Author Topic: Machinable wax  (Read 60183 times)

Offline AdeV

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Machinable wax
« on: February 10, 2010, 04:53:52 PM »
When I first started reading up about this hobby, even before I got the mill & lathe, I read about some stuff called Machinable Wax. Basically, it's a mixture of paraffin wax (candles) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE). I have a PDF which tells me how to make it, and even that many plastic milk bottle caps are LDPE (in fact, they're mostly HDPE...).

Firstly, has anyone ever made this stuff before? And if so, what did you use for LDPE? As far as I can tell, the most easily obtainable bulk source of the stuff is plastic food bags, e.g. freezer bags, from the local supermarket.

Also, what's the best source of candle wax (again, in bulk)? Cheaper to buy candles & melt them, or to just by paraffin wax - and if so, where from (I'm in the UK)?

I've attached a copy of the PDF for reference (in case it's useful). If the document is to be believed, it's almost perfect as a prototyping material - doesn't stick to the cutter, doesn't need coolant or lubricant, holds fine details, is reusable if you melt it down & re-cast. What's not to like?
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 05:25:08 PM »
Yup, made quite a bit as we wanted some for demoing on the CNC's at shows.

Not read your pdf but I got some info from CNCZone so maybe the same.

For paraffin wax i bought some big surplus candles from Ikea for £2.00 each, massive black things. The LDPE I got as virgin material from a plastics supplier as a sample, got 5Kg for not a lot of money [ can't remember ] it comes as clear beads about 3mm diameter.

I then bought a deep fat fryer from Asda for £10, we didn't have an old one I could use.

The candles were melted first and the LDPE added and stirred in, it turns into goo straight away and really takes some time and stirring to fully dissolve, far longer than you would think so don't get disheartened. Once fully melted and mixed you can use a ladle to pour it into your mould and allow to cool naturally. We were making loco wheels so used a alloy ring on a plastic sheet, the slower it cools the less contraction.

When the chippings and old parts are remelted it melts very quickly and you can pour new parts very quickly, it's only the initial mixing that takes time.

Our parts came out black because of the candles, clear candles can be made any colour by using dye powder.
I never found a source of cheap candle wax, all the hobby sites seem to want a lot of money by the time postage and VAT has been added.

John S.
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Offline andyf

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 05:33:10 PM »
I've never tried it, though it does seem to offer the possibility of decoratively machined candles. For show only - Lord only knows what toxins might be released if you lit 'em.

Google UK reveals various "paraffin wax suppliers" and the going retail rate appears to be around £5/Kg for small quantities. Cheaper by the quarter ton, of course. If it were I, Fred Aldous (a craft supplier in Manchester city centre) is only 6 miles away, and I could get there using the free bus/tram/train pass I got as compensation  :D for reaching 60  :(. For a test, plain wax candles aren't expensive.


As to LDPE, old carrier bags, pedal bin bags, etc etc. If you want less flimsy stuff, I believe Visqueen damp proofing menbrane (the stuff in big sheets for putting under concrete floors) is LDPE. Perhaps you know a builder who would let you have some offcuts for experiments.

Andy
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I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 07:28:19 PM »
Don't have much to add to the above other then it is made by one outfit that I know of and it is labeled for who ever buys enough at once.
There are a large supplier to the pattern making and foundry industry here in the states and recently purchased another company in Canada to expand their hobby side of the business. They have great learning video's on waxes casting for the jewelry trades(again they make a lot of brands) Here is their site look for the videos great stuff.
Freeman Supply industrial
Miapoxy is the new name for the hobby side hobby side

The video's are on both. along with great explanations of the bits and pieces for the mold making and casting process.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 08:33:57 PM »
Well, a bit of googling would suggest that, of the online retailers at least, Homecrafts Direct are the cheapest for wax (25kgs for £50 delivered, 2kg bags for £5, but there's a fixed 3.99 delivery charge which makes a single 2kg bag expensive); and BuyRite UK have LDPE @ £13 for 5kg. It may be possible to get raw plastic cheaper than that, the BuyRite product is food grade tubing (I guess, of the sort that sandwiches come wrapped in).

I was planning to cast a rectangular piece of wax to practice milling this sump I'm making; I don't mind making mistakes on a piece of re-usable wax, wheras if I botch the aluminium version it's going to cost £200 to get a new piece...

Links:

Wax
LDPE
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 08:36:25 PM by AdeV »
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2010, 03:05:10 AM »
Still not bad prices, have you priced up the ready done wax?
I bought two blocks 3" x 3" x 3" and 3" x 3" x 10" and it was £45 delivered.

What size do you need because i still have some left and you still need to collect these faceplates / staedys if you are still interested /.
John Stevenson

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2010, 03:57:59 AM »
Hi John,

Still definitely interested in the faceplates/chucks/steady/etc., just fishing about for an excuse to head over your way on company money...

I'd be wanting a lump of wax some 10"x22"x2.5" in size - that will match the outline size of the sump. In fact, there's a couple of tabs stuck out the side too which will make it about 13-14" at one point; so it's not only not quite rectangular, but it's also huge...

