American Standard invited PHC News to tour its Americast facility in Salem, Ohio last May.
The plant has been making the plumbing manufacturer’s tubs with the patented Americast process since 1988. The method bonds three layers, a porcelain enamel surface atop an enameling grade steel alloy with a molded reinforcement composite underneath both.
The injection-molded structural composite helps protect the porcelain finish from surface chipping and “crazing” — lines or cracks on the surface caused by impact damage.
Americast took seven years of R&D as American Standard looked for a lighter-weight, but durable alternative to cast-iron tubs.
According to the company, Americast offers heat retention, dampens sound and provides labor-savings on the installation.
To further help the professional installer, the tubs come with a soft grip on the apron for easier handling. An integrated tile flange decreases the chance that water will damage drywall or other supports behind the wall. An additional option is an integrated overflow molded directly into the outside tub wall. Finally, a pre-fabricated leveling grid underneath the tub provides extra support, and allows the tub to be easily slid into position or bedded with mortar.
StanSure, a slip-resistant finish that covers the tub floor helps increase bathroom safety.
The factory also turns out acrylic tubs and whirlpools featuring Americast, too.
Beyond the manufacturing floor, the Salem building and the town of 12,000, itself, is its own museum of American craftsmanship. While the current building dates to the late-1930s, its manufacturing heritage dates back to 1872 with Kittredge, Clark & Co.
After six decades of various owners, mergers and name changes that company eventually became Mullins Mfg. in 1937. From that point, some of the products sound more familiar such as stamped steel sinks and porcelain-enameled steel cabinets. In 1956, the corporate name also sounds familiar after Mullins merged with American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp., becoming a subsidiary called Youngstown Kitchen Division, which made a line of steel kitchen cabinets.