If you have every worked in the metal industry, then you know what a foundry is. However, for people who don’t have any involvement in that industry, the definition of a stainless steel foundry eludes us. This is also because, for such a short word, it is actually a very complex thing.
What Is a Foundry?
Very simply put, a foundry is a type of factory, specifically one where metal products are created. Every foundry makes different products, generally unique to the company that owns it. Often, they also focus on different metals. The products are created using dies or castings. The metal they work with will be melted to liquid form, and the melting point varies depending on the metal. This is why foundries usually only focus on a single type of metal, since they cannot be mixed. Once melted, it is poured into the die, which is then dipped into cold water so that it solidifies.
Some foundries use alloys, others use pure metals. An alloy is a type of metal that is not naturally found, but rather is created by mixing different metals together. Stainless steel is an example of an alloy.
Because incredibly high temperatures are needed to turn a metal into liquid, foundries are home to furnaces that can be stoked to extreme heat. They can not only withstand the heat, but produce it as well. These come in a range of different sizes, depending on how much metal they have to deal with on a daily basis. If a furnace is too large, then the foundry would waste fuel. If it is too small, they wouldn’t be able to reach their daily quota.
Foundries can also be used to take metals from a mine and purify them. When metal is mined, it is generally full of impurities, each of which has a different melting point from the actual metal. Hence, it is slowly heated then strained, heated again, and so on, until only the pure metal remains.
It can be very dangerous to work in a foundry. People are exposed to very hot metal, and a single mistake can lead to a potentially fatal accident. This is why workers have strict restrictions placed on them in terms of medication they can take, and they must also agree to not consume any alcohol within a certain time period of being at work. Other safety procedures are in place to ensure the foundry itself is never found negligent in case of a workplace injury, as they would have to pay a lot of compensation.
To recap, a foundry is basically a highly complex factory. It isn’t a single piece of equipment. Those who work there need specific skills and they must also always be very alert in order to remain safe. A range of tasks can be performed within a foundry, such as refining metals, creating metal products, and making dies. Foundries have played, and continue to play, a hugely important role in our economy.