Playing with fire

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Employees of Waupaca Foundry in Waupaca, Wisconsin work at a small furnace melting metal for Michigan Technological University’s Career Services Materials Day Tuesday. The melted metal was then poured into a sand cast mold.

HOUGHTON — Sand casting of metal to produce a piece of machinery or even a piece of art has been going for hundreds of years, and Tuesday the process was on demonstration at Michigan Technological University.

As part of Tech’s Career Services Materials Day, representatives of Waupaca Foundry in Waupaca, Wisconsin, showed students how to carve out a sand mold to produce an item. The company also brought a furnace to melt the metal, which was then poured into the molds.

Greg Miskinis of Waupaca Foundry, said the company was making its third trip to Materials Day at Tech.

Miskinis said the company makes products mostly for the automotive industry, and processes about 1.3 million tons of metal each day.

“We melt the equivalent of an Eiffel Tower per day,” he said.

At the Tech demonstration, Miskinis said the metal being used was gray iron, which has a lower melting temperature than steel.

People were encouraged to carve something personal into a small block of sand. After the metal was melted in the furnace, it was poured into the molds to make the casting. The demonstration in front of the Dow Building started at 11 a.m., and by 11:45 a.m. about 280 castings had been made.

Kyle Pinozek, who is a fifth-year Tech student majoring in mechanical engineering, said he came to the demonstration because he thought it would be informative for his career.

“It was highly advised in come here,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in metal casting.”

Pinozek said knowing how the casting process works could be help him as he moves forward in his career.

“Castings are in every single market,” he said.

Pinozek said he wasn’t certain what he would carve for his casting, but he had a possible idea.

“Maybe a Husky,” he said.