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Lost Wax Casting

SBU

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LOST WAX CASTING SBU

The Fine Print


Copyright 2005 2010 TechShop, Inc. and/or TechShop RDU, LLC. All rights reserved
This manual is furnished under license and may be used or copied only in accordance with the
terms of such license. The content of this manual is furnished for informational use only, is subject
to change without notice, and should not be construed as a commitment by TechShop RDU, LLC.
Except as permitted by such license, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
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These class materials are the copyrighted property of TechShop, Inc. and/or TechShop RDU, LLC
and are intended for use in an instructional setting. Successful completion of SBUs are
REQUIRED for many of the products at TechShop, an instructor must sign off on this
requirement. It is NOT enough to just read and follow these materials.

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LOST WAX CASTING SBU

Course Synopsis
In this Safety and Basic Use class (SBU), you will learn how to create a metal
object using the Lost Wax Casting method. Starting with a wax model, you will
be taken through the steps required to duplicate the wax in alloy similar to silver.
You will become familiar with the basic operations required to create a lost wax
casting; how a wax is made, attaching the wax to a tree, setting up the flask,
mixing, pouring and vacuuming the investment, the burnout cycle and finally,
melting the metal with oxy/acetylene and completing the pour.
The class project will be two or three charms or objects.
Time Required: 5 Hours over two consecutive days

Casting at TechShop
After this class you are welcome to set up and use the casting equipment at any
time you wish. However, it is strongly suggested to cast with a partner, most
importantly during the pour, one person does the melt and the other handles the
flask. Given the amount of setup involved, proper timing and planning is
necessary to accomplish an investment and burnout cycle and that you will be
ready to pour the following day within a few hours of the furnace reaching the
hold temperature status.

General Safety
1.Eye protection is required when working with all machinery and in the shop
area.
2. Closed-toe leather shoes must be worn at all times.
3. Long hair or beards must be protected with a hair net/cap.
4. Long sleeved shirts must be worn when working with chemicals or molten
metal.
5. Never leave a machine running or unattended.
6. Never make assumptions about the equipment. Inspect it carefully before use.
7. Know where safety equipment is located such as fire extinguishers, eye
washers, first aid kits and the burn kit.

Casting Safety
This list discusses some general safety concerns. Much of casting safety is about
using correct technique and wearing properly fitting safety gear. The areas where
safety is most crucial are mixing the investment, anything to do with the furnace
and melting and pouring the metal.

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1. Casting is a two-person operation. We strongly suggest to never cast alone.


2. When investment is being used everyone in the area needs to wear a high
quality dust mask. This includes the measuring, mixing, cleanup and breakout of
the flask, as well as cleaning up the casting afterwards.
3. Always clean the investment tools and area using a h20 spray bottle, this will
keep any potential dust down.
4. Molten metal can cause a steam explosion when combined with water, This is
a significant hazard on its own, and can send droplets of hot metal flying.
5. Ensure you have a dry, non-flammable surface to work over. Dry sand is
recommended during the melt.
7. Make sure all tools are completely dry before using them.
8. Make sure all metal is dry before adding it to the crucible
9. Small fires caused by spilled metal and hot tools are a common occurrence
when casting. Don't panic, and extinguish them promptly when it is safe to do so.
You may want to finish pouring your part and then put out the fire: this is fine, for
small fires and minor spills, as long as nothing is threatening you or other people.
Burn marks on the equipment are normal.
The ONLY APPROPRIATE FIRE-EXTINGUISHING MEDIA FOR CASTING
FIRES IS DRY SAND. Avoid pressurized fire extinguishers, water or other
liquids. They can turn small problems into bigger ones.
When working with the furnace make sure you have insulated gloves to protect
from the intense heat. Make sure your tongs are in good working order and that
you have a good grip on the flask before removing it from the furnace and placing
it on the vacuum table.
Remember that hot metal looks a lot like cold metal. Set hot tools on dry sand, a
metal stand or table of fire bricks. Always set them down with the hot end away
from you.
When cleaning up finished parts use appropriate safety precautions. When
sanding or polishing the surface and silica investment is still there is can be
made airborne and inhaled as a fine particulate dust. This can cause silicosis, a
chronic lung condition, especially with long-term exposure. Always where a high
quality dust mask(and make sure anyone nearby does as well)

