Site:               Nippon Precision Casting Corporation
                    Head Office
                    5-11-17 Minami-Yawata
                    Ichikawa City,
                    Chiba-Pref. 272, Japan

Date Visited:       January 10, 1996

WTEC Attendees:     P.H. Mikkola (report author), M.C. Flemings. C. Uyehara

Hosts:              Yoshiaki Kamino, President
                    Ikuo Aoki, Managing Director
                    Mitsuo Narusawa, General Manager, Sakura Plant
                    Osamu Shibata, Director, Ichikawa Production Division
                    Hiroshi Yasuda, Assistant Manager,
                      Technical Development Team

BACKGROUND

Nippon Precision Casting Corp. (NPC) is an investment casting operation. Its first plant opened in 1939; lost wax production started in 1955. Its market is primarily in Japan with future growth targeted in other areas. NPC operates two plants, one at Ichikawa and a second at Sakura. It is building a new plant and will move the Ichikawa production to the new location. The company uses both the lost wax and "Ceramo" ceramic mold process. It has two overseas operations, one in Taiwan with 120 people and the other in Singapore with 60 people. Total employment in Japan is 310. This employment total was not expected to change with the start-up of the new foundry in July 1996.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NPC is a production casting operation with very little R&D. It does have a strong technical department, which services both customers and the company's own manufacturing plants.

MANUFACTURING

The major operation is lost wax investment casting at both production plants. Products are primarily ferrous castings with some production in copper base, aluminum and magnesium metals. Turbine blades are the highest volume product with volumes ranging from 600,000 to 1 million/year. Approximately 100 different parts are made.

NPC managers see new business for investment castings in the area of automotive rocker arms. Currently they sell turbocharger wheels to the automotive industry. They believe the automotive industry worldwide offers potential growth for investment castings.

NPC's production layout is very similar to those found in the United States. Each operation is located in a building or section of the plant, and product flow follows the process. All waxes are made in one area, then flow to assembly, then to coating, drying, dewaxing, pouring, machining, cleaning, heat treatment, inspection, and finally shipping. This product flow was very different from the cell type operations at the metal mold casting plants. The plants often were a series of different buildings with courtyards between the buildings. All NPC's equipment looked in good order, and the plants were very orderly, clean, and spacious.

All melting is done with gravity pour induction furnaces. Automation is not widely used, but is applied where operations are either too hot or heavy for employees. Cost continues to be an important consideration in all operations.

SUMMARY

NPC has been a leader in the application of CAD/CAM to the investment casting industry. Planning and construction of the new foundry shows confidence in the growth of this industry.

REFERENCES

Ceramo Cast Process. Nippon Precision Casting Corp. Brochure (in Japanese).

Investment Castings. Nippon Precision Casting Corp. Brochure (in Japanese).

NPC 1995: History and Data. Nippon Precision Casting Corp. Brochure (in Japanese).

Precision Castings for Space and Aircraft. Nippon Precision Casting Corp. Brochure.


Published: March 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian