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An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?

Posted by John Cummings 
An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 11:14AM
Hi all

I've been experimenting with lost PLA casting 3D printed parts, however like most people I don't own a kiln. Looking around the options are very limited, I can't justify $1000 on a desktop kiln or move to a place with a large outdoor space. I'm wondering about how feasable it would be to start a project for an open source desktop kiln suitable for small makerspaces, individual makers and for potters. Would something like this fit on the RepRap wiki? The kiln could produce its own refractory bricks and would be helpful for creating metal parts using lost PLA casting and also potentially bonded metal powder. I think it could be of interest to quite a few people for several reasons:

Motivation
  • High cost of commercial alternatives despite apparent low cost of materials
  • Multiple use cases from multiple user groups (pottery, lost PLA casting, 3D printed ceramics, jewellery)
    The multiple user groups are all experienced makers in one way or another
  • Existing low cost alternatives are all large scale and require outside space where you can make a big mess, which isn't available to a lot of people
  • People are already working on parts of the problem (e.g there's already a semi open (CC BY-NC) source kiln controller and people are sharing designs but not collaborating)

Existing resources
  • Low technical skill required to participate in designing the kiln body
  • Some existing open source software and hardware could be used, e.g 3D printing software and control hardware which could bring a lot of functions e.g programmable temperature cycles, logs, safety feature etc).
  • Large and passionate existing online communities, e.g r/ceramics has 7500 subscribers, large Facebook groups
  • The project can be broken down into components, partial success is still useful, e.g kilns can be used at different temperatures for different materials, commercial kiln controllers are available but still very expensive.

Materials
  • Relatively low cost materials meaning its easy to start developing
  • Accessible materials, most available in a hardware store except the insulation, temperature sensor and control board, all available off Amazon at low cost
  • Minimal tools required to build
  • Relatively simple mechanics compared to something like 3D printing.

What do people think? How could I start something like this on the RepRap wiki? Does it fit? My only other idea of a place it could go is Open Source Ecology, but their forums don't seem to work any more which is a shame,

Thanks
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 11:18AM
What temperature are you aiming for?
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 01:10PM
There are multiple temperatures which could be useful

700C will let you melt aluminium, so you can do lost PLA casting
1400C will let you fire porcelain, useful for firing printed clay
1500Cish you can melt glass

There are commercially available desktop kilns that reach these temperatures but they expensive
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 02:15PM
Make your own for very little. [www.youtube.com]
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 04:11PM
I've also wanted to look at lost PLA casting. I've done lost wax castings before, which are of course much simpler on a small scale.

I would be interested in such a project on an affordable scale, for taking small 3d printed parts to metal in aluminum or bronze.


MBot3D Printer
Kit from Amazon
Added heated bed.

I3 beltless redesign (in progress)
Duet Wifi, Precision Piezo parts
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 16, 2018 05:03PM
Quote
cwaa
Make your own for very little. [www.youtube.com]

Thanks but this is not really suitable for what I'm looking for, I want to create an open source electric kiln which can be used in non dirty environments
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 17, 2018 01:58AM
Take the design of the above kiln and replace the propane (did not watch the video fully) heat source with nichrome wire. That's about as "clean" as melting metals gets.
[www.youtube.com]
This guy used a welder and some fire bricks for the kiln body, but there is nothing stopping you from using the bucket and concrete idea from the other video and the nichrome wire from this video. Nichrome wire is also probably the cheapest and most readily available electric heating element you'll find that can get to the temperatures you need.

Finally, a kiln is not a "desktop" item. Take that thing outside, away from flammable objects and where you have good ventilation. I have never seen anyone (even youtube amateurs) do aluminium castings on their desktop. The closest thing I've seen is in a garage which is perfectly sensible (concrete floors, good ventilation).
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 17, 2018 01:29PM
If you have ever worked around molten metal, you will decide very quickly that you want the kiln outside or in a fireproof environment with a lot of air flow. Are you aware that even a teaspoon of moisture in the metal you are melting can result in a very destructive explosion. Yea, you need that on your desktop. What happens when you have a spill?
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 17, 2018 01:56PM
Quote
John Cummings
Hi all

...
What do people think? How could I start something like this on the RepRap wiki? Does it fit? My only other idea of a place it could go is Open Source Ecology, but their forums don't seem to work any more which is a shame,

Thanks

I suppose you have already experimented using, making mold, casting metal and want to share your experience. How about starting by showing a prototype or a drawing with specs of what you did and intend to do ?


"A comical prototype doesn't mean a dumb idea is possible" (Thunderf00t)
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 17, 2018 03:16PM
Hi! I've been working on an open source electric kiln:

RepKiln Hackaday Project Page

I plan to put the information on the RepRap wiki after I've finished it. Not that there can only be one kiln project on the wiki, of course... So, John Cummings, I say feel free to add a kiln project to the wiki!!

As far as how to start, I started my project by making a simple heat transfer model to get an idea of size and power requirements for the desired temperatures. At the same time, I started looking at what to use for bricks and options for how to assemble the kiln from a structural standpoint. All these decisions are logged in the build logs on the hackaday project. There are some heat transfer models and OpenSCAD designs at this git repo too:

RepKiln Git Repo

-Matt
Re: An open source kiln as part fo the RepRap project?
September 22, 2018 06:41PM
Thanks very much all, I've made a start on an outline here [reprap.org] please do add to it

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2018 06:42PM by John Cummings.
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