The required weight of wax, if my calculations are correct, will be a bit over 8.1kg.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 04:07:35 AM »
won't have that much kicking about.
What about a glued up lump of MDF then use it as a pattern  :med:



John S
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2010, 04:09:53 AM »
won't have that much kicking about.
What about a glued up lump of MDF then use it as a pattern  :med:

I've never really liked putting wood on the mill, somehow it just doesn't seem right. Will it harm the cutters, or can I cut it with impunity?
Cheers!
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Offline HS93

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2010, 12:24:05 PM »
Just use wood router cutters, Aldi is a good source for them they do sets of about 12 cutters for under a £10 from time to time all shapes and sizes, use them on ally as well.

peter
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Offline andyf

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2010, 01:33:52 PM »
I've never really liked putting wood on the mill, somehow it just doesn't seem right. Will it harm the cutters, or can I cut it with impunity?

This rather dodges the question, because I don't know what resins etc are used to bind MDF, but I use HSS drils on it without any apparent damage.

Like wood, MDF is usually machined with carbide cutters in routers etc at very high sfm and feed rates compared to metal. If you hang around, the friction can cause scorching. But your spindle will be revolving more slowly which may help.

Some warn that the very fine dust from machining MDF can cause respiratory problems, and that a full face respirator should be used. I don't know how true that is, but it might be worth researching before you fill the shop with a haze of particles. And going by my limited experience with the stuff, everything in the vicinity, including you, will need a lot of dusting down afterwards.

Andy
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I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline spuddevans

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 05:15:39 PM »
Some warn that the very fine dust from machining MDF can cause respiratory problems, and that a full face respirator should be used. I don't know how true that is, but it might be worth researching before you fill the shop with a haze of particles. And going by my limited experience with the stuff, everything in the vicinity, including you, will need a lot of dusting down afterwards.

It is majorly bad for your lungs. Years ago I made a pair of floorstanding speakers out of MDF and routed a round-over on all the edges without using even a dust mask, I ended up up-chucking the contents of my lungs and stomach for most of the evening afterwards. But, lesson learned, I ALWAYS wear protective equipment when machining MDF, or when working in my dads workshop I always use his dust extraction system (its really powerful and when aimed well it collects virtually all the dust generated)

If you can mount a shop-vac close to the cutter so that it sucks up the dust as you machine, that should keep the worst of the dust down :thumbup:

Tim
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2010, 05:46:38 PM »
Hmmm, I'm going to make this wax I think. I don't have a respirator, or even a face mask, and the dust will make a terrible mess of everything. Besides which, I'm wondering how well MDF would show up detailing? In my (very!) limited experience of MDF, it tends to crumble away at the edges, wheras apparently this wax stuff doesn't.

So, anyway, never one to take advice ::), I've ordered 25kg of wax, and bought a bunch of freezer bags from Tesco. Hopefully, the wax will turn up before the weekend (if not, I may be forced to go buy some candles), and I'll try to make a small batch. If it works, then I'll just have to bite the bullet & buy some bulk LDPE from somewhere - anywhere - & make enough to prototype this sump in...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2010, 04:25:23 PM »
So, today being Sunday, and having cleared the mill of that whopping big lump of Ali, and with Windows MovieMaker making a right meal of that video I mentioned elsewhere... I had no choice but to crack on with this machinable wax (Who am I kidding? I've been looking forward to doing this all week!).

First task, shopping:



Candles: £3 each
Freezer bags: £1.14 each

All from Tesco, obviously...

The coloured stick is from an old artist's set I have lying around. No idea why, as I can't draw for toffee. Still, that means all the coloured sticks are intact :lol: I added about 1/2 the blue one that you see to the melt. But I'm getting ahead of myself here....



The equipment is: An old toaster oven I have lying around. It's not been used in donkeys years, but seems to work OK. A brand new 20cm saucepan (less than £7 for a set of 3 from Tesco - bargain), and a jam thermometer (good for 200C/400F). The strange looking "funnel" device next to the saucepan came with the jam thermometer. With a spout type arrangement on it, it'll be ideal for refilling the various oil applicators I have, from the always-too-big oil containers... I think I've spilt more hydraulic oil than I've used...

OK, I'm rambling. On with the show... First, weigh the candle & the plastic:



Apply some simple mathematics:


 :lol:

And (with some rounding) we arrive at the conclusion that one box of plastic bags is almost exactly the right amount of plastic for 1 candle. Result!

So, melt the candles:



Until they look like this:



The greenish tinge is that wax crayon. Goodness knows why it went green. You may also notice a slight issue here..... my 20cm saucepan is FAR too small to hold 2 candles AND 2 boxes of plastic bags. Doh! I transferred half the wax to a spare pan, then started adding the bags.



The PDF says "they will dissolve quite slowly". They weren't kidding. This was nearly an hour later:



Fortunately, only another 20 mins required (ish):



Although, in fact, there is some undissolved plastic in there still, which appeared when I poured it:



Those blue lumps are they. Still, we'll see how it goes... maybe I'll just use the 2nd batch (which went a lot quicker, as I just dumped as much LDPE in as I could, as fast as I could, and only stirred it occasionally) - that seemed to use all of its plastic up properly.

So, here they are, 2 slabs of machinable (?) wax... Still too warm to machine, I'll try them out tomorrow.




PS: If you plan on using decent saucepans, don't use metallic tools! Like a screwdriver, or the thermometer, to stir your liquid, as you WILL damage the finish! And your beloved (if applicable) will NOT be best pleased with you!



As far as making this stuff at home1? Go for it. Provided you don't spill it, it's very clean. The only odour is a faint smell of candle wax - there's no molten plastic smells, and no smoke either. Very spouse-friendly  :lol:


1 It occurs to me that, if you have a gas hob, you may be wise not to use it... I don't know how flammable the vapours which come off the pot of wax are, but I'd really rather not chance finding out...
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 08:19:41 AM by AdeV »
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 04:43:43 PM »
Ade,
Next time chop the bags up into small pieces and you have more edges for it to dissolve.

