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The Hobbyist's Guide to Casting Metal--2nd Edition (print)

The Hobbyist's Guide to Casting Metal--2nd Edition (print)

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Published by: toadster on Mar 18, 2011
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07/02/2013

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Thermal mass isn't a big consideration in commercial furnaces that run continuously for
long periods of time, but it's very important in homemade furnaces that get cycled up and
down a lot. The problem is simple: Before your furnace can heat anything else up, it has to
heat itself up first. If your furnace has a lot of material to absorb the heat, it's going to take
a lot of time and energy to get hot, even if relatively little heat escapes outside of it. When
it's done melting whatever it's supposed to melt, all that energy put in to getting it hot gets
lost as the hot furnace cools off.

Minimizing thermal mass is relatively easy to do. Materials that have lots of air in them
have very little thermal mass, as well as being good insulators. Heavy, dense materials
have lots of thermal mass and are best avoided under most circumstances. A rough rule of
thumb is the material's density: Light furnaces are much better than heavy ones, as far as
thermal mass goes.

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THE HOBBYIST'S GUIDE TO CASTING METAL

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