November 1, 2006

Keys to Success

Dear blog, today I wish I used those mood smiley faces so I could really emphasize the ecstatic/cool mood I’m in.
Check out the progress of the BoMToons keychain development!
[quoted from Google Talk conversation]:
me: was thinking of waiting till they were perfected to surprise you with some in the mail, but then I thought I really like when you show me beta versions of your games. wanna see a pic?
Nick: yes plz

Nick: whoa dude!
that looks perfect!!!!!. I want one!!!!!
me: wanna see a pic of yours?
Nick: yes plz. how easy are they to make?
me: yours was freaking hard
Nick: why's that?
me: cause YOURS is gonna be cast aluminium BABY!!!!

Nick: oh sh!t! (Nick censored this himself)
me: Ohhhhh yeeeeah!!!! we're talking lost-wax casting. 1500 degF molten aluminium
Nick: whoa awesome. that's impressive
me: thankyou
Nick: how was [the one in the first picture] done?
me: It all started with your design, I made the CAM file from it and cut out what the finished keychain would look like in machinable wax. From that part I created a silicone mold.

For my keychain I just cured plastic in the silicone mold. For yours I melted wax and poured it into the silicone. Once the wax hardened I removed it from the silicone mold, now have an exact duplicate of the original part. I repeat the wax melting process a few times till I have multiples and then make a plaster mold around them. When the plaster cures I melt the wax "investments" out - thus the name lost wax casting. I built a little 'furnace' and made a bellows (my shop vac set up as a blower). Aluminum melts at 1500 deg F so I stoked up the fire and melted down some old car parts and poured the molten mix into the plaster

Nick: did it turn out ok?
me: 1st batch I totally missed the mold when I poured. If you look at the table you see a big black burned spot. 2nd go round went better. still could be better. The aluminum is cooling too fast, so it doesn’t fill in the mold with great detail.
Nick: ah. you have plans to correct that?
me: a couple.