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New center will train die-cast workers

Blue Ridge Community College President Molly A. Parkhill; GFLinamar General Manager Carlos Vasto; Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees Chairman John C. McCormick Jr. (signing); and BuhlerPrince Vice President Steve Jacobson. Blue Ridge Community College President Molly A. Parkhill; GFLinamar General Manager Carlos Vasto; Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees Chairman John C. McCormick Jr. (signing); and BuhlerPrince Vice President Steve Jacobson.

Blue Ridge Community College announced the creation of an advanced die casting and mold training center to prepare workers for GF Linamar's drive train manufacturing plant in Mills River and for other die-casting jobs.

The Southeastern Advanced Molding Technology Education Center will be the only holistic, high pressure die casting and mold training center east of Illinois, BRCC said in a news release. Currently, the southeast region of the United States is home to 25 die-cast manufacturers and a wide variety of manufacturers using plastic injection molding and extrusion processes. The center will focus on providing quality workforce training in high pressure die cast of aluminum and magnesium parts as well as training in the production of a wide variety of plastic products through injection molding and extrusion processes.

SAMTEC will be located in the Spearman Building at BRCC. This places the Center in a high-tech facility adjacent to several of Blue Ridge’s premier curriculum programs including Alternative Fuels, Mechatronics Technology, Computer-Integrated Machining, and Welding.

Fueled by a joint venture announced recently by Swiss Company Georg Fischer (GF) and Canada-based Linamar, the SAMTEC job training initiative is specifically designed to meet the training needs of GF Linamar’s new high pressure die cast facility slated to open in Mills River. The jointly owned facility will specialize in high pressure die casting to produce light-weight aluminum and magnesium parts for power train, driveline and structural components. This venture will add 350 jobs to the region with an average annual salary of $47,000.

BRCC received an economic catalyst grant of $550,000 from Golden LEAF Foundation for the purchase of equipment to support SAMTEC and training for GF Linamar. GF Linamar, Buhler and ABB will also donate equipment for SAMTEC valued at more than $768,000.

While designed to meet the training needs of GF Linamar, SAMTEC will also be able to support the training needs of other area companies with plastic injection molding and extrusion processes. These companies include Elkamet Inc., B.I.G. Adventures, Continental Automotive Systems, Meritor Inc., Raumedic, and Lassonde Pappas. Training topics will include die casting process, mold preparation, thermo dynamics, industrial controls, TIG welding, industrial mold process operation.

BRCC instructors Bryan Bagley and Shawn McCallister recently spent a total of three weeks training at BuhlerPrince in Michigan and Buhler in Switzerland, as well as at the Georg Fischer plant in Austria. This training will enable these instructors to develop and provide local training for area manufacturers at SAMTEC.

After formal agreements for the donated equipment were put into place on Thursday, the College expects to open the Southeastern Advanced Molding Technology Education Center in January 2017.