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Aluminum heat sink cast in ABS mold

by Terminus Mar 22, 2015
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Super! I look forward to hearing more about the casting process (pouring the metal in.) In case you've already posted more, I'll try to find more details. This is one of the best thingiverse items! (very exciting just to see the thin fins work like that, and the cut throat simplicity of casting as melting temp + 1 degree [theoretical])

Yes, the metal was poured very close to its solidification point so that it would solidify as quickly as possible.
And since it cools fast, a broken-arm centrifugal casting method was used, to fill the mold as quickly as possible.

The fins turned out surprisingly well. There was a little accidental mold flash, as thin as aluminum foil, which shows the metal might be deliberately cast extremely thin.

But aluminum is at the "next level" above lead, zinc, etc, and requires some serious processing equipment, like a furnace and crucibles to melt it. Projects worthy of that much effort are rare, but something will come along sooner or later.

Mmmm, molten aluminum flinging everywhere. I think it will be some time before I have the experienced required for centrifugal casting. :)

Forget aluminum.
Google search "pewter casting". The gravity pour technique is ancient. The many applications can be practical, attractive and /or utilitarian. It's easy to learn, easy to do, and it's a whole lot safer.
Plus 3D printed molds offer artistic and design freedoms never before available.

Short run: I agree, pewter casting would be better. Or some rotometal low temp alloy similar.
Long run: Aluminum parts are much more interesting thermally and structurally for my purposes.


In the short run, the one other thing, is that pewter casting computes similarly to high temp polyeurethane resin casts, which are easier in a number of ways but also benefit from 3D printing complexity

But you can see "Forget aluminum" is hard but very practical advice. I should try some more pewter casting first.

If it must be aluminum, then it must be...

I built all my own equipment. Firebrick electric and gas melting furnaces of various sorts, melting crucibles, etc. so I can't be of much help there.

Here's a photo of the makeshift centrifugal casting machine. http://i.imgur.com/3tpnCIa.jpg
Its clay crucibles were slip-cast in plaster molds. Maximum capacity was perhaps 100 grams of melt, but that's just a guess since I never approached it.

I would recommend you acquire significant experience before even considering casting aluminum. The dangers inherent in the process are an order of magnitude beyond that in casting lead, zinc and pewter.

Saw this, may help you out and its on sale. My friend has a 20kg foundry at the University of Windsor that they are getting rid of soon. http://www1.uwindsor.ca/visualarts/foundry.

Wow.. art foundry at school? I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat.

Looking for a job once, I just called a few art foundries. Why not try? Figured it might be a fun job. I actually got hired.That was a blast.... Lost wax bronzes up to life size. We did a Vietnam war memorial. Huge molds needed a forklift to get them in the burnout ovens..

Day to day, some famous artists came in with models a few inches tall, and say they wanted 10 of them, 5 feet tall. They paid real big money for the service.


That MoldLay filament looks very interesting. It melts to a liquid at high temps, and it's only creamy at printing temps.

I know that liquids do not print well. I tried a formula, 60% beeswax, 40% HDPE. That filament looked great, flexible and everything, but printing was another story. It went directly from solid to liquid with no in-between... Fail.

For lost wax models, my only question would be how easily does MoldLay tool? 3D prints come out with layers and all that, so they have to be smoothed and re-worked. Wax is so easy to sculpt.. A easy working filament would offer a lot of possibilities.

Price is reasonable. I might buy a spool of this stuff.

Thank you for the links.

looks nice, would be cool to see some pix of the process

Right now the prototype machine is held together with wire and chewing gum, and the protective shield (gotta have one of those) is some old baking sheets and metal panels from a desktop computer... And there's a lot of wood involved.

So A) I'm too embarrassed to show it, and B) someone might think they can get away with being sloppy with some lame, makeshift casting setup..

Since this is brand new to me, I'm also making huge strides. Every experiment is a learning experience, and begs for major changes. The mold design criteria and the entire casting process are rapidly evolving.

When I feel like things are stable, and can be useful to other people, I'll post all the details.