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Scratch Build – In Progress Project - PowerCore

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by riekmaharg2, 26 Jul 2020.

  1. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Hi everyone,
    Its been a long while since my last project on here due to focusing on career and other projects, but I'm finally back for a new scratch build. My last build was a relatively standard layout/format, and wasn't that adventurous, so I've tried to come up with something a bit more unique this time, while also keeping it as small as possible. Here's the design I've come up with:

    Design Pic2.png Design Pic1.png
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    The first stage I took was to make sure I obtain the heatsinks for the radiators I want to make, since this design is dependant on them. These were available at Bal-group.com, on this link: https://www.bal-group.com/heatsinks/27 , and they were happy to sell me only three:

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    Unfortunately they didnt have the exact size I needed, so I had to cut a section of each one with a slotting saw on the milling machine:

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    As the slotting saw doesnt leave a very good finish, I then used a face mill to skim a layer off to smooth it out:

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    As the base of the heatsinks are way to thick for what I need, I then again used the face mill to thin down of the base aluminium:
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    These are now ready for CNC to mill out the water and o-ring channels on the back:
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    Next up was testing the casting process, since this case requires such a difficult shape, the only way I'm going to be able to make it, is by casting aluminium into a mold, then milling, grinding and sanding afterwards. In order to test the process I've started off small, by casting the water junction blocks, that feed to the two coolant pipes on each side. I 3D printed out a mold, and poured in casting silicone (after spraying on wax mold release), to create a silicone end cap for a piece of stainless tube to act as a casting flask for a special plaster mix:

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    The hole in the centre holds a sprue, which then holds the parts you want to cast:
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    I then 3D Printed (In PLA) the parts and melted the wax sprues and the parts together:

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    I then also printed out a cap to hold the silicone tightly onto the bottom:
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    I then poured in the special casting plaster (Available Here: https://www.artisanfoundry.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=98). This Plaster is a special blend for casting metal, don't use normal plaster. The Plaster itself sets in minutes, so you dont have long to mix and fill it.
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    Here's the result after I peeled off the silicone:
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    To remove any air bubbles in the plaster mix, I used a homemade vacuum chamber. Its a Instant Pot pressure cooker with a 14mm Acrylic top. I also used it to create a vacuum under the plaster mold while I poured the aluminium in:

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    To create the silicone ring on top that the mold sits on, I printed out a mold and pasted in some silicone sealant:

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    I didn't manage to get any pics of the casting process unfortunately due to the burn-out cycle taking 14hours and it had gone dark by the time I could pour in the metal and I was doing it outside alone in the dark, so getting pics and casting would have been tricky, so I'll just detail the process:

    1. Create a plaster mold using the special plaster
    2. Follow the plaster burnout cycle to remove all the moisture from the plaster and burnout the PLA. The burnout cycle I followed was the Jewelery one on this guide: https://docplayer.net/44984225-Sett...ent-for-jewellery-and-industrial-casting.html which is 14hours and up to 730c.
    3. After the burnout cycle keep the mold hot by placing it in the oven on max 280c or so.
    4. Melt the aluminium, make sure you melt more than you think you will need just in case.
    5. Take the mold out the oven and place it on the silicone ring on top of the vacuum chamber.
    6. Skim the dross off the top of the molten aluminium and switch on the vacuum pump
    7. Pour the aluminium into the mold, give it 10-20 secs, then switch off the vacuum pump, and wait 10min or so for it to cool.
    8. Plunge the mold and castings into a bucket of water, this helps break up the plaster and free the casting.

    There is also the option for degassing and using drossing flux, however I didnt opt to use them in this case. Gases only dissolve in the aluminium while its molten, and since I used the aluminium straight after it melted, and I used an Electic Kiln, and not a gas burner, I didnt feel it was worth while getting a bottle of Argon, as minimal gas dissolves in, in this case. For dross, since I was using a brand new crucible and decent ingot there was barely any dross to begin with, so I didnt bother using flux either.

    You then get a completed casting with incredible detail, you can clearly see the print lines:
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    The Kiln I used was this little one off ebay:

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    With a graphite Crucible for melting the aluminium:

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    Its also important to use an Aluminium alloy that is designed for casting, I bought an ingot of ebay (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aluminium-Ingot-BS1490-5KG-LME-Branded-Manufacturing-Alloy-Bullion/254330264143?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649):

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    If your looking at getting into casting aluminium I would highly recommend VOG's channel on youtube, its where I found alot of this information: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkEYj8wtK3aEW8vSGhlB43g

    I will also note my first attempt failed as I had filled the flask to high with plaster and couldnt get a decent vacuum seal, so on the 2nd attempt I didnt fill it as high, and I also added some vent sprues that came to the top, and also put in some sprues going up the sides from the bottom up, so the vacuum could get deeper into the plaster, I also didnt bother with the wax this time, and printed the sprues instead. This gave the results above.