If you do a remelt now it will melt very quickly, it's the initial mixing of the plastic and the wax, we bought a deep fat fryer for £10 from Asda solely for this so we wouldn't get shot.

Yours looks a lot better than ours because our candles were black to start with but they were only £1 each from Ikea on clearance.

There is another ingredient you can add to harden this mixture off, can't remember what it is you will have to do a search on the candle making sites. We never got any or used any but the bought stuff we have is harder than what we made.

John S.
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Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 05:00:55 PM »
Hardener
Candle hardener is a synthetic wax which has a melting point of around 90 degrees C. Because of its high melting point it is a very hard wax. Adding a small quantity (usually only 1 part hardener to 100 parts wax) to moulded candles tends to make them harder and possibly last longer. It also makes the surface of the candle shinier and makes the candle more cloudy and opaque. Dipping tapers in wax containing hardener helps prevent dripping by putting a harder outer shell on the taper wick acts as a ‘cup’ for the liquid wax when the candle is burning. Because of its high melting point it is best to melt hardener with a small quantity of wax before adding it to other pots of candle wax.

Plasticiser
Plasticiser is also a synthetic material which like hardener has a high melting point. Because of this it is best to melt plasticiser separately with some wax before adding it to other pots of candle wax. It makes the wax go more pliable at temperatures just below its melting point and makes it thicker once melted. For this reason it is good for sculpturing effects where you want the wax to be less brittle. It is also used in dip and carve candles as it allow the successive wax layers of the candle to be cut and twisted while still warm.

You also can use Micro-crystalline wax, Micro-crystalline waxes are excellent materials to use when modifying the crystalline properties of paraffin wax. The microcrystalline wax has a significant effect on the branching of the carbon chains that are the backbone of paraffin wax. This is useful when some desired functional changes in the paraffin are needed, such as flexibility, higher melt point, and increased opacity.

And John beat me to it about chopping up the LDPE bags into smaller sizes.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2010, 05:22:58 PM »
Thanks for the hints & tips chaps, always appreciated  :thumbup:

I think the second batch went faster because, after all the bags melted into a congealed blob, I picked it up & allowed it to droop off the screwdriver/stirrer a few times, which I think effectively increased the surface area. At least, it dissolved very quickly after that. The first batch, I added 2-3 bags, let them dissolve, added 2-3 more, rinse & repeat; I think that's why it took so long.

John - did the harder stuff machine better than your home-made stuff? If so, I'll get some hardener, it seems to be cheap enough. I'm guessing there's already some in there mind, as these are commercial candles (same as yours).
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2010, 06:29:19 PM »
Doing the thumbnail test the bought stuff is noticeably harder but we were making loco wheels about 80mm diameter and all the spokes were coming out nice.

Oh one thing keep this stuff sealed up we now have loco wheels with missing spokes, the mice like this gear  :jaw:

John s.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2010, 04:14:01 PM »
Well, tonight was the acid test. And, wow. I am impressed. This stuff is LOVELY to machine - and that's my crappy 1st batch, not the super-smooth looking 2nd batch...

As always, lots of photos for you to download - the film is free after all :)

First up, I rig a really dodgy contraption out of newspaper and welding rod, to catch the bits. These first cuts are quite hefty, and since the whole idea of this wax is it's reusable, it seems a shame to have to pick it up off the floor later. Especially as the floor is covered in tiny bits of aluminium, steel, WD40 and other nasties:


As you can see, the corner is snapped off. That was where I did the "how much pressure will this stuff take in the bench vice" test. The answer is: Not a hell of a lot...

Ready to machine now. 20mm end-mill in place, 1500rpm, maximum feed rate (dunno, rather swift anyway).



Shortly:


I tried it in the bandsaw, it cut nicely & didn't clog the blade. Roughed out a rectangular piece, lobbed it in the vice, and got with squaring it up:


The wax machines very nicely indeed - and, as could be expected, without any of the aggro of metal. No chatter, no coolant required. The end mill stayed clear throughout. I did chip a corner at one point, but I didn't notice when. So basically, I just tried a selection of tooling on it:
 - 50mm carbide-tipped shell mill (successful, no clogging)
 - 3/4" end mill, blunt (seen above) - cut nicely, very smooth finish. Maybe because it's blunt? No clogging
 - 6mm and 3mm ball-end mills (again, success with no clogging. Drove the 3mm at 4600rpm, high feedrate, no problem
 - 1/8" radius cutter - easy peasy
 - 2" slitting saw on home-made arbor, running at a ferocious 550rpm. Cut very well, with a tiny amount of clogging on some teeth, probably running it a touch quick.
 - Wrote on it with a Sharpie marker. It even took that, although it was smudgable for some time afterwards

Anyway, the end result can be seen below:





I am well made up with this wax stuff. It's quite fragile, especially the fine details (I accidentally broke 2 of the fins shortly after taking the last photo), but it holds its own really well. It's definitely going to be useful in prototyping this sump - and many parts yet to come.


One happy camper, check.  :thumbup:
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2010, 04:21:49 PM »


The wax machines very nicely indeed - and, as could be expected, without any of the aggro of metal. No chatter, no coolant required. The end mill stayed clear throughout. I did chip a corner at one point, but I didn't notice when.

It will chip as you exit a cut, if doing a slot try cutting from both ends so it's supported in the middle where the two cuts meet.

