NADCAP Certified Aerospace Castings

Barron increases capabilities for Aerospace Investment Castings with new NADCAP Certification

Barron Industries has achieved another quality certification for its aerospace investment castings.  A global manufacturer of engineered metal components, Barron is now certified for welding by the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP), ensuring the company meets the high quality standards of the aerospace industry. Barron performs welding in conformance with the ASME Section IX of the Boiler Code, AWS D17.1, as well as requirements for Ballistic Steel Welding.

“The new welding certification is the latest in a series of improvements and innovations to better serve our new and long-standing aerospace customers,” said President and CEO Bruce Barron. “By investing in our new facilities, upgrading our technology and training our people, we are ready to respond to the increased demand for our safety-critical aerospace components.”

Already NADCAP certified for non-destructive testing, the new welding certification increases Barron’s aerospace investment casting capabilities. Also registered to the AS9100 aerospace quality system, the company has received GE Aviation Certification and was awarded a renewable 5-year LTA for cast and machined stainless steel components for the new GE9X high-bypass turbofan aircraft engine.  The anticipated 20-year contract is valued at $30-40 million.

“With our newly acquired NADCAP and GE Aviation certifications, we’re prepared to meet the stringent standards of the aerospace industry,” said Barron. “Plus, our recently acquired NIST 800 certification ensures Barron’s preparedness in serving its aerospace and defense customers that need to maintain information security throughout their supply chains.”

In 2019, Barron’s orders for aerospace investment castings increased by 20 percent, and the Michigan-based company projects an additional 20 percent growth in the aerospace industry in 2020. In its 2019 report on “Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness,”  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ranked Michigan as the best state in the Midwest  and 4th in the nation for “Aerospace manufacturing attractiveness”. Barron Industries is one of more than 300 Michigan businesses registered to the AS9100 aerospace quality system and more than 800 state companies are direct suppliers to the aerospace industry.

Barron produces critical cast precision components used in aircraft and defense technologies for both domestic and foreign markets including the elevator steering mechanism for the Navy’s V-22 Osprey and fuel and HVAC systems on the Boeing 767 and Apache helicopter. Other aerospace investment castings manufactured by Barron Industries include:

  • Exhaust components – inlet and outlet tubes, diffusers
  • Hydraulic pump housings
  • Brackets
  • Door latches and hinges
  • Passenger seat components
  • Cargo securing and handling hardware
  • Fluid pump and control components
  • Instrumentation housings

Barron has acquired a new 10,000 square foot manufacturing plant to increase production capacity for its precision machined castings and assemblies. The company is also growing its workforce by more than 30 percent and investing in new equipment at its existing 65,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Oxford, MI.

What Is the NADCAP Welding Certification?

NADCAP stands for the National Aerospace and Defense Accreditation Program. It is an industry-managed approach to ensure overall conformity and quality of components that are being produced by manufacturers. To receive a NADCAP certification for welding, a company has to a) have an acceptable quality system and b) pass strict requirements surrounding their defined scope of accreditation.

Aerospace and Defense  industries drive demand for investment castings

The global investment castings market is projected to grow at an accelerated rate over the next five years, mostly due to its applications in the aerospace and defense industries. In a 2018-2025 market analysis, Grand View Research largely attributes the rising demand to the advantages of the investment casting process which include “smooth surfaces, complex geometries, and cost-savings.”

The report also cites the soaring numbers of global air travelers as a major driver for the increased market for investment castings which are used in both simple and complex aerospace systems including commercial transport, regional jets, military aircraft, helicopters, and launch vehicles.

Also known as “Lost Wax Casting”, the process dates back more than 5000 years and used for art and jewelry production over the centuries. But investment casting is now being seen as the future by many industries seeking lightweight thin-wall metal components.

