Thermite Casting

Idea Generation

What is this project about?

Looking for more support narrowing down your idea? Try using the idea matrix on this page.

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Using thermite, a combustible material of aluminium and iron oxide to cast iron parts, as it produces molten iron when burned.

What do you want to get out of this project?

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A faster way to make iron parts, as well as experience with different thermite mixtures.

where did the skills go? we are taking skills out of the idea generation process, in an attempt to make projects more career-focused. If you want to get leveled-up for a project, share it with the appropriate guide or faculty member for feedback upon completion.

Guiding Question

Turn your idea above into a guiding question.

Check out some resources on how to write a guiding question here.

The main commercial use of thermite is welding railroad tracks. Why is it not used for casting?

Exploration

Use this space to take notes, keep track of your sources, or conversations you have with people about this project.

Mar 22, 2021: The components arrived early, and I got a bunch of flowerpots to use as crucibles.
Mar 22, 2021: The components arrived early, and I got a bunch of flowerpots to use as crucibles.

I also researched some thermite mixtures, and I've decided on four to test; plain thermite, thermite + carbon (coal), thermite + steel, and thermite + carbon + steel. The steel idea came from this video:

Mar 25, 2021: It's time to mix some thermite!
Mar 25, 2021: It's time to mix some thermite!
Mar 25, 2021: Four 340-gram plain batches ready for additives.
Mar 25, 2021: Four 340-gram plain batches ready for additives.
Mar 25, 2021: The four mixes ready to go. Left to right: plain, plain+1 cup carbon, plain+16 grams steel, and plain+1 cup carbon+16 grams steel.
Mar 25, 2021: The four mixes ready to go. Left to right: plain, plain+1 cup carbon, plain+16 grams steel, and plain+1 cup carbon+16 grams steel.
Mar 25, 2021: The plain thermite mixture in the crucible over a sand mold.
Mar 25, 2021: The plain thermite mixture in the crucible over a sand mold.
Mar 25, 2021: The first burn! This is the plain mixture, molten iron can be seen flowing out of the bottom of the crucible between the bricks.

Mar 26, 2021: I attempted to fire the next three mixtures, starting with the plain+16 grams steel. This one refused to light, and I used up all my starter mix in the process. I have ordered magnesium ribbon to use as an ignitor, but it won't arrive until Sunday.

Production

What will it take for you to complete this project?

Use the table below to set your own timeline for deliverables, keep in mind when your final work product is due at the end of the cycle.

Work Product Deliverables

MilestoneDateDoneColumn
Research common thermite mixtures, and see if any are appropriate for casting. If not, create my own mixture.
Cast an iron ingot with various thermite mixtures, and test them for strength, flexibility and brittleness.
I was only able to perform the tests on the plain mixture, as the second one I tried refused to light, and by then I had run out of starting mix.
Once a suitable mixture has been obtained, cast a usable part with it.
Unable, unforeseen issues caused excessive slag formation (lack of flux).
Work Product due
March 5, 2021