Craft & Design
Ann Arbor Aluminum Casting Demo

Last week, I spoke at the GO-Tech meeting, which was held at the A2 Mechshop in Ann Arbor, MI. I was there for a terrific demo of aluminum casting by Rick Chownyk. He was not only well-informed but very entertaining.

Rick began with a styrofoam mold he had created already.


He had built his own burner for melting scrap aluminum. (He said that you can’t do this using aluminum cans.)


He buried the mold in a bucket of sand. When the aluminum was red-hot, the exciting time for the pour arrived. In the video below, listen to the enthusiastic audience and their questions — this is why these demos are so cool.

Minutes later, after the mold had cooled, he removed it, dunked it water, and raised it high to the delight of the crowd — a metal Make sign!


Rick recommends the site, Backyard Metalcasting, for instructions on how to do this yourself. He also credits the Dave Gingery books available from Lindsay’s Technical Books.

Thanks to Dale Grover and A2 Mechshop for inviting me to speak and to the hundred or so who came out.
A2 Mech Shop, a “co-engineering” space, is a positive sign that good things are happening in Michigan.


DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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