Author Archives: Jim Gillespie

  1. How to Make a Toy Car that Won’t Break

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    When I was a little boy, I would often go to see my grandparents, who lived on the west side of Chicago. This was always exciting to me. It was very different from our home, two miles away but it might have been a million miles away for all it seemed.

    They had a neighbor there that was just fascinating to me, that I would have loved to visit in those day. And almost 60 years later, I guess I’d still love to.

    Now the grandparents are long gone, and the house was torn down years ago, but their neighbor – the building where the Tootsietoy factory was – is still there.

    For years untold millions of simple little die-cast cars were pumped out of the factory at 600 N. Pulaski in Chicago, and little boys everywhere would play with them.

    They were cheap, I believe that you could buy a sleeve of ten cars for a dollar back then.

    They were basically failproof gifts when it came to boys.

    They weren’t the fancier Matchbox or later Hot Wheels cars that would come along later. But there was less to break. They were virtually indestructible to a kid. Nor were they battery powered, but they had plenty of engine sounds and brake squeals, courtesy of your average 1st grader.

    Back then, I’d play with them. I would have loved to go into the factory to see them made, but at that time I had no idea how they were made. But now I know.

    Manufacturing Simplified

    Tootsietoys were simple metal toy cars, typically made of one diecast body two axles, and four plastic wheels. The bodies would be spray painted, then the wheels would be pushed on to the axles, and the axles would snap onto arms protruding from the underside of the body.

    They were very durable, unless you wanted to hit them with a hammer the bodies were hard to destroy. Of course, you could damage the wheels but otherwise they were almost indestructible.

    They were the early versions of Lego’s, meaning if you walked around in bare feet and stepped on one of them that was sitting upside down, you would not forget the experience. I know, I proved this many times.

    It’s pretty simple. You have a mold, or a set of molds, that you put a pattern into. Metal is heated till it is in a liquid state, then it is injected into the mold, then cooled till it is solidified.

    The finished product would then go off to the paint line, then the wheels and axles were added, and the cars would be packaged and sent out to stores, and then go to kids everywhere.

    Still Economical

    Many years have gone by, but for some items, die-casting is still the best, most economical way to go to produce durable goods, be they shelf brackets, utensils or even toys. And Fast-Rite can make them for you

    Do you have a product you need diecast?

    Give our engineers a call at 888.327.8077 or email us at Sales@fast-rite.com


  2. Three Critical Fastener Truths

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    “Your bolts are breaking in my engine blocks!”

    The purchasing manager was furious!

    This was a massive, costly failure. Someone would pay.

    The unimpressed fastener engineer on the other end of the phone replied wryly.  “What did you want to break?”


    It was simple.  Tremendous shear and tension had built, and something had to break.  “Did you want it to be the bolt?  Or the block?”

    This made the auto executive stop.

    The fastener engineer did not design the engine. He did not design the joint. His company supplied the bolts that held the engine together.  And the bolts were up to the specifications they should have been made to.  There was no disagreement as to any of these facts.

    The problem here was not a bad bolt, it was a bad joint design, resulting in a tremendous strain on the joint. The joint design was creating shear on the bolt, far exceeding what the bolt was designed for.

    Something had to give, and the preferred item to give was the bolt going into the block, not the block itself. Now this happened around the 1980’s, so the dollars might have changed, but the principle hasn’t:  It’s much less expensive to replace a $15 bolt than it is to replace a $1,500 engine block.

    Critical Fastener Truth #1: “Bolts are made to break.”

    In the case of our Detroit friend here, the bolts were actually performing up to specifications.  If a stronger bolt was used, it could have resulted in damage to the block itself, and that would render the block as scrap iron. The problem was the design of the joint itself, not the bolt.

    Often, even experienced engineers tend to forget their fastening technology basics.  It’s important that the proper fasteners are chosen, and as tension is brought to bear, It may require a period of relaxation and then a final tightening in order to reach and retain the proper tension.

    Only when all the pieces of the puzzle are together can you be assured of holding the proper tension.

    Critical Fastener Truth #2: Bolts Stretch.

    What about disassembly and reassembly? Bolts are like rubber bands, they stretch and become deformed. They are subject to elasticity.  Once put under load they cannot be returned to their pristine new shape.  This often-overlooked principle can cause havoc on a high strength application, for example, a 60-ton capacity heavy duty construction crane turntable.  And once one bolt fails, the entire turntable deck is compromised.  Sadly, when a device of that critical strength fails, lives can easily be lost.

    Critical Fastener Truth #3: Hydrogen Embrittlement.

    One of the first things I ever learned in this business was learned the hard way. Well, the hard way, but it could have been far worse.

    A customer had called desperately searching for stock on a high strength bolt.  We happened to have stock, and we were ready to send it, when we saw some discoloration on the bolts.

    Knowing the customer needed a cosmetically appealing solution, we quickly sent the parts out to our local plater to be flashed zinc before we sent them.

    This worked wonderfully at the time, until the customer used their air guns to install the bolts, and watched the heads pop off.

