Making an aluminum metal foundry at home is a very popular project. Many Instructables and YouTube videos have been made showing this DIY experience. And an experience is exactly what it is. Recycling aluminum gives you a chance to get in the garage/outside and actually participate in a productive environment, and make almost anything you can think of.
In this Instructables, I will share some tips and tricks to hopefully help you, if you decide to recycle your own aluminum. I will include as many pictures as I can, and also try to get to the point without over explaining it.
Tips and Tricks
- Start small
- lost foam casting
- Lost wax casting
Step 1: Start Small.
I personally started my foundry with the insulated steel bucket idea, which I found inspiring! The plans/ instructions are found on YouTube, by the name," The King of Random." Link to his video-
This is his video, I'm not trying to steal from him. Sorry, if this is not the proper way to make a reference and give credit.
I followed his plans almost exactly, except for a couple changes. This is a good great place to start! His foundry plans show you how to start small and stay budget friendly. After making his version and using it on many occasions, I only have a few suggestions.
- If you can, use a neatly dug hole in the ground instead of an insulated bucket. Using a hole in the ground cuts cost and also makes clean up a lot easier.
- Use a smaller section of steel tube and attaching it to a piece of PVC pipe will cut cost greatly.
- If you have access to a leaf blower or air compressor instead of a blower dryer for the air supply, will cut your melting time in immensely.
- Don't use a fire extinguisher as a crucible. This is great for the first tempt, but it is very easy to burn through the fire extinguisher! Instead, I used a cast iron pan, that has not failed me yet,and is also more available.( at least more available to me) The only down side is the amount of aluminum it can hold.
Step 2: Safety:
Safety is a topic that I was very unsure about when I first started melting. I figured safety glasses and a pair of gloves would be enough. I quickly realized that I would need a little more, here is what I found useful:
- Welding gloves or FR (Fire resistant) gloves are very useful. I found a pack of three pairs for $10 at a nearby Harbor Freight. There not invincible by any means, but at the very least they help with the heat.
- A quality pair of safety glasses and/or a full face shield are greatly appreciated. Going the extra step to use the best eye protection you can find is well worth it.
- The fumes from this project can be very harmful. The degree to how harmful they can be, depends on what you're melting. But no matter where you are getting your aluminum, a respirator of some kind is recommend.
Links to where you can find these items.
Step 3: Lost Foam Casting and Lost Wax Casting
Lost foam cast(LFC) in where most people begin with aluminum casting. LFC is when an object made out of foam is buried in sand or another investment material. The Aluminum is poured on to the foam and is vaporized, leaving the aluminium to take the shape of the foam object. When doing this for the first time, insulating foam is cheap and easily accessible in most places. Using a knife to carve out the object will work, but a foam hot knife will make the process quicker and easier.
Lost wax casting is a very similar process to LFC. Lost wax casting (LWC), using carving wax instead of foam, and also a plaster investment. One difference is that during LWC you need vents coming out of the side of the wax, so that the wax can drain. You also melt the wax out of the investment before pouring into the mould. These vents are usually created by using added wax spurs before placing in the investment.
Step 4: Ending
Aluminum casting is overall a very fun and creative project, but can also be very dangerous. Please be careful and take the proper safety precautions to avoid injuries.
This is my first instructables ever, and I did find the process pretty fun. I look forward to possibly making more, but in the mean time, please make suggestions in the comments section. If you found this some what helpful or interesting, please tell what you liked. If you absolutely hated it, please tell me what I can do to improve. Thank you for spending your time reading this!! :)