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Old 03-09-2023, 09:49 AM
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Zircar

So I've been looking at the rigid insulation with the elements embedded from Zircar in Florida NY. They indicate they will withstand temps about 2378 which would suggest to me that there is potential for very compact color units.
While I'm not sure of pricing yet I imagine them to be expensive but quick.

Once I was using such things I got from Los alamos two decades back. It was like a pot furnace in a lunchbox.

Has anyone had experience with their products?

https://www.zircarceramics.com
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Old 03-11-2023, 01:02 AM
Eric Trulson Eric Trulson is offline
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No experience with Zircar in particular, but I've been looking at this type of module as well recently for use in small wire melters/color pots, and requesting some quotes. Kanthal calls theirs fibrothal. I am also expecting them to be horrendously expensive. The fundamental concept is great though, elements and vacuum-formed fiber in a single module that's easy to swap out.

Between this and stove-type elements for annealers (same as in residential stoves, the ones with the heating wire on the inside, then a layer of cermaic powder and a metal tube sheathing the outside), I'd love to see some motion in the glass world towards more user-friendly packaging of elements in furnaces and ovens. If I never have to stuff a coil element into a brick groove or pin it to a fiber wall again in my life, that would be just fine by me.
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Old 03-11-2023, 07:37 AM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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Rather than spending all that money, Id consider making rubber/wood molds to cast panels out of refractory cement. incorporate channels to hold elemnts, and keys to interlock the panels. If you do it right, one mold could do it all.
Theres plenty of youtube videos on making rubber molds to cast cement panels. I saw one specifically about making raised garden beds out of monolithic concrete and it got me thinking about furnace parts.
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Old 03-11-2023, 08:07 AM
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I'm going to get a quote on a pot furnace I want to make for an 11 inch x 8 inch 40 lb furnace. It would have this thing on edge with clearance of abot 1.5 inch on each side and sitting up away from the floor about two inches.

Eric I've no doubt you're right about the expense but at the same time, there's no buying brick around $2.00 each, laying up brick with mortar, cutting the grooves, buying the wire, stretching the wire, installing it.

That takes a lot of time.
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Old 03-23-2023, 04:29 PM
James Burts James Burts is offline
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Pete-- have you gotten anything back from them about your quote yet? I'm going to be building a color furnace, and am interested in whether this idea is at all reasonable or not.

Thanks.

--James-

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I'm going to get a quote on a pot furnace I want to make for an 11 inch x 8 inch 40 lb furnace. It would have this thing on edge with clearance of abot 1.5 inch on each side and sitting up away from the floor about two inches.

Eric I've no doubt you're right about the expense but at the same time, there's no buying brick around $2.00 each, laying up brick with mortar, cutting the grooves, buying the wire, stretching the wire, installing it.

That takes a lot of time.
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Old 03-23-2023, 06:09 PM
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I have not. Far too many irons in my particular fire. Go after it and report back please!
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Old 03-27-2023, 12:22 PM
James Burts James Burts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
I have not. Far too many irons in my particular fire. Go after it and report back please!
Here is my report back:

I had a really good conversation with one of their lead sales guys.
After a little discussion of what the need would be, he recommended a heater designed around 2mm Kanthal APM wire elements, and an insulation package all around it of vacuum formed ceramic fiber. It could be as thick as we decide is desirable.

Here is an image of an example
Here's a picture of a similar heater It is smaller than would hold a crucible, but it's a good starting point for the idea.

The basic idea would be to make a heating unit that would already have the elements and insulation for a kiln/color furnace. Pop it into an external frame/casing with an insulated top and bottom, hook the element terminals to the appropriate electrical controls, and you could have a Richard Huntrods/Mark Luckner type design without as much effort to build.

Without having worked out the actual design, he could only give a very wide estimate on the cost. He was guessing that the units would work out to be somewhere between $1,000 - $2,000 each.

It would be rated to 1300įC (2372įF). I wasn't able to get an estimate from the sales rep about what the longevity of the elements would be. However, he was absolutely certain that there was no option for replacing the elements in this type of unit. The insulation would be vacuum formed around portions of the elements. It would help ensure the elements don't have issues with shifting, but would also mean that you can't replace a failed element. You'd have to replace the whole heating unit.

I'll be happy to continue with this project, particularly if it sounds like something that others would be interested in participating in. I'd appreciate any feedback folks might have to offer.

