Thanks to Sonya for all the great pictures!
This semester was the quickest pour in a while since we didn’t have our UNF friends and their molds joining us this time
Everything went pretty smooth, but we had a few blowouts and unfortunate mispours….such is the nature of the process
We get quite a bit of flame up out of low melt sodium silicate molds
Everyone stepped up and did what needed to be done since we had fewer bodies than usual
WOOT! students busted serious hump and got the job done right!
Every semester my students tackle the iron casting process as the culmination to their metal casting projects. Weeks of prep work making wax patterns and molds, breaking iron and coke, and learning about this amazing process, all come together for a marathon day of casting molten iron.
Molds that will receive the metal are made from resin bonded sand or ceramic shell material. The mold materials conform the the shape of the wax and harden, then the wax is melted out to create the cavity that will be filled with metal.
Scrap iron recycled from old sinks, bathtubs, and radiators is the basic raw material that is melted down to fill the molds.
The metal is melted in a special furnace called a cupola. The cupola runs on coke (refined coal) which is fed oxygen from a high volume blower which allows it to burn hot enough to generate the 2800 degree temperatures needed to melt cast iron.
The cupolette runs continuously. Metal and fuel are added constantly. The tap hole in the front of the furnace is plugged with clay. When enough metal has melted and collected inside the furnace the clay is removed and the metal drains into a preheated ladle which is carried to the molds.
Once all the molds are poured they cool overnight and then are broken open to reveal the masterpieces within. Castings are cleaned and prepped for display.
Check out this video I made for an exhibition of cast iron art I curated at the college gallery in 2008. The video shows and describes the history and technical aspects of the process in a bit more detail.