The Technical Dictionary of Lead Casting Terms

Image of Lead CastingWhile you may know generally what it is and understand a little bit about the process, lead casting truly is both a science and an art. So we have decided to share with you our “Technical Dictionary of Lead Casting Terms.” We hope this will demonstrate the intricacy and the complexity of the lead casting process.

Technical Dictionary of Lead Casting Terms

Porosity: This term refers to the measurement of voids in a casting. Porosity is typically caused by air pockets in a casting where the wall is not 100 percent metal. There is no such thing as a porosity-free casting; but it can be controlled and limited. All castings have some level of porosity which can lead to radiation leaks in shielding products.

Cold Flow: This is a term that is used to describe when the metal solidifies to fast or in different segments causing cooling lines. The surface of a product will have lines in it and some of them could sink into the part. This is caused by not having the tool or metal hot enough or controlled enough to maintain temperature throughout the pour. Cold flow can lead to the wall not being consistent and radiation leaks in shielding products.

Sink Hole: This term is used to describe a void that forms between cold flow and porosity. It will appear like a hole in the metal. It is also the result of problems with temperature control. If there is not enough heat or if the heat is not maintained in the pouring process, sink holes can form in the metal.

Turbulence: Metal flows into a tool and each time the metal changes directions, it swirls causing turbulence. This swirling (turbulence) of the metal leads to porosity and the less turbulence there is, the better the casting. Turbulence also leads to freeze off (solidifying) which is where the metal swirls and touches the walls of the tooling and can begin freezing (solidifying). When this happens and molten metal flows around metal that is freezing, you get porosity pockets. Through tool design and metal flow, the goal is to reduce turbulence.

Gate: The fill area where molten metal is poured into a tool to create a part is called a gate.  The gate is generally shaped like a cone to keep head pressure on the metal in the tool. This conical shape also allows molten metal to feed the shrink (see definition later in this post) on the metal. The gate is on top in a gravity casting, but in a die casting it can be in multiple locations. The gate is generally cut or machined off to yield the final shape of the part. By design, the gate usually contains more porosity so when it is removed, the porosity is also moved out of your finished part.

Riser: Air will get trapped inside the tool if you simply pour molten metal into it. Risers are used in specific locations inside a tool to allow air to escape and ensure metal flow through the tool. The channels on top of the tool allow air out as metal flows out of the main chamber into the riser. The risers allow better metal flow to reduce porosity in the finished part. They are cut or machined off in the final stages of production.

Runner: A runner is a channel that allows metal to flow through it. Runners are more common in die casting because they are the pathway where the metal flows into the tool and into the part cavity. In die castings, they are broken off or trimmed off at the end of the process. Runners can also be used in some gravity cast parts to aid in metal flow. They are typically used when multiple fill locations are necessary at one time.

Core: A core is a piece of the tool that makes the internal shape.  If you consider a bottle as the finial part the core would produce the ID of the bottle while the rest of the tool generates the rest of the design.  Tools are also called patterns and a core would insert into the tool and seat allowing the core to make the internal geometry.

Alloy: The alloy is the metal composition that is used in a casting. In lead casting, pure lead is used but alloys with antimony are more common such as 1%, 2%, 3%, 6% antimony (balance lead). The addition of antimony helps metal flow and adds strength to the metal.

Shrink: Metal shrinks when it cools from molten to solid. The metal will shrink onto cores and pull away from the walls of the tooling. In complex geometries, parts will shrink in multiple directions at once and can pull themselves apart. Shrink needs to be added in tooling design to yield products to the desired shape and tolerances.

Draft: Draft is the angle that is added to the part and in turn the tool which allows the part to be removed from the tooling. Without draft, parts would not be able to be extracted from the tooling.

Up Casting: The process in which metal is poured into the tool through the gate and then into a runner that goes to the bottom of the part and feeds into the bottom of the part geometry. This technique helps to reduce turbulence in the flow of metal into the chamber. It can be a good way to ensure a good pour based on the part’s geometry.