--James--

Last edited by James Burts; 03-27-2023 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 03-27-2023, 02:44 PM
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Given the costs of brick, mortar, elements, etc in the first place, I think this is a very interesting proposal.
When you and I talked about considering this, I was put off by his costs for making an initial tube. It seems to me that these guys have been around a sufficient amount of time that a tube that would work already exists and that modeling around both a 40 lb pot ( 11 inch) and possibly a smaller one ( 7 inch)
Economy of scale becomes important with this. I had these hard alumina halves that had the same principle that I bought at the Los Alamos labs years ago. .It certainly worked. The glassmaker from Santa Barbara had one of these things but it was smaller and he used to take it to workshops like a lunchbox and plug it into the wall and get color from it. If the amps stay under 20A it seems even more attractive. I would not want to see too fine a wire used and the stuff in the photo seems modest. maybe 11-12 gauge would last .
Please, keep pursuing it as I am swamped. Unless there is no interest here?
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Last edited by Pete VanderLaan; 03-27-2023 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 03-27-2023, 02:48 PM
Kevin McLeod Kevin McLeod is offline
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I'm watching with interest. I don't have much to add, but I'm definitely interested.
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Old 03-27-2023, 03:57 PM
James Burts James Burts is offline
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Thanks for pointing out a few things that I omitted.

The representative was expecting that this would be a unit with 2 separate elements (essentially one for the left side of the unit, one for the right). Each element would be likely 220v 19A, so the entire heater would draw 38A of 220v.

I asked the representative about whether they would have an existing mold that would be of somewhat similar dimensions. He reported back that he walked through their stock of existing molds and did not find anything that would work. I can certainly ask about smaller dimensions than the 11"d 40 pound pot that our conversation revolved around.

He did state that he was designing with a 2mm Kanthal APM wire in mind. According to charts I found on-line, that 2mm should be roughly a 12g wire. I can certainly ask about a thicker gauge wire. I'd be all for it, if it will mean a heater with greater longevity.

--James--



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Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
Given the costs of brick, mortar, elements, etc in the first place, I think this is a very interesting proposal.
When you and I talked about considering this, I was put off by his costs for making an initial tube. It seems to me that these guys have been around a sufficient amount of time that a tube that would work already exists and that modeling around both a 40 lb pot ( 11 inch) and possibly a smaller one ( 7 inch)
Economy of scale becomes important with this. I had these hard alumina halves that had the same principle that I bought at the Los Alamos labs years ago. .It certainly worked. The glassmaker from Santa Barbara had one of these things but it was smaller and he used to take it to workshops like a lunchbox and plug it into the wall and get color from it. If the amps stay under 20A it seems even more attractive. I would not want to see too fine a wire used and the stuff in the photo seems modest. maybe 11-12 gauge would last .
Please, keep pursuing it as I am swamped. Unless there is no interest here?
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Old 03-27-2023, 05:09 PM
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"However, he was absolutely certain that there was no option for replacing the elements in this type of unit. The insulation would be vacuum formed around portions of the elements. It would help ensure the elements don't have issues with shifting, but would also mean that you can't replace a failed element. You'd have to replace the whole heating unit."

That would be a killer. Elements go out. Period. Even if they don't you have to plan that they will. Hot switching would be the ideal scenario, but with the set-up pictured, that would seem impossible. What would be the cost of the whole heating chamber with elements?
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Old 03-27-2023, 05:57 PM
James Burts James Burts is offline
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I agree that having to replace the whole heating unit is a real issue. Thatís part of why Iím trying to get feedback and suggestions on anything that would help increase the lifespan of them.

Until I get a real quote from them, the only guesstimate Iíve got on the cost of the heater unit is $1,000 to $2,000 per unit. Iíd certainly like to have it at the low-end of that range, but donít know that weíll be that lucky if we also ask to bump from 12g wire to something thicker.

Iíll be asking for a real quote, since there seems to be at least some level of interest. Iíll let you all know what I get back.

óJamesó


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"However, he was absolutely certain that there was no option for replacing the elements in this type of unit. The insulation would be vacuum formed around portions of the elements. It would help ensure the elements don't have issues with shifting, but would also mean that you can't replace a failed element. You'd have to replace the whole heating unit."

That would be a killer. Elements go out. Period. Even if they don't you have to plan that they will. Hot switching would be the ideal scenario, but with the set-up pictured, that would seem impossible. What would be the cost of the whole heating chamber with elements?
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Old 03-27-2023, 06:34 PM
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Actually the doubled up amperage would be a killer too. In the photo I saw, there were two power leads, not four.
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Old 03-27-2023, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
Actually the doubled up amperage would be a killer too. In the photo I saw, there were two power leads, not four.
The rep said that the photo he sent me (with just the two leads) was for a unit about half the size we are talking about. He felt it needed the extra wattage to get the power and performance we need. We never actually talked about how much power was necessary. If I can get an actual number of watts we want to see (or watts per cubic foot), Iíll be happy to take it back to them.