    Heres the 2nd attempt with the little vent sprues showing around the edges. I had to dig out the plaster a little to reveal them.
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    Now I had the completed castings, I then cut them free from the sprues:

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    I then drilled, tapped, milled and sanded to get a decent surface finish, and flat sides that the water cooling fittings can seal against:

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    And the results:

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    These are now ready for fine bead blasting to create an even, smooth finish, and then anodising.

    I'm now working on the casting for the outer shell of the case. I'm going to attempt to cast it all in one in a very large plaster mold, with some help from SDTS Engineering: https://www.sdtsengineering.co.uk/

    It's going to take a while to get all this 3D Printed and create the mold, so it might be a week or so until the next update.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jul 2020
    Dot_Kappa, lowfat, Flux and 8 others like this.
  3. Defyant Mods

    Defyant Mods Well-Known Member

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    WTF did i just see! this is some next level modding stuff....Just scrolling through the first couple pics thinking this is really cool and then BAM!!! The whole thing just explodes!!!
    Amazing stuff.:rock:
     
  4. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    'can't find better words...:jawdrop:
     
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  5. enbydee

    enbydee Active Member

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    Being able to troll scratch builders with "Oh, you buy your aluminium in blocks and sheets? Ready for you to machine?" is next level of scratch build one-upmanship. Well done.
     
  6. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Thanks for the amazing comments :D
     
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  7. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    He's back!!! :clap: :rock: -and as for the build...
    I get erections over the weirdest things nowadays.
     
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  8. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    Yeaaahhh :clap:, of course, Cheap's right !!! he's back : I didn't noticed his signature from the first glimpse :duh:, and then I suddenly saw and recalled...Blue Horizon :eeek: one of the most epic build ever, incredible skills and imagination, and one of the most beautiful aluminium case I ever seen, entirely made from scratch , I was only lurking around in 2010, and talking about some next level modding, it was already the next level 10 years ago, and I advise to all followers who have never seen this worklog, you are lucky, unlike to many other old threads, all the pictures are visible still :grin:, and it was an absolute madness, now I am not surprised to see so many skills in action :wallbash:
    Sorry if I went a little enthousiast :grin:, I spent a part of my evening, watching delightfully the 77 pages of awesomeness of this thread once again, and I could not avoid to mention it :hehe:
     
    Last edited: 28 Jul 2020
  9. 4LIEN

    4LIEN Active Member

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    This project it's really next level, you need a lot of skill and time to make that aluminium parts!
    Also i really like your renders, very professional!
     
  10. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    haha, I am indeed back after a very long hiatus :)

    Thanks Kim, very kind words, hopefully with this technique of 3D printing and casting I'll have this case done in a much shorter time span than the Blue Horizon build, so it will end up being a more riveting build :D Yeah I would recommend storing photos on Google Photos, loads of free storage so I've never had to pay to keep the old projects photo's hosted :)

    Thanks, I'm actually teaching myself to use Fusion360 at the moment, as I've been using Sketchup until now, and its not been great for modelling small parts, it kept deleting parts of the model when using certain tools. Fusion360 is so much better, although it being cloud based is slightly concerning that they could suddenly start charging loads for it, as its free for hobbyists at the moment.
     
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  11. Lambda

    Lambda New Member

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    Did not expect to see some cast their own parts, super impressive
     
  12. Flux

    Flux Member

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    How cool is this! Can't wait to see what comes next.
     
  13. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Thanks guys :)

    Sorry not got the most exciting update, as its just been adjusting all the 3D models for splitting the parts into small enough pieces to print, and scaling them all by 1.8% to account for the shrinkage of the aluminium and then printing all the parts:

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    I've used a bit of super glue to glue all the parts together then attach them to a sprue tree:

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    Sorry about the super vivid blue, my camera goes a little crazy with these! lol. The large pour bowl bit at the top, is to get some weight on the top to really push the molten alu into the mold, and as the alu shrinks it pulls in from the top, so you need a bit of a reservoir. These casting will also be vacuumed like I did with the small ones to really pull the alu into all the fine details.
    These parts will be cast in the special plaster like the water junctions above, and the large panels are going to be cast using the ceramic shell investment casting process, due to there size it would take a huge amount of plaster and it aint cheap, so at least with the ceramic shell you only need a thin shell's worth of material.
    Since PLA can expand and crack the ceramic shell as it heats up, I'm waiting on some PolyCast filament to arrive from here:
    https://www.3djake.uk/polymaker/polycast-natural
    This stuff is designed for this process so hopefully it will give good results. Its probably going to take another weeks worth of printing to get the main panels printed. In the mean time I'll be welding up some stainless boxes to cast these plaster parts in, once the stainless arrives.
     
