Volume 11, Number 3

 

 

 

In 1977, while working for a ceramic supply manufacturer as national sales manager for high fire products, Glenn Foster began developing the concept and plan to begin Pacific Kiln & Insulations Co. As an accomplished ceramist and potter he had been instrumental in developing a new concept of pottery kilns using ceramic fiber insulation just introduced to him by Johns Manville Co. which had just been granted commercial license to market the material after success in the space shuttle program.

 

With this background and support, Mr. Foster decided late in 1977 to begin Pacific Kiln and in February 1978, Pacific Kiln & Insulations Co. was born. Based on the innovative technology of this new wonder insulation, Pacific Kiln soon became known as a leader in fuel efficient pottery kiln systems. However, as their fiber insulation supplier looked for new markets for their product, Pacific Kiln was asked to help their customers with applying this efficient new product to their kiln and furnace requirements. From metal melting, to forging, to heat treating, to burnout and preheat in the investment casting industry, everyone wanted to know how this new technology could make them more cost effective.

 

It was in (1980), however, that Glenn Foster and John McCaughin of J.F. McCaughin Co. began a relationship that would shape Pacific Kiln for the future. J.F. McCaughin Co. was a major supplier of materials and equipment to the investment casting industry in the western United States. Soon, the first exclusively designed furnace for burnout and preheat was developed for the investment casting foundry. Suddenly, a simple pottery kiln was armed with air operated doors, power flame safe burners, automatic temperature control and, above all, the first integrated afterburner. So was born the “Standard” Burnout Furnace that we still produce today.

 

The afterburner made Pacific Kiln’s burnout furnace the first of its kind to eliminate the smoke and smell of the burnout process. When Pacific Kiln guaranteed its customers that this system complied with the tough Southern California Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) it quickly became the standard in burnout furnaces in the Western investment casting industry. Soon, with the promotion of J.F. McCaughin Co. behind it, and air quality a major issue in Southern California, as well as, the entire West, the Pacific Kiln “Standard” Burnout Furnace took off at a tremendous pace.

 

Starting in a modest industrial space in 1978, Pacific Kiln moved to larger quarters three times in the next (ten) years. In the late 1980’s Pacific Kiln was asked for a higher temperature furnace for increasingly higher temperature specification brought on by the high alloy and finer sections of aerospace, as well as, the golf industry. Cast Alloys, in Northridge, CA, ordered multiples of a high temp burnout/preheat furnace, and so was born Pacific Kilns “New Generation” Burnout Furnace. This furnace system has developed into the basic specification for all of our high end burnout furnace applications.

 

Along the way, our customers began asking for other equipment for their foundry. Soon we were making knockout machines, slurry mixers and rain sanders to satisfy their requests. In response to this increasing non-furnace business, Fabricated Industrial Systems, was formed to cater to this market. This business continues to be a vital part of the Pacific Kiln product line and is supplied to investment casting foundries world wide.

 

In the late 1980’s another important Pacific Kiln product was developed. Investment casting was always in search of a more evenly heated mold. Even though Pacific Kiln guaranteed heat distribution within 25 degrees within the load area, the common practice of setting molds directly on the flat floor did not allow heat to evenly heat the mold from top to bottom. Mr. Foster began testing ideas using a ribbed ceramic floor tile and finally settled on what is today the Thermo-Flo Floor Tile. This tile would allow the hot combustion gasses to flow underneath the mold, not only heating it more evenly, but allowing the oxygenated gasses to reach the interior of the mold for faster, cleaner burnout. Today, this same proprietary tile design has been developed into the Thermo-Flo Pusher Tile and has become a viable answer to the replacement of the costly high alloy metal grates used in the pusher burnout and preheat furnace.

 

As the 80’s came to a close so did the economy. With the early nineties in the dumps, equipment sales to the investment casting industry could not have been worse. Mr. Foster, however, was on the trail of something new. After many trials and errors, the FlashFire Dewax System was born, culminated with a U.S. Patent for the design for Mr. Foster. Excited about the prospects of fast, crack free dewax and burnout to boot, customers had been waiting to see the first working prototype and in early 1994 the first demonstrations were performed with customer molds and orders began to come literally saving the life of Pacific Kiln. PED Mfg. of Portland, OR was the first to order a FlashFire Dewax System, but close on their heals was Howmet, Wichita Falls, TX and then Sandia National Labs.

