William Allan “Al” Hunter, originator of the Hunter matchplate molding machine and mold handling system for sand casting, dies at 89; pioneered many of the techniques and machine concepts used worldwide in the foundry industry
Al Hunter passed peacefully on October 29, 2011 in Naples, Florida. A true giant in the world foundry market, Mr. Hunter changed the way sandcasting was done, by his invention of the Hunter matchplate molding machine in 1964 and various mold handling systems beginning in 1970. He built his first machine, helped by his son and current president of the company, Bill, for sale to Moline Corporation of St. Charles, IL, a malleable iron foundry. He will be missed by all who knew him and appreciated his zest for life and especially his love of invention.
Born on the family farm in Wilkie, Saskatchewan on July 13, 1922, Al left home at 17, took a bus to Edmonton, Alberta and worked in a meat packing plant. In the Spring of 1940, he took a training course in airplane mechanics and then joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at 18.
Married to the late Margaret in Montreal in 1943 and released from military service in 1945, Al moved to Toronto to attend the university there; during these years, Al also worked as a floor molder at John T. Hepburn Foundry to support his family.
In 1951, Al received his BSME from the University of Toronto and moved back to Montreal to accept a position with Dominion Engineering. In 1957, Al brought his family to America after accepting an engineering position at Beardsley & Piper in Chicago, a leading builder of machinery for metalcasting and the foundry industry at the time. He became Chief Engineer at Beardsley & Piper shortly thereafter and designed the "B" series Speedmullor among other machines during his tenure.
In the fall of 1963, Al left B&P to develop his concept for an automatic matchplate molding machine. In March of 1964, he founded Hunter Automated Machinery Corporation.
During his tenure at the head of the company, Al formed partnerships and reciprocal agreements with companies worldwide, a tradition that continues today, as Hunter Automated continuously seeks to serve its myriad customer needs for sand handling, testing, molding and finishing operations. Hunter Automated is known worldwide in the foundry industry and its machines are found on every continent.
Al developed various concepts used every day in foundry operations, including multi-level mold handling systems and automatic coresetters. His pioneering, can-do spirit will be missed by all who knew him and admired his total commitment to improving the world foundry market.
He was a member of AFS since 1960, was presented with the society's Management Service Citation in 1990 and received the foundry industry's prestigious Grede Award in 2001. He held over 80 patents on foundry related apparatus and methods.
Al will be mourned by his 4 children, their spouses, his 13 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild, as well as his family of employees at Hunter Automated, who will carry on his legacy.
The Hunter family asks that interested parties please contribute in Al's memory to the Foundry Educational Foundation, c/o AFS, 1695 N. Penny Lane, Schaumburg, IL 60173 or at www.fefinc.com.
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During Al Hunter's professional life, which spanned six decades, he invented and patented more than 80 machinery apparatus or method ideas, beginning in 1957 with Beardsley & Piper's Rol-a-draw & "B Series" Speedmullor among others. Al Hunter followed his departure from B & P in 1963 by starting Hunter Automated Machinery Corporation with the original HUNTER Model HMP-10 Automatic Matchplate Molding Machine in 1964. Many improvements and expansions of the Hunter product line occurred over the following years including - HMH, HV and HLH mold holdling systems as well as larger flask size HUNTER molding machines.