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Shop Etiquette
Never talk to anyone while they are working on a piece of equipment unless the
communication is in regards to the work you are doing together ie: (letting the
casting partner know the metal is ready to be poured).
Specifically avoid startling anyone while they are on the equipment.
Leave the area you are working in cleaner than when you arrived
Report broken tools to TechShop staff, so they can be replaced promptly.
No broadcast devices such at radio, tv, Ipods, etc.
Begin final clean-up and store your project 15 minutes before closing

The casting operation


The lost wax casting concept is as follows: A wax model is created, either by
filling a mold, carving the wax directly, constructing with wax wire and so on.
Once the wax (or waxes, as a single flask can hold numerous individual waxes)
is ready, it is treed up by attaching its sprue to the main sprue or trunk. When
the tree is finished it is set in a rubber flask base. The stainless steel flask is set
into the base.
The next step is mixing the investment slurry, a silica based plaster like material,
in a rubber bowl. Exactly measured investment powder is mixed with water using
a hand mixer. It is vacuumed and vibrated to remove any air bubbles. It is then
poured into the flask and vacuumed and vibrated again, then it is set to rest and
allowed to gloss off and harden. Once hardened the rubber base is removed. The
furnace cycle is chosen, and the flasks are set inside. During the cycle the wax
will melt out and evaporate (or it can be poured off) and over the next 8-12 hours
the investment is cured and brought to casting temperature.
Finally the metal is melted with an oxy/acetylene torch using boric acid as a flux.
When it is brought to the correct temperature and fluidity the flask is removed
from the furnace, turned over to reveal the opening and set on the vacuum plate,
the machine is turned on and the pour begins. The vacuum is left on until the
metal starts to skin over, then it is released.
After the metal solidifies completely the flask is removed from the vacuum
machine and set on a firebrick to cool. After about five to ten minutes depending
on flask size, the flask is lowered with a pair of tongs sideways into a 5 gallon
bucket of water. The investment will bubble and pour out the sides and steam
will rise. Eventually the flask will be let to sit in the water and cool. With the
tongs gently removed the button and tree from the water.

Tools Required:
Vacuum casting machine and accessories including bell jar, metal disks
and silicone ring/sheet
Alcohol lamp or wax pen

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Casting flasks 21/2 x 21/2


Casting bases 2 1/2
Flask tongs
Investment Scale and scoop
Calculator
Crucible and tongs
Burnout oven programmable Ney Vulcan
Rubber mixing bowl -1-1/2 quarts and Spatula
Hand mixer
Measuring beaker 250ml
Sprue cutter
Oxygen/Acetylene torch with melting tip
Firebrick
Carbon stir rod
Heavy welding gloves
Leather welding apron
Face shield and #5 shade / safety glasses
Leather closed toe shoes
5 Gallon bucket
Used toothbrush
Materials Required:
1 oz of silver mine or alpacca alloy casting grain
1 or 2 waxes and 1 piece 1/4x 3 sprue wax
#5 shade/safety glasses and safety shield
Dust mask
Investment for the flask (Kerr satin cast 20)
Masking tape
Boric acid
Steno note pad
Casting worksheet
rubber gloves

Equipment Specific Safety


Oxygen and Acetylene rigs pose the risk of fire, explosion and serious
injury or death unless used correctly. Please follow ALL procedures
strictly to ensure safety.
BE SURE to check all connectors on the whole welding rig to avoid
leaks and potential fire or explosion. If you suspect a leak, close the
tank valve and notify TechShop staff immediately.
NEVER USE OIL, GREASE, SOLVENTS, OR CLEANING PRODUCTS of any
kind, on any part - of the OXY-ACETYLENE RIG.

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Gas Cylinders
Compressed gases are under high pressure. Tanks should be kept
upright and strapped or chained, and bottles should be capped or
attached to a regulator. If you find any tanks in an un-secure
condition, please notify TechShop staff immediately. COMPRESSED GAS
CYLINDERS CAN CAUSE SEVERE PROPERTY DAMAGE, INJURY AND
DEATH.
STRICT SAFETY PROCEDURES
MUST BE FOLLOWED.
Only TechShop staff should move or change tanks. Notify TechShop
staff if a tank is empty.
Keep all sparks, heat, electricity and heavy activity away from tanks.
Oxygen is under extremely high pressure in the tank, and can cause
other materials to spontaneously combust and explode. Always make
sure the tank is handled gently and is in a secure position.
Acetylene, while not under high pressure, is very unstable and prone to
explosion. It should never reach over 15 p.s.i. Hose pressure.
Always make sure the tank valves are closed when not in use.
Always wear shade safety glasses when melting the metal to avoid
damaging your eyes.