A lot of plastics are like this Tufnol is an absolute bastard unless you have a sacrificial piece on the exit.

John S.
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Offline No1_sonuk

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2010, 10:35:41 AM »
I have some candle-making stuff around here somewhere.

Can ordinary candle moulds be used with this stuff?

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2010, 11:25:23 AM »
I have some candle-making stuff around here somewhere.

Can ordinary candle moulds be used with this stuff?

I don't have any candle moulds, so I can't give you a definitive; but, having said that, I don't see why not. When molten, it's very just like plain candle wax, only gloopier.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline No1_sonuk

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2010, 03:39:27 PM »
When I track the stuff down, I'll try it.

Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2010, 04:49:00 PM »
Yes and no, it will depend on the material the mold is made out of. There are additives that are used in candle making to make the candle easier to release from a mold. There are also the micro-crystalline waxes that will make the wax harder. They also have low temp melt plastics that can be added to the wax to adjust the properties of the wax.
To get the wax out of the mold you can place it in the freezer for a while and the candles come right out.


These are 1/12 scale miniature 12 layer hand dipped joined by the wick Williamson style dollhouse candles me and the wife made and wholesaled 30 years or so when the miniatures were smoking hot!  The other shorter candles are the votive candles, actual size 5/16" tall and 3/16"dia the pillar candles are 7/16" dia and 5/8" tall.

The molds I used were the telescoping brass tube sold in the hobby shop. Cut to length so the wax would pull back in as it set up. And froze them to pop the candles out easy. as they didn't have all the stuff for additives like today.

The problem is that almost every distributor of the supplies has their own names for the items.
The addition of the LDPE doesn't make good burning candle.
 :dremel:
Here are a couple of pictures of the displays for the product

The display photo that was on the leaflet, the white pillar candles toward the center of the photo. Are hand painted Christmas pillar candles. All are 1/12" scale miniatures

The display rack that the store got when carrying our candles to sell.
This was back in the day BC(before computers) the photo's were damaged by water spots and foxing but you can get the idea.
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Offline Bernd

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2010, 09:38:47 AM »
Amazing Glen.

Is there something you haven't done or know about?  :D

You just amaze me with you knowledge. Ya, I know, you read a lot.  :)

Bernd
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Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2010, 10:49:40 AM »
Thanks,  :thumbup:


I still learn more every day on this and a number of other forums!  :dremel:

Yep I'm still working on the first two in my sig line and will never try the third  :bugeye:
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2010, 07:12:19 PM »
A 25kg bag of paraffin wax beans turned up today (see BMW sump thread), I can turn approximately 2.25kg into machinable wax in 3 hours if tonight is anything to go by, so by this time next week, I should have tons of the stuff :)

Today, I moulded some in a cup; when it set I chucked it up in the lathe & did a few turning/facing/drilling/reaming operations on it. Again, it behaved impeccably. Only two issues, really: I didn't wait quite long enough for it to cool down. so it shrunk in the chuck & came loose (didn't go anywhere, luckily). And, because you can't hear a cut being taken, it's hard to plunge a drillbit into an existing hole, and be confident of knowing when it starts cutting...
Other than that, this stuff is a hoot. It's like plasticine for grownups :D
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline DMIOM

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2010, 04:10:30 AM »
A 25kg bag of paraffin wax beans turned up today (see BMW sump thread), I can turn approximately 2.25kg into machinable wax in 3 hours if tonight is anything to go by, so by this time next week, I should have tons of the stuff

Next experiment - what's the adhesion/cohesion like? if you can make a dozen 5lb blocks, then you could make a dozen micro-sumps - but unless you then remelt & cast via a 45 gallon drum, are you sure you can build up the layers OK with the modified wax as is done for candles?  or will you have to re-inforce it - concrete re-bar?
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 05:00:56 AM by DMIOM »

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2010, 04:30:13 AM »
Has anyone tried making up a machinable wax using a microcrystalline wax as the base?
It's supposed to be harder that standard paraffin wax.

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2010, 04:44:12 AM »
Next experiment - what's the adhesion like? if you can make a dozen 5lb blocks, then you could make a dozen micro-sumps - but unless you then remelt & cast via a 45 gallon drum, are you sure you can build up the layers OK with the modified wax as is done for candles?  or will you have to re-inforce it - concrete re-bar?

And that is the $64k question (well, £6.40 at least...).

My current plan is to try to re-melt the whole lot together and pour it in one go. I've yet to ascertain how I'll do that, but it will clearly involve some big pans, and probably an engine crane...

I did wonder about pouring in sections/layers, but I'm not sure what stresses that will set up in the wax. I'd hate to get half way through machining and the whole lot goes "pop" & breaks up...
Cheers!
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Offline DMIOM

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2010, 06:13:55 AM »
....I did wonder about pouring in sections/layers, but I'm not sure what stresses that will set up in the wax. I'd hate to get half way through machining and the whole lot goes "pop" & breaks up...

If you do need to re-inforce it, instead of using discrete candle wicks, how about using something like Rab C. Nesbitt's string vests? would need a test first though - they may pull-out rather than cut when you come to machine them ...

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2010, 07:23:07 AM »
I'm going with Plan B instead....

 :proj:

I've just bought 2mtrs of nichrome wire, which I'll mount up on a wooden dowel framework; attach to a car battery, and I've got myself a nice big flat heater, capable of ~200 degrees C (a shade less, actually) - perfect for keeping the wax molten in the mould until I've added enough. Once the mould is full, I can just pull the heater out, and let the wax cool & set naturally.

