Aluminium cans are all around us, and are one of readily recyclable. While you can turn them into more cans, [Burls Art] had other ideas. Instead, he turned roughly 1000 cans into a custom aluminium guitar.
Both the body and neck of the electric guitar are made out of aluminium. It’s an impressive effort, as manufacturing a usable neck requires care to end up with something actually playable when you’re done with it.
Producing the guitar started with a big propane furnace to melt all the cans down so they could be cast into parts for the guitar. 38 lbs of cans went into the project, and were first dried out before being placed into the furnace for safety reasons. Aluminium cans aren’t made of the best alloy for casting, but you can use them in a pinch. The cans were first melted down and formed into ingots to be later used for producing the neck and body.
[Burls Art] then built sand casting molds for his parts with a material called Petrobond. Wood plugs were used to form the sand into the desired shape. The neck casting came out remarkably well, and was finished with a grinder, hacksaw, and sandpaper to get it to the right shape and install the frets. The body proved more difficult, with its multiple cavities, but it came together after a second attempt at casting.
Fully kitted out with pickups and hardware, the finished product looks great, and weighs 12.3 pounds. It sounds remarkably like a regular electric guitar, too. It does pick up fingerprints easily, and does have some voids in the casting, but overall, it’s a solid effort for an all-cast guitar.
We’ve seen some other great casting projects over the years before, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “1000 Aluminium Cans Cast Into A Guitar”
Maze bolts, a bolt which has a maze along its shaft traversed by a pin on its nut, are great fun. Here’s a really beautiful metal version by [Robinson Foundry], made by a process more makers should know about – lost PLA casting.
His basic method is to 3D print in PLA, and then use more or less the same process as lost wax casting.
He 3D printed the part, along with the sprues and risers that go along with casting, in PLA, then dipped the parts in slurry ten (10) times. He heated in a kiln to 500°F (260°C), the PLA melted and ran out or burned away. With the PLA gone, after repairing a few cracks, he raised the temperature to 1500°F (815°C) and vitrified the slurry into a ceramic. He now had molds.
The nut is bronze. The bolt is aluminum. He poured the metal with the molds hot, held in heated sand, so the metal can flow into all the small details. The rest of the project is just cleanup, but we learned that you can vary the finish produced by glass bead blasting just by varying the air pressure.
A great demo of a useful technique and a fun toy at the end.
We covered a great technique for doing lost PLA casting using a microwave.
Continue reading “Maze Bolt Toy By Lost PLA Casting”
3D printing with plastics and resins is great for quickly prototyping parts with all manner of geometries, but strength and durability of the parts produced is often limited. One way around this is to use your 3D printed parts as patterns for casting in something tougher like aluminium. That’s precisely what [Brian Oltrogge] did to produce an attractive wall hook from a 3D printed design.
The process starts with the design and printing of a wall hook, with [Brian] taking care to include the proper draft angles to allow the pattern to be properly removed from the mold. The print is carefully sanded down and post-processed to be highly smooth, so that it doesn’t spoil the mold when its removed for the casting process. From there, a sand casting mold is built around the pattern using sodium silicate in a 3-4% mix by weight with fine masonry sand. Once ready, the pattern is removed, and the mold is assembled, ready for the pour.
[Brian] completes the process with a simple gravity casting method using molten aluminium. The part is then removed from the mold, and filed down to improve the surface finish from the sand casting process. It’s then polished up to a nice shine and hung on the wall.
[Brian] does a great job of explaining the basics of what it takes to get gravity casting right; draft angles in particular are something often ignored by beginners, yet are crucial to getting good results. You needn’t just settle for casting inanimate objects though; we’ve featured DIY casting processes for gears before, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Casting A Simple 3D Print In Aluminium”
It is not uncommon for a Hackaday writer to trawl the comments section of a given article, looking for insights or to learn something new. Often, those with experience in various fields will share kernels of knowledge or raise questions on a particular topic. Recently, I happened to be glazing over an article on aluminium casting with interest, given my own experience in the field. One comment in particular caught my eye.
And no, the water won’t cause a steam explosion. There’s a guy on youtube (myfordlover, I think) who disproves that myth with molten iron, pouring the iron into water, pouring water into a ladle of molten iron and so on. We’ll be happy to do a video demonstrating this with aluminum if so desired.
Having worked for some time in an aluminium die casting plant, I sincerely hope [John] did not attempt this feat. While there are a number of YouTube videos showing that this can be done without calamity, there are many showing the exact opposite. Mixing molten aluminium and water often ends very poorly, causing serious injury or even fatalities in the workplace. Let’s dive deeper to see why that is.