Using Bell Jars Safely


For an optimum seal keep the bell jar rim and vacuum table clean of
investment debris; never use a chipped or damage bell jar, it could
implode.
Never press or hit the jar during vacuum. It's under tremendous
pressure and can implode. This could result in serious injury from flying
debris.

Vacuum Casting Machine


The vacuum machine is a dual use machine for vacuuming air out of the
investment during mixing, after the investment is poured into the flask and again
the flask is vacuumed during the metal pour to help pull the metal into all the fine
detailed areas.
The machine we will be using has a vibrating table for vacuuming the investment
both in its rubber bowl and the flask filled with investment. The vibrating table
helps agitate the investment to remove air bubbles. To facilitate the vacuum
the work is done under a bell jar. The other side of the machine has a spot to
drop perforated flasks in or adapter plates for solid flasks to sit on to be
vacuumed during the pour. There is a silicone ring and a silicon sheet with a hole
in it for the flasks to sit on to help create the vacuum.

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Before turning the machine on make sure it is level, all the surfaces are clean to
create a proper seal and look through the site window on the side of the
machine to check the oil level. Low oil will cause damage to the pump unit.

Caution before mixing investment


Always test the vacuum seal between the jar and pad before mixing investment.
To test the vacuum seal, moisten the underside of the bell jar rim with a clean
sponge. Place the bell jar over the vacuum table and rubber vacuum pad. If
needed, apply slight pressure around the rim of the jar. Never apply pressure to
the top of the bell jar. NEVER push down on the top of the bell jar during
vacuuming. This can cause the bell jar to break and implode.
To operate the machine for investment vacuuming in either the bowl or solid flask
first make sure the vacuum pad is in place on the vibrator table, then set your
bowl or flask on the table. Position the bell jar squarely over the bowl or flask
taking care to follow the same instructions as above with regards to the care and
handling of the bell jar. Such as TO NEVER PRESS DOWN ON THE TOP OF
THE BELL JAR. If necessary to make a good seal you can press down lightly on
the rim ONLY. Then turn the handle to the investment position and turn on the
machine. Vacuum investment until proper vacuum is achieved (investment slurry
should bubble, rise & fall during this step). This operation should take about 90
seconds. To release vacuum, move the toggle switch to the cast position, then
turn the power off. PLEASE NOTE: The vacuum gauge should indicate full
vacuum in usually less than a minute. Investment in the bowl will crest at this
time and begin to release air bubbles.The precise mercury reading stating full
vacuum depends on your altitude. At sea level, full vacuum is reached at 29" of
mercury. The gauge registers approximately .9" less mercury for each 1000 feet
of altitude.
Vacuum casting machine

Equipment Controls
The primary controls you
will use on the Vacuum
Casting Machine are the handle that dictates whether you are at the vacuum
table, vacuum release or casting chamber. Also there is an on/off button which is
only used when the vacuum is fully released.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
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For this class, you will be given 2 waxes, a 3 piece of tree wax and 1 troy ounce
of silver mine casting grain (an alloy that looks and works just like silver but costs
a fraction of the price, it is usually used for sample lines in commercial mfg) .
First you will tree up the waxes then mix the investment slurry to fill your flask.
Next you will vacuum the flask to remove any air. Finally on the first day we will
program the furnace for the burnout cycle.
In our second session you will melt the metal, pour the metal into the flask
and finally you will breakout the flask and retrieve your cast object from the water
bucket.

Getting Started
What is casting?
Casting is the method of creating an object by pouring a liquid
material, that later will harden, usually metal, , into a cavity or mold.
There are many ways of creating the negative space for the metal
to fill. Primitive castings were made in chiseled rocks. Sand casting has
also been done for millennia. Low temperature metals can be cast in steel
molds or heat resistant rubbers. Cuttlebone, and even carved charcoal
blocks can be used. The most popular form is lost wax casting.
A wax model is set inside a flask and a special plaster is poured around
it. Once hardened, the flask is placed inside a furnace to melt the wax
and harden the plaster. The melted wax leaves an exact hollow of the
original. Metal is heated to liquid stage and poured into the flask with the
help of the vacuum to pull metal into every little space.

