Steel casting is a newer technology than the traditional steel making technologies historically used to make tools. Casting steel did not become common or economic until the last hundred years. This restricted the design and performance of edged tools and weapons to shapes that could be forged by hand. Cast in Steel is a new competition sponsored by Steel Founders’ Society of America to challenge students to creatively use the steel casting process to design and make a high performance tool.

The SFSA Schumo Foundation is sponsoring the first Cast in Steel Competition for the 2018-2019 school year. This competition is focused on the use of modern tools like computer modeling, alloy development and selection, additive manufacturing; to design and produce a functioning cast Viking Axe. Each entry will include not only a functioning Viking Axe to be tested, it will include a technical report documenting the design and manufacturing process. Each Viking Axe must have a cutting edge of 6 to 12 inches with a handle 18 to 30 inches. The entries will be judged by Master Foundrymen and Lifetime SFSA members. The evaluation will include chopping and sharpness tests similar to those seen in the History program, Forged in Fire *Note*.


Teams for competing in the Cast in Steel competition must include:

  • At least two university students
  • A Faculty advisor
  • A commercial steel foundry (SFSA will recruit for interested teams)


The project for this competition is a Viking Axe

  • A functioning Viking Axe is to be provided for testing. At least 80% of the final axe head shape should be attributable to the casting process
  • A description of the product features including the historical design that qualifies it as a Viking Axe
  • A technical report describing the design and production which can include:
    • Rationale behind the design
    • Alloy and processing to get properties
    • Production processing used
    • Description of the manufacturing
    • Test results for the quality and properties
    • Modeling for process and performance
    • Video clips or presentation
  • Successful testing of the submitted axe
    • Sharpness and edge durability in chopping
    • Robustness as weapon


  • Proposed teams and preliminary plan due December 1, 2018
  • Submitted reports and Viking Axe due April 30, 2019


  • Competition will be judged by panel of steel experts selected by SFSA
  • Winners will be selected and announced no later than September 1, 2019


Prizes are awarded to a student engineering group of the winning team's choice.

  • Grand Prize: $2,000
  • 2nd place: $500
  • Special recognition $200

Will the axe heads be cast at a commercial steel foundry, or will we be casting them in-house?
You are free to cast them either in-house or at a partner steel foundry.

Will we be expected to sharpen the axes in-house?
Yes, we are trying to evaluate their performance like the show, Forged in Fire.

Is there a physical competition, or will we be shipping the axes?
You will ship the axe to us and we we have the judging and competition in Chicago.

Can one school form more than one team?

What would be the maximum number of students in a team?
I would think anything over 5 would be too many, and forming multiple teams would allow more hands-on participation.

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