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Learning & Teaching


Waiting for the final pieces of equipment gives us time to return to our neglected studies. Payment gateways require HTML applications, research into marketing and advertising, a webinar session with organic modeling software with continuing online classes, and the further application of modeling designs in the areas of engineering and product design, manufacturing, model making and entertainment, and jewelry.

Last week, a few hours were dedicated to the Redd School, where our expertise in 3D design software was offered to the school’s Robotics class. There are some very sharp individuals there, not yet into their teen years. They will go far. I will attend another session with that class this Friday.

Our shop is now well organized with all tools and equipment in place. I hope to hear from the kiln supplier at the end of next week, regarding delivery of that item. All that remains is the 3D printer, held from order in hopes of their competitors’ promised product release, not forthcoming after all. The 3D printer manufacturer, Formlabs, assures that the item is in stock and available for immediate delivery, which I intend to close on by Tuesday, first of November. It should arrive at the same time as the kiln, if not before.

Quote of the week:

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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A Snag


This past week informed us of a change in our schedule. One of our vendors wrote to tell us our burnout kiln, which was originally noted as “in stock”, will require assembly at the factory; lead time, three to four weeks. Add to that a suggested shipping estimate of seven to ten business days leaves us somewhere at the end of November to finalize our equipment deliveries. It now pushes our production schedule back a month. This means we won’t see our product stock completed until after the holiday season.

In the meantime, our shop is being organized with the new equipment, tools and supplies that have been received and now awaits only the final deliveries of the kiln and 3D printer.

This Friday will include a visit to the Redd School to lend our expertise to the robotics class in the use of 3D modeling software. We hope that once again, the class will be able to attend the national robotics challenge at the end of the semester, at which they will compete with other schools of all levels, from across the country.

Quote of the week:

“The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.”

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Time Flies


The weeks are passing much too quickly. I’m still receiving the final orders, and expect that there will be some learning curves with the 3D printer and the finesse required for the post operations. Four major steps are required for production. After converting the designed 3D models into wire-frame format, the 3D printer will then develop the solid model. This is usually hand carved in wax, but the 3D printer will bypass that procedure and produce the model with a castable resin similar to plastic.

The next step is mixing the investment, a plaster-like liquid, and purging it of air using a vacuum machine. This investment is then poured into a steel flask that has the “wax” model attached in the bottom of it, on a rubber base. The model is attached to the base using a “sprue”, a thick wax stem, and the flask is purged of air again.

After the investment sets and hardens, the rubber base is removed and the flask is transferred to a kiln to “burn out” the “wax”. This leaves a cavity, a negative image, of the model which is the mold into which the molten metal will be injected. The flask is heated to a temperature close to that of the molten metal. This will take several hours of ramping up the temperature from the wax burnout stage to the casting temperature.

The flask is then transferred to the centrifugal casting arm, in which the arm is wound against an internal restraining spring and held in check. It will rest in a cradle behind the melting crucible. This crucible is heated to casting temperature and the solid metal is placed into it, either silver, gold or brass. A welder’s torch is used to melt the metal to liquid state, the spring is released and the liquid metal is flung into the mold by the centrifugal force of the spinning arm.

After the arm stops its spin, the flask is removed with a pair of tongs and quickly immersed into a bucket of water. The investment dissolves leaving the cast piece to be refined with post finishing, deburring, buffing and shining. And there we have our finished piece.

Quote of the week:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”
~Steve Jobs

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The majority of the equipment has arrived, there only remain a half dozen minor tools and supplies and the big ticket items, the 3D printer, investment casting vacuum and centrifugal casting machine. The long promised October announcement of two competitors’ highly anticipated 3D printing machines have not made themselves available to the consumer, so it looks like the Formlabs Form II will be our machine of choice.

The last metalsmith class is complete. Up next is revamping the website for a more polished look, adding policies and consumer information and integrating the credit card processing and shopping cart functions.

Our post office box and address have changed, and a variety of select shipping services and delivery times and insurance available for package delivery are finalized.

Quote of the week:

“No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond his reach who equips himself with patience to achieve it”.
~Jean de La Bruyère