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Melting Nickel

Bill Kahn

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I have not been able to find a source for bars of nickel. But, I have a source for 99% nickel small balls (like 1/4"). I would like to find someone that I can ship like 6 pounds of nickel balls too and who can melt them into a 1"x2"x6" (minus nothing, plus is fine) bar. What sort of job shop does something like this? Where do I find them? (After the nickel I have some other metals too I need reformed similarly). Thanks for any pointers. -Bill (previously posted this to a different forum, but got no responses, so have reposted here)
 

Karl_T

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That melts at 2650, just 100 less than steel. Not many have that ability
 

aliva

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I retired from Vale the worlds 2nd largest nickel producer. I worked at the smelter, unfortunately they would only melt tons of nickel concentrate.
You requirement is a little on the small side:)
All joking aside, look for a local foundry or even build your own propane furnace. There are plenty of plans on the net, relatively cheap to construct.
 

brino

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look for a local foundry or even build your own propane furnace
aluminum is easy with my homemade propane burner, that's around 660 deg. C.
I tried and failed to melt copper. That should be 1080 deg.C.
I would think nickel at 1450 deg. C. would require an arc furnace......but I'm no expert.
-brino

melting points from here:
https://www.onlinemetals.com/en/melting-points
 

RJSakowski

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You might have better luck buying nickel rounds and forging them to your rectangular shape. Nickel can be forged at around 1100ºC, slightly lower than carbon steels. A 1.75" round should work. Nickel rounds are available from Online Metals. Pretty pricey though.
 

Illinoyance

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Buy a larger round and mill it to shape.
 

RJSakowski

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Buy a larger round and mill it to shape.
A 2.25" round would be required to mill out a 1" x 2" profile. From Online Metals, a 2" round x 12" bar is $700.95. A 2.25 round, if available would more than likely add another $100. To mill the 1" x 2" profile, you would throw away half the material.
 

Bill Kahn

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I have a small 1x2x6 metal collection. See snapshot.

It is really quite interesting how different these materials are. Copper has an incredible color. Tungsten makes lead feel light. Magnesium makes aluminum feel heavy. Titanium feels warm (5% of the thermal conductivity of copper). Bismuth has very sparkly crystal planes. I have managed to find inexpensive off-pieces--can't afford commercial prices.

There are many more safe elements that in principle are affordable.

What is a challenge is finding large enough pieces that I can mill down to 1x2x6. Zinc and Lead I was was able to melt myself. Tin and Bismuth I have the material, but need still to melt them (given they are more expensive materials I want to do so with less waste than the bread pan molds I have been using. But I'll get these done in a month or two.)

At times I come across an affordable source of the material, but it is in too small of a form factor. For some of the materials I can remelt them myself (though that is more of a challenge than one might think--I'll tell about my lead experience sometime--a lead brick is harder than you would think (as is true in all machining it seems)) And simply hitting copper with a propane torch simply oxidizes it in funny ways--does not melt it (would need to figure out how to limit the oxygen exposure I guess)

I came across a source of affordable nickel pellets. I just figured someone may have the furnace/mold equipment and be able to reform it for me not too expensively. At least, I want to find out what the cost might be.

From the outside all hobbies are pretty silly. So, I do know that working to acquire macro-sized and human experience-able chunks of elements is silly. It is a small way I connect to the real, tangible, physical world.

Elements I am am gently keeping my eyes open for now include:
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Cobalt
Nickel
Zirconium
Niobium
Molybdenum
Antimony
Neodymium
Tantalum
Indium

If I can find a re-melter/molder the process becomes much easier--there are funny suppliers of scrap all over. But when a single piece is 1x2x6 it often has more than remnant value and so is no longer affordable to a hobbyist collector.

-Bill
 

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silence dogood

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I have a small 1x2x6 metal collection. See snapshot.

It is really quite interesting how different these materials are. Copper has an incredible color. Tungsten makes lead feel light. Magnesium makes aluminum feel heavy. Titanium feels warm (5% of the thermal conductivity of copper). Bismuth has very sparkly crystal planes. I have managed to find inexpensive off-pieces--can't afford commercial prices.

There are many more safe elements that in principle are affordable.

What is a challenge is finding large enough pieces that I can mill down to 1x2x6. Zinc and Lead I was was able to melt myself. Tin and Bismuth I have the material, but need still to melt them (given they are more expensive materials I want to do so with less waste than the bread pan molds I have been using. But I'll get these done in a month or two.)

