Malleable Iron Castings
Malleable iron starts as a white iron casting, that is then heat treated at about 900?C.
Graphite separates out much more slowly in this case, so that surface tension has time to
form it into spherical particles rather than flakes. Due to their lower aspect ratio,
spheroids are relatively short and far from one another, and have a lower cross section to
a propagating crack or phonon. They also have blunt boundaries, as opposed to flakes, which
alleviates the stress concentration problems faced by grey cast iron. In general, the
properties of malleable cast iron are more like mild steel. There is a limit to how large
a part can be cast in malleable iron, since it is made from white cast iron.
Malleable Iron is used a great deal in automotive due to its strength and castability for
high stress applications such as drive shafts, gears, yokes and suspension components.
The history of Belcher Foundry.
In 1837, a malleable iron foundry was started in Easton , Massachusetts by Lincoln Drake
and Alexander Boyden, the brother of Seth Boyden who was the founder of malleable iron in
the United States. The foundry was known as the A. Boyden Company. Soon after the foundry
was started, Daniel Belcher began working at A. Boyden Company and in 1849 he purchased the
foundry. Following the purchase, the company became known as Belcher Malleable Iron Company.
Belcher Malleable Iron Company
produced agricultural implements, carriage and saddlery
trimmings and cotton and woolen machinery replacing many difficult forged parts. Prior to
the Civil War, Belcher was specializing in plow castings that were sent all over the country.
Belcher also made whaling spears, maple sap spouts, ship rigging, rifle and cannon parts and
fireplace tongs, in addition to numerous hand tool parts. The company had a reputation for
excellence, and that reputation is maintained to this day.
Belcher first ventured into the automotive sector in 1962, when the company produced door
hinges for Ford?s Falcon Comet and trunk hinges for the Lincoln Continental. At this time,
Belcher employed 100 people and produced 1,500 tons of malleable castings per year.
Ownership of the business changed hands many times staying private until Dayton Malleable
purchased it in 1968.
In 1980, Dayton Malleable Iron (now known as Amcast Industrial Corporation) began
modernizing Belcher through upgrades to the building, melt area, and sand system. By this
time, the Company had positioned itself as the leader in producing malleable iron electrical
fittings. Belcher?s capacity was approximately 2,800 tons per year. Belcher produced molds
with 25 manual squeezer machines, where sand was shoveled off the floor and into flasks to
make the molds. After the molds were created, they were manually carried onto the floor for
From 1982 through 1985 Belcher undertook a massive modernization program installing two new
gas fired radiant tube anneal furnaces, two Hunter 10 automatic molding machines, six
palletized squeezer lines, an additional melt furnace and renovated the sand system. This
modernization replaced the 25-man molding operation and brought Belcher out of the dark ages
of manual casting. Capacity was increased to approximately 4,000 tons per year.
In 1989, Advanced Cast Products was founded and Belcher, along with two other foundries,
was purchased from Amcast Industrial Corporation. Soon thereafter, ACP acquired the
manufacturing and marketing assets of Alloy Foundry and consolidated the business within
It became apparent to the management team that Belcher?s customer base was declining due
to the maturity of their electric fittings and other businesses. Belcher had successfully
marketed itself as the consolidator of low to medium malleable business as many other
competing foundries closed, but it was clear that sales volume would continue to decline
if an additional business strategy were not implemented. The management team at Belcher
began to plan the metamorphosis of Belcher from a low to medium volume job shop serving
declining industries into a high volume, high quality foundry capable of serving the
In October of 1994, a Disamatic molding system was installed giving Belcher the ability to
produce high volume work competitively. This positioned Belcher as the true consolidator
in this segment of the industry and allowed Belcher to continue to grow the business
significantly. The installation of the Disamatic was only the first step in a strategic
restructuring that included the installation of an Inductotherm VisiPour automatic pouring
system to take full advantage of the Disamatic?s capabilities. The combinations of these
investments allowed Belcher to reinvent itself and begin to produce high volume automotive
castings, the largest segment of the malleable market.
In February 1997, Belcher shipped its first high volume automotive part to a second tier
automotive supplier. In May 1997, Belcher undertook an extensive market research study
to determine all the malleable iron castings used in automotive. This study identified
that the majority of automotive malleable castings were martensitic oil quenched malleable
iron. As a result, in January 1998, Belcher installed its first oil quench system with the
capacity to do 520 tons of martensitic malleable iron per year. The introduction of this
capability was quickly followed by the production of Belcher?s first oil quenched
martensitic malleable part, as a tier two supplier, for a major automotive OEM in North
To be prepared for future automotive business, Belcher became QS-9000 certified in April
1998. This was an integral step in Belcher?s overall plan to become a leading automotive
casting supplier. Certification was followed closely by Belcher?s receipt of its second
martensitic part, this time as a tier one supplier, for a major automotive OEM in North
America . To be prepared for future automotive business, Belcher became QS-9000 certified
in April 1998. This was an integral step in Belcher?s overall plan to become a leading
automotive casting supplier. Certification was followed closely by Belcher?s receipt. In
April 1999, a leading automotive supplier awarded Belcher its first of several important
powertrain castings. Belcher shipped the first part to this customer in February 2000.
Belcher?s successful production of this important casting positioned Belcher to swiftly
capture a significant quantity of automotive powertrain component business.
Belcher has completed the final stages of its original $9 million capital expenditure plan
to invest in advanced technology and equipment to better serve the automotive industry,
and has now completed the installation of heat-treat equipment to increase oil quench
martensitic capacity to 160 tons per week. Belcher successfully transformed itself from a
low volume foundry focused on declining industries to a leading high volume malleable iron
foundry serving the growing automotive industry with total production capacity over 10,000
tons per year.