Photos will be forthcoming when the wire arrives...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline andyf

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #32 on: February 18, 2010, 10:46:32 AM »
.... I've just bought 2mtrs of nichrome wire, which I'll mount up on a wooden dowel framework; attach to a car battery, and I've got myself a nice big flat heater........

..... and perhaps a nice big flat car battery, too -the heater might draw a lot of current. If you have a charger, it might be worth using it instead, or (if it won't cope with the load) use both by putting some charge back into the battery while you are discharging it.


Andy.
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I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #33 on: February 18, 2010, 11:00:54 AM »
.... I've just bought 2mtrs of nichrome wire, which I'll mount up on a wooden dowel framework; attach to a car battery, and I've got myself a nice big flat heater........

..... and perhaps a nice big flat car battery, too -the heater might draw a lot of current. If you have a charger, it might be worth using it instead, or (if it won't cope with the load) use both by putting some charge back into the battery while you are discharging it.


Andy.

According to my calculations (and I've had them verified by someone who actually does know what he's talking about), it should draw just about 2.1amps.

Unfortunately, that equates to just 25 watts.... I'm not sure if that'll be enough to keep the wax liquid while I frantically melt & add fresh wax... Only time will tell...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline No1_sonuk

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #34 on: February 18, 2010, 11:28:07 AM »
Might be ok - yo just need to delay one layer setting until the next is poured.

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2010, 12:43:49 PM »
Only 25 watts, Ade? The battery should last for hours, but as you say, there might not be enough heat. I think you said you want to end up with a block of wax 22x10x2.5" = 550 cu inches. As a cube, that would only be a little over 8" each side. Could you find a container(s) of somewhat larger volume to allow for shrinkage and machining, and simply keep the stuff warm and liquid in the oven on a low setting (100C would probably suffice) as you fill up the container with successive dollops of the mix? As a cube, 9x9x9" would be ample at 729 cu ins. Some cut down old gallon oilcans might get you there.  Then, pour the whole lot into your mould.

Andy 
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I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2010, 06:45:54 PM »
Only 25 watts, Ade? The battery should last for hours, but as you say, there might not be enough heat.

Yep, only 25 watts. Slightly less, in fact... The resistance is 5.6 ohms, voltage is 12v, giving 2.14 amps; amps * volts = watts. I was a bit surprised myself, I thought it'd be more than that. But, there you go...

Quote
I think you said you want to end up with a block of wax 22x10x2.5" = 550 cu inches. As a cube, that would only be a little over 8" each side. Could you find a container(s) of somewhat larger volume to allow for shrinkage and machining, and simply keep the stuff warm and liquid in the oven on a low setting (100C would probably suffice) as you fill up the container with successive dollops of the mix? As a cube, 9x9x9" would be ample at 729 cu ins. Some cut down old gallon oilcans might get you there.  Then, pour the whole lot into your mould.

Good thinking, using a cube form hadn't occurred to me. Probably a couple of those "vintage car oil" metal cans from Halfords would easily fit the bill. I'm pretty sure I've got one of those knocking about somewhere, maybe 2. I don't think I'd want to risk using a plastic oil can, though!   :bugeye:

[calculators out]

Just under 12 ltrs (9"x9"x9" cube), so 2 oil cans should do the job nicely :) Anyone got any old metal oil cans lying around, by any chance?


Might be ok - yo just need to delay one layer setting until the next is poured.

Indeed, it may be; especially if I keep the mould covered between applications. Even if I can only find 1 oil can, I can use my little toaster oven to melt 1st batch in that; the sheer volume of that + the nichrome heater + a cover, should keep the wax liquid long enough to melt the 2nd batch.


Also, it turns out that new wax poured onto old (cold) wax, does "glue" itself into the old wax quite satisfactorily - or, so one experiment has shown. I took the round piece, which I'd drilled out to various diameters, filled the hole with new wax. It shrunk quite considerably, leaving a void; which I then filled again. A facing cut showed that the new wax (which was a slightly different colour) didn't form a sharp divide, but quite a blurred join. The only concern is the huge shrinkage may have left voids deeper in the material.... I'll find out tomorrow when I cut it open.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2010, 07:15:52 PM »
Get an ten quid immersion heater element and bypass the thermostat and keep an eye on the temp and melt the lot in one go.

Previous to this melt in stages from raw materiel as as this takes longer, the remelt stage takes less time.

John S.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2010, 07:29:46 PM »
Get an ten quid immersion heater element and bypass the thermostat and keep an eye on the temp and melt the lot in one go.

Previous to this melt in stages from raw materiel as as this takes longer, the remelt stage takes less time.

The nichrome wire cost £2 (delivered), and the car battery is free (already got it)... Of course, if it proves to be unsatisfactory....  :doh:

I'm up to around 9kgs of wax made & cast so far, which probably equates to about 8 litres. So, 2 more days of stirring should do it... which reminds me, I need more freezer bags - but, as a bonus, I can take some candles back to Tesco for a refund. As they say, every little helps!
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2010, 03:53:28 PM »
Update

Today was, mainly, about experimenting - as well as finishing up the last packet of bags...

On John's suggestion, I bought a £10 fryer from Argos (it's £13.97 in the catalogue, but £9.99 in the shop) - in fact, I bought two. These worked as well as the saucepan, only with less mess and more convenience. And I didn't need to worry about the temperature, it maxes out at 190.



