In the first in a series of profiles on our machinery we will be looking at the band saw in aluminium sand casting – examining its use in the foundry and looking at important safety considerations.
A versatile cutting tool
Band saws provide accurate cutting of metal and other materials, using either horizontal or vertical machines.
Typically, the saw features a blade on a long, continuous loop. Different blades can be used, depending on the material and finish required. To cut aluminium castings, it is important that the blades have a high resistance to fatigue, abrasion and shock. One of the main advantages of a band saw over other cutting equipment is its ability to cut irregular or curved-shaped castings.
The history of band saws
Band saws date back to the early 19th century, with the first British patent being issued in 1809. However, the first blades were highly impractical as they ‘flexed’ during the cutting process. It was another 40 years before Frenchwoman Anne Paulin Crepin invented a method for welding durable blades. This, together with new materials and other technological advances, eventually led to the modern band saw blade. Nowadays, band saws are very popular tools in the woodworking and metal working industries worldwide.
The present day
At Haworth Castings, our vertical band saw is used to remove runners and risers from workpieces at the end of the aluminium sand casting process. If the casting is very large, a hand-held chop saw is used but the band saw is suitable for most activities.
Our foundry team uses bespoke fixtures, such as wooden cradles, to assist with cutting if the workpiece needs to be tilted and held at an awkward angle.
In our aluminium sand casting operations, the blade needs to cut through the full range of aluminium alloys that we use – including those with a high silicon content, such as LM6. Silicon is notoriously difficult to cut through and so the choice of blade is important.
In common with all machinery of this kind, a band saw presents some significant health and safety risks, with a stainless-steel blade rotating at high speed. Certain members of the foundry team are trained and authorised to use the band saw.
When operating the equipment, our personnel wear protective gear to protect their hands, eyes and ears and they work in strict accordance with all relevant safety procedures. In this way, we can ensure that the band saw is operated safely within the foundry environment.