Working with wax.


For this class we will start with a pre-made wax. These waxes were made with a
wax injector, a pressurized tank that is heated to liquify the wax, the mold is
pressed against the nozzle and filled with hot wax. There are many types of wax,
each specialized for a specific task. The properties determine the waxes use,
flexibility and hardness, opacity (good for checking for flaws) melting and
injecting temperature(lower injectable temp = less shrinkage), carving, modeling
and specialty waxes like sprue, sticky, transparent , wire and sheet types.
The first thing we do with our waxes is make sure there are no problems with
them such as pinholes, dents, hollows, etc. Then clean off the mold marks with a
file, razor, etc and fix any problems we see at this point. This can be done with a
tool heated over an alcohol lamp or with an electric wax pen. When we are
satisfied with the quality of the wax then we attach it by its' sprue to a thicker wax
rod called a tree. Using a heated tool we place the sprue at the point where we
want it to sit on the tree, then melt the two waxes together. The tree is a wax
column that allows for the wax to exit the investment and the metal to enter, it is
thick enough to be a feed source of liquid metal for the pieces we are casting.

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1. It is important that the wax is placed facing at an upward angle on the tree
(facing away from the base). They need to be downstream from the
sprue button and important that there are no uphill flows required. A part
that is uphill would require a second or third sprue to feed that spot.
When the metal is poured the flask is upside down, so the metal will flow
with gravity into the spaced made by the wax. The connection of the wax
sprue to the tree needs to have a smooth transition to avoid causing
turbulence in the metal flow. A way to think about this is imagine filling the
flask with water (once the wax is melted out) are there any places where a
bubble would form? Once the tree is secure in the flask take apiece of 1
masking tape and wrap it around the top of the flask twice.
Casting
waxes

Weighing
the sprue and the tree.
Once all the waxes are attached to the tree, the entire wax construction needs to
be weighed to compute how much metal is required for the pour. The scale must
have troy ounces or grams. Be sure to record this information for later. I.e Flask
A sprue construction = 12 grams. To determine how much metal is needed for
the cast multiply the weight of the wax construction( your wax on the tree) by the
specific gravity of the metal you are casting with. Sterling silver has a 10.40
specific gravity so if your waxes weighed 1 gram you would need 10.4 grams to
make up the waxes and another 20-25% for the button metal. The button is thick
and stays fluid longer than the patterns, this metal feeds the pieces as they cool
and keeps downward pressure on them. If the sprue and button are too thin
when the metal cools and shrinks they will actually pull metal from the object.
This will result in porous castings.
Now that the wax is weighed, the tree is inserted into the rubber base.
Alternatively there are bases that do not use tree sprues but have a large hole
that is filled with modeling clay. The individual wax sprues are set into the clay.
When cast the large button formed by the clay space feeds the pieces the same
way the tree and button does.

Rubber base

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The Investment Procedure


After the waxes are in the base, the stainless steel flask is set in.
Next measure and mix the investment slurry. A dust mask must be worn to
avoid inhaling investment which is silica based. Investment is a plaster
used to fill the flask and surround the waxes. There are specialized
investments for type of metal, temperatures and stone in casting.
The first step is calculation. The investment manufacturer has suggested
ratios for standard flask sizes. It is important to keep notes on every cast
in case something goes wrong, you can see what was done. It also allows
one to accommodate for different casting situations.
In this class we will use Kerr satin cast 20 - this is what I used in my
casting shop . Our flask is 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 which will require 8 oz of
investment and 91 ml of water. This is a 40/100 ratio.
The steps are as follows:
1. weigh the investment and leave in the scoop
2. measure the water in the measuring beaker
3. put water in rubber bowl first, then add investment
4. mix the slurry for 331/2 min, by hand or mixer until very smooth.
5. Place the bell jar over the bowl and vacuum for 20 seconds AFTER
the slurry starts to boil. (which should be about 25 of mercury) all
the time shaking the vibratory table, then release the vacuum and
remove the bowl from the chamber
6. Pour investment slurry into flask
7. Place flask on the investment table and cover it with the bell jar and
vacuum and shake for 90 seconds, it should boil most of that time.
8. Release the vacuum and turn off the vacuum pump.
9. Remove the flask from the machine and place it on a level surface
and allow it to set up. This will take a few minutes, then the
investment will gloss off (water is fully absorbed)
10. After at least an hour remove the masking tape and with a spatula
scrape any investment that is above the edge of the flask
11. Remove the rubber base by gently bending and peeling it off the
flask. Then mark the bottom with your initials. Make sure no investment crumbs
fall into the hole. Place in the furnace and start the program.
Investment drum, scoop and rubber bowls

