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USA - Bay City metal foundry builds `cyclotron stopper' for Michigan State University

Scott L. Holman's sons – Scott, Max and Jason – are carrying on a tradition and helping Michigan State University along the way.

The family patriarch soldered a relationship with Michigan State University and now-deceased Henry Blosser, the founding director of MSU's cyclotron facility.

The elder Holman, with ties to a Bay City foundry, provided equipment back in the '70s that accelerated beams carrying charged particles to velocities nearly half the speed of light. Former owner of Bay Cast, Holman also was behind accessories for MSU's second cyclotron.

Now, MSU is testing out Bay Cast's latest cyclotron device – picture a steel doughnut standing nearly 13 feet tall and weighing 400,000 pounds. It will slow down fast-moving beams for experiments at the East Lansing campus' National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.

"That's bragging rights," the patriarch said. "These boys are doing a good job."

The Holmans said the cyclotron stopper was finished under the roof of its new 17,600-square-foot addition at 2611 Center Ave. MSU gave them the go-ahead in January 2012 and provided three-dimensional drawings.

The Holmans took charge – casting, machining and mechanically fitting together components like a jigsaw puzzle.

All engineers with degrees from Michigan Technological University, the Holmans make note of the nine castings in each of the doughnut's halves. They were able to deliver their work to MSU late last year.

"There's a lot of pride from all of us," Max Holman said. "Not just the three of us but the guys in the shop."

Bay Cast's cyclotron stopper was part of a $1.3 million contract with MSU, according to an MSU press release. It is destined for MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a $680 million project involving MSU, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Commonly known as the FRIB, the facility is envisioned as a landmark to be known for scientific advancements in medicine, industry and homeland security.

The Holmans agreed that constructing the cyclotron stopper helped their business of 114 employees. While no jobs were added, the project accounted for 6 percent of Bay Cast's 2012 revenue, they said.

Bay Cast consists of three integrated businesses – Bay Cast Inc., Bay Cast Machining and Bay Cast Technologies. They supply heavy-sectioned, finished steel castings, large format precision machining services and base, floor and surface plates.

Customers from the stamping, aerospace, oil and gas, hydro-electric, construction and mining, injection-molding industries are common.

The new addition houses a large-scale lathe and a head gantry milling machine that permits larger projects. A move from the automotive industry prompted the expansion.

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