Re: CASTING Plaster Investments vs. Ceramic Shell?????


Bramblebush ForumsFAQ

Posted by John Dach on January 15, 1999 at 16:56:38:

In Reply to: CASTING Plaster Investments vs. Ceramic Shell????? posted by bruce paul fink on January 15, 1999 at 16:48:15:

I have a lot less experience than Bruce, having been involved in casting for about 8 years, nearly 1/2 of that in jewelry casting. I have been casting in ceramic shell for about 5 years now, learning through reading and trying and a 2 week course at a local art center. I use R&R's Primecoat. I have made most of the casting/shell/kiln equipment to keep down costs.

The expensive items were the TIG welder, plasma cutter, air compressor, bead blaster and finishing air tools. The mold and wax equipment is the same for either method.

The equipment for the shell production (mixing barrel, fluidized air bed, and drying rack) cost less than $1500, the mixing barrel being the most costly (DC 3/4 hp motor).

The materials for the shells cost another $1500 and is enough for 100-200 pieces (depending on size).

The kilns were "cheap" being made of 2 boxes of k-wool and some 1/2" welded wire, and have lasted 5 years (replacing them this year with heavier supporting materials and a bit of cast refractory along with the k-wool).

I can de wax, burn out, melt the metal and preheat the shells for casting for about $10.00 per 100lbs of cast metal. I am on propane and paying about $1.09/gal.

I can make a shell in about 3 days (depends on the weather) and can cast it any time later in a couple of hours.

I like the shell dipping (usually 7-8 coats) as it offers a forced break from the welding, finishing, wax work or what ever. I takes about 2 minutes per shell after the first 2 coats which take 2-3 times as long.

The fluidized air bed really makes for quick work and is, in my estimation, well worth the few hours work and the $30.00 or so it cost me to build it.

I think that a bead blaster is a necessary piece of equipment no matter what sort of metal work one does, as well as a welder, finishing tools and finishing materials.

Again, I have only used investment casting on jewelry pieces for a few years and have been doing shell casting for about 5. Not a lot of experience but at this point, I vote for shell.

The slurry is much easier to keep (mine stays good for well over a year, I have never had to throw any out but I did loose 55 gallons over my shoes and up my pants legs, but have since changed the system and this will not be a potential problem in the future).

I do like the small amount of material I have to get rid of with shell, lots less than investment.

The shell material is more "difficult" to knock off the casting vs the investment. We do get fingerprint accuracy with the shell, ditto with investment.

Well this is way past my 2 cents worth. Sorry to ramble.


Maiden Metals

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