Wagstaff, manufacturer of vertical direct chill aluminum casting equipment

Trading machine work for his first Century Model B lathe; George Wagstaff, a skilled machinist, began the Washington-based business in 1946 in a pump-house behind the family home. During that first year, George used the lathe to make parts for McIlvanie Machine Works during the day and worked the night shift at Trentwood Aluminum. George’s hard work paid off and he was soon able to purchase a second lathe and work full time at his machining business. George’s younger brother also joined the enterprise.

As the machining business grew, Wagstaff moved to a larger building in 1958. Bill Wagstaff, George’s oldest son, graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Utah State University and joined the company. Soon after, the opportunity to build spray boxes for Kaiser Aluminum’s Mead plant came along. The spray boxes were a challenge requiring the drilling of approximately 7,000 precise water holes. Once completed, the successful product altered the direction of the company. During the next several years, Wagstaff built more of these boxes gravitating toward an exclusive focus on the aluminum industry.

In 1962, Wagstaff engineers had a casting breakthrough by producing an integral jacketed sheet ingot mold made out of a solid block of aluminum; this was a first direct-chill ingot mold. This breakthrough would allow cast houses to precisely specify ingot size and water patterns and would achieve longer mold life. After spending some time perfecting the mold, Wagstaff began receiving orders from producers around the world.

In 1968, Bill’s brother Frank, with a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering, joined Wagstaff. The two brothers initiated a research and development department where they worked on ceramic aluminum casting equipment. In 1970, Bill and Frank purchased the company from their parents. They continued to follow their philosophy based on the core belief that if you build quality products and give exceptional service, the business will come.

Wagstaff has since created industry-leading slotted molds, water hole molds, and Super Tru-Slot molds. In 1980 Wagstaff moved to its current manufacturing location. Shortly after the move, Wagstaff had another breakthrough with the invention of the billet Wagstaff MaxiCast™ Hot Top Billet Casting System Mold casting technology. MaxiCast minimized the space requirement needed between each mold and allowed casters to produce more billets per cast using their existing DC pits. Not only were they producing more billets, it required less time and less resources. Within a year, Wagstaff had enhanced the system with the invention of the Wagstaff AirSlip® Air Casting Technology. AirSlip incorporated gas and oil into the MaxiCast System to produce a near perfect billet surface with a finer internal grain structure than ever before possible.

In 1986, Wagstaff opened a Research and Development facility fully staffed with technicians and metallurgists. During the next several years, Wagstaff developed a full range of casting technology products including Wagstaff’s mold sanding machine, metal level control, AutoCast™ automation, and a vertical casting machine, the Wagstaff ShurCast™ Casting Machine. Wagstaff also provided customer-specific technical assistance through troubleshooting individual needs such as water quality, pit maintenance, and alloy development. Product-specific training was developed and tailored to meet a customer’s individual requirements, and covered supervision, installation, and commissioning of Wagstaff casting equipment.

In 1992, Wagstaff expanded the business to include a manufacturing, sales, and service facility in Hebron, Kentucky which includes refurbishment of starting heads. Wagstaff also expanded into foreign markets opening a European office in Hamburg, Germany to provide better service for European customers.

In 1995, the Wagstaff LHC™ Low Head Composite Mold for casting sheet ingot was introduced. This mold brought graphite to the aluminum ingot mold and virtually eliminated lubricant components. And, in 1998, Wagstaff introduced LHC™ with VariMold™ Adjustable Ingot Casting Technology giving LHC casters the flexibility of casting multiple ingot widths through one mold.

Over the past decade Wagstaff has upgraded and improved the performance of many of its earlier products including a major upgrade to its AutoCast Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software package interface and more powerful performance. In 2003, Wagstaff teamed up with LMI Selcom to offer leading-edge, laser-based technology for metal level control. In 2004, the Type C ShurCast™ Casting Machine was produced inheriting the robust design and industry leading accuracy of the larger Type S cylinder, but designed for smaller casting facilities.

In 2005, Wagstaff Epsilon™ Rolling Ingot Casting Technology was introduced to rolling ingot producers as a robust, easy-to-operate ingot mold. Using Wagstaff SplitJet™ technology, Epsilon provides cooling from two sets of water jets in steady state for superb butt curl control and intense cooling enabling a better internal microstructure.

In 2006, Wagstaff commemorated its 60th anniversary by hosting a celebration for Wagstaff employees and local suppliers, and holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a new manufacturing facility. In 2007, Wagstaff opened the facility and the first Service Center in Hebron, Kentucky.

Wagstaff’s AutoFlo™ Casting Gas Control System was introduced in 2007. This system provides precise gas mass flow management independently to each AirSlip billet mold throughout the entire casting sequence. Also in 2007, Wagstaff launched its first in a series of worldwide workshops on mold maintenance, metal treatment, heat balance, and casting coordination for rolling ingot and extrusion billet technologies.

Today, the company continues to grow. Wagstaff has representatives located throughout the world including Brazil, China, The Netherlands, Australia, Russia, South America, Taiwan, UK, Germany, Croatia, Canada, Australia, and the USA. Wagstaff has sold more than 800 billet systems, 300 ingot systems and tooling kits which are operating in 54 countries. Although Wagstaff’s competitors attempt to build equipment that is comparable, Wagstaff’s superior quality and service remain unequaled.  For 2008 and beyond, the company looks forward to continuing growth in sales, service, and customer satisfaction.


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