Man it has gotten easier.
I'm old school, and been casting at home and in business since the late 80's. I was first introduced to casting back then while being taken under the wing of a Ral Partha artist as a sculptor. Fast forward a little bit and then an introduction to early (and very expensive) resin printing. So both for being taught and learning the ropes behind creation to finished cast, Ive spent a good portion of my life doing it, trying new things and making many, many mistakes. You will too, but in comparison, far less and alot less expensive.
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I'll probably write that history up a bit later, for now lets get to the subject at hand.
06/15/2020 Still in progress folks.
NOTE: Materials used in this foray can contain harmful substances if misused or used improperly. Its up to you to read and understand ALL manufacturer warnings and follow procedures recommended. I cannot stress this enough.
This list, is an easily obtainable setup to get anyone started, with proven tools and materials, many used by me for "short runs" or one offs, but can definitely handle small scale production for those wanting a bit more. Yes, I have and operate big scale equipment, but honestly, for pleasurable experience and faster results I refer to my smaller stuff more these days because as you all know, Im everywhere and often have many irons in the fire- this can get you from model to cast part the same weekend. (Near) future articles videos and shows will explore the finer details behind some of this equipment, this is the "short list" to get you rolling.
Check back frequently because I will update this with links to the expanded discussion and reference material I mentioned as time goes on. Keep in mind you can always show up on our live shows and ask questions too along the way.
You need these to melt stuff. (laughs) While there are many different types and methods for doing the same thing, by far the cleanest, easiest, and more precise kind are the electric furnaces. If you've ever been around wood fired, gas, or propane foundry setups, immediately you'll already know the draw being able to plug in and go has. Here are a few I have used (and still do).
My current models:
Have worked with from time to time:
These are used for "burning out" or dewaxing molds. Any kiln that can be used to fire enamels can be used for burnout for lost wax casting. It needs to be sufficiently large to hold as many flasks as you might wish to use in one casting session but ideally not so large that it wastes energy in heating a larger space than you need. An important feature of a burnout kiln is accurate temperature control. A good multi stage ramp controller is nice because you can program in your whole burnout cycle however it can add considerably to the cost of the kiln. You can manage quite well with an adjustable set point controller and manually control the cycle. However don’t buy a kiln that simply has an energy controller (normally a dial that can be set from 0 to 100%). When casting, I'm used to being around the furnaces and kilns during the whole process because of safety and well, my personal desire to watch the process even after all these years. Programmable ramp schedules are nice, but I have paper schedules with check offs so I always know where I'm at- and on the fly adjustments are far easier. Its up to you.
I use solid (non-perforated) most of the time and as you begin, they are probably the best option. Once you gain knowledge, you'll probably head towards vacuum assist and perforated flasks. We will cover that in an advanced section later. Rio Grande has been my go to since the 90's.
By no means comprehensive, but these are a few things you need. Don't jump into this without understanding you are working with very, very hot materials. Safety first kids.
Ive used many brands over the years, and ultimately landed, and have stayed with Ransom and Randolph. They have many formulas and for most general casting I use the Ultravest, Ultravest Maxx, both with and without the Bandust addition. Start with good investment and you save so much effort and time. Visit them here:
Graphite Stirring Rods