Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Setting up a casting studio


#1

Hello All,

Let me start by saying I am self taught and am learing everything
from the ground up. I have taken one course of the basics of jewelry
and have been creating works ever since. An investor approached me
and offered to fund a small casting studio that I could set up in my
basesment. As I have little exposure to casting you can imagine the
task at had to put together a comprehensive list of equipment,
supplies and materials I would need. I am working with a budget of
around 4-5K. I have normally sent my work out for this, but am
really looking forward to learning how to create the mold to
finished product myslef. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You,

Linda
www.seadreamjewelry.com


#2

Hello Linda; I have been silversmithing for 25 years and two years
ago, purchased a brand new, complete casting shop, from start to
finish. I am 54 years old and have decided that it is time to retire
from the jewelry business to pursue my love of painting, while it is
still possible. I am interested in selling my entire casting shop,
plus any other tools and equipment that might be of interest to
anybody. If this might interest you, I would be happy to answer any
questions you might have.

Kathleen Todd


#3

Dear Linda,

Following equipment needed for a small casting studio set up.

First - Book “Centifugal Lost wax casting” By Murray Bovin.

Second - a very good burnout furnace. I suggest Neycraft Vulcan
Venturi Circulating Air Oven.

Third - Neycraft Spincaster (centrifugal casting Machine) and V.I.C
12 table top casting system.for investing and vaccum assit casting.

I prefer Torch melting, Propane -Oxygen torch
Versa-torch.(Smith).Flash back arrestors from smith.

Silica / clay crucibles with handels one each for diffferent
alloys.Carbon graphite strring rods.strip ingot mold to make ingots
from scrap metal (Sprue, button, rejection castings, or new alloy
ingots),Cruciles tongs.

310 -QUALITY Steel flasks solid,as per your casting piece size,
standard size i use is, 4 X 4 inches,4X6 inches.31/2"X4’,3X3", flask
tongs. Rubber sprue base conical formers not dome shaped cones.

A good accurate weighing scale for investment powder. A mechanical
timer. One Liter Pitcher. Big rubber mixing bowl and spatula.
Disposble masks. Casting gloves. Rubber golves,Silquar high -heat
blocks 12" X12",Boric acid crystles as flux. Hydro air was gun.
Pickling powder with crack pot.

Vanadium jaw sprue cutter and power max full flush cutter. One heavy
duty cutter from Hardware store size 36 or 42 inches to cut ingots
of 9x9mm or 7x 7mm etc.

This is the basic kit to start with you can go on addings the things
you think is needed as you work daily.

The invaluable book by Murray Bovin, Centrifugal Lost wax Casting,
will be your friend and guide to succesful casting results.

Best of luck

May god bless us all with total health - Mental, Physical, Spiritual
and Social. Be Happy

Umesh


#4

Linda,

as part of the MJSA seminars at the AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson there
was a powerpoint presentation held by Chris Ploof on exactly this
topic. You might see his work and contact him at chrisploof.com.

Sandor
Ti-Research.com


#5

Hello Linda; I have been silversmithing for 25 years and two years
ago, purchased a brand new, complete casting shop, from start to
finish. I am 54 years old and have decided that it is time to retire
from the jewelry business to pursue my love of painting, while it is
still possible. I am interested in selling my entire casting shop,
plus any other tools and equipment that might be of interest to
anybody. If this might interest you, I would be happy to answer any
questions you might have.

Kathleen Todd


#6

Hi, Umesh,

Your casting set-up was interesting to read, but there are a couple
of things I don’t understand:

Silquar high -heat blocks 12" X12" 
Hydro air was gun. 

Could you explain these?

Thanks,
Noel


#7

Dear Noel,

Silquar high -heat blocks 12" X12" 
Hydro air was gun. 

Could you explain these?

Silquar high - heat block 12"x12",

I use it to place my silica clay crucibles and Ingot molds, while
melting gold silver and also platinum, it is a heat shield for my
wooden bench on which i do melting, I place my other silica/clay
crucibles with handles on it when they are hot, two 12’x12’ are a
great help, they are easy to clean and while melting any accidentle
spill of few drops of metal is easily recovered and remains free of
contamination. One can find it useful when to protect any surface
form direct heat. it has small rubber legs which keeps it few
milimeters away from the surface below.

Hydro air gun is used to wash or clean away the investment from the
tree after quenching the flask.

still better to clean the investment from the casted tree is with
high pressure water jet, but if the expence is not a matter and you
have more trees to clean,then it is an wise thing to invest in one
of them. the best thing is to use wet bead blaster to clean the tree
after cleaning it with water jet or Hydor air gun, the wet bead
(glass beads) blaster cleans the castings gently and removes 100
percent investment from the castings reaching deep crivises of the
castings while cleaning the casting surface to a shine,and any
imperfections are also reavealed at this stage and helps in quality
control of the castings at this first stage of cleaning, I am using
this since last 15 years. It also help to eliminate pickling of the
castings, since it removes the oxidation very gentl;y and perfectly,
this wet bead blaster is mainly used on a huge scale to remove
carbon oxidation layers from the fan blades of jet engines of jet
planes.

