Mind you that the point of the project wasn't to be economical, but
in truth I already owned everything but the kiln, so it wasn't very
expensive for me. But even if you were going to start from scratch it
wouldn't be * thousands* of dollars...
-The particular CAD suite I used was not free, granted, but if I
hadn't already had it I'd have just used a free variant like Google
-The CNC mill for cutting the waxes was a HarborFreight 47158
micromill that I bought 10+ years ago; they were also sold as a "Sieg
X1" and were $300 new. The CNC conversion I built myself, with a $60
driver board from http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1sw
-Wax injector was a baby medicine syringe from Walgreens for $5
-Kiln is a Vulcan JK-1... $265 new, but plus $100 shipping to
-My "vacuum caster" (you're being generous to call it that) was some
scrap aluminum for a vacuum plate plus some leftover rubber from the
wax injection as a gasket. The flasks were short pieces of 2" steel
gas pipe. The degassing chamber was a used acrylic dessicator that I
bought many many years ago on ebay; I was a college student back
then so it couldn't have been more than $30. The vacuum pump itself
was a $75 job from the surplus store.
-The torch is a little $40 oxy-propane Bernzomatic brazing torch
like you can buy at Home Depot. The oxygen bottles it takes only last
for 15 minutes and cost $8 ea. Crucible and tongs were the bottom of
the line stuff from OttoFrei, $30 for two crucibles and tongs.
-Finishing was $20 of sandpaper from the hardware store, plus $20
pads and wheels for my dremel tool. $5 for rouge. $30 setting pliers.
$5 setting bur.
There is more, of course, in terms of consumables like investment
and wax, but all the major equipment is possible under $1000, easily.