óJamesó
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Old 03-28-2023, 08:33 AM
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You would have nice high performance at 2000-2200 watts per cubic foot. That would melt batch. 1800 cu ft would be fine with a cullet.

If there are in fact two sides to this and each draws 19amps, I consider it useless given the event of total failure. It's hard to imagine that they could sell such things at all unless it's a total price for both sides. I would insulate it a good deal more certainly.
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Old 03-28-2023, 04:04 PM
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My goal is to use this for making a couple of small color pot furnaces. As a result, being able to melt batch is pretty important to me.

Can other folks keeping up on this thread chime in with what they'd be looking to use this for?
  • Batch?
  • Cullet?
  • Is 40 lb capacity okay?
  • Do you require larger capacity than 40lb?
  • Would you prefer smaller size for test pots?

--James--


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You would have nice high performance at 2000-2200 watts per cubic foot. That would melt batch. 1800 cu ft would be fine with a cullet.

If there are in fact two sides to this and each draws 19amps, I consider it useless given the event of total failure. It's hard to imagine that they could sell such things at all unless it's a total price for both sides. I would insulate it a good deal more certainly.
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Old 03-28-2023, 05:41 PM
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Huge limit on ability to make opals without damage. I've written you a PM.
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Old 03-29-2023, 03:58 PM
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[quote=
Can other folks keeping up on this thread chime in with what they'd be looking to use this for?
[/QUOTE]

There a quite a few Borosilicate workers cooking color in wire furnaces. They seem to find 6-8 weeks of function before failure acceptable. Of course their color sells for MUCH higher prices than the 96 glasses.
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Old 03-29-2023, 04:14 PM
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It essentially addresses whether a vacuformed little portable kiln would be viable for melting modest amounts of glass. James has been kind enough to push the research since I'm involved in this book.

From first blush, it looked viable since I had tried this years back using some hard alumina ones like this out of the los alamos labs. They did work but the availability was spotty as was everything up there The thing could be used as a baby kiln, open on both ends that kept a pipe warm as you went and did other things indefinitely. The main thrust was whether it could be used as a melter - for cullet, not batch really since going over 2225F was going to cause element failure, so, given the "all or nothing" approach by sales people make it seem seriously over priced BUT boro sells for more than soda lime, so MAYBE.

It will much depend on what James comes back with as costs. They appear so high, it's hard for me to believe that it's a workable deal. Electricity has taken an enormous jump in price to no longer be a safe haven for generating heat. I simply can't afford electricity here in NH anymore. I own a 30KVA generator and it runs on propane. I can negotiate propane costs. If I was younger than 73, I'd go after that really hard. As it is, I'm just going to try making annealers run partially on propane to cut costs.These days I just make parts for Mary Beth and Eveline's jewelry. I'm beginning to consider taking on a younger person here who wants to learn while making product.

Does that bring you up to speed?
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Old 03-31-2023, 06:18 AM
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I used to use one of their products for making molds for casting jewelry. I've often wondered if it could be used for repairing cracks in glory holes.
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Old 03-31-2023, 09:38 AM
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Are you perhaps confusing it with Zircon?
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Old 03-31-2023, 10:02 AM
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Are you perhaps confusing it with Zircon?
Since you'd started the thread with more of a "Does anyone know anything about this company, I can see where Pringle is coming from.

Zircar also sells some "moldable" refractory products. One is a lower temp (max temp of 2300F) and seems to be based on ceramic fiber. Their higher temp product is Alumina based, and is rated to 3092F. It doesn't come cheap-- $446/gal on their website.

--James--
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Old 03-31-2023, 10:36 AM
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They have been around a long time. I suspect that their fabulous pricing is holding them back from universal endearment. I was thinking of milled zircon, a fundamental ingredient in making ceramic shell for castings.
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Old 04-07-2023, 11:28 AM
Dave Bross Dave Bross is offline
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There's always putting some pots in your glory, maybe building a hatch to get at them if needed, and proceeding to make color.

Fast, simple, effective.

I had four 4 pound capacity assay crucibles in my tiny glory and still enough room to work.

It furthered my glass color education exponentially when I could do 4 separate melts every time I fired up...not to mention the ease of reduction if wanted.
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Old 04-07-2023, 03:30 PM
Nick Delmatto Nick Delmatto is offline
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Dave, I'd like to see a photo of the GH with 4 pots in it if you have one. Thanks.
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