When British-based smoking pipe manufacturer Falcon Pipes was looking for a new supplier for their cast aluminium pipe stems, they needed a manufacturer capable of producing the intricate parts from a particularly challenging aluminium alloy. This search was concluded in North Wales after finding a specialist die casting company that could deliver the high quality products required.
Upholding a tradition
Invented in 1936 by Kenly Bugg and first sold in North America in 1940, the Falcon pipe design is unique and well-known amongst tobacco smokers to provide a smoother, cleaner smoke.
The system is based on the principle that causes rain to drop from a cloud when it is met by cool air. Mr Bugg selected aluminium for the stem because it is lightweight and, more importantly, for its ability to disperse heat quickly. The design cools the smoke as it travels along the stem and any condensation collects in the reservoir below the bowl, preventing from reaching the mouth of the smoker.
The bowl itself is screwed into the stem, allowing the style and appearance of the pipe to be changed. Many pipe smokers prefer to have a variety of different bowls for different tobaccos to prevent stronger flavours from overpowering more delicate blends.
Now a UK-owned manufacturing company, Falcon Pipes continues to manufacture the same design, representing modern technology and traditional craftsmanship in all its refinery. It is important therefore that the best materials are used for the stem and bowl and that they are manufactured to the highest standards.
Introducing Mark Aluminium Die Castings
Based in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, Mark Aluminium Die Castings (MADC) has been producing high quality, pressure die cast aluminium parts for decades. Used extensively in the automotive industry for water pump casings, these parts are often intricate and required to meet the high quality levels set by automotive manufacturers. With such extensive design and manufacturing experience, the expertise that MADC has is ideally suited for the manufacture of similarly intricate die cast parts.
The aluminium used for the pipe stem is an alloy known as LM5, which has been chosen for its corrosion resistance and its ability to maintain a highly polished surface. However, the challenge faced with casting this alloy is its poor flow properties compared to other commonly cast alloys and is therefore often avoided when complex designs are required. Knowing this, MADC successfully designed and manufactured suitable moulds, considering the best die design to achieve optimum material flow and finish quality.
David Lewis, European Head of Operations at MADC, comments: “We are very proud to be involved with such a traditional and prestigious company as Falcon Pipes, knowing they place their trust in us to uphold the highest quality standards. While this particular alloy and product finish challenged our processes, we considered the complex aspects of the mould design and arrived at a product which met the high level of quality expected by Falcon. Customers trust us knowing we have the experience and expertise to produce to their requirements, so while this application is challenging, we have proven MADC can manufacture products of this complexity.”