Greetings Artists and Engineers!
I'm up against a tough hurdle. If you check my first patent "Dual Nature Puzzle Pieces" from the 70's you will know I can hardly be discouraged. For that project I learned everything from scratch, built several injection molds and a two-color injection molder. I had no help in my twenties, except for Mom. That was a very difficult project to see through and now I have another where I am in over my head from the start. Mom is no longer with us. But life should hold adventure and also deliver it. My good results here will benefit many, many people.
The stumbling block for now, I need to get steel into special shapes, the larger is about 60 pounds or more, the smaller maybe about 25 pounds. Twelve of each are needed. The machining time to fabricate these is A LOT. The trouble is A LOT. The cost to go to an outside shop for casting is prohibitive. So I keep imagining ways to do this on my own where I succeed to keep the expense within reason. I can get the steel at almost no expense but it is not in the final shape.
I'm thinking now that I can get regular fire bricks and machine them with cutting blades as I desire, and arrive at a reasonable mold when they are assembled and trapped in a sandbox. The brick has to go to the molten steel temperature without having problems. Hopefully it can. It is possible to do sand casting, yes, but I am intrigued about the firebrick approach. Sand molds are not ridgid, the surfaces can slump out prematurely, etc.
So, I imagine having a firebrick crucible, bricks tightly bundled in a circle or square, locked in a sandbox perhaps, and some means of getting the steel up to temperature. The temperature reached by a fresnel lens from an old projection TV will melt a rock, so maybe with solar input I can get close for free, then switch to induction or something effective. I have to wonder if straight electricity can do it, if you have the ideal electrodes and a great relationship with the power company.
The mold itself could work as the crucible, perhaps, and the step of valving molten steel through a passage is skipped. I like the sound of that. Whatever works and works best, within my ability at home, that is what I need to find. The parts have to be structurally sound, they are suspension parts for a new kind of RV I designed for my retirement. My suspension provides a huge amount of travel so off-road becomes practical. The power sourcing is based foremostly in conversion of organic materials into methane, hydrogen, and CO, going with electric motors. It is a great project and I intend to finish. There is room for help with this potential big industry. I am located I Austin, Texas but I am hoping to get a bit east for bigger trees, shade, and rain. You can send technical email to MountainSteamship at hushmail dot com if you prefer.
I ran across a discussion by a member who used some high temperature mesh and filled it with some high temperature repair putty, to get a much better repair on a broken kiln block. Doc somebody, wish I could remember. Hmmm , Weldon? Could have been... Suppose a combination of materials such as in that innovative repair would make a re-useable mold for steel? With one master to pull the molds from, my machining time is kept under control maybe and I can make dozens of sets in production instead of one set for one prototype. So, does anyone see the proper choices of materials and innovative approach here? It takes the heat, no distortion, not very costly? The brick is already fired and stable, somebody has done this I bet... if you know someone who has some experience with these materials, please let me know. Thanks!