Foundry Corporate News - Topic Investment casting

ABB Foundry web case

EN Franklin Bronze


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With the help of an ABB IRB 6600, U.S.-based Franklin Bronze and Alloy improves the production and quality of molds by using an automated dipping system from Canadian partner Shell-O-Matic. 


Franklin Bronze foundry expands capacity 

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Franklin Bronze and Alloy, Inc. located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States, was founded in 1878. But there is nothing old-fashioned about its state-of-the-art shelling system that includes an IRB 6600 robot from ABB. The system was installed in 2005 by Shell-O-Matic Inc. of Montreal, Canada.

The investment casting facility produces ceramic shells to create parts for a multitude of industries ranging from automobiles to door hardware and industrial valves. Among its biggest product lines is a part that is used in conjunction with molds for creating glass bottles. 

In July 2005, Shell-O-Matic, installed a complete shelling system, including the robot, slurry tanks, fluidized beds, and a rainfall sander with automatic sand feeding. Four compact conveyors are used to dry the molds from the first to last coats. 

A supervisory computer with a barcode reader tracks parts as workers load them onto the conveyor. The computer determines which dipping program the robot will follow for a certain part. Once dipped, the mold is then routed through the drying process by the computer. The robot lifts the hanger to which the molds are attached and steers it through the room’s controlled climate according to the parts’ drying schedule. As a finished mold exits the system, a report is automatically printed out with the manufacturing details for that shell. Workers manually unload the finished pieces from the conveyor. 

Under the new system, three workers make approximately 200 molds every day, compared to the six workers who produce half that amount in a section of the foundry that still dips by hand. Prior to the installation of the new robotic system, Franklin Bronze’s maximum capacity was 140 molds daily using nine workers. Man hours have been reduced from 56 hours a day to 32. 

“We’re increasing our molds per day by 30 to 40 percent with the same amount of people, and there is still a lot of capacity left,” says Franklin Bronze President Robert Barber. 

In addition to the increased production, the quality of the shells is better plus the system can also hang more shells up to dry – up to 250 pounds – a factor contributing to the increased capacity. For workers, the environment is cleaner and the job is also less physically fatiguing. 

Shell-O-Matic provided startup and training, spending time at Franklin Bronze to fine-tune the system, and glitches were minimal, says Barber. The system, which cost approximately 250,000 U.S. dollars, is expected to pay for itself within 2½ years from November 2005, when it started production.  

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Application – Investment Casting

·        Dipping

·        Hanging

·        Machine tending 


·        Ceramic shells for automotive parts, door hardware, industrial valves, bottles 


·        IRB 6600 

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Benefits for Franklin Bronze of Shell-O-Matic’s automated shelling system with IRB 6600

robot from ABB include:

·        Man hours reduced from 56 per day to 32 per day

·        Increase in production of molds from 140 to 200 per day

·        Improved quality of shells due to uniform dipping

·        ROI of 2.5 years

·        Cleaner environment for workers, plus less physical stress


IRB 6600 (

ABB Robotics (

Shell-O-Matic (

Franklin Bronze (


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