The People of CastAlum
Continuing our employee interview series, our Additive Manufacturing Project Engineer, Rhys Jones, tells us about his journey from apprentice, to apprentice mentor!
Rhys Jones has been working at CastAlum since 2010 and has progressed from being an apprentice himself to now mentoring our current crop of apprentices! Here’s what he has to say about why he chose a career in engineering, and his favourite parts of the job!
“As a sixteen-year-old leaving school, I had never really considered engineering as a career, and it wasn’t something I knew much about. However, I had always been interested in how products were made and how I could fix them, so when I came across an advert for an engineering apprenticeship at CastAlum, I decided to apply. I remember being taken around the foundry during my interview and being amazed by the size of the machines and how the casting cells all worked together to produce the casting.
During my apprenticeship I was lucky enough to spend time within all the different engineering departments: maintenance, toolroom, and process. I learnt how each department helped in their own ways to produce the end products. I enjoyed them all but found I had a particularly keen interest in toolmaking, particularly CNC machining new and replacement parts for the die cast tooling.
From there I moved into the engineering design office, working on continuous improvement projects alongside the process department. Most recently I have been developing Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) of metal tooling to be used in our casting moulds. This allows us to overcome issues that previously had no solution. Now we have onsite our very own metal 3D printer, producing special water-cooled parts for the casting process.
I most enjoy the freedom of my current role. Being at the forefront of an innovative technology often means there isn’t information out there for you to refer to or look up. Usually, it’s up to our team to develop new and innovative methods to resolve the engineering challenges that we face.
Our additive manufacturing project is without doubt the one I’m most proud of during my engineering career so far. 3D printed tooling for die casting offered huge benefits but was only ever really a concept. In reality, the technology was considered both expensive and unreliable. Fast forward five years later, and now CastAlum is at the forefront of using additive manufacturing to create tooling for high pressure die casting.
If you’re an aspiring engineering, or if you’re just interested in making things like I was, my advice to you would be that there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Always aim to challenge the norm and strive for improvement in every area you can.”
Follow us on LinkedIn for more employee interviews, and to learn about life in a Mid Wales foundry! Or if you’re interested in joining the team, head over to our Careers page.
Additive Manufacturing Project Engineer