At times I come across an affordable source of the material, but it is in too small of a form factor. For some of the materials I can remelt them myself (though that is more of a challenge than one might think--I'll tell about my lead experience sometime--a lead brick is harder than you would think (as is true in all machining it seems)) And simply hitting copper with a propane torch simply oxidizes it in funny ways--does not melt it (would need to figure out how to limit the oxygen exposure I guess)

I came across a source of affordable nickel pellets. I just figured someone may have the furnace/mold equipment and be able to reform it for me not too expensively. At least, I want to find out what the cost might be.

From the outside all hobbies are pretty silly. So, I do know that working to acquire macro-sized and human experience-able chunks of elements is silly. It is a small way I connect to the real, tangible, physical world.

Elements I am am gently keeping my eyes open for now include:
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Cobalt
Nickel
Zirconium
Niobium
Molybdenum
Antimony
Neodymium
Tantalum
Indium

If I can find a re-melter/molder the process becomes much easier--there are funny suppliers of scrap all over. But when a single piece is 1x2x6 it often has more than remnant value and so is no longer affordable to a hobbyist collector.

-Bill
Okay, I get it now. That is interesting what you are doing.
 

brino

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From the outside all hobbies are pretty silly. So, I do know that working to acquire macro-sized and human experience-able chunks of elements is silly. It is a small way I connect to the real, tangible, physical world.
I wouldn't say it's silly at all. I'd call it comparative research.
How can you work any material by hand or machine if you don't know anything about it?
Explore it, get to know it.

In fact, the ones that cause you the most trouble to machine yourself are the ones you'd learn the most about!

Here's a book I picked up years ago and still enjoy flipping thru:
https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Visual-Exploration-Every-Universe/dp/1579128955/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+elements&qid=1567082870&s=gateway&sr=8-1

....but it IS just a book. Your way is much more tactile and immersive.

Kudos to you!
-brino
 

RJSakowski

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It looks like you should be looking for an ultra high temperature furnace to support your hobby. Some of those metals will be extremely hard to find in pure form, let alone in a 1" x 2" x 6" form factor.
BTW, Canadian nickels from 1955 -1981 are better than 99% nickel, if you need more stock. At 100 to the lb., they're cheaper than the current price of nickel on the commodities market.
 

rwm

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I have casted aluminum, brass and bronze. My propane furnace gets to about 2000 deg F. Oil burners get hotter and can easily do iron. Nickel is really pushing the limits of combustion powered burners. Arc furnaces would typically be used. It may however be possible to do this volume of nickel with oil and a smaller furnace. Try posting here:
or here

Some of these guys have a lot of experience and regularly do iron.

Robert

Oh yeah...I have cast a nickel alloy that was 85% Ni and 14% Cu and a few other minor elements. This melts lower than pure nickel that you are looking for
R
 
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john.k

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Simplest way is to heat the stuff white hot and forge weld into a bar.....you could do this yourself with a bit of gear........otherwise ,I would try to melt with an arc torch into a mould of graphite......but I suspect C may well be soluble in Ni at melt point.
 

pdentrem

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I have not been able to find a source for bars of nickel. But, I have a source for 99% nickel small balls (like 1/4"). I would like to find someone that I can ship like 6 pounds of nickel balls too and who can melt them into a 1"x2"x6" (minus nothing, plus is fine) bar. What sort of job shop does something like this? Where do I find them? (After the nickel I have some other metals too I need reformed similarly). Thanks for any pointers. -Bill (previously posted this to a different forum, but got no responses, so have reposted here)
You need an induction furnace. We have one for our processing of metals but very expensive for a hobbyist. Check the used market for a small unit like these from Supermelt. https://www.superbmelt.com/mini-gold-melting-furnace/
You may need to use a cover gas to keep the oxygen away from the metal. We use carbon monoxide that is burning on a Low pressure pre heating head.
Pierre
 

Bill Kahn

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Yes, this seems like the sort of thing I need. On ebay I see inexpensive versions of such machines for as little as $600. But still, this is not primary to my hobby. Just a step on the path. I would like to contract out with someone who is running one of these machines already to do a melt for me. Thanks for this pointer to the right sort of equipment. I'll try those alloy and foundry boards and will report back. -Bill
 

Joe in Oz

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If you just want to be able touch it in that form factor, then the option of steel piece that you put in an electroless nickel plating pot might nb=be OK. That deposits a thin layer of almost pure Nickel. It would look the same as a solid bar and be about the same weight too....
 

