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Machine Design

Boeing airliner sports a casting prizewinner

A cast-aluminum-alloy support structure for the Boeing 737 took top honors at this year's American Foundry Society Casting Contest.

Hitchcock Industries Inc., Minn., won 2003 Casting of the Year with its strut fan cowl support beam. Cast with 0.08-in. minimum wall thickness, the one-piece D357 aluminum-alloy component

replaced an 11-part aluminum fabrication, saving 50% in cost and cutting assembly time by 78%. The redesign eliminates 17 shims, 175 fasteners, 40 linear ft of fillet sealant, and 21 fay-sealed joints. Designers cast the part using precision dry sand casting (similar to nobake molding). The component measures 41.54 X 24.13 X 6.58 in. and weighs 23.33 lb (machined). In use, it sits in the forward portion of the strut structure on the 737 and supports the fan cowling shrouding the engine, as well as the forward “thumbnail” fairing, which is part of the outside aero-surface of the strut.

Judges called the casting “a spectacular example of part consolidation...a top casting that helps prove the case for other conversions.”

Judges awarded 14 other casting designs out of a field of 50 with Best of the Class and Honorable Mentions. Key benefits of the designs include gains in speed-to-market, part consolidations and inventory, cutbacks in machining, welding, and assembly time, design flexibility, weight reductions, dimensional tolerance improvements, and total-system cost cuts.

For a free casting-contest brochure, contact AFS' Laurel Smolecki, [email protected].

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