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Reduced Lead Time for Military Parts from 12 Months to 12 Days

(Rockford, IL) -- Clinkenbeard, a Rockford, Illinois-based worldwide leader in the rapid production of complex castings and machined parts using a wide variety of metals and plastics, recently completed a robotic machining feasibility study that shattered once-standard leadtimes for United States Department of Defense metalcasting, this according to the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI)

ATI currently leads several national collaborations that are developing advanced robotics capabilities and implementing both new and existing robotics technologies in response to US Department of Defense manufacturing challenges.

One collaboration is with the American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) The ATI-managed AMC partner companies, like Clinkenbeard, are using robotics technologies to support legacy weapon systems. Dramatically reduced leadtime for legacy weapon systems parts is the key to the Defense Logistic Agency partnership with the AMC. When doing work recently with the ATI-managed American Metalcasting Consortium, the patented Clinkenbeard® Toolingless Process reduced the leadtime for military cast spare parts from six to twelve months to six to twelve days.

The results, according to ATI, also demonstrated that the Clinkenbeard® Process is capable of reducing capital investment by as much as 35 percent, reducing individual parts cost by up to 20 percent and improving cycle time by 25 percent.

When reworking technical data is required, including a solid model of the part, leadtimes could exceed a year. But, even when a solid model must be generated first, the Clinkenbeard® Toolingless Process can supply a cast part in less than a month. The secret is computer generated molds with no tooling, or “going toolingless.”

The patented Clinkenbeard® Toolingless Process of machining sand cores and molds is extremely accurate and offers the fastest turnaround times for cast metal parts, greatly minimizing typical costs associated with the product development. Utilizing this process can reduce the leadtime to obtain development castings by up to 90 percent.

With the Clinkenbeard® Process, a customer:

  • Can eliminate the need for prototype tooling, depending on project requirements.
  • Can have greater flexibility to make and test multiple design iterations during product development, from the simple to complex parts.
  • Can significantly reduce the cost of production tooling for one-off and small quantities.
  • Can quickly get accurate, prototype parts in hand while large quantity tooling is being made.
  • Can completely eliminate the need to inventory store tooling.
  • Can match exact production core materials and chemical levels so that prototype castings emulate production, and
  • Can incorporate engineering changes into high-volume production sand cores.

“The Clinkenbeard Process enables us to reduce costs and leadtimes for machined castings in order to provide our government with the fastest, most cost-effective option available,” explained Ronald Gustafson, president of Clinkenbeard.

“The American Metalcasting Consortium and Clinkenbeard are helping to develop and integrate new technologies that are crucial to ensuring the future of the U.S. manufacturing industrial base to support the American war fighter,” said United States Congressman Don Manzullo, (R-Ill).

Clinkenbeard is able to work on US Department of Defense projects because the company once-again successfully registered with the US Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and is fully compliant with all International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations

The Robotic Machining Feasibility Study

Robotic machining has the potential to revolutionize the Rapid Casting arena, especially in the area of large castings. Tooling cost as well as leadtimes increase dramatically as parts get larger. The equipment needed to deal with the size and weight of extremely large parts becomes more rare and thus, more expensive. The larger the equipment used for these large parts, the slower it will operate due to its heavy physical characteristics. The most significant advantage that robotic machining seems to have is the fact that the robot moves independently of the work piece giving it the ability to feed as quickly on a large part as it does on a smaller, lighter part.

Problem: Clinkenbeard has developed the sand machining process utilizing CNC machining centers. The use of machining centers is limited to the size and weight range of the available machining center.

Solution: The use of robotics will allow Clinkenbeard to use the process on much larger molds and cores. Using robotic technology will reduce the cost dramatically compared to the same expenditure for CNC machining centers.

Benefit:   The method of robotic machining holds much promise in reducing cycle times, capital investment, as well as cost for casting users. The increase in speed and decrease in capital expenditure needed to produce castings via the Clinkenbeard® Process will allow this method to rise to the forefront of the Rapid Casting Processes on larger castings. Capital investment can be reduced by as much as 35 percent; individual parts cost reduced by up to 20 percent; and improved cycle time by 25 percent.

About Clinkenbeard, ATI, AMC and ITAR

Clinkenbeard is a worldwide leader in the rapid production of complex castings and machined parts using a wide variety of metals and plastics.   The company’s principal markets include US defense and government, aerospace, auto racing, heavy truck, marine, industrial, power generation and agricultural.

One of Clinkenbeard’s key metrics of success is its adherence to meeting and exceeding the time-to-market requirements of its customers. The company’s slogan is “Fasterestest.”

The patented Clinkenbeard® Toolingless Process is industry renown for producing metal castings efficiently, affordably and extremely fast. The process is based on machining sand cores and molds without the expense of tooling. All machining is done using CNC, which produces superior speed and accuracy.
For more information, contact Ron Gustafson, Clinkenbeard president, 815.226.0291.  

ATI builds international collaborations to develop and implement world-class solutions for manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, maritime, metals, and healthcare industries. ATI's collaborative approach attracts top talent from premier companies, universities, and government agencies, to define technology roadmaps and research portfolios matched to business demands that provide the requisite resources to solve shared challenges.

ATI’s role in these endeavors is to guide the design of a customized collaboration structure that is optimized to meet the specific needs of participants and sponsors. Once in operation, it serves as a neutral agent to manage the day-to-day operations and administration for the clients, such as processing RFPs and maintaining confidentiality of partner business information and intellectual property. Its collaborative programs range from simple partnerships to large, single point contracting models for Federal R&D programs, including innovative “Other Transactions” models.

AMC is improving metalcasting technology and processes by integrating government, industry, and academia to raise the effectiveness and efficiency levels of metalcasters throughout the United States. The DLA is benefiting from this work as it is able to obtain higher quality, cost-effective cast parts while reducing lead times.

Administered by the U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), under authority established by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), ITAR regulates the manufacture, export and transfer of defense articles, information, and services. Companies receiving this certification demonstrate that they have knowledge and understanding to fully comply with the AECE and ITAR as well as having corporate procedures and controls in place to ensure compliance.

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