Vulcan’s Yankes win Volunteer Spirit Award for USA luge


Image of Luge Team

We are pleased to announce that Vulcan GMS owners Chuck Yanke and his wife Sandy Yanke have been awarded the 2015 Sam Venezia Volunteer Spirit Award by the U.S. Olympic Team. The announcement was made at the USA Luge Assembly on Aug. 22, 2015, in Lake Placid, N.Y. The pair were nominated by Fred Zimny, head coach of the Olympic luge junior national team.

Long-time luge supporters

The Yankes have a long history with the U.S. Olympic luge program; dating back nearly 30 years. Though owners of a successful and thriving company, they are the type of individuals willing to do even the most menial of jobs to help U.S. luge athletes. However, their contributions to the organization and its athletes have been far from menial.

Their relationship with the USA luge program began back in 1988 in an effort to quench the insatiable appetite for lead required by every luge athlete. From lead squares for weight vests to sheet lead for sleds, their products road with the team on every luge track in the world and at every Olympic Games since Calgary.

The “Yanke gauge”

The Yankes’ contributions have had a personal and direct impact on dozens of American athletes over the years; including Olympic medalists and world champions. The customized precision tools made by Vulcan GMS to help tune and dial in racing sleds are second to none in the world. The craftsmanship exudes professionalism – just as their personalities and generosity do.

Vulcan’s tool-making abilities have also extended to the officiating side of the sport. The design and construction of three sled measurement gauges used at luge races which have appropriately become known as the “Yanke gauge.”

Officially an official

Chuck has been a national and FIL official for nearly 20 years. He also has volunteered as an official at many national and international races; including our own Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. When not officiating, he attends races simply as a fan of the sport and to support the U.S. team.

Vulcan GMS has been a host to a stop on the national Slider Search program tour and helped introduce luge to dozens of potential new athletes who otherwise would never have an opportunity to experience the sport firsthand.

Always giving

The Yankes have literally opened up their home to members of the luge family when in the Milwaukee area on business or pleasure. They have also supported athletes directly through the Adopt an Athlete program and annual Most Improved Junior awards.

Additionally, Chuck and his company have participated in the USA Luge Sponsor Summit, which brings team sponsors together for a weekend of recognition and thanks to those who are truly the team behind the team.

The Yankes truly embody the spirit of Sam Venezia’s selfless dedication and genuine acts of generosity. They are two people who, as it states on the Venezia award plaque are “… always giving, but never asking anything in return.”

Vulcan’s process improvements don’t stop at the production floor

Image of Pay CheckBack in 2008, Vulcan GMS began to see the benefits of paying its suppliers by ACH (Automated Clearing House) as a way to help control costs in the accounting department. The goal was to minimize the time it took to print, sign, stuff and mail checks to our suppliers. The side effect was to save money on the purchase of printed checks, envelopes, stamps and the time it took to file the paperwork.

What we experienced was even better than expected. As it turns out, suppliers like to get paid by ACH because they can see the payments go directly into their bank account the day after we process our payment. No more saying, “Check’s in the mail!” Also the procedure that was set up to process our ACH payment batch was significantly more efficient compared to the old process of printing more than one hundred checks per week.

As a result of these and a few other process improvements, we have been able to keep our accounting department at the same number of people despite increasing our accounts payable vouchers by 41 percent.

This is one of many process improvements initiated at Vulcan GMS in an attempt to keep our costs at the lowest possible levels while continuing to deliver the highest value to our customers.

U.S. Luge dominates at Lake Placid in Viessmann World Cup Singles

Image of US Luge

In only the second sweep of a world cup event, the U.S. women’s luge singles team proudly earned their place on the podium.

In the first U.S. sweep of a world cup, Erin Hamlin won gold, Emily Sweeney won silver and Summer Britcher won bronze. The three were elated to have accomplished this first-time feat. Hamlin also broke her own track record.

In the day prior to the women’s sweep, the U.S. men’s singles team won gold and silver medals; setting the stage for the women’s victory. The success of the men’s and women’s teams at the Viessmann Cup is nothing less than exceptional.

Luge is the fastest non-motorized sport in the world; reaching speeds up to 90 miles per hour. This is faster than highway speeds with the only a helmet as safety gear. At this speed, time between turns can be mere seconds and pulling 5 Gs in a corner is no easy task. Luge tracks average 3,300 feet to 5,000 feet in length and are 5 feet wide. In addition to the incredible speeds and G forces, there are no brakes on the sleds. Sliders simply place their feet on the ice and pull up on the sled to slide to a stop.

