Louisville, KY–Leon Strong is a no-nonsense engineer who insists on stability in his operations. Not stability in the sense that he doesn't like change. He wants the materials he uses to be stable, and he has good reason for that.
Strong is director of industrial engineering at Racque Foods in Louisville. Racque (pronounced "Rocky") makes a rotary vacuum dispenser that puts food in plastic containers for Stouffers, Weight Watchers, and other food processors. Critical to the operation is the platform that holds the trays with the plastic receiving the food. And critical to the platform is its dimensional stability. "If the tolerance isn't good, we can't guarantee the seal," he says. To get that stability, he uses Mic 6® Precision Machined Cast Aluminum Plate from Alcoa Mill Products (www.alcoa.com) to hold the trays and keep them straight throughout the process. "It's a cast plate and we machine all over it and it doesn't warp," he says.
Fixtures and quality-control equipment such as the type Racque Foods uses are perfect examples of applications that need close tolerances—controlled thickness and flatness. When it comes to parts that are machined by removing extensive levels of metal, dimensional stability is key. Aluminum plate is often the material of choice for tooling in these applications, but, says Leighton Cooper, of Alcoa Mill Products, "wrought aluminum plate doesn't offer the tolerance control or stress-relieved properties in cast-aluminum plate."
For his part, Strong, of Racque Foods, endorses the material because his processes can't tolerate equipment failure. "Other materials have better tensile strength," he says, but Mic 6® has the dimensional stability."