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Technology & Success


Hi All,

In a future issue, AJM is planning to focus on new technology and
profitabilty: specifically, how new technology can help improve
productivity and, by extension, profitability. We know the hot button
technologies – lasers, CAD/CAM, robotics. But I was wondering if
there are profit-enhancing technologies without the big price tag
that are being put to use in smaller shops. Has anyone out there in
Orchidland recently added a new product to their arsenal of tools
that’s helped them make more money? Any new product that you can no
longer live without? What new technology have you adopted to save

Thanks in advance for sharing!

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255

 What new technology have you adopted to save money? 

They aren’t as dramatic as a laser, but a number of the 3M abrasive
products, including their various sanding films and papers, bristle
disks, etc, same me enough time over old traditional products, that I
notice it. And the Gesswein platinum polishing compounds are, as far
as I’m concerned, a revolution compared to traditional polishing
compounds. Heck, Their Supra platinum investment, and other new
platinum investments, are also very significant advances over the
old Kerr platinite types. And then there are the whole range of
various silcone rubber wheels that have become available over the
last fifteen years or so. Those old enough to remember having to use
just the buffalo dental blue pumice, or Cratex rubber wheels, may
agree with me that these are a significant improvement.



Suzanne, I absolutely cannot live without my bench microscope. I do
a lot of pave and bead setting of the smallest diamond sizes
(typically .015 to .005ct diamonds). A retired medical equipment
salesperson I know had one of the really early bench mounted models
and ever since I saw it, and the newer ones you see in the better
tool catalogs I have had lust in my heart.

Being without the thousands of dollars needed, I made my own
version. I took a twenty year old gem stereomicroscope and removed
it from it’s base. I then mounted it to a spare wooden armrest and
bench pin from my bench. I put a slat in the wood and mounted a
bolt in the center of my bench. Now I can remove the scope or
position it where I need it. If I don’t want to totally remove the
scope from my bench I can just swing it out of the way; provided
that my bench is clear enough!

I still would like to someday upgrade to a professional model as it
would provide a little more viewing area, but for now I am extremely
proud of my homemade one. I can attest that having a scope at the
bench that can provide high power magnification will significantly
increase quality and in many cases speed, and my clients can too.
My pave and bead setting goes much faster and the higher quality has
allowed me to actually charge more for my work.

If anyone wants to see my scope, send me an email and I’ll be glad
to send you a picture.



Hi Suzanne Wade, Well, I have a few things that I have developed over
the years that are available on the market , Not many people in the
casting field understand the true potential of the one I have listed
below which are availabel from The contenti Co. ( 800-343-3364) and
Gesswein ( 800-544-2043) It is a patented device for vaccuum casting

This is a vaccuum enhancing system that burns away in the oven for
people who do vaccuum casting by torch or machine. It is made of
recycled paper and is made with a lot of advantages over any other
product. This also works with centrifugal machines( I will explain
this further down). The specialy designed insert is called “Tivac”
.It is inserted inside a standard non-perforated flask . The liner
has holes in it to allow the investment to lock onto the inside wall
of a standard casting flask… The liner also has an extension above
the top of the flask ( about 2" higher than the top of the flask)
Which will be torn off after the investment has dried.

What the extension allows you to do is fill the flask within 1/8 "
from the top , then when you pour the investment in the flask and put
it in the vaccuum chamber to remove the air from the investment ,
the investment is contained from spilling out of the flask while
under vaccuum. After investing, the liner is burned out in the
burnout process leaving vaccuum chanels within the invested flask.
There are 11 advantages of using this product over any other… The
first being much less cleanup after investing as you won’t have a
spillage problem… The second advantage is that it won’t be
neccessary to have leftover investment to pour into the flask which
is common practice since most people get spillage problems. Thirdly,
since you don’t have to do a second pour after investing due to
spillage, this will reduce the problem of investment seperation which
can happen if the additional investment is poured too late.

  1. When moving the flasks, you don’t have to worry about spilling
    the investment out as it will be contained.

  2. What the product then does is creates massive amounts of vaccuum
    draw within the flask when it is on a vaccuum table ready to be
    cast. This can be seen on the vac. gauge of your table… I will
    explain: With a normal flask using the paper insert on a vaccum table
    , and a good pump, you will notice that the gauge will only read 26
    to 27 " mercury …this is due to the fact that the paper product
    is doing it’s job… As soon as metal is poured into the flask, the
    gauge will rise to 29.9 " mercury … this shows that there is good
    vaccuum in the flask and on the metal directly… When you use other
    systems, you will see no change from before the metal is poured to
    after it is poured… the gauge will read the same… so , from this,
    you can deduce that the burned away insert is having a major effect
    on the incoming metal. It is allowing a suction to be seen … All
    investment is pourous to some degree or another… with normal
    investment ( Kerr, R&R, prevest, Contenti and Hoben
    Investmnents)Vaccuum potential is greatly reduced if the investment
    is thicker than 1 " from the vaccuum source. You still get some
    effect of vaccuum, but, what the liner does is make the source of
    vaccuum in the flask much closer to the part being cast… Your
    waxes can be within a 1/4"of the liner and it will have a direct
    impact on the quality of your vaccuum cast metal.

