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Darlhim

Does aluminum really need a full foundry?

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I looked around a bit on the forum and don't really such much pertaining to the idea im thinking of.

 

Essentially, I just want to be able to melt down aluminum (probably from cans) into round ingots for turning on a lathe.

 

 

 

Is it really necessary to make a full enclosed foundry or could I just get a crucible that would fit whatever I want to melt down, and build a stand that holds it above a large propane burner?

 

I see videos of people on youtube melting aluminum in ceramic pots and just heating the pot, but that doesn't seem all too safe. I was thinking of a steel welded frame that would hold everything snug. 

 

 

Really all I need to know is will using a large propane burner directly fired at the bottom of a ceramic crucible effectively melt aluminum?

 

 

I'm talking a small contraption here, cheap and usable. Probably would use a crucible like this one

 

fiab_crucible.jpg

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I would scrap the cans for $$ and buy aluminum rounds of a know alloy.  Cast rounds can be machined, but the results might be questionable.   What do you plan to make?

 

Molten metal of any type has serious safety issues.  Have you ever done casting?  Do you have the safety gear?  What are you going to use for molds?  There are many threads on this topic on this site.  Read up and then make your decision about doing this.  It takes a lot of cans to get anywhere.  Somewhere around 28 cans/lb, then some will be lost from oxidation during the melt.  Will you have all of the liquid out of the cans?  Trapped liquid added to a melt can cause an explosion.    Take foundry very seriously. 

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Yes you can melt aluminium just by pointing a big burner at the crucible; you will waste a LOT more money paying for gas to do so than building an enclosure would cost but you can do it!  You can also melt Aluminium by burning 100 dollar bills with a forced draft.  Stupid but it can be done...

 

Al cans are not a real good turning alloy; Al pistons would probably work much better.  Don't forget to degass the melt!

 

May I commend to your attention the backyardmetalcasting.com as a series of forums much more aligned with your interest

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aluminium casting is something to be done with care, only do it with the guidance of those who have experience, a friend who has been into metal working of most types all his life nearly lost an eye a few years ago due to some water in scrap he added to a crucible, he was wearing goggles and some got inside.

it is safer to work steel at 1500c than molten metal at a few hundred degrees.

wear all the safety gear recommended and more

make sure you know what you are doing and have plans for anything that can go wrong like a crucible breaking, never work on concrete, dry sand is far better.

it is far cheaper and better to buy ali in the shape you want than to cast it yourself

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Reread what was said above. Now read it one more time.

 

Save your effort, and wasted money. BUY an aluminum alloy designed to be turned on a lathe. 

Just the safety issues alone make this the better choice, and you start with a sound piece of metal. 

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Yikes. First, safe casting takes experience and generally money, to invest in decent equipment. An open burner sucks. I'd almost build a fire over it before I tried an open burner. And neither one would be a tenth as good as a simple coffee can furnace. It's like asking can I forge with nothing but a rosebud? Sure ya can. It just really really sucks.

 

Don't even bother with cans. Horrible oxidation issues, crappy alloy (way, way too much surface area vs thickness ratio, in a metal that oxidizes almost immediately, also did I say alloy? Haven't assayed it, but given to understand that it's relatively pure, unlike most aluminum. Pure aluminum not so great.The alloys are WAY more useful.). And unlike other forms of aluminum, the oxides from this generally sink to the bottom and stick to the crucible. S'like making the infamous rebar sword. Can you do it? Sure....theoretically. But why would you?

 

If you're really interested in casting, take a class/find someone with experience. It'll save you worlds of grief, and maybe a few very very nasty burns. I'd also reccommend the backyardmetalcasting site, and the Gingery books as a starter.  If you just wanna turn some Al, you'll probably find it cheaper and safer to buy it, what with the learning curve and the initial investment.

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Did it once with cans. Stink you will not believe And the end product is full of porosity. Never again for me but just had to try.

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