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How metal minis are made

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Spin caster would be fairly easy, it's the homemade vulcanizer that gets me

 

Actually, after some research, it seems that the opposite is true.

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If people saying they want to build a furnace like in the video are serious, I can talk a little about the one I built about a year ago.  Just let me know so I don't babble on about it here if nobody cares...  For now I'll just say mine is a little bigger than the one in the video, and I used a different recipe to line mine.  You can see me holding the lid in my currrent avatar pic (hot underside looks a little like the Eye of Sauron IMO). 

 

The sword he made in the video was cast using the lost foam method, which is my own specialty as well!  Here are a couple of pix of a belt buckle I made out of a slice of a styrofoam Hallowe'en skull, some pieces of a blue house insulation foam board, and a drinking straw.  I don't know of anyone else making one-piece belt buckles using the lost foam method, so I had to design my own way to set up the molds, and that took a fair bit of trial and error!  I'm very happy with the stuff I have been making.IMG_0439_zps71f8252f.jpg

IMG_0440_zpsd49d2a5f.jpg

(Ive made a few facing straight ahead rather than this profile view style also.  The belt loops get cut to half the width shown in the 1st pic before I cut the hole the belt attaches through out of them (other casting methods can make similar buckles without having to cut the loop-hole out at all, but they require more gear and time to set up IMO), sorry no pix of that, didn't realize it would be necessary to cut them thinner until after taking that shot.  Pix of both styles of skull-buckle, both raw castings and finished, plus some of my other work in lost-foam-cast aluminum can be seen here).

 

This guy in the video does a few safety no-no's like pouring over concrete (can result in explosions ans flying molten metal) and not preheating his ingot molds (again, exploding flying molten metal), not to mention using brand-new muffin pans for ingot molds.  Burning teflon is serious stuff, google polymer fume fever if you doubt me.  I buy new muffin pans, but I trade them for my wife's old ones and use them, the teflon is mostly cooked off those already.  Everyone is happy, and I don't poison myself, and birds flying over my yard at the time don't suddenly fall out of the sky dead.  It's a win-win-win!  And this is one of the safer "melt cans in your flowerpot furnace" videos out there.  Do your research before attempting anything like this please!

 

As for DIY spin casting machines and vulcanizers, if these projects sound like they woud be fun or even just useful, AND you want to build a furnace for melting aluminum, you should definitely check out alloyavenue.com and their forums.  It's the home base for backyard metal casters and most people into this stuff have built most if not all of their own equipment.  I was never very handy before I got into this hobby, but I have had to learn a lot of useful skills in the past year since I started.  Very satisfying stuff. 

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I really would like to, but it's so far down on my to-do list I'll never do it. Unless I hit the lottery. In which case I'd just buy proper equipment. ;)

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Thanks for the forums name. I'm going to be hounded until I get one built. He has been going on about something similar for over a year.

 

Maybe for his 13th birthday in August.

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It was hard dork getting up to speed

 

I laughed way too much at that typo...  :lol:

 

Thanks for the insights, Bryan!  As someone who's basically clueless about the "behind the curtain" work, it's neat to hear how all the pieces and parts of the process fit together to result in the end product.  ^_^

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I imagine it's one of those things where there's a lot of muscle memory and learned instinct involved...that a lot of the speed relates to how much you can do without having to think about it.  Whether the talc layer is good, fitting the halves together without having to look closely, knowing instinctively when it's seated in the machine correctly and how much metal to dip, etc.

 

 There's also a lot of efficiency-of-motion involved - getting the process broken down into the fewest number of actions possible... Even turning around in the wrong direction can an additional one or two footsteps which adds half a second to each iteration of the process, which ends up being almost twelve lost minutes in an eight-hour period if you're doing 1500 iterations a day. They've got their machines and their area set up very efficiently for the task at hand.

 

 I used to run a sheet metal press, making the outer cases for the money boxes you see on top of the washing machines at laundromats - we had the machine that uncoiled the rolls of 2mm sheet and cut the pieces, the press that punched the holes and cut-outs, and the press that performed the first bend, as well as a table to put the finished pieces on so the next guy could grab them, all set up in a square around me. If you weren't going as fast as the roller was spitting out the pieces, eventually they'd start falling on the floor - after they hit you somewhere from the waist down... It was like doing a fan dance with a 4-lb. 1.5 x 2.5 ft. metal plate in each hand, lol.

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I imagine it's one of those things where there's a lot of muscle memory and learned instinct involved...that a lot of the speed relates to how much you can do without having to think about it.  Whether the talc layer is good, fitting the halves together without having to look closely, knowing instinctively when it's seated in the machine correctly and how much metal to dip, etc.

 

 There's also a lot of efficiency-of-motion involved - getting the process broken down into the fewest number of actions possible... Even turning around in the wrong direction can an additional one or two footsteps which adds half a second to each iteration of the process, which ends up being almost twelve lost minutes in an eight-hour period if you're doing 1500 iterations a day. They've got their machines and their area set up very efficiently for the task at hand.

 

The guy who eventually managed to beat my "high score" the month after we discontinued the competitive aspect was a full foot taller than me and could cross the gap from crucible to table in 2 steps, versus my 4.  He beat me by less than 10 lbs/week, but I had to run to keep up!

 

As for the fewest actions, yes, much of it learning the motions brainlessly and also avoiding any unecessary hand, arm, or body movements.

 

The home setups are very interesting, but I encourage anyone considering doing so to consult with their local fire departments to ensure safe use and installation, and also to check local laws for restrictions on such equipment in residential areas.

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Yeah, that is a good point.  It's probably worth noting that I live in a very rural area, just a few houses clustered around an intersection and surrounded by farms, where the closest neighbour habitually lights up bonfires that reach 30' tall and is not the only one in the are who regularly does so.  I am lucky that way, it makes my long commute worthwhile in a lot of ways.  This backyard metal casting thing might not fly so well in the suburbs though, and trying this on an apartment balcony or something is just asking for trouble, I don't even think you're supposed to use a BBQ out on those!

 

As for the fewest actions, yes, much of it learning the motions brainlessly and also avoiding any unecessary hand, arm, or body movements.

 

This is what I strive for my my backyard setup as well; even though I have no quota to meet and am never really in a rush to make any of the stuff I cast.  For me it's all about successful castings and safety.  Before I light my furnace I put all my tools in precisely in the same place every time, unless I come up with a refinement to my inner setup checklist.  Not having to ever run around or hunt for anything allows me to focus all my attention on the molten metal so I can stay safer, and always having the things I need next withiin easy reach means that when the metal reaches pouring temperature, I am pouring it ASAP with no delays.  Delays lead to molten metal cooling off, which leads to failed castings, which leads to a real PITA because I don't have reusable molds for anything and have to carveb a whole new foamie (whatever) from scratch.

 

Pegazus - looking forward to seeing you over at AlloyAvenue, they are a friendly bunch like here, only less nerdy and more... likely to own a welding machine, I suppose.  13 and wants to learn metal casting, wow, I am impressed; I wish I had gotten into it when I was younger...  Not too many young kids these days seem to have any interests that don't involve staring at a screen for hours - you should be proud of him, and I bet you are.  Anyhow, good luck & stay safe!

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...by definition, the original is destroyed when the mold is first used. 

Considering the number of minis that Reaper pumps out on the average day, it seems like that would be kind of an expensive way to make molds...

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