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Some Investment tips


Storage Always store investment in a dry, cool environment. After using
get rid of all the air in the bag and close the lid tight.
Mixing
The investment should always be added to the water in the
recommended water / powder ratios.
Working Time is the time it takes the investment to harden after water is
mixed with the powder. Depending on room temperature it takes 3-5
minutes or so.
Water temperature: Water should be 70f 75f and should be measured
with a thermometer to insure consistency. Colder water extends working
time, warmer shortens it.
Investment temperature: The investment powder should be stored
at the same temperature. If the temperature changes season to season,
the working time will change as well. IE; colder investment extends work
time, likewise, if the investment is warmer it will shorten the work time.
Mark your flask: Always mark your flask, use your initials and a number
afterwards IE; CB1 and if you are casting flasks in different metals then
add a S for sterling, G for gold, B for brass and C for copper.

The Furnace and the burnout ;


Once the flasks have been filled with investment and they have been allowed to
dry. (a minimum of one hour for small flasks and up to three or four for the really
large ones) they are ready to go into the burnout furnace.
Remember that this furnace can reach temperatures above 1400.f, and can give
you an very nasty burn, so except when cold, NEVER TOUCH THE FURNACE
WITHOUT GLOVES. The furnace also needs to be vented because of the
gases that are created from the wax. Also very important is the thermocouple
inside the furnace, a small piece of wire covered by a special ceramic that reads
the temperature inside the furnace. The thermocouple is VERY FRAGILE, a
bump with a flask can break it and the cost to replace it is high, so be very
careful when placing or taking flasks from the kiln. Before placing your flask in
the furnace, remove the rubber base and mark the investment with your initials.

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The furnace we will use is an electric model with a built in controller. A furnace
without a controller will require the user to be present the entire burnout cycle
which is from 8 hours plus preheat time for small flasks up to 31/2 x 4 up to 24
hours for extra large flasks 6 diameter and larger. A manual furnace requires the
user to change the temperatures instead of a controller.
The burnout cycle consists of a preheat, a ramp to wax melt stage, an
intermediate ramp, the wax vaporization temperature, temperature to cure the
investment then back down to the casting hold temperature.
Because the wax is being vaporized the furnace needs to be vented to the
outside in some manner. Also the temperatures reached are incredibly high, so
the unit must be set on a non flammable surface and the surroundings must be
safe with such heat . You must also wear heavy furnace or welding gloves to
protect yourself from the intense heat.
A typical 8 hour cycle is as follows: Preheat the furnace to 300.f. Then program it
for 2 hours at 300.f, 2 hours at 700.f, 3 hours at 1350.f then 1 hour at 800.f and
then hold at 800.f until ready to cast. I prefer to allow at least a one hour hold
after the 1 hour at cast temperature). Some controllers allow you to set how
fast the heat ramps up, say from 300.f to 700.f in 20 minutes, or 300.f to 700.f in
one hour. Others have a built in ramp program that ups the temperature at a set
rate. Raising the flask temperature too quickly can cause the investment to
crack. Going over 1450.f will cause the investment to actually break down. If the
flask temperature is not brought to casting temperature and held there long
enough (at least one hour) the metal will stay molten too long and the castings
will have porosity problems.
The first ramp of 300.f is to heat the water in the investment slowly, steam is
created at 212.f and the steam is released through the pores in the investment.
If it is heated beyond 400.f to quickly the steam expands during its escape and
can ruin the cavities made by the wax. Between 200.f and 300.f most of the wax
is melted out, above that temperature the steam helps to clean most of the
remaining wax off the walls of the patterns. It usually takes about an hour for the
wax to melt out to become lost as the name of this type of casting is called.
The next temperature is a stepping stone on the way to 1350.f. Any wax that
has not already melted and flowed out turns to carbon at 1000.f The carbon is
completely eliminated at 1400.f by mixing with oxygen in the air. For this reason,
it is very important to have your furnace ventilated. Except for very detailed
castings such as filagree, going over 1350.f is not necessary.
The final temperature is the casting temperature. This furnace ramps down to
800.f and holds it for at least an hour. You can choose a hold as long as you
need until you are ready to cast. But instead of holding for a long time, most
controllers allow for a delayed start, so you can have your flasks holding for 1
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hours when you are ready to pour.


