The term "lost-wax process" is an ancient method used for creating metal objects with intricate details or complex shapes. It dates back thousands of years and has been used by various civilizations throughout history. The process involves the following steps:
- Creation of a Wax Model: An artist or sculptor first creates a detailed wax model of the object they want to cast in metal. This wax model is an exact replica of the final metal piece and includes all the fine details.
- Assembly: The wax model is then attached to a central wax rod called a "sprue," which serves as a channel for the molten metal to flow.
- Investment: The wax assembly is then coated with a ceramic material called "investment." This investment material hardens around the wax, creating a mold that exactly replicates the shape of the wax model.
- Burnout: The mold is heated in a kiln or furnace, which melts the wax, causing it to be "lost" or evaporated from the mold. Hence, the name "lost-wax."
- Casting: Molten metal is poured into the hollow mold, filling in the space left by the melted wax.
- Cooling and Removal: Once the metal has cooled and solidified, the ceramic investment is broken away, revealing the cast metal object.
The lost-wax process is still used today for creating metal sculptures, jewelry, and precision metal components. In this process, it's important to have a skilled master mold maker or artisan who creates the wax model and gives the quality, scale and proportions to make each piece of jewelry. When working with a manufacturing partner, ask who their master mold makers are or what techniques they use to create a master wax mold.