Simply wait for the wax to melt, add the bags, give it 5-10 mins to get the bags nice & soft; stir/poke/prod/scrape the bags about a bit until they break up. Wait 5 mins, repeat; etc. until dissolved.

For what it's worth, here's what I've discovered:

  • Get the candle wax good & hot before you add the bags. 160 degrees is good, 180 is better
  • Dump all the bags in, as 2 or 3 handfuls. Poke/push each bunch of bags under the wax (it will shrivel up a lot) to make room for the next handful. Don't bother cutting them up, it makes no difference to the melting time, and just means you've got millions of strips of bag to try gather up & add...
  • Once all the bags are in and shrivelly, poke them a few times to get the wax into the mass, then close the fryer lid & leave for 5 mins.
  • After 5 mins, the bags will soften. Using a stick (or screwdriver if you don't care about the non-stick finish), pierce the mass of bags and drag to the side. Push the stick all the way through the mass, effectively cutting it. Repeat, then start picking the blobs of plastic up & allow gravity to stretch/tear them back into the melt. Repeat until bored, or it's getting difficult to pick any plastic up. Wait 5 mins.
  • Start stirring. Keep going until the mixture is smooth. Squash any lumps of plastic agains the side of the pan to try to break them up
  • After 30-45 mins (total) you should have a silky smooth mixture. Fish any remaining lumps out with your stick (sometimes it's worth leaving the pan for a minute or two, as most lumps will float to the surface), wiping them on a suitable surface - a piece of scrap wood, cardboard, kitchen roll, etc.
  • Pour into mould. I pour directly from the fryer, rather than using a ladle, mainly because I've not got a ladle here; also, I have a very low boredom threshold.

Finally; I got my best results using Tesco freezer bags (with tie handles - i.e. 100% plastic bags). I tried some Wilko bags, but they turned out to be more expensive for the same weight, and rubbish at dissolving. Whatever the white write-on stuff is on the Wilko bags, it doesn't dissolve:



Ignore the purple colour, I was experimenting with candle colours again.


Finally, I wondered about the yellow Argos bags the fryers came home in.... 'twas the work of but a moment to stir them into some wax:



The bags weren't LDPE, they dissolved differently; and the resulting mixture took a lot longer to set, and cool off, than the LDPE based stuff. It machines OK, but as you can see there's lots of air bubbles in it. It seems to be somewhat softer than the other wax I've made. Looks good, though, as a garish orangey-yellow colour :)

That's pretty well the end of this thread for now, I think; I will add to it if I ever find a source of raw plastic, or if I modify the setup I'm using at all.

 :proj:

I do plan to automate the stirring..... as that's the really boring bit...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline raynerd

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2010, 07:16:29 PM »
 :offtopic: Several years ago, when I was a "teenage skateboarder" we use to make this exact stuff, only we would also add bars of soap with the candles and plastic bags. It was quite clever actually, those nice hard yet waxy blocks that you are using to machine, we use to rub them on the curb/hand rails so we could grind out skateboards on them!  :wack: :wack:

Looks good stuff, supprised it machines so well, I would expect it to chip looking at it!

Chris

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #41 on: February 25, 2010, 04:44:15 PM »
Chris - that's an interesting use! I guess the soap makes all the difference there, this stuff is quite hard & I doubt it'd lubricate handrails to any extent...

Fine features will chip, if you're not careful, but it actually machines really nicely. You get a good curly chip off the lathe, and small discrete chips off the milling machine.


A quick "general" update.... it turns out this stuff is a bit of a bugger to get melted again. It must be a really good thermal insulator, as both the saucepan AND deep fat fryers were really struggling to get solid back into 100% liquid. A pan in the toaster oven fared better, presumably because the heat was going in on all surfaces, rather than just the bottom.

Pouring wise: My nichrome wire heater worked:



There just wasn't enough of it. The wax solidified around the wooden framework, and anywhere more than about 1/2cm away from a wire. So, unfortunately, I had to abandon that idea (as well as the 1/2 inch or so of poured wax - what a mess). For now, I've just poured fresh melt over the top of solid; hopefully the layers will bond themselves together sufficiently well that I won't have endless voids or any overly-stressed bits. Time will tell.

In future, I will use the "melt it all in the oven in a metal oil can or two" method; which is currently hampered by the lack of an oven, and the lack of empty metal oil cans (loads of plastic ones  ::)). If anyone in the Wirral/Cheshire region has an older car - which uses that Halfords "classic motor" oil, that comes in metal tins which I will cheerfully take empties of (heck, fill 'em with your old engine oil, and I'll take 'em like that - if it's a useful favour).
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline SAM in LA

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2010, 10:16:13 AM »
AdeV,

I admire your tenacity.  :clap:

I have been following your project with interest.

You may need to coat your wood form/mold with some sort of release agent, perhaps motor oil.

Otherwise, when stripping the forms, some of the wood may stick to your block of wax.  :poke:

Keep up the good work, I'll be looking for your new postings.

SAM

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2010, 02:13:42 PM »
Sam - thanks for your kind words :) As it happens, I don't need to worry about releasing agent this time, for 2 reasons: First, I'm using a cut up kitchen cabinet, which has glossy surfaces. The wax has shrunk away from these without any issues, so I'm happy about that. And second, if it were to prove difficult to un-stick the wax, the mould can easily be disassembled, which will allow each side to be picked off in turn.

I would recommend, if anyone is planning on using wooden moulds, that you do use a veneered surface (such as a kitchen cabinet). I'm willing to bet that, when molten, the wax will soak into uncoated MDF or even plywood causing all kinds of nightmares when you come to extract it...