So i recommend the Wet Bead blaster to all who can understand the
long term benifit its usefullness in improving the suface of the
castings,it is a one time investment on long term basis,experience
can only tell, experiment and find out.

May god bless us all with total health, Mental, Physical, Spiritual,
and Social.

Be Happy.
Umesh.
Be Happy


#8

You might want to investigate a small casting machine invented by
Ti-Research. I see a lot of good products out on the market, but
this casting machine is so good, I am working with a technical person
in the US with McKinnon Global who will travel around the country and
teach casting workshops at your studio. The whole set up is so easy
and so small, it is perfect for the small studio jewelry designer.

We are offering a three day workshop on Ti-Casting Machine at
Metalwerx in May. The description hasn’t been finalized, but the
first two days will be working with wax and natural burnouts. The
third day is open to the jewelry trade to watch live demonstrations
in casting stainless and possibly platinum.

I will be posting this up on my Metalwerx Insider in a few days and
on Orchid. Meanwhile, go to http://www.mckinnon.global.com and take a
look at the machine.

-k
Metalwerx


#9

This looks pretty cool, but at $2500 I could buy 3-4 small vacuum
casting units (not that I would want 3-4 of them)… why is this
better than a pepe tools tabletop vacuum unit?

Just fyi there’s an extra ‘.’ in that web link it should be
http://www.mckinnonglobal.com :slight_smile:

Craig


#10

I would like to know what the advantage would be other than the small
size for me to spend, I believe, four times as much for the
It-Research casting machine as opposed to a Neycraft spin caster.
The Neycraft is fairly small, nowhere near as small as the
It-Research caster.

Richard Hart


#11

Richard,

I would like to know what the advantage would be other than the
small size for me to spend, I believe, four times as much for the
It-Research casting machine as opposed to a Neycraft spin caster.
The Neycraft is fairly small, nowhere near as small as the
It-Research caster.

Travis at Naja Jewelers Tools & Supplies in your hometown can tell.

Regards,
Sandor


#12

Hi Craig,

This looks pretty cool, but at $2500 I could buy 3-4 small vacuum
casting units (not that I would want 3-4 of them).. Why is this
better than a pepe tools tabletop vacuum unit? 

I had the opportunity to talk to the German who invented Cast/T
centrifugal casting machine and to observe his demonstration. I
think this casting machine would be most valuable to those that cast
custom and one-of-a-kind pieces, and who place importance on saving
time (convenience) and the minimal use of materials.

Although there are probably others, these are the advantages I
recall:

  1. Very small footprint; designed for safety & efficient use of
    materials

  2. Investments can be quite small and there is a specially designed
    clamp to safely & quickly transfer the burned-out investment ring to
    the casting machine

  3. The centrifuge is in operation while the metal is being melted in
    the crucible; when the metal is molten, it is quickly dumped into
    the spinning hot investment, which means a complete fill is more
    likely - almost fool-proof

  4. Design of the investing ring allows for the minimum amount of
    metal to be used; if the math is properly done, the only "left-over"
    metal is the sprue and a small ring rather than a tree - this means
    less metal to be either scrapped or mixed with new casting grain.

The main disadvantage is the price. The system requires the use of a
custom shaped wax button to which sprues are attached. They are
cheap, but have to be used, so one would have to keep them in stock.

The machine is well-engineered and made of quality materials. It
really needs to be seen and demonstrated to be appreciated.

No association with the inventor or manufacturer, just an impressed
observer.

Judy in Kansas


#13

I have one of the Ti Research machines, There are several advantages
over any other small casting machine. The main reason I bought it as
I already have a Neycraft and vacuum assisted casting machines is
its ability to cast palladium white gold. If you have not tried to
cast the Pd White gold it has a couple of problems, one is it is not
very fluid so it is difficult to get a complete casting especially in
thinner patterns. Two it is very high temperature so you need to get
it into the mold very rapidly to deal with the loss of heat and the
reduced fluidity that too low a temperature metal causes. In both of
these areas the Ti Research machine excels. it has a high rotation
speed which translates to a high velocity high pressure metal flow
to overcome the viscous nature of the palladium white gold, second
the fact that the mold is already up to speed when the metal is
poured into it greatly decreases the temperature losses from waiting
for the machine to get up to speed as with the horizontal spring
wound casting machines like the Neycraft.