Continue reading “Water And Molten Aluminium Is A Dangerous Combination”
Automatic doors and gates are great, except when they fail, which seems to be about every three days in our experience. [MAD WHEEL] had just such a failure, with a plastic gear being the culprit. Rather than buy a new drive unit, they set about casting a replacement in metal.
The video is light on instructions and heavy on progressive rock, and may be a little difficult to follow for beginners. The process begins by gluing the original plastic part back together, and filling in the gaps with epoxy putty. A mould is then created by setting the gear in a gelatine/glycerine mixture. This mould is then filled with wax to create a wax copy of the original part. The wax gear is fitted with cylindrical stems to act as runners for molten metal, and then a plaster mould is made around the wax positive. Two plaster moulds are made, which are placed in an oven to melt out the wax.
The aim was to cast a replacement part in aluminium. The first attempt failed, with the aluminium cooling too rapidly. This meant fine details like the gear teeth simply didn’t cast properly, creating a useless metal blob. On the second attempt, the plaster mould was heated first, and this kept things hot enough to allow the aluminium to fill in the finer details. With that done, it was a simple matter of some post-processing to remove the runners, clean up the gear teeth and refine the shape of the gear on the lathe.
The resulting part does its job well, meshing properly with the other gears in the drivetrain and moving the gate effectively. Many in the comments have stated that the original gear being plastic was likely as a safety measure, to strip out in the event the gate is jammed. While this may be true, it’s a far more robust design practice to instead use a breakable plastic key rather than breaking an entire gear in the event of a problem.
Casting is quite accessible to the dedicated home maker. It’s a great way to make custom metal parts once you’ve learned the fundamentals! Video after the break.
Continue reading “Casting Gears At Home”
When it comes to machining, particularly in metal, rigidity is everything. [Tailortech] had a homebuilt CNC machine with a spindle held in place by a plastic bracket. This just wasn’t up to the job, so the decision was made to cast a replacement.
[Tailortech] decided to use the lost PLA process – a popular choice amongst the maker crowd. The spindle holder was first sketched out, then modeled in Fusion
3D 360. This was then printed in PLA slightly oversized to account for shrinkage in the casting process.
The PLA part was then used to make a plaster mold. [Tailortech] explains the process, and how to avoid common pitfalls that can lead to problems. It’s important to properly heat the mold once the plaster has set to remove moisture, but care must be taken to avoid cracking or wall calcination. It’s then necessary to slowly heat the mold to even higher temperatures to melt out the PLA prior to casting. With the mold completed, it can be filled with molten aluminium to produce the final part. When it’s cooled off, it’s then machined to final tolerances and installed on the machine.
Lost PLA casting is a versatile process, and goes to show that not everything has to be CNC machined out of billet to do the job. It’s also readily accessible to any maker with a furnace and a 3D printer. If you’ve got a casting project of your own, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Casting CNC Parts In Aluminium”
That kinetic sand stuff is pretty cool. It’s soft, it builds motor skills, and outside of sprinkling it on carpet, it’s not messy. If you don’t know, it’s 98% sand and 2% polydimethylsiloxane, which is a major component of Silly Putty, and according to a certain yellow and red clown, it’s safe enough to put in chicken nuggets. [Chris]’s wife bought him some, probably because she wanted to see him play around with something that isn’t potentially deadly for a change. In the course of researching its magical properties, he found out that it doesn’t really have a thermal breakdown point, per se. At high enough temperatures, It vitrifies like a sand castle in a mushroom cloud. Between this property and its malleability, [Chris] thought he’d have a reasonable substitute for founding sand. As you can see in his latest experiment, he was right. As a bonus, he managed to turn the benign into the dangerous.
[Chris] had never cast aluminium before, so he decided to start small by making an offset cam for a rotary broach. He packed some magic sand in a wax paper cup and shoved the cam in to make the negative. Then he cut down some aluminium rod and put it in a graphite crucible. He stuck his DC arc welder’s electrode down into the crucible and cranked it up to 50A. That wasn’t enough, so he went to 110. The crucible was soon glowing orange. He carefully poured the molten aluminium into the mold. Make the jump to see how it panned out.
Spoiler alert: there’s no cussin’ this time!
Continue reading “And So Castings Made Of (Kinetic) Sand . . . Turn Out Pretty Well, Actually”