Casting temperatures (what the flask must be at for a good
cast)
Silver, brass .. 800.f - 850.f.
W. Gold, thin...1050.f 1150.f

Bronze..............900.f
thick 900.f - 1000.f

Y. Gold Filigree...1050.f 1150.f thin...900.f - 1000.f thick...800.f 850.f.


Melting temperatures
Sterling silver 1640.f

Fine silver 1761.f 14kt Y gold 1615.f

14kt W gold 1825.f

Bronze 1743.f

Preparing for the melt

Brass 1710.f

carbon rod

When you are finally ready to melt your metal for the pour the first thing to do is
get all your tools together. You will need flask tongs and heavy welding or
furnace gloves to take the flask out of the furnace and to melt the metal.
The vacuum machine needs to be on the cast setting, the silicone mat with the
hole for the vacuum flow needs to be set on top of the metal plate made for this
purpose.
The next step is to measure out your metal, gather your torch and safety
equipment and start melting the silver.
For the melt you will need an oxy/acetylene rig, a torch with cutting tip, a flint
striker, a foundry brick for resting the crucible on, #5 shade goggles or shade
face shield, leather apron and welding gloves, heavy leather boots or shoes,
long pants and long sleeves. You will also need sand in case of any small fires.
To melt the metal you will need a crucible and handle, borax flux and a carbon
stir rod to remove slag and up to an ounce of sterling silver casting grain and a
scale to measure it out in. If you were using scrap silver or a button from a
previous cast you would need some fresh grain and some alloy replenisher.
Last thing we need before we can start the melt is the breakout bucket, a 5
gallon plastic or metal bucket with water about 7/8 full.
We will start by measuring out the casting grain. The scale has troy ounces ,

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pennyweights (dwt) and grams which is what we will measure in. A troy ounce
has 20 pennweights and 31.1035 grams. 1 dwt is 1.555 grams.
If our wax construction weighed 2 grams, we then multiply 2 x 10.4 which will
give us 20.8 grams, or 13.374 dwt, a little more than half a troy ounce of silver.
We then add the 10% for the button, 6.687 which gives us a total of 20.1. So we
will use a full troy ounce for a 2 gram wax weight.
So now we begin the melting procedure
1.Put on your safety equipment, apron, gloves, shade goggles.
2.place your metal in the crucible and add a pinch of borax.

3. To start the torch, we do the following:


Make sure the tanks are upright, securely chained and the regulators are
securely fastened.The oxygen tank has a green hose and pressure numbers
that reach 4000. The acetylene tank has a red hose and numbers going to
500. Check all the connections, making sure they are all tight. The gauge
needles should be all the way down, registering no pressure. Check the hoses
for burns or cracks. The torch itself should have all valves fully closed (fully
clockwise).
1.check to see that all knobs on the torch are turned fully clockwise
2.Open the Oxygen knob on the torch body fully (counter clockwise)
3.Point the torch away from you & anything flammable. Open the acetylene knob
on the torch just a little(note: you may detect a garlic odor,this indicates the
Acetylene is flowing).
4.Click the striker and light the torch
5.Adjust the Acetylene knob until the turbulent part of the flame is approximately
ONE INCH from the cutting tip.
6.Turn the pre-heat Oxygen valve on the cutting attachment counter clockwise
until all secondary flames disappear. This is called a Neutral flame and it is what
you want to use to melt your casting grain. The torch should sound quiet, with no
hissing.

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4. Position the torch near the material until is first starts to melt. Move the
flame around the metal to warm it all up, do not stay in one place too long
or you could actually burn the metal. Move round and round in a
continuous fashion, to keep all the metal heating up. With new casting
grain you will not have any slag to remove unless there are remnants in
the crucible, but you still need to stir the metal with the carbon rod to see
if it is fluid enough. About half way through add a little borax or boric acid
to keep it flowing well. When the metal is heated properly it will be
entirely fluid and moving around quickly, not boiling but completely fluid.
When you see it once you will clearly recognize it again.

5. Once your metal is ready to pour, your partner will remove the flask from
the furnace with furnace gloves and tongs. When the flask is removed it
will have the button or pour side facing down(this is where the wax melted
out). Place the flask on a fire brick and then turn it over with the tongs.
Now that it is turned over, pick it up again with the tongs and place it
button side up on the silicone pad, centered on the hole.

