L A Aluminum Casting Company

L A Aluminum Casting Company (2)

L A Aluminum Casting Company of Hayden, ID, has recently completed the addition of 10,000 square feet of additional warehouse space. This addition has allowed the company to add their own in-house custom powder coating line. The company has always offered powder coated machined castings, but now they can offer powder coating as a stand alone process. They have the capacity to powder coat anything from tiny steel pieces to fencing that is 8 feet long by 8 feet wide. They will coat any conductive material. This includes steel, iron, and aluminum.

According to Michelle Richter, the sales and marketing manager, the system at L A Aluminum is quite unique. They have 3 ovens and 2 spray booths. The line is not automated like most other powder coating operations. The process starts with a 5 stage cleaning and sealing process. This ensures total adhesion of the powder to the metal. The next step is a pre-heating of the part in the first oven. Then the part is sprayed with a base coat, sanded if needed, baked in the second oven, then sprayed with a top coat and baked in the third oven. After all of this attention to detail, the parts look perfect!

"Perfect" is actually the quality criteria for one of L A Aluminum's largest customers. L A Aluminum powder coats their own castings for the dental industry. They also powder coat their casting for the wind generators they make for Southwest Windpower. Southwest Windpower recently moved 4 parts from China back to America for manufacturing by L A Aluminum because of issues they were having with powder coating and poorly made parts.

Michelle said, "We are making enough on powder coating our own castings, we can offer less expensive powder coating for general commercial parts." Our process is also a closed system, so no contamination or dust will be on the parts. The area is kept pristine to ensure a perfect surface finish.

For more information, visit: www.laaluminum.com

L A Aluminum Casting Company in Hayden, Idaho has added dry ice blasting to the rest of their single source manufacturing processes available to potential and existing customers. Dry ice blasting is simply another service offered in addition to engineering and design assistance, tool making, aluminum casting, CNC machining, and final assembly. Dry ice blasting can be used to clean engines, tooling, walls, and almost any surface where abrasive blasting would damage the surface. L A Aluminum is using the process internally to clean customer tooling. Dry ice blasting is not damaging to the surface of tooling or molds, therefore customer molds will last longer. This saves the customer thousands of dollars each year in tool re-surfacing or new tooling purchases. This is simply another way L A Aluminum serves their customer base.

Dry ice blasting is similar to sand blasting, plastic bead blasting, or soda blasting where a medium is accelerated in a pressurized air stream to impact a surface to be cleaned or prepared. Instead of using hard abrasive media to grind on a surface (and damage it), dry ice blasting uses soft dry ice, accelerated at supersonic speeds, and creates mini-explosions on the surface to lift the undesirable item off the underlying substrate.

Dry ice blasting has many unique and superior benefits over traditional blasting media.

Dry ice blasting:

is a non-abrasive, nonflammable and nonconductive cleaning method
is environmentally-friendly and contains no secondary contaminants
is clean and approved for use in the food industry
allows most items to be cleaned in place without time-consuming disassembly
can be used without damaging active electrical or mechanical parts
can be used to remove production residues, release agents, contaminants and paints
as gentle as dusting smoke damage from books or as aggressive as removing weld slag
can be used for many general cleaning applications

Dry ice blasting uses compressed air to accelerate frozen carbon dioxide (CO2) "dry ice" pellets to a high velocity. A compressed air supply of 80 PSI/50 scfm can be used in this process. Dry ice pellets can be made on-site or supplied. Pellets are made from food grade carbon dioxide that has been specifically approved by the FDA, the EPA and the USDA.

Carbon dioxide is a non-poisonous, liquefied gas, which is both inexpensive and easily stored at work sites.

How does CO2 Blasting Work?

CO2 blasting works because of three primary factors: pellet kinetic energy, thermal shock effect and thermal-kinetic effect. Dry ice blasting optimizes blast performance for each application by combining these forces and adjusting:

compressed air pressure
blast nozzle type (velocity distribution)
CO2 pellet size and density
pellet mass rate and flux density (particles per unit area per second)

Pellet Kinetic Energy

The dry ice blasting process incorporates high velocity (supersonic) nozzles for surface preparation and coating removal applications. Since kinetic impact force is a product of the pellet mass and velocity over time, the delivery system propels the pellets to the highest velocities attainable.

Even at high impact velocities and direct head-on impact angles, the kinetic effect of solid CO2 pellets is minimal when compared to other media (grit, sand, PMB). This is due to the relative softness of a solid CO2, which is not as dense and hard, as other projectile media. Also, the pellet changes phase from a solid to a gas almost instantaneously upon impact, which effectively provides an almost nonexistent coefficient of restitution in the impact equation. Very little impact energy is transferred into the coating or substrate, so the dry ice blasting process is considered to be nonabrasive.

Thermal Shock Effect

Instantaneous sublimation (phase change from solid to gas) of CO2 pellet upon impact absorbs maximum heat from the very thin top layer of surface coating or contaminant. Maximum heat is absorbed due to latent heat of sublimation.

The very rapid transfer of heat into the pellet from the coating top layer creates an extremely large temperature differential between successive micro-layers within the coating. This sharp thermal gradient produces localized high shear stresses between the micro-layers. The shear stresses produced are also dependent upon the coating thermal conductivity and thermal coefficient of expansion / contraction, as well as the thermal mass of the underlying substrate. The high shear produced over a very brief expanse of time causes rapid micro-crack propagation between the layers leading to contamination and/or coating final bond failure at the surface of the substrate.

Thermal-Kinetic Effect

The combined impact energy dissipation and extremely rapid heat transfer between the pellet and the surface cause instantaneous sublimation of the solid CO2 into gas. The gas expands to nearly 800 times the volume of the pellet in a few milliseconds in what is effectively a "Micro-explosion" at the point of impact.

The "Micro-explosion," as the pellet changes to gas, is further enhanced for lifting thermally-fractured coating particles from the substrate. This is because of the pellet's lack of rebound energy, which tends to distribute its mass along the surface during the impact. The CO2 gas expands outward along the surface and its resulting "explosion shock front" effectively provides an area of high pressure focused between the surface and the thermally fractured coating particles. This results in a very efficient lifting force to carry the particles away from the surface.

For more information visit: www.laaluminum.com

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