without being burned up.”

In other words, casting process simulation allows Wellsville Foundry, and other metalcasting operations, to test their systems and capabilities without the risk of failure.