We at Semco are graphite experts, and people from all over the country come to us for custom graphite solutions. We are diligent in solving even the most difficult manufacturing dilemmas faced by our clients. We wouldn’t be the go-to graphite manufacturing shop for so many companies if we didn’t use every available means, including resourcefulness and creativity, to produce the components that keep our clients’ businesses going.
A perfect example of the ingenuity Semco engineers bring to the knottiest problems is a reverse engineering feat we recently achieved for a client in need of one of the iconic graphite tools: a crucible. This was no ordinary crucible, though. The client needed to reconstruct a legacy casting crucible design from its one existing version. There were no plans, no dimensions, no prints—just one casting crucible that the company could only afford to take off-line for 30 minutes or risk falling too far behind on production. They couldn’t ship the crucible. We had to go to them. The only snag in this plan was that our client had no coordinate measurement machine (CMM) on site. We’d have to figure this out on the road, where engineers think best.
A little background on casting crucibles and CMMs. Casting crucibles are graphite tools for pouring molten metal through in order to extrude it into various shapes. CMMs are tools that can map surfaces of objects using a three-axis coordinate system. When you want to reverse engineer just about any object, a CMM is handy as its measurements are incredibly accurate and reliable. For logistical reasons, though, a CMM would not be part of our solution.
Remember when I said that engineers think best on the road? Well, maybe I can’t speak for all engineers, but Semco engineers dream up some of our most elegant graphite solutions on Ohio’s highways. In the case of this client, we made the unorthodox decision to solve a difficult engineering problem by going to the famous arts and crafts store Pat Catan’s where we could find the ingredients for a silicone rubber kit. Pat Catan’s stocks a two part mix that, once solid, takes the shape of whatever it is poured over. While Pat Catan’s likely doesn’t stock this kit for industrial applications, we knew it would do the trick. After arriving at the client’s manufacturing center, we immediately set to casting the casting crucible. After approximately 30 minutes of setting inside the crucible’s cavity, the mold was solid enough to be extracted. The shape was identical to the cavity shape, and strong enough for us to measure back home with our CMM. We produced the prints, and the next batch of crucibles, for our customer without a problem. We did all this without the customer having to stop production, and we notched another win for non-conventional reverse engineering.
At Semco, we do whatever we need to do to ensure our customers are satisfied. Our decades of collective experience finding graphite solutions for our client’s varied needs gives us an edge in problem solving. If your business relies on graphite components that you’re not sure how to replace, give Semco a call. It’s doubtful we’ll need to visit our local arts and crafts store to help you solve your problem. But if that’s what it take, we will.