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I Forge Iron

Amateur Alloy Casting

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Howdy all!


I plan on pouring late December at my local community college.  The facility offers (feel free to correct my blacksmithing terminology) two cylinder furnaces and what appears to be a flat top slot forge? (This should probably be posted in furnaces).  Although i have poured here before i am always trying to pushing my options, the program offers bronze and aluminum pouring.  I am interested in the fancy modern alloys and alternative metals. This opens up into more research which i am going through but i was curious if anyone has experience in this. What i have read so far is  that the bronze and aluminum used here, is a specific alloy for casting (easy casting?) but these alloys have unappealing properties, for me. My project focus is high performance (weight/ strength) Similar to the needs of modern armor or extreme environment, but within the boundary of my access and ability's.  I would like to try anything i can,

I am currently studying chemistry (esp metallurgy) but i figured someone might have casting specific info.


**Is it possible to cast modern high performance alloys within this foundry? With this furnace? What alloys you ask? Well what im aware of is probably silly but i try. I figure the temperature range needs to be  realistic,


AI and anything.. Something to make this aluminum lighter and stronger, or just lighter,AI-Si << ,AI-Nickle?, AI-Scandium?, Zink? Just curious they wont allow it for oblivious reasons)AI-LI ??,


**Magnesium!! Please tell me i can cast this easy, sounds safe..


**Titanium?? too high =/

**Can i just purchase a bar/ ingot of an alloy i know and melt it? Seems too easy..


**Where can i find a crucible? Ingot Molds? Used, I need to melt down and ingot what i have already..


*i was told *firmly* get my own crucible for anything other than what they melt, fair enough,

**Again sorry for butchering terminology, vauge broad questions, any books or pdfs, ect appreciated

thanks - Korben


the bronze source


Furnace Info




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Just my opinion but I think you're doing what we all have when getting into something new, imagining what we might be able to do. I know I used to fantasize about coming up with some astounding new thing in whatever new skill I was taking up. We all do it and after some many years I'm pleased to come up with something popular enough folk want me to make them and give me asking price.


Sure, high tech alloys can be cast, it's done all the time. Do it in a school shop melter? Not too likely but anything is possible. Most really high performance alloys are cast in controlled atmosphere furnaces be they gas, electric, induction, arc, etc. Armor al? what was armor quality al some years ago is is now sold as boat hull tough al, etc.


bronze comes in so many alloys I don't even want to try counting them, last I recall hearing there were more than 60 main bronze alloy types and a world of variations in each type.


Sure you can cast magnesium, ever see mag wheels? they used to be high % mag but still contain a  goodly % though they're mostly a tough grade al. Heck, mag wheels may be what happened to one of the armor grade al alloys!


One of the really cool high tech casting methods is controlled crystallization. Most failures in structural components initiates at crystal boundries so for surviving HUGE stresses and still remaining light monocrystaline castings are the in thing. for instance turbine engine fans are monocrystaline castings. A 60" dia. fan turning some 50,000RPM being pushed by exploding jet fuel needs to be strong and heat resistant. A casting with no crystal boundries has a significantly higher strength and lifetime.


If you really want to get into high strength casting learn to cast amorphous iron. This is iron alloys without a crystal structure at all and it's super tough.


Casting is a world of learning, you'll won't live long enough by 10x to learn even most of what's to know about casting metals and it's changing faster than ever.


Frosty The Lucky.

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See those xxxx tv shows get in my head, the tour of the rolls Royce casting facility was all about monocrystaline.  That is very interesting indeed. Great now your blowing my mind with glass that conducts, awesome.

Ill have to continue studying alloys.  You are right in what i have see is an endless options for manufacturing applications.  It is a challenge bridging the gap between the fantasy and ability, but thats the fun right?

Mg interests me, minus the flammability, i can get a chunk of pure Mg but i was told it was expensive so i did not ask (im cheep)

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In a Speedy-melt furnace? Stick with aluminum and bronze alloys, maybe the rare iron melt. They are not designed to melt and cast exotic alloys but for small production runs of basic alloys. For the things you are talking about you would have to have atmosphere and temperature controlled furnaces and very exacting chemistry in each melt. Probably an induction setup of some type or other and failures will be very expensive. You probably won't be using greensand, either. I won't mess with magnesium, and at melting temps titanium burns rather readily as well. If you have a crucible full of Mg catch fire in the school furnace you will probably be buying them a new furnace. And no, you can't just buy a bar of a particular alloy and expect it to be exactly the same after you melt and pour it.  

I hate to throw cold water on your enthusiasm, but this is very similar to the new smith saying "Can I make a katana out of bedsprings and sheet metal? I have a ball peen hammer and a piece of rail for an anvil..." or " How can I cast an anvil with thermite?". Learn the process and the terminology, learn about gating and risering, learn more about metallurgy and controlling the chemistry at pour temps. Casting exotic alloys is worth learning about, do your research and gain some more practical experience first.  

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Yeah, when I started out I tried all kinds of metals and found out that it was best to find a good reliable easy to work with metal and stick with it. Yes, I know it sound boring as all get out but success is wonderful and seeing folk very happy when you hand them a successful pour of their work is very gratifying, more so than experimenting with a bunch of strange and exotic metals that cost more than you can make back on them in twenty years. I stick to the easy ones like silver, brass, silicon bronze,aluminum on occasion and once in awhile rarely nickle bronze(silicon) too, but mostly silicon bronze as it pours about like water it's that easy to work with. Learn to cast silicon bronze well and then branch out, I started with scrap brass and had a very poor success ratio, very frustrating stuff to work with. Do lots of research on any metal you work with, including hazards to your health and then work hard for a successful pour.

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  • 1 month later...

Magnesium is not for the beginner. You will more than likely burn down the building. Everything has to be different from closed crucibles in reducing atsmopheres to non silica based furnace linings. Generally it is cast in metal or olivine sand molds. No silica or plaster here. Then alloying it is expensive and hardeners are difficult to get also.

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