    Being new, I was not aware of the critical potential for hydrogen embrittlement to weaken the strength of the bolt and make it much more susceptible to break far below the required specifications. For some reason no one ever realized the need to heat treat these bolts to dissipate the hydrogen atoms throughout the bolt.

    Thankfully, while this was a painful lesson, these bolts never made it through the rejection process, and no one was hurt.

    In short, there are many factors that go into a good fastener joint.  This includes proper fastener selection, a good understanding of what a joint is designed to do, and potential factors that can degrade a high strength fastener to the extent that they are unable to properly hold the load they were designed to hold.

    When looking for fastener supply, look not only for the item, or for the cost-effective price. Look for a fastener supplier who is trained in fastener technology, who understand the fundamentals of fastener joint design, and is aware of the potential issues resulting from plating and secondary processes.

    Fast-Rite engineers are available to discuss your fastener challenges. Just reach out to Fast-Rite Engineering at 888.327.8077 or email sales@fast-rite.com.

  3. Fast-Rite – Authorized representative for Siam Malleable Iron Pipe Fittings

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    At Fast-Rite, we’re pleased to announce we are now an authorized distributor for Siam Fittings Company Limited, A leading international manufacturer of malleable iron and bronze pipe fittings.

    Siam pipe fittings are well known worldwide under the brand name SA.

    Founded over 50 years ago in 1968, Siam products are manufactured under exacting international standards and trusted by customers worldwide.

    They were the first company in Thailand to produce pipe fittings from malleable iron.

    Main products are malleable iron pipe fittings and bronze pipe fittings. The high standard and quality of these products keeps them in demand in many countries around the world, including the US, Japan and other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    The main factory is located in Khartoum, Thailand and encompasses over 360,000 Sq Ft and, and produces on average of 900 tons of products per month.

    Quality and safety of our products are of utmost importance. Quality is THE top priority in order to ensure all products are lead-free.

    They have been awarded international certifications such as UL, FM and of course, They have been ISO-9000 accredited since 1999. Both Fast-Rite and Siam are ISO-9001:2015 Certified.

    These widely recognized certificates have enabled us to guarantee customer confidence both domestic and overseas.

    The vision of Siam is to ensure customer satisfaction by continually improving their products and delivering these products at a reasonable price.

    For 50 years Siam Fittings Company Limited has been a leading manufacturer exporter and distributor of pipe fittings under the brand SA. Fast-Rite is pleased to partner with Siam and together we are strongly committed to being the leader of malleable iron pipe fittings now, and well into the future

    Click here to download our Pipe FIttings Catalog: FR PipeFittingsCatalog 2022

    FR PipeFittingsCatalog 2022


  4. How to reduce “Cam-Out”

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    Cam-Out – we’ve probably all experienced it.
    Perhaps we’re putting a faceplate on an outlet, or driving into metal.
    So we pull out our trusty slotted screwdriver, and start to turn the screw.
    But the slot depth is shallow, perhaps it’s a struck slot instead of a saw slot, or maybe, this screwdriver has seen a lot of days and it’s worn, so the screwdriver slips out of the slot, perhaps across the application surface, and mars the surface.

    BTDT: Been there, done that.. And hated it!

    It is said the two most common complaints for screwdriver users are slipping or “Cam-Out”, and stripping/damaging a screw head). I’d rank Cam-Out as number 1.
    Too much torque on the screwdriver, and the blade breaks out of the slot and slides wherever the torque pushes it. The more torque, the more likely it is to damage a work surface. This likewise can be true removing screws, and even more so if you’re using a power tool.
    In 30 years in industry, I have often found myself despising the slotted screw.
    But all things have a purpose, right? Until recently, I had never, ever thought that perhaps this slippage was by design. But it’s said the intent was to avoid damaging work through excess torque.


    A better solution might be a six-lobe, ACR or Philips drive, which have much better BER – Bit Engagement Ratios. More importantly, not only do they engage better, they also tend to stay within the drive if it does Cam-Out. That means less damage potential.
    Head types (round, pan, flat, etc.) certainly can play a factor also.
    There are many types of drives available. Finding the right combination of Bit Engagement really isn’t rocket science.
    A combo drive often performs much better. A Philips / Square / Slotted / Hex drive for example, will allow you to do most anything. But that does require s hefty head height.
    Typically deck screws often have either Phil / Square flat heads or ACR II bits. Either one has superior bit engagement.


    Want better assembly performance?

    -Review your tools.
    -Set your torque properly.
    -Make sure your bits are in good shape.
    -Replace any worn tooling regularly.

    Get help! Call a Fast-Rite pro at 888.327.8077 and explain your use case.
    The right drive can make your life much easier, speeding assembly, maximizing torque, and minimizing cam-out, saving time, preventing damage and resulting in a better joint.
    For help in finding a drive or bit selection, Call a pro at 888.327.8077, or email us at sales@fast-rite.com.

  5. Why Cast?

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    Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.

    Precision engineered castings are found everywhere.  Your car, for example.  The water pump, alternator, air conditioning clutch, perhaps the brackets holding these devices, manifolds and more, all are prime examples of highly engineered precision castings.

    The same is true in trucks, trains – some train body beds are made from a single casting , planes, and construction equipment.  But that’s not even the tip of the macro scale. In the US alone there are over 57,000 wind turbines, nuclear reactors, defense products and many other items.