Most of the challenges in luge are based on the curves of the track. Sliders must plan for their path of entry and manage the turns in such a way that they optimize the speed through them. If a slider is not smooth in the turn, the time is impacted. If a turn is too high or too low, the speed is also impacted. Much like in a professional game of billiards, the shot is only one element; setting up the next shot is the key. In luge, each turn must be negotiated in such a way not to lose speed while perfectly execute the turn to be at the proper place on the track to optimize the entry into the next turn.

Vulcan GMS has been a proud supporter of the U.S. luge team for more than 20 years and we are so proud of the team. There has been great advancement in the team over the last 20 years and to pull off this type of victory at the Viessmann World Cup race truly shows the skill and exceptional performance of the team. To all US Lugers we congratulate you and are honored to be part of this great sport.

Read more about the U.S. luge teams’ victory.


2015 Vulcan Golf Outing

Image of Vulcan Golf OutingVulcan GMS held its annual golf outing this year at New Berlin Hill’s golf course and a good time was held by all. While no one will be quitting their day job to join the PGA tour, it was clear that the annual golf outing was a hit for Vulcan employees.

Each year, the golf outing is open to all employees – no matter their experience. Teams are created as evenly as possible by teaming up those with “pro” experience with those of us who maybe haven’t picked up a club since last year’s golf outing. In this way, we could ensure a fair matchup for all who wanted to participate.

The Vulcan golf event is a best ball match requiring that every member of the team use a best ball lay throughout the tournament. This certainly made for plenty of challenges attempting to make shots from sand, tall grass and sometimes even the woods.

This event is a wonderful chance for our Vulcan GMS family to have some fun away from work and get to know each other a little better.

Of the total possible attendees within our employee base, Vulcan had great turnout. It truly showed what a tight group we have here at Vulcan. We are looking forward to the next golf event in 2016 and keeping our PGA dreams alive.

Vulcan GMS wins Grainger Award in Manufacturing Excellence

Image of Vulcan GMS Grainger Award

Front row from left to right: David Dejesus – Vulcan, VP Operations; Curt McAteer -Vulcan Quality Manager; Brent Herron – Grainger District Sales Manager; Ellen Tracy – Grainger Account Manager; Danny Mercado – Vulcan, Plant Manager; Brent Tollison – Grainger VP of Commercial Sales | Back Row from left to right: Matt Macur – Vulcan, VP Sales; Jim Leurquin – Grainger Market Manager; Steve Lechter – Vulcan, Purchasing Manager; Joe Galaszewski – Vulcan, Plant Manager; Dan Henkhaus – Vulcan, VP Finance; Matt Blankman – Vulcan, Estimating Manager

Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

If something looks easy, it is only because there were countless hours of preparation, hard work and learning from mistakes that you never saw coming. This quote is so true and it really represents the core of our efforts at Vulcan GMS to become the manufacturer that we are today.

Each October, Grainger, an organization that helps businesses manage their facilities, recognizes 50 companies in the United States for excellence in manufacturing. Companies must be nominated to be considered for the award. Grainger looks at multiple key elements:

  • Safety and safety culture for employees.
  • Community involvement
  • Organization and implementation of lean, clean manufacturing facility
  • Improvements in your manufacturing environment.
  • Overall impression of your manufacturing organization.

Vulcan GMS is proud to announce that we are one of the 50 companies in the nation that won this award for 2015. In addition, Vulcan GMS is the only company in the Great Lakes region to win the award for 2015.

This award is important to Vulcan because no matter how far you come, there is always room for improvement and growth. We thank Grainger for their recognition and this award.

Vulcan will stay the course on our commitment to manufacturing excellence.

Vulcan GMS Turns Ideas into Reality

Image of Blueprints(Note: Vulcan GMS employee Kevin Hartshorn also contributed to this article.)

Taking a good idea and turning it into a truly innovative product can require a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Vulcan Global Manufacturing Solutions has a Developmental Engineering Team with combined 60+ years of experience in new product designs, current product enhancements and process improvements that can turn that idea into reality.

