Donations keep UWP metal casting lab cutting edge

October 17, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Casting creations such as medallions commemorating the 75th anniversary of the agriculture degree and works of art for students and staff, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Industrial Studies Department metal casting laboratory is being updated piece by piece thanks to the generosity of various industry donors.

"In the last three years, we've received more than $100,000 worth of equipment for our metal casting lab, donated by a number of companies and corporations in the industry," said Kyle Metzloff, assistant professor of industrial studies. "The new equipment provides students with hands-on experience for proper casting procedures using the latest technology and enables students to make molds faster with less lifting and material handling."

Donated in part by the Neenah Foundry, UWP received a sand muller that mixes foundry sand. Installed about two years ago, an induction furnace used to melt metals varying from aluminum and bronze to steel and iron, was partially donated by the Pillar Corporation in Milwaukee. In conjunction with the state-of-the-art furnace, a quick lab testing unit or - Datacast 2000 - and a hand-held pyrometer were donated by the Heraeus Electronite Company in Pennsylvania. The testing unit and pyrometer enable students to determine metal temperature and composition, thus producing a more uniform casting.

Still to come this semester will be a sand system with a shake-out table, allowing sand to fall through a grate for easier casting cleanup, and a bucket elevator that delivers buckets of sand up to a bin, prior to casting. The shake-out table will be donated in part by General Kinematics in Illinois. Lastly, donated sand testing equipment is expected to arrive at the lab within the next week or two.

Students in industrial studies, technology education, the American Foundry Society Club and engineering use the metal casting laboratory. Several of the companies that have or will make donations, currently employ UWP alumni.

In addition to exposing students to equipment used in the metal-casting industry, the University benefits by receiving quality craftsmanship products from student projects.

"We've done a number of projects for the University," Metzloff said. "For example, there are aluminum light posts on campus that have a little foot that needs to be replaced. The part can no longer be purchased, so we'll make a pattern of that part and be casting those this spring."

Due to budget constraints, the department of industrial studies must be creative when developing projects to be made in the metal casting lab. Metzloff said he tries to choose projects that encompass all facets of metals manufacturing and can yield a profit. Industrial studies may develop a partnership with Bernie Harris of business administration and the UWP Society of Advanced Managers to make vices.

"We would design, cast and build a prototype of vices that would be manufactured by local companies," Metzloff said. "The Society for Advancement of Management would handle the business aspects involved in the venture. All the proceeds would go back to the clubs and be used to purchase new equipment. This is just one way to raise operating funds that would not compete with local businesses."

Other funding for the metal casting lab equipment comes from the UWP Laboratory Modernization Fund and state and federal grants.

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