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Homemade PMC


#1

Being a bit of the ‘starving artist’ and an the habitually
resourceful type, I am dabbling with homemade PMC (fine silver) and
have had some success. I would like to ‘compare notes’ with anyone
who has done so off list.

Thanks,
Dan

Daniel Biery Jr.
Master Goldsmith
Industrial Designer
Watchmaker
http://www.nobleconcepts.com
@Dan_Biery


#2

I didn’t get your name so I’ll call you Fishbre,

I can understand the frustration concerning the cost ratio of the
fine silver spot market value of under $5 a troy ounce and powdered
silver which generally cost $29 for 10 grams. You can also buy 50
grams for $109. That’s roughly $67 a troy ounce, about $22 cheaper
than the 10 gram package.

Keep in mind that the cost of producing 325 mesh silver powder is
justifiable. How justifiable? I wouldn’t know. Imagine the amount of
labor and time it would take to use a #4 file to produce the powder
and then mesh it. I have been using a custom made water-cooled steel
grinder. It worked well, but in the end, the cost of homemaking PMC
and buying from a supplier is negligible.

What I enjoy most about making my own PMC is the experimentation and
creativity involved. Homemaking the PMC gives me the advantage to
create various size grains of fine silver and gold. The possibility
of making coarser grain (2000-6000 microns) and applying it to the
jewelry arts appeals to me.

I do hope that the popular companies that sells pre-fabricated noble
metals will add to the menu what I believe will be an exciting
product for us.

Warm regards,

Dan
Daniel Biery Jr.
Master Goldsmith
Industrial Designer
Watchmaker
http://www.nobleconcepts.com
@Dan_Biery


#3
Imagine the amount of labor and time it would take to use a #4 file
to produce the powder and then mesh it. I have been using a custom
made water-cooled steel grinder.

Hi, I think you folks may be doing things the hard way… Why don’t
you contact a plating supply house and buy powdered pure silver
from them… or a refiner and ask for it before they melt the
powdered silver into shot… When silver is refined and /or then
used for plating, it works like this. Scrap silver and gold is
disolved in aquaregia ( chemical composition) , then , as they
proceed through the refining process, the silver is removed from
the gold through a filtrate process and the silver left on the
filter is pure powdered silver… The same process is used for gold
…Then , a refiner will take the various powders and melt them into
ingots, grain , flakes , etc…etc. I do know the entire process, but
it is not neccessary to explain it in this case as you should be
able to buy it from plating supply houses or refiners for market
cost ( around $5) if you know what to ask for.

This being in very fine powder form should probably work better ,
but I’m no pmc expert… I do a fair amount of casting for
designers who use pmc to make their original models … so if any of
you would like to reproduce your designs in a far easier way , then
please contact my company. We walk you through the process if you are
not familiar with molding casting and finishing .

Daniel Grandi sales@racecarjewelry.com

We do casting, finishing, model work ,cnc, various forms of polimer
based enameling, soldering, fusion, and a whole lot more …for
designers stores and people in the trade.


#4

I have been told by a powdered metal metallurgist that something
similar to PMC can be made by mixing the fine mesh silver powder and
a hair styling gel called Dipitty-Do (sp?). I have never tried this
and have no idea as to the proportions. But you might start there.


#5

Hi All,

If you’re interested in developing your own PMC, it would probably
be helpful if you learned a bit more about the technology behind it.
From the descriptions I’ve seen of PMC, it sounds to me like it is is
essentially a relatively low-tech variation on a technology called
powder metallurgy, which is used quite widely in industrial
applications, including automotive and aerospace applications. There
has been some experimentation in using the technique in the jewelry
industry in recent years (outside of the PMC arena), and some of the
results of that research have been presented in papers at the Santa
Fe Symposium. (Contact Rio Grande, who sponsors the symposium, for
on getting back copies of the Proceedings for 1997, 1998,
and 2000.) I also wrote an article for AJM published in July 2001
offering an overview of the process and its potential applications
in the jewelry industry – if you’re interested, you can order a copy
at the AJM website at http://www.ajm-magazine.com, look under
"article index" and search for “powder metallurgy.” You can also read
about powder metallurgy at the Metal Powder Industries Federation
website at http://www.mpfi.org

From talking to those doing powder metallurgy, I can think of two
issues in making your own PMC. One is finding a binder that will burn
out completely and not interfere with the sintering: if the piece
doesn’t sinter correctly, it will end up falling apart. Your best bet
here might be to investigate the binders currently being used in
industrial applications for powder metallurgy.

The second will be to get the correct grain size and shape. As I
understand it, just getting fine powder isn’t enough. The grains must
be pretty uniform and within a specific size range, usually measured
in microns. This is usually achieved through a relatively high-tech
piece of equipment called an atomizer. (This is a machine that costs
six figures, so it’s not something you’re going to buy yourself
unless you want to make a LOT of powder!) An atomizer is what
producers of paste solders use to create their products, as well. I
don’t know if any of these atomized grains in precious metals are
currently available for commercial purchase, although I would expect
they probably will be at some point, considering the growing interest
among jewelry manufacturers.

Oh, by the way, I believe Mitsubishi currently holds the patent on
the PMC sold by Rio: not sure who holds the patent on ArtClay,
although I’m sure there is one somewhere. You might look up the
patents to learn more about how the product is made. Keep in mind,
though, that if you use that process, you are violating the patent,
so you probably don’t want to make plans to sell any resulting clay
to others. :wink:

Personally, I think I’d just buy my stuff from Rio or whoever. But
if you really love to experiment and you have some time and money to
invest in trying something new, there are people out there who’d
probably be willing to work with you to develop new powder processes.
If you’re really interested, let me know and I’ll put you in touch
with them.

Suzanne Wade
writer/editor
Suzanne@rswade.net
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255