  3. What the liner allows you to do is cast your parts at a lower
    flask temperature and/or metal temperature,giving you a better fill
    with far less porosity problems.

We have cast very thin designs at 1250 oF using perforated flasks
which do not work as well, cost more to design the casting machine
that uses perforated and perforated flasks take up 30% more oven
space due to the flange on the outside of the flask …requiring you
to buy more ovens or do lower volume. Perforated flasks cost a lot
more… they can warp and are not easy to repair… they can also
have problems getting a good seal.

  1. Using the liner in a standard flask which is much cheaper to buy,
    allows you 30% more oven space than a perforated flask and we can
    cast the same part at 1100 oF that was cast much hotter before. Items
    that we used to cast at 1050 are now being cast at 900 oF or lower…
    We cast very heavy parts as low as 650 oF.

  2. Investment breakout is easier as there is much less investment
    stuck to the wall of the flask… water gets into the burned out liner
    area to help break out become easier…

The advantages are countless and this is one of the reasons that the
castings at my company come out as good as they do…

  1. How will this help on a centrifugal machine… the same way… it
    makes investing easier with less cleanup… and it allows the air to
    escape from the flask easier when the metal is being centrifuged
    into the flask.

  2. Now, when it comes to machine design… the liner can work with
    any machine. But, the other advantage that machine designers have not
    found out about is this. If you were to take the $60,000 + machines
    on the market that are currently being sold, the amount of hardware
    built onto the machine to accommodate perforated flasks becomes
    uneccessary… the savings on a redesigned machine will be
    incredible… You know that big chamber where the flask goes inside
    … It is primarily for the perforated flask… the other thing it
    does is allow them to add nitrogen or argon to the chamber… usually
    where the melt is performed… that chamber , the door, the housing
    , the glass window… and countless number of parts can be
    eliminated from the design as the standard flask can be it’s own
    chamber and use simple sealing systems that are very inexpensive …
    so that the metal never see’s oxygen … But, the machine will not
    look as impressive if it is incorrectly designed.

  3. the final reason for using this product is the labor/
    timesavings you accomplish when you calculate how easily it is
    inserted into the flask… It has it’s own method of retaining
    itself in the flask without using tape , wax or clips… helps
    eliminate spillage and cleanup… makes a better casting… All of
    this comes out to massive savings that are not seen initially …

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. Best

Daniel Grandi We do casting, finishing, and a whole lot more for
jewelry designers, stores and people in the trade. Contact :


Suzanne: may not be what you are asking about but,I could not do
without the 3m Radial Bristle Disc for polishing. They cut finish
time and improve the quality. Low tech and not too expensive but very
effective. Also couldn’t live without the silicone based vulcanizing
mold rubbers. Best thing to happen to mold rubber in the 27 years I
have been making jewelry. Hope these are what you are looking for.

Frank Goss


what amount of ash residue is left after burnout?? the wax web used
to created the same effects (except holding in investment, something
the reusable rubber collars do well) melts out during the steaming
process (we steam out or wax prior to firing to eliminate a
significant amount of soot).

how would you insure a good seal on the bottom and top of the solid
flask if you plan on using it as the vacuum chamber. the top and
bottom are the most susceptible area for dings and bumps. this is
the reason the flange on the perforated flasks are so thick.

also, how can you claim better break out than a perforated flask.
even with the THIN channel created by your paper product - what
maybe 1/32 of an inch at best-gives more surface area for the cold
water to hit the hot investment. the proposition is ludicrous.

i have used these types of paper liners before - i am not dissuading
anyone from trying them - but the perforated flasks are the
commercial industry norm for a reason - maybe not all the best, but i
believe the best so far.


Suzanne, Blue silicone rubber wheels, GRS soldering station, Quick
release hand piece, Hammer hand piece, Ganoksin. Regards J Morley
Coyote Ridge Studio

   i have used these types of paper liners before - i am not
dissuading anyone from trying them - but the perforated flasks are
the commercial industry norm for a reason - maybe not all the best,
but i believe the best so far. 

Hi Argoodell I will try and give you as much of an explanation as
possible . Your first question is what amount of residue ash is left
after burnout… Well, First, Paper burns away better than most wax
in the sense that it is a cleaner burn also, less polutants …
creating carbon in the process… However, since the paper is at the
flask wall, There will be no ash that will ever get close to your
castings So there is no problem with this… The Burned out paper is
on the vacuum side of the table… not where the melt is. In the
oven, the paper volatelizes and goes out the exhaust. When it comes
to steam dewaxing, the paper has no effect what so ever… before
putting it in the oven, the paper that sticks out of the vaccuum
side of the flask is torn off .