I'd think something like talcum powder would make a better releasing agent than oil or grease; but I'll admit I've not actually tried any kind of agent, except paper on the first two batches I made: Which, in hindsight, was a mistake - the wax came out of the pan OK, but the paper was firmly embedded in the wax! Anyway, the mould is nearly done now. I'm going to melt one last batch to pour down the sides, just to take up some of the shrinkage; I hope tomorrow to be able to start the first machining operations!  :headbang:
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline No1_sonuk

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2010, 04:59:17 PM »
Candle source I saw today:  The local PoundStretcher store has 3" dia. x 9" white candles for £1.99.

Offline Weston Bye

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2010, 07:16:20 AM »
Forgive me for popping in after a long absence, (still here regularly, just lurking) but has anybody any photo examples of items made with machinable wax apart from the test cuts shown here?

How would the machinable wax behave for use with lost-wax casting?
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2010, 08:50:53 AM »
Weston,
I believe the wax companies make a wax that is specified for lost wax casting.

http://www.trycut.co.uk/

These do one called jewel wax but I have never tried it.

When Aidie was here last week he brought a sample of the wax he had cast as shown on here, I also had a sample of what we had cast for the shows doing loco wheels and some of the blue stuff from Trycut  above.
In terms of hardness mine using the thumbnail test mine was the softest, followed by Aidies, then the Trycut

I put the difference in mine and Aidies down to the candles, Aidie used paraffin wax and we used surplus candles from Ikea which were a 2 part wax, inner and outer coatings so I don't know which one of the two was the better material.

I can get an example of a mouse chewed loco wheel later if you want, these are about 3" in diameter and machined with a simple D bit to get a draught angle on the spokes.
They are not for a loco, just a machining exercise to do at the shows.

John S.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2010, 12:10:25 PM »
Forgive me for popping in after a long absence, (still here regularly, just lurking) but has anybody any photo examples of items made with machinable wax apart from the test cuts shown here?

How would the machinable wax behave for use with lost-wax casting?


Soon, there'll be a BMW dry sump.....

This wax would be good for making the original model in, but I wouldn't try to use it as the wax that gets melted out - it's a bear to get properly molten, and is considerably more viscous than pure paraffin wax.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline Darren

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2010, 06:35:54 PM »
Just popping in to say, I am watching with great interest  :thumbup:

Keep up the good work as I'm learning lots in this thread  :ddb:
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Offline jatt

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2010, 06:59:28 PM »
U'all just reminded me of wax baths that physiothearapists use to treat folks with arthritis.

If u are doing lots of smaller castings a 4 Kg bath that plugs into mains power can be purchased new for around $200.  Seen heaps when I used to do the rounds of physio clinics in my past life.  Not sure what temp they run at.  They do take a while to melt parafin wax, but it is its kept at a nice constant temp and it can be left unattended.

Did a quick incanink search, didnt see any power ratings for the element....sorry.
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Offline Bernd

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2010, 09:48:38 PM »
Forgive me for popping in after a long absence, (still here regularly, just lurking) but has anybody any photo examples of items made with machinable wax apart from the test cuts shown here?

How would the machinable wax behave for use with lost-wax casting?


Weston,

Here's a couple of pictures of a wax gear. The company I used to work for produced gear cutting machines and also did development work on the cutters and designed gears for their customers. If I remember right the waxes came in three hardness's, meaning there were three colors. They were purple, green and blue. I believe the green was the hardest, blue a bit softer and purple the softest. I can't remember what was being tested hear, weather a new gear cutter or and new gear design.



Here's a closer view. You can tell from the top land that something needs to be changed.



I sort of destroyed the gear wanting to use a bit of the wax. It goes from solid to liquid. No intermediated stage.

For those that want to know a little bit more about wax and the posible uses for casting, check out Rio Grande Catalog. It's a jewlery catalog. Click on casting on the home page. At the left it will give many choices.

Bernd
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Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2010, 07:36:57 AM »
Here is the manufacturer of most flavors of the casting wax Over the years they have bought out most of the smaller suppliers. The biggest thing with it is you want it to come out of the mold whether it is slip casting coating, or the flask style. So there would be No plastic of any kind in it, to leave any residue in the smaller area's of the mold such as arms, prongs or thin cross sections.

This is their retail end

Both have links to the same video's on the net for mold making and casting

Here is the wax index, it has a good assortment of waxes

Here are the brown and red casting waxes


« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 07:39:11 AM by PTsideshow »
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #52 on: February 28, 2010, 12:02:27 PM »
Nice find, thanks Glen. If I've done my sums right, their 7x3x3 block weighs around 2lbs, so ~$8 lb. I'm basing that on the density being 0.9 (I read it was, somewhere) of water.

Here's another update, as a result of today's machining adventures... It transpires that, when pouring fresh melt onto already solid, things don't always go quite to plan:



I don't know how deep that split is; nor do I intend to find out unless I absolutely have to... Anyway, I decided to try a repair on the scrap bit, to see how well it works. Broken plastic, meet Mr Blowtorch :



Shortly:



I've added a little bit of extra wax (from another offcut) into the melted bit, to increase the volume. The hardest bit of using the blowtorch method was not setting the wax on fire too often. And not burning your fingers while trying to melt bits into the gap...

Un-seen by the camera, I also tried repairing the smaller crack using a soldering iron. Then, after both repairs had cooled (and I'd finished sizing the main block), I whizzed through the repairs with a cutter:



From the pictures, one can conclude that Mr Blowtorch is not quite as effective as Mr Soldering Iron - although in fairness, the crack was much narrower where I repaired with the soldering iron.


