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The Aluminum Casting Process
Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust. Bauxite is the basic raw material from which the metal aluminum is produced. Impurities are removed from the bauxite by chemical processing to make alumina. The final product, alumina or aluminum oxide is a very hard crystalline substance having the appearance of refined sugar. It goes through a reduction process to remove oxygen from the alumina. Two pounds of alumina yield a pound of aluminum.
Aluminum is lightweight, has high thermal and electrical conductivity, has excellent strength, good corrosion resistance, high reflectivity, excellent workability, and attractive appearance.
Metal casting is a technical and complex process that involves specialized materials, machines, and furnaces. Sand mold casting is the method used in producing small and large sculptures. It is the most direct and low means of converting metal into the desired shape. Green sand, which constitutes sand, water, and clay, is used to form a mold. The mold is made by packing the sand around a pattern of the piece to be cast. The sand is typically contained in a system of frames or mold boxes known as a flask that holds the sand around the pattern. The pattern is then removed and pouring channels are made so the molten aluminum can flow from the bottom of the hole into the place where the pattern was. The molten aluminum pouring temperature is 1,325 to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten metal flows into the mold cavity through a hole in the sand called a spore. After the metal has cooled, the casting is removed from the sand, edges are ground off and welded together. The welds are ground down and the entire surface of the statue is worked over to disguise the seams. The statue is then cleaned and polished.