Just a minor point in reference to the wax web that you mentioned…
That particular wax is not a clean burning wax… has a certain
amount of plastic in it so that it does not breakeasily when bent…
I would be more worried about those polutants . The wax web does not
easily hold itself in the flask without other work being done… The
wax web can be broken easily in shipping and in use. You will have to
use tape or a rubber colar with the wax web or a perforated flask
… this takes time to do with a perf. flask or with the web… We
have done time studies based on preparation of perforated flasks and
web and I can assure you, there is a difference in time … You will
have to clean rubber sleeves as well .

Also, When you steam out your flask… Do you then flip it upside
down to steam out the left over wax web? if you don’t it will be in
your oven creating the soot you speak of.

Now, you really want me to tell you the difference on vacuum draw
with the paper product versus the perforated flask… Ok… here
goes… Check the holes in the perforated flask… most are all in a
row… where ther are no holes, there is no vacuum… the paper is
different and draws more vaccuum… why is this… because the holes
in the paper are not where the vacuum is drawn from… Look at the
paper again… when the paper burns away, it leaves channels that go
everywhere because the burned away paper is the vaccuum chanel
area… Not the holes !So, More even vaccum. If you don’t believe me,
show it to an engineer…and explain it the way I did.

As far as the seal on the vaccum table, there is also no problem …
we use high temp rubber pads that withstand temperatures of up to
1350 oF intermittently. this takes care of any seal problem. I use
one pad ( cost $4.50 ) for about 150 flasks… Our casting machine
requires no “chamber” and only has a small trap made of metal to
catch any blow outs that we might have… Haven’t had a blow out yet
this year !

By the way, this has been the standard method of casting extremely
large volumes of jewelry in the Rhode island area since the 1970’s
they use 4 port casting tables that cast 4 large flasks / minute…
some companies have 8 port tables… I use to run one of these
departments and did my time studies not on 5 or 10 flasks… but on
17 ovens that handle 40 4x7 flasks per oven… and they were
full… This, is not casting that most will see in their life time!!
These 4 port tables were made by the Conley casting company that
produced most of these machines. So, believe me, if perforated flasks
were actually better and less expensive to use, they would have used
them… but they didn’t . Your flange on a perforated flask can warp
as it is quenched in water… it does happen… Specially in the
volumes I have done .

On a standard flask, when the edge of the flask becomes thin or
damaged, put it on a 5 " belt sander for about 30 seconds and it’s
back to new… We do this to our flasks every year and a half…

As far as break out is concerned, I think you are not looking at
things clearly because you seem to be angry for some reason…
because the investment is only held in place by the holes through the
paper, there is far less surface area holding the investment in the
flask… So it does break out easier… we wait 20 minutes before we
quench and all the investment breaks free… and this is with a flask
temperature of 900 oF. There is another method of removing
investment… using a ram method… dry break out … No water is
used … the paper liner works better on this as well. You may never
have heard of this method as it is primarily used by very large
casting companies.This machine was also made by Conley casting.It’s
not cheap.

Let me ask you this… do you cast large quantities? Over 5000
pieces per week? I do… We get visits from other people who do
casting as we invite them to see what we do…Not one person has ever
left without learning a whole lot of things . You are more than
welcome to come by if you don’t believe what I say… it’s a
learning experience for every person that has visited. Best Wishes,
Daniel Grandi

We do casting, finishing and a whole lot more for designers,
jewelers and people in the trade. Contact :


Dear Daniel, I stopped using any vents after I build my vacuum
casting area with a super strong Welch Duo-Seal vacuum pump and one
inch vacuum line. You don’t need to screw around with venting with
more muscle. I can cast 200 dwt easily and with 100% success this
way. We cast 35 pounds of 14 karat this April without a problem. The
engineers that make jewelry vacuum casting machines probably have
never production cast before in their lives. Most of the pumps with
those itty bitty vacuum hoses work at a bare minimum. I still teach
flask venting because most beginning casters and students won’t have
access to stronger machines. I will try the paper liners in our
casting class. Right now we use spru wax without any problem.

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson
TR the Teacher
T.R. Hawkinson, Ltd.

Hi All, In a future issue, AJM is planning to focus on new
technology and profitabilty: specifically, how new technology can
help improve productivity and, by extension, profitability. 

Hi Suzanne, I probably won’t be the first to say this, but I believe
it strongly. If you are to tie in technology with any suggestion of
improvement, productivity or profitability then I feel very strongly
that Orchid should be included in the top 5. I have been a subscriber
for 4+ years and have compiled a huge, nay VAST, amount of technical
processes and troubleshooting tips. Just by reading! I rarely have to
post! I’m a 2-D artist by part time, teacher full time and jeweler
when I get the chance and I’ve found myself being able to hold my own
in workshops, conversations, etc. because of my “Orchid Education”.
Technology within the last 10 years brought thousands of us "Orchid"
on a daily basis. How many have benefited from this forum? I can
imagine a few :slight_smile:

Good Work, Hanuman :slight_smile:

Terry Swift
Vashon Island, Washington