Beyond this the small footprint and high quality of the castings
that I get from this machine make it work well for me. For a hobiest
the machine may not be a good investment but for a business owners
viewpoint it will pay for itself fairly rapidly due to higher
quality castings (less miscasts, less cleanup time) and not having to
send out high temperature castings.

just my two cents,

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#14
I already have a Neycraft and vacuum assisted casting machines is
its ability to cast palladium white gold. If you have not tried to
cast the Pd White gold it has a couple of problems, one is it is
not very fluid so it is difficult to get a complete casting
especially in thinner patterns. 

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, I have only cast palladium white gold
two times, both were rings and I had no problems with using a
Neycraft. I know two other jewelers who use a Neycraft for casting
platinum, although I have never tried doing that. I send out my
waxes to a platinum caster. I use a Kerr large arm centrifugal for
sterling, I cast 100-350 grams per flask. For gold, I use the
Neycraft. I cast every week. I do 4-6 white or yellow gold custom
rings a month.

I just don’t have any problems with my castings. I do not have
incomplete fills, I don’t have porosity.

I investigated the It-Research machine and I would like to own one
just because I love the concept and I am a tool freak. I just could
not justify the expense unless it would solve a problem that was
costing me time or money. I did not have any problem with casting
the palladium white gold, but my customer did not like the color.

I have had no problems using David Fell’s Winter white gold
recommended by Andy Cooperman. I have cast about 40 rings using it
and I have not had one customer react to it’s color, and there have
been no allergic reactions to it’s nickle content.

Richard Hart


#15

Me too, I am an impressed observer of the Cast/T centrifugal casting
machine. If I was a caster I would purchase it. The small footprint,
the molten metal goes directly into the machine while the centrifuge
is turning. I have the old fashion kind and it provides me with a
shelf space for my enameling kiln. Yep, I know it is a waste, but I
just prefer fabrication and the hydraulic press (big stuff) to
waxing.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA


#16

Hi James,

have you seen or tried the indutherm MC-15? I wondered what you
thought about pouring the metal only a short distance but in a
vacuum. The samples I saw were a mixture of light weight and
heavyweight on the same sprue and looked OK, they were in 18ct
white, platinum and chrome cobalt, but I was long gone by the time I
had though of all the questions I had come up with. I also though you
could probably cast titanium in it, I have seen this facility on the
Supercast website, but that system uses centrifugal force. Just
curious, I can see the advantage of having a small set up in house
for high temp casting, outside my price range at the moment.

regards Tim.


#17

Hi James, thanks for the review. It does sound like a great machine
it’s just the price is prohibitive for most when other methods
(alibeit may be more difficult) are available at a fraction of the
cost. For example, if the machine were around $1000 I would order
one today but they’re not so I won’t.

What is the problems with vacuum casting and palladium?

Craig


#18

For heavy sections like rings I can cast Pd white in my Neycraft but
on long thin sections I was having fill problems. And like you I am
a tool junkie so at the time I had the funds to buy it and have found
it to produce higher quality castings than using my Neycraft or Vac
caster.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#19
have you seen or tried the indutherm MC-15? I wondered what you
thought about pouring the metal only a short distance but in a
vacuum. 

Vacuum has some real advantages but also puts some stringent
requirements on equipment and processes. I have not used the
indutherm MC-15 but the company is well respected and it is into the
price range where a small shop could afford an induction unit.

With the proper crucible it might work for casting titanium but I
think it is probably not going to produce high quality titanium
castings as it will not have a good enough vacuum. By this I mean
that the vacuum pump (a mechanical oil sealed pump) used by this
unit and all the other small scale machines I am aware of will not
produce a low enough vacuum to get rid of enough oxygen nitrogen and
hydrogen to make a clean titanium castings. Atmospheric pressure is
760 mm of mercury (mmHg) or 29.95 inches of mercury. Normally when
talking about very low pressure vacuum the terms get turned around
so a very very low pressure becomes a high or ultra high vacuum. A
mechanical pump produces what is called a medium vacuum, it can
realistically pump down to the.001 mmHg range (or 759.999 mmHg ) and
to do really clean titanium casting requires better than.00001 mmHg
vacuum ( 759.99999 mmHg) to achieve this a second type of pump a
"high vacuum pump"is put in series with the mechanical pump to take
over when the mechanical pump can’t go any lower. The high vacuum
pumps are exotic finicky beasts and their proper operation takes a
skilled technician. This requirement puts them more in the realm of
folks producing aerospace or medical parts rather than jewelry.

A titanium casting made in a medium vacuum will tend to be brittle
and discolored.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#20

I totally agree. $2500 is a bit steep for a casting machine. I don’t
own a Neycraft, I’ve been vacuum casting and I just can’t provide a
compelling reason to my wife to drop $2500 on another cool tool.
$1000 price tag and I’d jump on it.

Stanley Bright