University of Wolverhampton students spend the day at the National Foundry Training Centre


It was an enlightening day at the National Foundry Training Centre when students from the University of Wolverhampton studying an Honorary degree in Manufacturing Engineering arrived to expand their understanding of foundry operations. Led by Colin Whorton of the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the day was filled with practical demonstrations and insights into the art and science of metal casting.

The day commenced with a detailed discussion about Health and Safety regulations, laying the groundwork for a safe and informative session. The significance of adhering to safety guidelines in a foundry setting cannot be overstated, and this foundational knowledge set the stage for the rest of the day's activities.

Before diving into the practical aspects, Colin guided the students around our state-of-the-art foundry. This allowed them to familiarise themselves with the various processes and equipment integral to our operations. From understanding the workings of moulding sand to the mechanics of the induction furnace, the tour offered a comprehensive overview.

After the tour, it was time for hands-on experience. Colin started by demonstrating the process to start our induction furnace – the plan was to melt brass at the same time as we were making bismuth castings in petrabond (oil based) sand.

The process was demonstrated with particular emphasis on:

- Checking patterns for cleanliness and damage

- Compacting the sand correctly using a sieve to begin with to aerate the sand,

- Using a rammer in the correct way to effectively compact the sand well

- Safely stripping the mould from the pattern and reassembling it for

With the moulds complete and transported to our casting area. Donning the required PPE, the students were briefed on the casting process and watched a demonstration by Colin. The students then had the opportunity to cast their own moulds. This was not only educational but also provided a practical feel for what they had learned.

Following a brief interlude, we reconvened in the foundry. The moulds were ‘knocked out’ which means the castings were extracted from the sand, cleaned and inspected for any scrap issues.

To cap off the day, the students had the opportunity to observe brass casting from a safe distance. The brass was melted to a temperature of 1100 °C and then poured into chemically bonded sand moulds. This showcased yet another side of foundry work, offering students a whole view of the field.

The visit was a resounding success, with students gaining both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in foundry operations. Through a mix of tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, the students received an education that was as comprehensive as it was engaging.

The ECMS look forward to welcoming more students from the University and further afield to its very own National Foundry Training Centre.

Author: Victoria Bayliss