 

The FlashFire Dewax System opened the doors to the biggest foundry families and Pacific Kiln enjoyed unprecedented growth through the rest of the nineties. Again, in 1995, Pacific Kiln moved to larger facilities and became known as the industry standard in furnaces for the investment casting industry worldwide. The FlashFire Dewax System, in particular, can be found throughout the world, including England, Germany, Slovenia, Spain, as well as, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, & Taiwan. This has also led to burnout/preheat systems in Russia, Poland.

 

In 2006 Mr. Foster sold Pacific Kiln to Joel Fritz, an employee engineer for the company for some time. While still involved in an advisory capacity and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Joel is President and runs the company on a daily basis.

 

Today Pacific Kiln maintains the past traditions while striving to stay at the top of technology and innovation.

 

 

Looking to the Future

 

As we celebrate our 30th year in the investment casting equipment manufacturing market, all of us at Pacific Kiln would like to send a heart felt thank you to our customers both old and new for their support and friendship over the years. As we look to the future our main goal is to continue building the high quality equipment that you have come to rely on, while always researching and developing new technologies. Pacific Kiln is also committed to creating innovative solutions for our customer’s unique needs.

 

Pacific Kiln and Insulations Co., Inc. looks forward to forging new relationships and strengthening those that exist as we continue another 30 years serving the investment casting industry.

 

 

Recent Installations

  • WSK, Poland – “New Generation” Wax Burnout Furnace
  • Lighting Resources, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona – Furnace Retrofit/Afterburner System
  • Akrapovic, d.d., Slovenia – “New Generation” Double Door FlashFire Dewax System
  • GE Global Research, Niskayuna, New York – “Deluxe” Slurry Mixer
  • Natural Resources of Canada, Ottawa – “Economy” Slurry Mixer
  • Picatinny Army Arsenal, Picatinny, New Jersey – “Economy” Slurry Mixer
  • Siemans Power Generation, Houston, Texas – “Standard” Wax Burnout Furnace
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma – “Economy” Slurry Mixer
  • Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – “Economy” Slurry Mixer
  • Milwaukee Precision Castings, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – “Deluxe” Slurry Mixer

 

New Orders

  • Engineered Precision Casting, Middletown, New Jersey – “New Generation” Double Door Wax Burnout Furnace
  • Alcoa Howmet-Hampton Casting, Hampton, Virginia – (2) Barrel Rain Fall Sanders
  • Buddy Furnace, Balch Springs, Texas – “Standard” FlashFire Dewax System
  • Barron Cast, Inc, Oxford, Michigan – “New Generation” Double Door FlashFire Dewax System,

 

Thermo-Flo Pusher Tiles - New Orders

  • Pine Tree Castings, Newport, New Hampshire
  • Hitchiner Mfg. Co. – New Hampshire
  • Hitchiner Mfg. Co. – Mexico
  • Signicast, Hartford, Wisconsin 

 

 

JERRY HEAD

 

Pacific Kiln has been fortunate to have many dedicated employees in the 30 years we have been in business. We would like to acknowledge Gerald (Jerry) Head as such an individual.

 

Jerry began his employment with Pacific Kiln in January 1995. He brought with him a strong background and skills in welding and steel fabrication. Within several years he worked up to the lead position in our fabrication department.

 

In 2007, Jerry’s dedication to Pacific Kiln goals and his intimate knowledge of all aspects of our products, gained him a promotion as Shop Supervisor. He is now in charge of all personnel in the shop, as well as, production schedule and material acquisition oversight.

 

Jerry, his wife Lisa and family, are big drag racing fans and loyal followers of funny car driver John Force. They are also huge fans of legendary rock n’ roll band KISS.
PKI would like to thank Jerry for his dedication and drive.