June 12, 2012 12:00AM
Students wore thick, heat-proof suits and massive helmets with protective visors to shield themselves from the 1,800-degree heat of the furnace as they completed their final projects in the Pittsburg State University Foundry on June 5. The students were participants in the 12th annual Investment Casting Institute certification course and they came from across the U.S. and around the world for the experience.
Participants in the institute represented a range of companies that use investment casting to produce precision parts for industries such as orthopedics, aeronautics, and other manufacturing.
“Maybe a third of the participants are new to the industry,” said Russ Rosmait, director of the Investment Casting Training Center. “The others are brushing up on their skills or learning new technology.”
In the days leading up to the “big pour,” participants spent time in class with industry professionals and in labs at the Kansas Technology Center, where they worked on creating the ceramic forms that would receive the molten metal.
Paul Macaroco, with Johnson & Johnson Orthopedics in Massachusetts, said he came to institute to learn about investment casting techniques and processes and he found it especially helpful to be part of a group of professionals from a wide variety of companies.
“You get a lot of opinions from other people,” Macaroco said. “It’s really good to learn from other companies, to see how they do stuff.”
Eric Aparnieks represented Nalco, a manufacturer of the ceramic material used in making the forms or shells for the casting process. He said working side-by-side with industry professionals helped him learn more about their needs.
“We have companies here from the medical industry all the way to the aerospace industry. It’s been helpful for me to learn and see and hear their experiences,” Aparnieks said.
Both men said they were surprised and impressed with the Kansas Technology Center and particularly with the facilities for investment casting in the KTC.
“I think it’s unbelievable. It’s awesome technology,” Macaroco said. “I couldn’t believe how big it is and how advanced it is.”
“It has given me a very good impression; a very good feel for the program here,” Aparnieks said.
The 30 participants in the certification course represented companies from all over the U.S., New Zealand, Belgium, Turkey and Mexico. Participants in the course earned certification as investment casting specialists.
PSU’s metal casting program is one of fewer than 25 in the U.S. accredited by the Foundation Educational Foundation.