Bill Kahn

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Well, materials have all sorts of interesting properties. Yes, surface finish, hardness, and even surface corrosion are all interesting. But bulk properties are as well. Yes, density. But the magnetic properties are interesting. Most of my metal bars are not magnetic. Pure nickel I have heard is 1/4 as ferromagnetic as iron. I would like to experience that. It also has 1/4 the conductivity, so Faraday induction should be perfectly clear. Not sure how the two effects will combine. The bars "ring" differently when bumped--something to do with hardness and stiffness, not sure just what, but very noticeable. And their thermal conductivity difference are most noticeable. Of course, the spirit is not really there--I could gold plate a tungsten bar and somehow, it would just not have the je ne sais quoi of a real gold bar. But thank you for a thoroughly practical approach for part of the puzzle. I had not thought about it.
 

matthewsx

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I could gold plate a tungsten bar and somehow, it would just not have the je ne sais quoi of a real gold bar.
Wait, you have a 1"x2"x 6" gold bar? I'd gladly trade my nickel bar for it ;)

Maybe it's time to start a round bar or ball bearing collection too....

Cheers,

John
 

BROCKWOOD

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Bill wrote, "I see inexpensive versions of such machines for as little as $600."

From what little I've delved into this, those kilns (machines) on ebay (& used kilns in general) only heat up to 2400F at best. Great items to have - but not capable of what you want to do. I actually do want to get into iron casting. Homemade versions are all over UTube, but not for iron & never revealing just how hot they can get them.
 

Downunder Bob

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I have a small 1x2x6 metal collection. See snapshot.

It is really quite interesting how different these materials are. Copper has an incredible color. Tungsten makes lead feel light. Magnesium makes aluminum feel heavy. Titanium feels warm (5% of the thermal conductivity of copper). Bismuth has very sparkly crystal planes. I have managed to find inexpensive off-pieces--can't afford commercial prices.

There are many more safe elements that in principle are affordable.

What is a challenge is finding large enough pieces that I can mill down to 1x2x6. Zinc and Lead I was was able to melt myself. Tin and Bismuth I have the material, but need still to melt them (given they are more expensive materials I want to do so with less waste than the bread pan molds I have been using. But I'll get these done in a month or two.)

At times I come across an affordable source of the material, but it is in too small of a form factor. For some of the materials I can remelt them myself (though that is more of a challenge than one might think--I'll tell about my lead experience sometime--a lead brick is harder than you would think (as is true in all machining it seems)) And simply hitting copper with a propane torch simply oxidizes it in funny ways--does not melt it (would need to figure out how to limit the oxygen exposure I guess)

I came across a source of affordable nickel pellets. I just figured someone may have the furnace/mold equipment and be able to reform it for me not too expensively. At least, I want to find out what the cost might be.

From the outside all hobbies are pretty silly. So, I do know that working to acquire macro-sized and human experience-able chunks of elements is silly. It is a small way I connect to the real, tangible, physical world.

Elements I am am gently keeping my eyes open for now include:
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Cobalt
Nickel
Zirconium
Niobium
Molybdenum
Antimony
Neodymium
Tantalum
Indium

If I can find a re-melter/molder the process becomes much easier--there are funny suppliers of scrap all over. But when a single piece is 1x2x6 it often has more than remnant value and so is no longer affordable to a hobbyist collector.

-Bill

Why not get a piece of steel or other common metal machine it to the right size and get it electroplated with nickel. It will look the part and no one will know unless you tell them. It will help complete your collection, and if a suitable piece of nickle becomes available then substitute it.
 

rwm

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I get that you want pure metal. If you come up empty and are willing to flex a little, cupronickel is damn close to Ni in all physical properties. C70600 is 90% Ni and 10% Cu. It looks an feels just like pure Ni. The melting point is less than 2200F which puts it in the range of hobby casting. I believe I have cast this with propane. Pushing a furnace to get to pure Ni melting point will damage most of the refractory I know of so it could be a one time use furnace! Keep in mind, the furnace is hotter than the metal in the crucible.
Another possibility would be to make an ingot using an arc welder. That would have to be smaller in volume than you are envisioning.
Robert
 

Aaron_W

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I have a small 1x2x6 metal collection. See snapshot.


-Bill
That is an interesting collection you have there, and no stranger than collecting rocks, stamps or butterflies.
 

francist

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When I was in my late teens and just getting into serious levels of woodworking I embarked on a similar collection, except not of metals but different types of wood I had worked with. I tried to make each block the same size (about the same as a 1-2-3 block actually) and I finished them all the same way.

