Casting success

Uploaded 21 Nov @ 14:44pm

An internationally acclaimed aluminium die cast business located in Mid Wales, Castalum was founded in 2000 and is currently one of the largest die casting companies in the UK. The company has two processes, high pressure die casting up to 2,300 tonnes and squeeze casting, claiming to be one of the few substantial squeeze cast manufacturers in Europe. Cost per part and tool management is a critical factor for the company, for which it relies on Mapal.

Peter Radcliffe, Chairman of the Board at Castalum says: “We predominantly work in the automotive industry, as we are set-up for high volume production and we operate six days a week and 24 hours a day. We need to make a lot of castings to make the tooling cost viable and economic for the customer. We buy all of our metal filtered from UK suppliers and we make no changes to the materials with the exception of a few small die casting additives.”

Based in a primarily farming area in Welshpool, the company prides itself on its apprenticeship programme. As Peter Radcliffe says: “When we came to the area, we came with 27 people that were a group we had largely retained from the expanding and skilful world of die casting. We constantly take on apprentices and employ up to four apprentices every year. With the local area being mainly farmers, these people have a great set of base skills and are great people to work with.”

Referring to the relationship with Mapal, he says: “We went into machining absolutely from scratch. We had no background and we thought we had decent latent skills in machining and we knew that Mapal was a good option in terms of the quality and what it can supply in terms of both the advice and the tooling. So, we immediately selected Mapal as a partner and we have developed the partnership on an ongoing basis.”

Discussing the partnership from a Mapal perspective, Ted Coyle says: “When I first became involved with Castalum the company was only involved in castings for the automotive industry. Diversifying into machining when many customers asked for this service. The business got involved with Heller Machine Tools for a turnkey project. Heller work exclusively on tooling for casting projects with Mapal on the PCD tooling. We did the tooling on those initial projects and Castalum then asked about other projects on a ‘cost-per-piece’ basis. So, we came up with an offer to do components on this basis. The first work was the Trag six-piece clutch housing. That worked very well and from there on in, we then started doing every project that Castalum brought in.”

Castalum supplies parts to the UK, Germany, Poland, Canada and Mexico and recently won its first order from a truck manufacturer in the Far-East. Now, 80% of all production is for export, with components going into vehicles produced by Jaguar, Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat, Renault, Porsche and Mercedes. Today, one in ten vehicles produced in Europe has a steering gear housing manufactured by Castalum.

Discussing how the company has evolved the design and manufacture of its castings over the last two decades, Castalum’s Peter Radcliffe concludes: “Things have changed substantially down the years and we are probably at the forefront of using additive material forms in dies. Once again, this is something that Mapal has helped us with. While the castings we produce using this technology are much cleaner, better looking and give great durability; we also had to make sure the machining processes and products matched-up to the change of material properties that we aim to achieve in our castings.”

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