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121st Metalcasting Congress – Reshoring, Innovation, and Student Engagement

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More than 2,100 metalcasters, suppliers, casting users, and students participated in the 121st Metalcasting Congress, April 25-27 in Milwaukee. The show was marked by brisk attendance, featuring more than 220 exhibitors – including 15 first-time exhibitors – and a standing-room-only keynote address that drew well over 400 attendees. Presented solely by AFS, the Congress is the largest metalcasting trade show in the Americas.

The Congress featured important changes in 2017, including increased outreach to students who represent the future of the industry; increased deployment of social media throughout the show; and the newly integrated AFS Hub which won rave reviews, featuring the AFS bookstore, a display of award-winning castings, a test-drive of AFS e-Learning program advances, a working 3-D printer, and student volunteers conducting metalcasting demonstrations with Foundry in a Box.

Douglas Dallmer, president of CMS Associates (Naperville, Illinois), an AFS Member, said the annual Metalcasting Congress is the most important event in the year.

“The most cost-effective marketing I can do every year is to attend Metalcasting Congress,” Dallmer said. “I can reach dozens of businesses in one place, on the show floor, for the same cost of traveling to visit one. The access you get at Congress is unmatched in the industry.”

Focus on Reshoring

In the $30.3 billion metalcasting industry, there are two main ways to grow the size of the overall market. One is through conversions and new applications – converting fabricated or other manufactured parts to castings. The other way is through reshoring – by bringing back work that has been offshored to Asia or Europe. AFS is committed to helping foundries pursue both strategies.

At the Congress, Reshoring Initiative Founder Harry Moser addressed more than 400 attendees – likely a record for a Metalcasting Congress keynote speaker – and provided specific instructions and inspiration on how to win back business from Asia and Europe by demonstrating economic realities.

“Foundries can convince their customers that even though the price may be higher in the U.S., the total cost might be lower,” Moser said.

The discussion continued into Moser’s free afternoon workshop with highly engaged attendees. To further help AFS members pursue reshoring, Moser has agreed to work with the AFS Marketing Committee to create webinars that will provide more information as a follow-up.

Student Engagement to Shape the Future Workforce

Students, who are the future of the industry, played a prominent role in the first unified AFS Hub experience on the show floor. Foundry Education Foundation (FEF) student volunteers from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) oversaw 150 castings made with Foundry in a Box.

Andres Covarrubias, a student at Instituto Technologico de Saltillo (Saltillo, Coahulia, Mexico), won the AFS/FEF Student Technology Contest. His paper “Thermal Fatigue Behavior of Cast Irons Used in the Automotive Industry” beat a strong field of competitors, and he was named the winner during a ceremony at the Congress.

FEF student chapters learned from successful industry professionals, such as AFS President Jeff Cook, vice president, sales and marketing, Eagle Alloy (Muskegon, Michigan) who hosted a candid town hall discussion with student chapter leaders.  

Another group, Future Leaders of Metalcasting (FLM) saw a large turnout of more than 60 young professionals gathering for roundtable discussions to equip them with tools for the challenges facing the next generation of metalcasters.   

Talent Development and Education

Attendees enjoyed 2 1/2 days of technical and management sessions covering the business of metalcasting, engineering and technology, casting design and purchasing, nonferrous and ferrous alloys, molding processes, environmental health and safety, and professional development.

The AFS bookstore, integrated into the Hub, sold more books per day by dollar value than in the previous two Metalcasting Congress events held in years without CastExpo.

The AFS Institute offered four well-attended short-format courses on Casting Material Properties, Identifying the Correct Casting Defect, Virtual Casting Process, and Building Positive Buzz: Intentionally Shaping Your Reputation Through Emotional Intelligence (EI).

“This session was a very humorous reminder of the importance of making an intentional choice on how we are going to impact the people around us… I really enjoyed the theatrical method of presentation as well,” said AFS Vice President Jean Bye, and president and chief executive Officer, Dotson Iron Castings (Mankato, Minnesota).

Focus on Innovation

Doug Trinowski, vice president – technical, HA International (Westmont, Illinois), outgoing chair of the AFS Research Board, closed out the program on April 27. His Hoyt Memorial Lecture, “The Power and Need for Research in Metalcasting,” compared how research is conducted in various countries, and discussed the need for improving technology transfer and commercialization.

AFS presented its top industry awards for the year–the Peter L. Simpson and William H. McFadden gold medals.

The Simpson Gold Medal for long-term contributions to the sustainability of the metalcasting industry through environmental stewardship, technological advances, and the development of people in the industry was awarded to Gary M. Gigante, CEO (Retired) Waupaca Foundry Inc. (Waupaca, Wisconsin).  

The McFadden Gold Medal for technical contribution to the foundry industry through ground-breaking research, technical articles and presentations, contributions to books, committee service, and a commitment to advancing the industry went to Sara A. Joyce, vice president of quality and technical support, Badger Mining Corp. (Berlin, Wisconsin).

Women in Metalcasting

For the fourth straight year, the Women in Metalcasting (WIM) shared interest group held an event, with participation steadily building off the inaugural breakfast. The shared interest group is a platform for women in the industry to develop avenues for networking, mentorship and the sharing of ideas, experiences, and best practices. This year, 100 women met over breakfast and discussed topics including personal branding, management skills, government affairs, and conflict resolution. WIM also co-sponsored the Institute educational course on EI.

Other networking events included the Division Recognition Luncheon, President’s Luncheon, Alumni Dinner and Copper Luncheon. AFS was pleased to welcome back many past presidents, including Burleigh Jacobs, AFS president from 1972-73.

Safety Awards

The AFS Millionaires Safety Award was given to the following AFS Corporate Members for achieving a million man-hours or more worked without incurring a lost-time injury or illness during the calendar year 2016:

• Neenah Foundry Co. (Neenah, Wisconsin): 5 million man-hours.
• Southwest Steel Casting Co. (Longview, Texas): 2 million man-hours.
• Grede LLC-St. Cloud (St. Cloud, Minnesota): 2 million man-hours.
• John Deere Foundry (Waterloo, Iowa): 1 million man-hours.
• MetalTek International-Carondelet Division (Pevely, Missouri): 1 million man-hours.
• MetalTek International-Wisconsin Centrifugal Division (Waukesha, Wisconsin): 1 million man-hours.
• U.S. Pipe Mini Mill (Bessemer, Alabama): 1 million man-hours.

New AFS Officers

Congress also marks the transition to a new AFS Executive Committee.

Patricio Gil, CEO, Blackhawk de Mexico (Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon, Mexico) became AFS President; Jean Bye, president and CEO, Dotson Iron Castings (Mankato, Minnesota) is now Vice President; Peter C. Reich, director, Laempe Reich (Trussville, Alabama) is 2nd Vice President; and Jeff Cook, vice president of sales and marketing, Eagle Alloy (Muskegon, Michigan) becomes the Immediate Past President. AFS CEO Doug Kurkul completes the Executive Committee. AFS thanks outgoing Immediate Past President Bruce Dienst, president and CEO, Simpson Technologies (Aurora, Illinois) for his years of dedicated service.

The 122nd Metalcasting Congress will be held April 3-5, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. The next CastExpo will take place April 27-30, 2019, in Atlanta.

Company Info

AFS - American Foundry Society

1695 North Penny Lane
IL 60173 Schaumburg
United States

Telephone: 800/537-4237