Watch Molten Aluminum Form Cool Shapes With Polymer Balls

Friday, December 25, 2015 |
It can be pretty amazing to witness two different worlds collide. Art and science, for example, are two very contrasting fields that garner very different minds and schools of thought. Art-driven people are inspired by emotion and internal instinct while scientists and research are data-driven, and analytical to the core.

However, whenever you can merge these two very opposing worlds, the final product can be some pretty magnificent creations like cosmic rendering or simulating artificial fire tornados. In this edition of scientific art we show you what molten aluminum forms when poured into a vat of polymer balls.

The experiment starts with a critical element of polymer beads – these can be easily picked up at a craft store or online. For people who have not played with these beads, they are pretty fun, they start out pretty small in size but soak them in water for about 4 hours and they can absorb almost 200 times their weight in water. Once they set, they are super squishy and can even bounce – think tapioca balls inside bubble tea, but on a bigger scale.

Once you fill a tank with these plump, water-filled beads of polymer, you can move on to the more dangerous stuff. Heat a crucible of aluminum until it melts to a liquid state as well. FYI the melting point for aluminum is 1220 degrees Fahrenheit, so safety equipment is encouraged! With a pair of tongs, pour the molten aluminum into the tank of polymer beads and watch the aluminum snake down taking a random shape of the beads.

As the aluminum cools in the tank it becomes harder and you can pull it out after an hour or two. No two sculptures will every be the same, so pour away and have fun with these coral-like designs.


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