Metalworking might conjure images of large furnaces powered by coal, wood, or electricity, with molten metal sloshing around and visible in its crucible. But metalworking from home doesn’t need to use anything more fancy than a microwave, at least according to [Denny] a.k.a. [Shake the Future]. He has a number of metalworking tools designed to melt metal using a microwave, and in this video he uses them to make a usable aluminum pencil with a graphite core.
Before getting to the microwave kiln, the pencil mold needs to be prepared. A 3D-printed pencil is first created with the graphite core, and then [Denny] uses a plaster of Paris mixture to create the mold for the pencil. The 3D printed plastic is left inside the mold and placed in the first microwave kiln, which is turned on just enough to melt the plastic out of the mold, leaving behind the graphite core. From there a second kiln goes into the microwave to melt the aluminum.
Once the molten aluminum is ready, it is removed from the kiln and poured in the still-warm pencil mold. This is where [Denny] has another trick up his sleeve. He’s using a household vacuum cleaner to suck the metal into place before it cools, creating a rudimentary but effective vacuum forming machine. The result is a working pencil, at least after he wears down a few razor blades attempting to sharpen the metal pencil. For more information about how [Denny] makes these microwave kilns, take a look at some of his earlier projects.
Continue reading “Casting Metal With A Microwave And Vacuum Cleaner”
If you own a CNC and have kept tabs on metal prices these past few years (honestly months), you might shed a small tear as you watch chips fly off your work and into the trash. With a sigh, these flecks and pieces are consigned to be the cost of machining a part. Thankfully, the fine folks at [ActionBox] have been working on a 3d printed plaster forge for recycling their metal scraps.
The team ordered some graphite crucibles of a few sizes from a large online bookstore and started 3D printing some molds for crucible holders. They started with a smaller version to try the method. While the walls were too thin in that initial version, the approach was proven. With slightly thicker walls, the medium-sized version worked much better. The goal of the forge was to smelt copper as they had a lot of thick copper wire lying around. Armed with several propane torches, they started melting aluminum and brass, which worked reasonably well. However, the melting point of copper continued to elude them (1984°F or 1085°C). To counter this, the [ActionBox] team bought some new torches that provided significantly higher BTU output, while still fitting the holes in the mold. This did the trick!
The mold to accommodate the large crucible was massive and printed in four sections. The team did melt copper successfully and had four ingots to show off. We want to stress how dangerous molten copper and other metals are, particularly regarding things you might not realize have moisture soaked up inside. Proper PPE is essential to use these things without getting hurt. [ActionBox] has some helpful pointers in that area, but they admit they are relatively new to forging and casting themselves. Perhaps version two can incorporate a flip lid for added safety.
Video after the break.
Continue reading “3D Printed Forge For Recycling”
When folks started quarantining, chalk art spilled onto driveways and sidewalks to remind us that there’s still beauty and creative people doing what they always do. Now it’s time to strut your stuff and show your neighbors that things are greener on your slab of concrete. [friedpotatoes] has shared their giant sidewalk recipe with the world so you can paint the town red. With chalk.
Name brand sidewalk chalk is expensive considering how easy it is to make. What Big Chalk doesn’t want you to know is that the ingredients are just water, plaster of Paris, and tempera paint; meaning this project should be safe enough for the junior hackers to get some hands-on time. Some folks use food coloring instead of paint, but we know what happens to clothing when kids get their mitts on food coloring. [friedpotatoes] also includes extensive repurposing of recyclables, which is commendable.
The instructions suggest filling potato chip (crisp) tubes through a milk jug funnel to make giant pieces, but you can use any mold you like. If you have a CNC machine, it should be no trouble to make stamp-like pieces of chalk for tagging on the go, or shapes like arrows when you have to direct a miniature parade.
For permanent and precise sidewalk decorations, you can check out a graffiti paint machine and for totally temporary messages there is a water-dispensing writer.
These plugs are cheap, easy to make, and work well for measuring the moisture content of soil. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener came up with this method in order to add automatic watering to an automated grow system. Plastic tubing is used as a mold for Plaster of Paris. Once the plaster has been poured, two galvanized nails are inserted. These are won’t rust and work as probes, measuring the resistance of the dried plaster (gypsum). When inserted into the soil, the moisture content within the gypsum will fluctuate along with the soil. As moisture rises, the resistance between the probes falls, which can be monitored by a microcontroller and used to trigger or stop a watering system.