6. Your partner will now turn the vacuum machine on and the needle will
begin to rise. When it reaches a steady point it is time to pour. Keep your
flame on the metal until the moment before you are ready to pour.

7. Bring your crucible over to the flask and in one smooth movement, pour
the molten metal into the flask. Leave the vacuum running until the metal
skins over then release the vacuum and turn off the machine.

8. Turn the torch off, first the acetylene knob, then close the oxygen knob.
Remember that the torch tip is very hot so place it down in a safe spot.

9. Place the crucible on a fire brick


10.

With the flask tongs, remove the flask from the silicone pad and
also place it on a firebrick. The flask needs to rest so the metal can
solidify for up to five minutes. When the color of the metal is no longer
red/dark and is looking like darkened silver, it is ready to breakout.

Breaking out the flask


You will need the flask tongs, safety glasses, dust mask, rubber gloves and the 5
gallon bucket of water
This will get a little messy, depending on the temperature of the flask, the water

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will boil and spray a bit. We did this outside when possible. With the flask
tongs, hold the flask firmly and horizontal, the open ends perpendicular to the
floor. Very slowly lower the flask into the water, resting the tongs on the bucket
edge, if the water and investment pouring out comes too fast back off a little,
once you are 3/4's of the way in let it rest for a bit. Then lower the flask towards
the bottom and turn it so the button and tree slide out without falling too far. A
tree falling from the top of the bucket could damage or break fragile parts of a
casting.
Give the water a few minutes to cool an then with rubber gloves or the flask
tongs remove your flask and the casting tree from the bucket and dry it off.

Troubleshooting and Tips:


The two most common problems with castings are porosity and incomplete
castings.
Porosity is when minute particles of investment or gases are trapped in the
molten metal when it is poured into the mold. The result can be surface pinholes
or blemishes or sometimes the surface looks fine until it is polished, and the
defects are then visible. Here are some reasons porosity may occur:
the sprues are too small or cause turbulence in the pour.
Too much flux during the melt
overheated metal
Incomplete cure of the investment or overheating of the investment
It is important to keep very good records during your cast. This way if and when
problems occur you can figure out why. For instance, how much of the metal
was old - this should be in your notes. What was the burnout cycle? If there
was actual missing parts in the casting you may need to heat your metal higher,
or maybe your flask temperature was too low. Casting problems will occur, what
is important is what you do when it happens. Some problems can be repaired
by soldering or other hand methods.

If you have ANY questions about any operation or task, be sure to ask your
instructor or another TechShop staff member before proceeding.

Cleanup time

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It is extremely important to double check on the oxy/acetylene rig, the furnace


and the vacuum caster that when you are finished they are turned off properly
because damage or dangerous situations can occur if not.
All the tools that have been used such as tongs, crucibles and such need to cool
completely before they can be put away.
The water bucket with the broke out investment needs to settle at least overnight
before the water can be poured off and the investment can be disposed of in the
trash (double bagged).
All other hand tools need to be put in their specific place.
Sweeping the area where you have worked keeps techshop safe for you and the
next person using this area.

COOL LINKS
http://www.ganoksin.com/index.htm
http://www.lost-wax-casting.com/index.htm
http://www.metalcastingzone.com/
www.riogrande.com
http://metalliferous.com
http://jewelrymaking.about.com/od/makingcastmetaljewelry/ss/100507.htm
http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/index.php?topic=4816.0

OTHER LEARNING RESOURSES


The best book is Centrifugal or Lost Wax Casting by Murray Bovin
http://www.amazon.com/Centrifugal-Jewelry-Casting-Tradesmen-

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Craftsmen/dp/0910280053
another good one is http://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Lost-Wax-InvestmentCasting/dp/0935182284/ref=pd_sim_b_2/188-3981578-6622810

WHATS NEXT?
[
After successfully completing this Lost wax casting SBU, you might be
interested in these classes:
basic aluminum sand casting
Blacksmithing
general metal shop
In the future I am hoping to offer classes in rubber mold making , wax carving,
jewelry soldering, finishing and more.
Dont forget to join the TechShop RDU Forum at
http://TechShopRDU.com/Forum and the Group Meet-ups (see the class
calendar for dates). Get ALL the answers!

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