I think I got to about five or six different "specimens" if you could call them that before I kind of got bored with it. This usually happens with me -- I start off all gung ho but then after a bit I discover the next shiny thing on my horizon and off I go. I think if I had kept with it though, I would have had quite a stack by now with nearly 40 years into the craft and having repaired and rebuilt countless antiques, not to mention all the local colour from various fruit and boulevard trees.

Sometimes I wish I had kept up with it, but then remember that I rarely take photos of occasions either much preferring to experience the moment in the full at the time. I still know how each of of "my woods" worked, what it smelled like, how it behaved, if it made me sick from breathing it, etc etc. Those memories and reflections will form my sample base for as long as my memory works. And after that, well, I don't think I could rebuild the base without going through the experiences again and that's not going to happen.

I was out walking with my sister the other week as we often do and she said (after I had pulled a great long name out of my head again) "... I think it's really cool that not only do you know the Latin name for all these trees we're walking past, but you know what they're like on the inside too!"

Maybe that's how I finally ended up making my connection with my physical world.

-frank
 

Bill Kahn

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Well, added to my small 1x2x6 element collection. I now have Molybdenum. Was just barely affordable from some small vendor in China who was very nice in working with me (though, did not quite represent the product being sold as well as they should have. Oh well.)

Molybdenum machines like a hard steel. (I am a beginner, so don’t really have a vocabulary for such matters yet.). But it is noticeably heavier than steel (like 1/3rd heavier—quite close to lead).

An interesting property is that my 1x2x6 inch bar has a lovely ”ring” to it when you tap it. I guess something to do with hardness or elasticity or something. I do not know the material properties that make a material “ring” nicely. Looking at it, just another chunk of grey stuff for the mantle.6E5BF8D9-3666-4F95-87B0-5F15B29C6541.jpeg

-Bill
 

aliva

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Just a cautionary note, if you get your hands on some magnesium be careful with it. Don't let it catch fire. Water won't put it out, a dry chemical extinguisher with " Purple K " powder is one of the only ways to extinguish it. Check the below links for more info
 

Aaron_W

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Well, added to my small 1x2x6 element collection. I now have Molybdenum. Was just barely affordable from some small vendor in China who was very nice in working with me (though, did not quite represent the product being sold as well as they should have. Oh well.)

Molybdenum machines like a hard steel. (I am a beginner, so don’t really have a vocabulary for such matters yet.). But it is noticeably heavier than steel (like 1/3rd heavier—quite close to lead).

An interesting property is that my 1x2x6 inch bar has a lovely ”ring” to it when you tap it. I guess something to do with hardness or elasticity or something. I do not know the material properties that make a material “ring” nicely. Looking at it, just another chunk of grey stuff for the mantle.View attachment 303537

-Bill
Possibly a strange request but could you post some photos of that ruler. I grew up in Oakland, CA and that appears to be an interesting piece of local history that has made it all the way across the country.
 

john.k

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Magnesium catches fire easily.....not........,its quite hard to set alight in a casting or bulk item.....I ve tried with an oxytorch........swarf and the familiar ribbon may burn,the bulk solid doesnt light without a lot of heat.Not one millionth as flammable as the familiar plastics in your home.....and clothing.
 

Downunder Bob

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I remember when I did my marine fire fighting training at a naval base, we spent most of the day learning how to put large oil fires with various foam mixtures and also just plain water, yes it works if you do it right. Then the instructors set light to an old volkswagen motor and found out what happens when you use water, it just gets worse, they then put it out with some special stuff, don't remember what, too long ago, it was in the mid 80's. But it was pretty exciting to see.
 

Aaron_W

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I remember when I did my marine fire fighting training at a naval base, we spent most of the day learning how to put large oil fires with various foam mixtures and also just plain water, yes it works if you do it right. Then the instructors set light to an old volkswagen motor and found out what happens when you use water, it just gets worse, they then put it out with some special stuff, don't remember what, too long ago, it was in the mid 80's. But it was pretty exciting to see.
When I went through the fire academy in the 1990s, they taught us magnesium fires (then primarily related to VWs and Porsches) were to be dealt with by protecting exposures and letting it burn out or using copious amounts of water. The book described copious as "more water than you have ever used". The training captain suggested pushing the car into the bay (San Francisco Bay) as an appropriate amount of water to do the job. :grin:
 
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