Visualizing pattern-welded steel has always been intriguing to me. At the forge, I end up layering different kinds of steels by varying carbon-content, nickel or phosphorous but ultimately don't know how the patterns will look until everything is forged, heat-treated, polished and etched. Using tools from the visual-effects industry, to be specific SideFX's Houdini, I have started exploring different ways of visualizing pattern-development. Here is a very early experiment:
We converted wrought iron from old wagon tires into steel for a knife. To make steel, carbon needs to be added to the iron. We accomplish this by melting the iron in a crucible together with charcoal and special alloys. Wrought iron starts melting at around 2,800°F (1,538°C). The alloying elements came from O1 (Chromium) and H13 (Molybdenum). The total charge of the crucible was around 2000 grams. To be precise, we added 2006g wrought iron, 30g charcoal and 75g (O1/H13).
The firing time was pretty quick; around 30 minutes to get to temperature and then ramping it down for 60 minutes. The crucible cooled in the furnace for about 12 hours. We took it out at around 250F. Unfortunately, there were a lot of gas bubbles in the glass as well as in the steel. The carbon content was also lower than planned, maybe around 0.6% rather than the 1.5% we were aiming for. However, it forged very nicely and showed great carbides.
The experiment will likely show up as Forge Diaries: Episode 8 or as Wootz: Episode 6. Stay tuned.