Vulcan GMS Developmental Engineering Team is set up for:

  • Concept-to-design work at Vulcan GMS or at the customer site
  • Design consultation for manufacturability
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Process development and/or improvement
  • Research to determine options for design and/or process

Vulcan GMS values our long-term relationships with our customers. To support those relationships, we are more than willing to assist you in bringing your idea to reality.

Please contact us today to see how we can support your product development goals.

Vulcan GMS passes recertification of ISO 9001:2008 Standards

Image of ISO certificationWhen Vulcan GMS first became ISO certified in 1999, we were the first of our kind in the United States to achieve that status. Vulcan is committed to leading the way in our products and services while securing our commitment to be our customers’ highest value supplier.

ISO 9001:2008 is a quality systems and management standard which organizations use to ensure consistent quality and repeatability to their customers. The program helps companies make certain they have defined systems and processes in place which deal with every aspect of an organization’s process from start to finish.

The ISO system is a pillar of standards around which companies build their operating systems. These standards allow companies to achieve accuracy, organization and repeatability in every activity that is performed.

ISO certifications must be maintain and audited on a regular basis and organizations must be recertified through a detailed audit process by an accredited agency. Vulcan has passed our recent audit and maintains our ISO certification status.

Vulcan is committed to being a high-quality lean manufacturing company focused on our customers’ needs. We want to achieve our customers’ highest value status through our commitment to offering the best quality possible. We want to meet the needs of our customers through multiple solutions.

Vulcan GMS strives to solve our customers’ problems today while being a partner in finding the solutions of tomorrow.

View our certificate of ISO certification.

Vulcan’s lead weights featured in Milwaukee Commerce summer edition

Image of Vulcan GMS Luge News Small

Please click on this image to open full-sized article.

Vulcan GMS is once again in the news for our continued support of the United States Olympic luge team.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) publishes a quarterly newsletter called Milwaukee Commerce. In its summer edition for 2015, Vulcan’s lead weights which are inserted into each luge team member’s uniform were featured. The article was entitled “Lead Weights Lift Vulcan Global Manufacturing into International Spotlight.”

According to Olympic rules, the lugers are allowed to wear lead weights to bring them up to the maximum weight limit. Vulcan’s aerodynamic lead weights are sewn into vests and shorts worn under the team members’ fitted speed suits.

Vulcan GMS has been the exclusive supplier of aerodynamic lead weights to the U.S. Olympic luge team for the past 20 years. Our weights were first used in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. They’ll be used next in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic games.

Vulcan is proud to be a continued supporter of the U.S. luge team and the Olympic games.

Find out more

  • Click on the image above or here to view the article as it appeared in Milwaukee Commerce.
  • Read just the text of the Milwaukee Commerce article.
  • View the entire summer edition of the Milwaukee Commerce.
  • Find out more about Vulcan GMS and its support of the U.S. Olympic luge team.


Vulcan’s ongoing support in the community helps local families

Image of Washington MonumentVulcan GMS has a long history of supporting our community, our country and our environment.

Last November, we donated more than 7,000 boxes of macaroni and cheese (more than twice needed) to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. We are committed to the environment and offer recycling and return programs for our customers. We even provide aerodynamic lead weights that are sewn into the vests and shorts worn under the U.S. Olympic luge team members’ fitting speed suits.

This support continues to live on in our business. The summer of 2015 has been loaded with events that confirms our connection with the community.

Vulcan is an ongoing donor to La Causa Charter School located right here in Milwaukee. We have been a supporter of the school and its mission for several years; but this year was even a little bit more special than others.

The La Causa school began a program with their 8th grade students to study the significance of each national monument in Washington DC as part of their curriculum this year. Once the year of study was completed, the students would then take a field trip to Washington DC to visit the monuments and study them in person.

Due to the donations of Vulcan GMS to La Causa, the school was able to send four of their 8th grade students on the trip to Washington DC. Experiences like these are wonderful learning lessons for students and Vulcan GMS was proud to be part of that experience.

Vulcan GMS looks forward to the continued support of the school and its students in the future.