Superior Surface Finish and Tight Tolerances

The precision investment casting process produces high-strength components with fine detail, and greater dimensional accuracy than sand and other casting methods. Typically a linear tolerance of +/-.005inch/inch is standard for investment casting although it varies depending on the size and complexity of the part. Investment castings also have excellent “as-cast” surface finish, reducing or even eliminating the need for machining, and that means huge reductions in cost and lead times.

More Design Flexibility and Alloy Choice

Investment casting also offers designers more flexibility with alloy selection. Common aerospace and defense investment casting alloys include armor steel, aluminum, stainless steel, cobalt and nickel-base alloys.

Our NADCAP Capabilities

At Barron Industries, our scope of NADCAP Welding accreditation includes fusion welding and torch and induction brazing for aviation casting repairs, any processes that use gas, and filler materials. We’re also NADCAP-accredited for non-destructive testing (liquid penetrant testing and computed radiography).

Our other defense and aerospace capabilities include our AS9100 D certification, which means that our existing quality system is compliant with aerospace and defense standards.

In addition to being NADCAP-certified for aircraft welding and non–destructive testing, we also provide our customers with total traceability through the use of our manufacturing software. All of our aerospace and defense castings are coded, so that you have a complete history of production.

Investment Casting Process

The process begins with production of a wax model or pattern for each part to be cast. The wax patterns are typically made by injecting wax into a metal tool or “die”.  But with today’s 3D printing technology, rapid prototype castings can be manufactured in days.

Because it is uneconomical to make small parts one at a time, wax patterns are typically attached to a wax tree or “sprue”. The wax between the pattern(s) and the sprue are called “Gates”. These solid wax branches also guide molten metal in the casting operation to form each final product. Larger items can also be cast on their own.

The wax tree is dipped into a ceramic bath or “slurry” to create a shell.  After dipping, fine sand or “stucco” is applied to the wet surface.  The mold is allowed to dry, and the process is repeated a number of times resulting in a layered ceramic mold, capable of withstanding the stresses of the casting process.

Before pouring metal into the mold, the wax is removed using a flash fire oven, which melts and burns off the wax. The mold is preheated to a specific temperature to prevent the molten alloy from solidifying before the entire mold is filled.

Alloy is melted in a ceramic crucible using a process known as induction and electric resistance melting. A high frequency electric current creates a magnetic field around the alloy, generating electric fields inside the metal . When the alloy reaches its specified temperature, it is poured into the mold, and the mold is allowed to cool.

Once cool, the shell material is removed from the metal. This is typically done using a hammer or high-pressure water blast. After the shell material has been removed, the parts are cut off the sprue and the gates are ground off.

The investment castings can be finished using a number of means including vibratory/media finishing, belting or hand grinding, or polishing. Using a ceramic mold, the lost wax process produces a smooth finish, averaging 125Ra surface finish as cast and a.005”/inch tolerance. Depending on the application, investment castings can be used in their “net shape” or undergo machining for precision mating surfaces.

Investment Casting Companies

Full-service or turnkey investment casting companies not only produce both ferrous and non-ferrous precision castings, but also provide secondary services including CNC machining, Non-destructive Testing, and even complete assembly. At Barron Industries, precision cast parts are poured, machined, assembled, plated, painted, tested, part-marked, barcode-labeled and securely packaged for shipping. All processes are handled in-house providing complete one-stop shopping. Using our 3-D printing technologies for rapid prototyping, Barron can deliver a high-quality precision investment casting.

Founded in 1983, Barron Industries offers complete turnkey product manufacturing of components for Aerospace, Defense, Automotive, Oil and Gas, Nuclear, Medical, and other commercial industries. Capabilities include CAD engineering, rapid prototyping, CNC machining, plating, painting, assembly, laser etching, and shipping. Barron Industries provides concept-to-completion development and production of standard to complex investment casting projects from a few ounces to 150 pounds. Ferrous and non-ferrous alloys poured include class II armor, stainless steels, tool steels, aluminum, cobalt, and copper-nickel alloys.