    Our infrastructure is well populated with pipes, fittings, valves, hydrants, and this extends all the way into our homes.   Even our appliances are made in part of casted material. And that computer you’re using to read this?  It’s probably got one or more heat sinks made of casted aluminum dissipating the heat generated. The American Foundry Society states that 90% of all manufactured durable goods and nearly all manufacturing machinery are produced by means of engineered castings.

    Some of these applications are simple and not complex. Traditional casting methods like lost-wax (investment), plaster mold or sand casting may be simply the most cost-effective way of producing them. This makes casting a very common method of fabricating parts in developing countries.

    But technology can supercharge the casting process, drastically increasing the output and minimizing the production cost.

    Centrifugal casting, vacuum-assist and pressure can greatly speed the casting process.  High volume applications use non-expendable molding engineered to properly flow the material quickly and completely to create the desired form.

    Casting process simulation software helps calculate component quality and can accurately predict the resulting mechanical properties.  Various inspection methods depending upon material can be used to prevent defects, including liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, radiography, and ultrasonic testing.

    Fast-Rite casting engineers are experts in mold design and engineering the production process to produce the right result, whether it’s smaller than a thumbnail or that proverbial train bed. The goal is to produce the casting you want with the strength needed, the exact dimensions and appearance characteristics you desire – a consistent, reliable output meeting the production volume and the expected costs every time.

    Fast-Rite’s casting menu includes:

    • Aluminum Gravity Casting
      • Sand Casting
      • Permanent Mold Casting
    • Aluminum Die Casting
    • Zinc Alloy Die Casting
    • Investment Casting
    • Stainless Steel Investment Casting
    • Alloy Steel Investment Casting
    • Carbon Steel Investment Casting

    Fast-Rite’s precision casting methodology is designed to maximize savings on each step of the process including not only the precision casting itself but also material inventory, working procedure, packing and transportation.

    Casting allows a wide variety of materials to fit the use case intended, including but not limited to:

    • Aluminum alloy A356, A360, A380, ADC10, ADC12, etc.
    • Carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, heat resistant steel
    • Zinc, Zinc #3, Zinc #5, Magnesium Alloy
    • ZL101, 102, 104 with T4/T5/T6 treatment

    Finish treatments include:

    • Chrome Plating
    • Electrophoresis
    • Electropolish
    • Passivation (Aluminum)
    • Painting
    • Polishing
    • Powder Coating
    • Shot Blasting
    • Sandblasting

    Do you want to ensure reliable, cost-effective precision stamping for your application? Contact the Fast-Rite Engineering staff to discuss the best solutions for your particular use case. Phone 888.327.8077 or email sales@fast-rite.com



  6. Aggregate your way to cost effective and stress-free precision stamping supply.

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    If you’ve ever walked into a major auto production facility, you may have heard a rhythmic thud in the background – perhaps a massive press stamping out the unibody for a sedan or SUV.

    This is the beginning of the manufacturing process, but there are many other parts to go that will need to be added to that basic unibody. A myriad of parts, from nuts and bolts to engine parts to air bags will be brought to the line and installed, eventually to become a shiny new car.

    Many of these parts were once flat pieces of metal themselves that went through many different methodologies to become precision metal stampings.

    Making all these parts in house is simply not practical. Sourcing these items can be a challenge also, but the right partner can make life much easier for the manufacturer.

    Factors to consider in stamping

    From the simplest press brake to 4-slide and multi-slide devices, or highly complex progressive die operations that incorporate punching, coining, bending and other operations, it is important to choose the right methodology that will provide you with high quality output.

    The output is critical. Well-designed stampings combine the proper dimensions, the right level of strength, proper stress relief and the right finish to accomplish the end goal.

    Well-designed material usage will minimize scrap and maximize the yield, or output. The better designed the tooling, the less scrap, and the most cost-effective or economical your end-products will be.

    A third factor can greatly affect the end cost of your product, and that is the tooling life. Are you looking for a short run? Is this a low volume run that might be subject to change or obsolescence? Or will you need millions of pieces for years? It’s important that your toolmaker considers the overall run life run

    It’s common to need multiple types of stampings just to put out a single product.

    For example, a manufacturer of office lighting might have larger “press brake” stampings for large housings, small copper strips for electrical connectors, and perhaps deep drawn stampings to cover complex circuitry. Most stamping houses deal with perhaps one or two different types of stampings, perhaps 4-slide or multi-slide, but not deep drawn or progressive die, for example.

    Advantages of aggregating

    A stamping aggregator such as Fast-Rite specializes in supplying a wide variety of stampings, tonnage and materials, being a one-stop shop that supplies the customer’s full range of stamping needs.

    Experience tooling designers accustomed to choosing the right methodology and building in the proper design elements can create tooling that can maximize yield and minimize the overall cost per piece for quality precision metal stampings.

    Simplify your precision stamping procurement! Fast-Rite’s engineers can aggregate your multiple stamping needs to create the most effective overall precision stamping supply. Give Fast-Rite a call at 888-327-8077 or email sales@fast-rite.com