What Is Investment Casting?

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Investment casting is a manufacturing process that’s used to create precision cast parts, otherwise known as castings. The process involves creating a wax or 3-D printed stereolithography pattern that is a replica of the metal part to be cast and then using the pattern to create a ceramic mold into which the metal alloy is poured.

How Does Investment Casting Work?

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The investment casting process involves creating a wax or 3-D printed Stereolithography pattern that’s an exact replica of the precision cast part that is being produced. Our advanced software, hardware, and materials for 3D-printed investment casting patterns enable the creation of complex casting patterns in a fraction of the time it takes to create molds using traditional tooling. By using our additive manufacturing process, you can create hollow patterns that allow for greater design complexity, reduced component weight, and lower assembly costs. The patterns are cluster-dipped into a ceramic slurry to start the mold-making process. At Barron Industries, we use a six-axis dipping robot to ensure the ceramic shell is consistent and uniform. 

The completed ceramic molds are then placed in a flash fire oven which removes the pattern materials and treats the shell. This step also helps to increase the overall strength and stability of the casted component. 

Before filling the mold with metal, it’s preheated to a specific temperature to strengthen the ceramic and enable the filling of thin sections. Once the mold reaches the desired temperature, molten metal is poured into it. After the metal is hardened, the ceramic molds are removed using a vibratory or waterjet blast method, and the final precision cast parts are revealed.

Post-treatment methods may be required depending on the type of component that’s being produced. Post-treatments may include polishing, hand grinding, or machining.

What Materials Does Barron Industries Use to Create Castings?

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At Barron Industries, we offer over 200 ferrous and non-ferrous metal alloys, including aluminum, stainless steel, carbon and low-alloy steel, nickel, cobalt, and other specialty alloys. The types of material we use is based on customer specifications and the type of precision cast parts we are producing for our customers. Our team can help you determine which material(s) are best suited to your unique application.

What Products Are Made from Investment Casting?

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There are numerous industrial uses for precision cast parts. In fact, many investment castings can be found in the aerospace, defense, energy, and automotive industries. Components made from investment casting are found in armored vehicles, aircraft, communications satellites, rockets, guided missiles, propulsion systems, oil drilling equipment, and more.

What Are the Benefits of Investment Casting?

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There are many reasons why investment casting is used to manufacture precision-cast parts. First, all types of alloys can be used during this process, making it a highly flexible technique. 

This material flexibility also makes it possible to produce a wide range of components and assemblies for many industries. Whether that component needs to be highly intricate and precise, high strength, lightweight, or smooth, all of these properties can be achieved through investment casting. 

Additionally, investment casting saves both time and cost. The use of 3D-printed patterns enables manufacturers to create complex casting patterns in a fraction of the time it takes to create molds using traditional tooling. Investment casting doesn’t produce flash, which reduces the amount of material wasted during the process.

Lastly, components produced through investment casting will not have parting lines, which are common in injection-molded products.

Are Investment Castings Porous?

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Yes and no. Shrinkage porosity is always a risk in any metal casting process however investment casting minimizes the formation of porosity. Our team at Barron Industries eliminates the possibility of defects by developing high-quality mold designs using our Solid Cast™ software. Additionally, every component we produce is thoroughly tested using our NADCAP-certified non-destructive testing system.

Do You Offer Rapid Prototyping?

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As a full-service investment casting foundry, we do offer rapid prototyping, using the most advanced additive manufacturing techniques. If you have CAD data, we can produce SLA patterns that you can use in your fit, form, or function testing.

What Is the Lead Time?

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The lead time is as little as three weeks for casting and only five weeks for a completely machined casting. For production investment castings, the lead time will vary based on the availability of materials, the number of parts being produced, the complexity of the design, and other factors. Please contact us today with project details, and one of our representatives will provide you with both a cost and timeline estimate.