Following experiments with a homemade plastic injection molding machine, the zeitgeist led me to construct and experiment with an aluminum metalcasting foundry.
Summary: I had great initial success following the blog as a guide for building a casting foundry, but eventually I ran into far too many issues with the burner.
At first, electric stove burners sound like the perfect option. They’re cheap, widely available, and work at standard voltages. But they short out easily and decay very fast under high heat.
See, when a normal burner operates, excess heat to the air, but in a foundry the heat is kept inside where it can only build and build. The melting/burnout point of these is very close to the melting point of aluminum, making shorts all but inevitable.
Rarely would a burner last more than a few castings, which eventually led me to purchase a ‘professional’ crucible.
If/when I get back into this project, I would very likely use a propane-based burner for speed and simplicity.
Here’s some shots that cover the process and build over the course of about a couple months: