Archive for the metal casting Category

Lecture at National Conference for Cast Iron Art

Posted in 3DP Materials, metal casting, rp/am sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2011 by skaad

Recently I attended the National Conference on Cast Iron Art held at the historical Sloss iron foundry in Birmingham, Alabama.  I was lucky enough to present a lecture on my recent research into the application of Additive Manufacturing technologies to the process of Metal Casting.   What follows are the first 22 slides.  The next post will contain the final images.

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Port Townsend Foundry test pour of hydroperm 3D printed mold

Posted in metal casting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2010 by skaad
co-authored by Laura West and Dave Feathers

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Recently, at the Solheim Lab, we sent a 3D printed mold printed in hydroperm off to Dave Feathers at Port Townsend Foundry.  The mold was placed in a greensand jacket and then poured in aluminum bronze.  The mold was not pre-heated, nor was it baked prior to pouring to push off all the moisture.  In spite of this, the results were quite impressive.
Port Townsend Foundry has been involved in 3D printing technology since they originally worked with the founder of Prometals.  As of late, Dave Feathers (design engineer and artist for the foundry) has been influential in the development of a new material from Viridis 3D (MIT technology), and has recently focused attention on Solhiem Labs and the groundbreaking work of professors Laura West and Mark Ganter.  Getting this new technology to mash with the manufacturing environment has been the relentless pursuit of Dave Feathers and Pete Langley (owner Port Townsend Foundry).  Pete comes from a lineage of brains,  starting with the guy who invented the theory of flight, another one who founded General Dynamics, and another who invented the spin casting fishing reel!  Pete Langley’s high quality castings have been sailing all over the world for the past 28 years.  The prototype in the photos is of a 5/8ths shackle which you will be seeing in the future aboard America’s Tall Ship, the USCG Barque Eagle.  Port Townsend Foundry already has outfitted her with blocks, jib hanks and spectacle irons.

Photo of Charlie Wyman’s first bronze

Posted in metal casting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by skaad

This is a photo of one of the bronzes we poured when I was at UW.  It is printed from a file created by Charlie Wyman and was his first experience at pouring bronze.  It was poured into an open face mold using one of the materials we were testing.  Considering it was an open face mold, I think the results were quite good.

Look for a post that is coming soon about Charlies continued research with the use of hydroperm and glass.

Bronze poured into open face mold by Charlie Wyman

Ceramic Shell Metalcasting and 3D printing

Posted in metal casting, rp/am sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by skaad

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One of the very first things I have tried regarding metal casting and the 3D printers is to invest the prints into ceramic shell for metal casting.  I am a metal caster by nature and so much of my journey with these materials has been in discovering uses for rapid prototyping technology as they apply to metal casting.  One of the earliest infiltrates for the material was wax.  Without an infiltrate, the materials tend to be very unstable and fragile (note that this changed with the work Mark Ganter and I have done with the cement based formula and hydroperm).  The standard powders also dissolve fairly easily in water, as do most plaster based materials.

This lead to first a proof of concept experiment where I invested one of my wax infused prints into ceramic shell (a very high temperature mold material that has almost no thermal shock).  I then burned it out and as expected the wax melted but the plaster remained.  The next step was to soak the mold in water overnight.  Between rinsing the mold in running water and a little assistance from a small wire, I was able to get all the plaster pattern out of the mold.  I got a casting that had a very high level of detail, which is to be expected from ceramic shell.

Since this point, I have experimented with various infiltrates.  Wax seems to work the best as it leaves a bit of a gap after burnout.  I have also worked with a few other powders in this process.  University of Washington’s VP2 works extremely well as the sugars dissolve quiet easily.

The series of photographs are primarily from student projects in various states of finish.  They were assigned to create a key chain on the computer using Solidworks.  Then we used the 3D printer to build the patterns and gated them up for investment in ceramic shell.  We followed this up the “lost powder” method of cleaning out the molds and poured bronze and aluminum into them.  There is a shot of our burn-0ut kiln as well as a shot of pouring.  I have also included a shot of one of the sculptures that I tested this process with.

Mold form featured on Thingaverse!

Posted in 3DP Materials, metal casting, rp/am sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 3, 2010 by skaad

The stl that I created this weekend as a template for metal casting that I posted caught the eyes of the folks over at Thingaverse (where you can download it).  This is a place to share digital designs that can be made into real, physical objects.  Their motto is: “Let’s create a better universe, together!”  There is a wonderful collection of bizarre and useful objects that can be downloaded and printed.  It is worth checking out.

Rendering of Basic Mold form with Keys

Casting Metal into Printed Molds

Posted in 3DP Materials, metal casting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by skaad

Molds ready to pour

For three weeks in May/June, I was the first visiting artist at Solheim Rapid Prototyping Lab (actually I was the first visiting artist in the history of the engineering college). I am a sculptor who is a tenured faculty member at Fresno City College in California.

I traveled to the University of Washington to study the development of the powders and their application in metal casting – I am known for my metal casting skills – esp. with iron casting. Prior to coming here, I was investing Z-corps standard powders in a ceramic shell lost “powder” process for pouring bronze, aluminum and iron.

While at Solheim Lab, I took a different strategy – I adapted one of UW’s base recipes to print cementenous material molds.

Instead of printing a pattern to make a mold around, I printed the mold to pour metal directly. When the saturation level was adjusted correctly, the printed molds turned out beautiful, crisp and clean. The molds were lightly sprayed with rubbing alcohol then cured for 24 hours to allow moisture to evaporate (both by air and kiln) and then some were painted with a mold wash (zircon flour, graphite and alcohol). Both open face and two part closed molds were tested with bronze and aluminum, with great success. The surface of the cement printed molds held up well to the molten metal with very little burn-in (similar to that of a resin bonded sand mold). The resulting castings had a good detail level.

The cementenous mix also produced very good results for printing of sculpture and other designs. The surface is very hard without the use of an infiltrate. When the surface is sprayed with rubbing alcohol, the strength of the patterns is amazing – I used the test bars as a nail file. This is a great example of how the arts and sciences can come together to produce some very exciting results!

I promise to post more information as we refine this process

Just after pouring