Betra has a rich history of investigation and innovation. It began with Mark Thomas before Betra manufacturing evolved into an aluminum foundry and before Betra was a machine shop. The company roots began with Mark Thomas in a small town in Pennsylvania circa 1941.
Mark Thomas instigated his foundry exploration as a teenager, 75 years ago, in aluminum castings using sand in the creek on his family’s property in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
As a young teenager, Mark Thomas’ curiosity led to an investigation of the best source to melt the aluminum for castings. He discovered using the family's home heating cold furnace in the cellar was ideal.
Mark made patterns from wood working in his family shop, went down to the creek bed for sand and packed it around his pattern to make his first mold. He melted aluminum scraps from the local repair garage and poured his first mold.
Mark was an avid hands on mechanical prodigy. He loved Popular Mechanics and read an article about improving the mechanical properties of a casting by heating it to 300 degrees (Fahrenheit). “Sounds like baking cookies,” he thought. He methodically used his mother’s oven to heat treat his parts (which was conceptually driven by Popular Mechanics).
While it was a bit rough, that first casting was a reward worth its weight in gold. Mark was hooked! That first mold was the prototype that ignited a hunger to investigate, discover, improve and perfect aluminum castings processes.