Buchanan Sales Company, a manufacturers’ representative of custom-engineered metal and plastic components, has been proactive during the COVID-19 pandemic adding some interesting manufacturing capabilities over the past year.
According to Buchanan CEO Elry Cramer, Buchanan now offers a thermoforming process that reduces thinning and forms high-end material, including PEEK and CURV. Its additive plastic house has added the Carbon3D process to its existing SLA, SLS, FDM, PolyJet, MJF and Urethane casting capabilities. These additions further enable Buchanan to support customers in applying the right manufacturing process in the design phase of a project or the value engineering phase of an existing project. Buchanan has also further developed prototype capabilities for both metal and plastic parts. The Carbon3D process puts new materials in play for additive plastics and is fast enough to be used for low-volume production. This allows for additive design options for the low-volume production of plastic parts.
Cramer noted that Buchanan now works with two companies to further enhance its capabilities: Jatco Machine Tool provides short run and prototype machining and Harmony Castings provides Buchanan customers with the ability to take advantage of the V-Process for aluminum castings.
Buchanan’s team has more than 100 years of casting experience. The V-Process offers some unique advantages not available in other casting processes.
The Vacuum Molding Process or V-Process was developed in Japan in the 1970s as a hybrid or crossover process with the intent of developing the best combination of benefits from the other standard casting processes. The effort was successful, patents were granted, and in 1979 Bill Wilmont, the Founder of Harmony Castings, purchased the rights to the V-Process.
The V-Process incorporates such benefits as:
• zero draft like the investment (lost wax) casting process
• smooth surface finish as found in a typical die casting
• tight tolerances as found in a permanent mold casting (aka, low-pressure die)
• low tooling investment like a typical green sand foundry
V-Process not only delivers these benefits but, at the same time, provides customers with speed to market, repeatability and structural metal integrity. It helps customers to rapidly bring projects from concept to prototyping into full production.
One of the primary customer benefits of V-Process is speed to market. Once the engineering is complete and the tooling is released for manufacture, it only takes two weeks to build the patterns (tooling). The pattern is made from RenShape® modeling board, which is a high-density polyurethane with a fiberglass filler.
Customers have their first article cast samples in three weeks with machined cast samples a few weeks later. Beta builds and form, fit, function tests can be realized in a month or two instead of six months to a year or longer. Because the pattern is built from RenShape,® pattern revisions and modifications can be made quickly, easily and inexpensively.
Another customer advantage is zero draft. Engineers can save design time, parts are lighter and, in the case of electrical enclosures, there is more floor space and room to mount printed circuit boards and other electrical components. In addition, with the ability to cast walls as thin as .125 inches, there is more opportunity to reduce weight and cost. This can help OEMs, particularly those serving the electric vehicle / hybrid vehicle market.
Since the patterns never wear and are guaranteed for the life of the project, customers experience a great surface finish that does not deteriorate over time. For such industries as medical, instrumentation, robotics and lighting, OEMs desire highly cosmetic finishes because their product is constantly being seen and used by their customers.
Today, Harmony Castings is the oldest, most dedicated, V-Process foundry in the world. In 1999, Harmony became part of the Ligon Industries family of aluminum casting foundries. This allows continuous investment in the most modern systems, technology and equipment to provide a wide selection of services and better customer pricing. The 33,000-square-foot facility in Harmony, Pa., is completely automated, is ITAR compliant, and certified to ISO9001 and AS9100 quality standards. Learn more at: www.buchanansalesco.com.