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I needed a vacuum chamber to remove the bubbles from liquid casting investment.I made it from a 10mm plate of aluminium and a thick glass mixing bowl.

Since the base would double up for vacuum casting (in which a casting flask sits on a heatproof silicone gasket and the glass dome isn't used) I needed the vent hole to be in the middle of the slab. I started by making a really long drill bit. I took an old 4mm drill bit, and ground the shank down to half thickness. I ground a corresponding flat on a length of steel rod, bound the two components together with fine steel wire, and laid the assembly in a piece of angle to hold them parallel.

I brazed them together with a MAPP torch. Here's the finished drill bit. It ended up beautifully straight, probably through more luck than judgement.

I drilled the plate sideways on the lathe, then drilled down from the top to meet the hole.

I machined this nozzle component to be a friction fit on a length of hose. It has a recess for an O-ring.

I drilled and tapped mounting holes either side of the vent hole.

I made a sealing gasket from adhesive-backed neoprene foam tape (Farnell 536805) . Can recommend that material for seals; did the job perfectly. Here's the whole setup with a ringing phone inside. When pumped down, it was inaudible.As a finishing touch I added some sticky rubber feet.


 

Here's the vacuum chamber being used to degas investment

Here it is being used in a vacuum casting attempt. My pump is too weedy and I never got a complete fill with this technique, so I eventually abandoned it for centrifugal casting.

 

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A nice example of a casting

A nice example of a casting table - and something I really ought to make up soon for myself. I probably wouldn't have gone the brazing route, personally - I'd have just turned a rod of silver steel into a suitable-length drillbit & HT'd the thing. I presume you know of Cromwell down by the docks? Quite a good source for silver steel, even if some of us insist upon buying the 5' lengths.

One other thing I've seen suggested is to use a fuel filter inline between casting table and pump to protect the pump (oh, and using RTV silicone for heat-resistant gasket material). I may have the opposite problem with my vacuum pump - it is supposed to hit milliTorr (absolute, of course) levels.

Wow, you're a local! I

Wow, you're a local! I hadn't heard of Cromwell, thanks for the tip. Wish I had a milliTorr vacuum pump. Fancy a swap? ;-)

Incidentally, I really wouldn't recommend this casting method - a centrifuge is much less finickity! If you need higher injection pressure, just crank up the speed!

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