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  14. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Being able to skip the wax part stage is awesome.
     
  15. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Yeah its soooo much easier to just print parts than to cast a block of wax and then machine it.

    Sorry about the long wait but I final have an update on this. I've added some vent sprues to the parts I had printed to let the air out as the metal pours in:

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    I then welded up a couple of stainless tubs from scrap pieces to cast the special plaster into, I kept blowing holes in the metal lol but got there in the end. I then hot glued the stainless to a wood base so I can easily remove it after pouring in the plaster:

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    The printed part just hangs off the edges with a bit of glue and a wooden knife:

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    I also added some print spool to the corners so that the vacuum can reach into all the plaster during the metal casting process:

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    Then it was plaster pour time. Once mixed I quickly vacuum out all the air bubbles:

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    Heres the final results of the plaster casting. I've since put these in the oven at 130c for 16 hours to dry them out a bit, my oven has a steam vent so all the steam comes out the top rather than getting stuck in the oven.

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    Next up is the investment casting pieces. Since these parts have a big empty space in the middle, it would use way to much plaster, so I'm going to have these done in the ceramic shell lost wax process as that only creates a thin shell over the whole part. The print spool I used was PolyCast Natural from here: https://www.3djake.uk/polymaker/polycast-natural . PS4 pad for scale :). After casting in aluminium, these will be welded together.

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    This print spool is rather expensive so I decided to make the sprues and pour funnel out of wax I already had instead. First step is to melt some on very low heat. Instead of pouring im using a stainless meat basting syringe:

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    And these nesting funnels:

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    At the same time I was also creating the sprues by pouring wax into a large diameter silicone tube. Once the wax sets you can just stretch the silicone over the end of a tap and force the wax out with the water pressure :) I also used a coin to plug the end while I pour in the wax:

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    And the results after melting the parts together:

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    I think they turned out really good:

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    I then printed some thin wall hollow sprue sections, put the wax parts above through the middle, then injected some wax to merge the wax and prints together:

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    I may also add some print spool as vents, but I've not decided yet.

    I've sent the heatsinks off to be CNC'd into Rads so I will post some pics of those in the next couple of weeks hopefully.

    At the moment I'm kinda stuck waiting now, the company I found to do the investment casting is booked up for the next month, so I either to find another company or wait. I've been talking to one in Sheffield but not yet sure they will take the job, it seems quite difficult to find investment casting companies that will accept a small one off order. I cant make the internals of the case yet either, as casting isn't 100% perfect of dimensions, so I will likely need to adjust the sizing of the internal parts slightly in the 3D model.
     
  16. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Hi all, since Im still waiting on the getting the castings done, and I've not found another alternative yet either, I decided to start making the custom CPU block, as this build is going to be so compact I need a waterblock that the tubes come off at 90 degrees, and I'll be cherry picking a motherboard that doesn't have anything in the way.
    To start off I milled the edges of a acrylic block so I could get it into the lathe, and then rounded it off one side at a time:

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    I then bored out a circle so that the fins from the copper plate (From a corsair block) will it into one end:

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    Then I trimmed down the cylinder further to leave a lip on the bottom edge for the mounting bracket:

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    I then mounted it into the milling machine and milled out the channels for the coolant to flow into the fins:

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    Then using centering drills I made a pilot hole then drill through into the milled channels from the side:

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    Then I milled out a ledge and tapped the holes for the water cooling fittings:

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    I then used this rotary table to mill a 1.5mm channel for the O-ring:

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    I then drilled the ring of holes for the self tapping screws that hold the copper plate to the acrylic:

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    I flipped around the rotary table, and put the chuck back on it, then used it to mill out some notches for the mounting clamp to fit into:

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    Last edited: 19 Oct 2020
  17. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    And then finally after a lot of wet and dry sanding working my way up from 600 to 3000gritt, then a polish with Turtle Wax polish while it was spinning on the lathe here are the results:

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    I'm working on the acrylic top for the coolant pump next, as one piece of it should be ready from the CNC'ers next weekend :)
     
    Last edited: 19 Oct 2020
  18. Karrek

    Karrek Member

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    I'm not seeing the images from today, but amazing work so far!
     
  19. riekmaharg2

    riekmaharg2 has started the PowerCore scratch build

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    Thanks Karrek :), doh I forgot to make them share links, updated them now so they should be visible.
     
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  20. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    :wallbash: I know it's an awesome post, but it's not working here.
     

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