Ultimately, the conclusion has to be: Pour the wax in one go if you possibly can.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline 75Plus

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #53 on: February 28, 2010, 06:46:34 PM »
Ade, Have you considered using an electrical paint stripper to do your repairs? It is a SUPER hair drier that gets hot enough to soften paint so it can be peeled away. It should be hot enough to melt the wax and, with no flame, there
should be no flare up problems. You can also add a reducer to the output to focus the heat to the area that needs it.

Joe

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #54 on: February 28, 2010, 07:10:49 PM »
Hi Joe - good thinking, I can't see why it wouldn't work. I don't have one of those paint strippers myself (used to, but it burnt itself out), but if I can get hold of one, I'll certainly give it a go (unless someone else posts results up here first)...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline John Stevenson

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #55 on: February 28, 2010, 07:26:48 PM »
I'm using mine to do the toast, will try later................ :wave:

John S.
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Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #56 on: February 28, 2010, 07:42:59 PM »
For smaller building up of the wax parts for casting trees and when doing multiple vents etc.
what can be used is an alcohol lamp with metal bladed spatula.  You can try using your torch and a flat section of metal in a heat proof handle for small cracks and voids.

Sticky wax for repair and the paste wax below for holes.

The wax pens are a modified soldering iron with assorted thin flat shaped blades for the work that is being done.

Some of the pens are battery powered small tipped devices for spure and vent joining.

In the paper crafting area, scrapbooking and such they have small hand held heat guns that can give high heat to smaller concentrated area's which would be great for repairing splits like yours.

Have you thought about slush casting the wax, Red Casting Wax is a hard casting wax that holds great detail. It is melted and poured into molds. After a short period the unsolidified wax is poured out of the mold leaving a wax shell conforming to the the interior. This process of "slush casting" is repeated several times to build up the required wax thickness. This wax shell is then used as a pattern in the investment shell casting process. Ring And Ball SofteningPoint: 77°C/170°F

I haven't tried it yet but a lot of the auto parts and general parts casting companies are going this route. Of course the system is automated.
They had a bronze casting segment on one of the cable shows were they were casting 18" tall sculptures by the slush cast method but again you would have to have a way of heating up all the wax.
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Offline gldwight

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #57 on: April 18, 2010, 02:30:14 PM »
Hey guys, what's happened with this project?

No posts since late Feb, here it is Apr 18th.

Sure doesn't seem like the project was finished or goals met.

Thanks much,
George

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #58 on: April 18, 2010, 11:07:04 PM »
George, Ade cast up a huge chunk of wax and used it to machine a full sized mock up of his oil sump, and has since come a long way on the real article.  See his project thread at this link:
http://madmodder.net/index.php?topic=2726.0

Dean
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #59 on: April 19, 2010, 05:00:06 PM »
Hey guys, what's happened with this project?

No posts since late Feb, here it is Apr 18th.

Sure doesn't seem like the project was finished or goals met.


Actually, for me the goals were pretty much met completely: I managed to cast my sump practice piece. I have since remelted some of the shavings; they came out a fairly different colour (much closer to Old Plasticene Brown than the baby blue/green it started out as). As suspected, the aluminium bits which have inevitably got mixed in with the wax swarf sunk to the bottom of the melt; so they're easy enough to remove. I've not taken any photos or done any machining on the re-melt yet.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline gldwight

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #60 on: April 20, 2010, 12:43:46 AM »
Ade:

Thanks for updating.

After all the hours and expenses involved in making this pattern.
Have you given any thoughts to maybe trying to market the design?

With a pattern like this, it could be used by some aluminum caster as a model.
From what I've seen of such things, they use a plastic substance on the wax.
Whether the wax pattern is lost, I don't know.  Once a mold is made, they'd
cast whatever quanity desired.

I'd like to see you gain some good income from all this fabulous work and costs.

Good luck,
George

Offline eidbi

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #61 on: December 13, 2010, 06:10:25 AM »
Hi All,
I came across this topic long after it was finished, but this may be useful.
We used to make candles as a hobby many years ago and bought the paraffin wax in bags of 56lbs (1/2 cwt). To make the candles we added stearin to the wax which made it harder. There was also micro-crystalline hardner which you could also add if you wanted the outer skin not to melt easily to keep the pool of molten wax from running down the sides. I got the wax etc from a company that supplied chemicals and craft equipment to schools. So I would suggest that you track down that kind of supplier for buying wax. If they don't have it they would be able to tell you where to go. The wax came in slabs that were about 14 lbs each. If you buy from a crafts supplier it will be a lot more expensive. Another source is a factory that make candles, If you explain what you want it for they will probably find it easier to get the supplier's name as you won't be seen as a competitor.

Regards,
Hamilton

Offline AdeV

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Re: Machinable wax
« Reply #62 on: December 13, 2010, 07:31:56 AM »
I hadn't realised that all the pictures were missing from this topic (result of a server failure a while back...) it's all back to normal now (I hope), the pictures should make some of my posts make more sense...

FWIW, I bought my paraffin wax from Homecrafts Direct. I did ask our local candle factory, and they did give me the name of their wax supplier, but in the end I decided that for the small quantities involved, I could take the cost of a bag from a craft shop. I've only used about 1/2 the bag, not having had the need for any wax since I cast up the sump, other than bits & pieces which I already had lying around the place.
Cheers!
Ade.
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