How Investment Casting Reduces Machining And Waste
Investment Casting is a metal forming process that can significantly reduce metal waste and energy costs by reducing or even eliminating the need for machining. Milling, turning, drilling and grinding operations can be replaced by investment casting which achieves near net-shapes, tight tolerances and thin-walled metal components. The results are lower costs in labor and metal with quicker turnaround. In addition, the use of additive manufacturing for 3D printing patterns has turned investment casting plants into digital foundries, capable of producing complex and lightweight components that are not achievable with any other metal forming process.
Investment casting simply refers to the process of melting various metal alloys like aluminum, stainless steel, and nickel, and casting them into molds to create prototype or production parts. However, investment casting manufacturers usually have their own approaches to the process.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the investment casting and machining processes at Barron Industries.
Before we outline our process, you may be wondering what the “investment” is in investment casting. Investment simply refers to an item that is “surrounded” or “clothed.” In casting, the “investment” refers to a 3D-printed epoxy resin or wax pattern that is “surrounded” by a ceramic shell.
For some parts, Barron Industries can produce a completely machined investment casting in just 10 days. Our precision investment casting process involves just six steps.
Creating the Pattern
The first step in our investment casting process is creating the 3D-printed wax pattern for the investment. The pattern has the same details as the finished part, except for any thermal contraction allowances as the invested material cools.
Mounting the Wax Patterns & Making the Tree
Nearly all castings require assembling multiple wax patterns. As each wax pattern is finished, it is fabricated with other wax components to create a gate and metal delivery runner system. A single tree can accommodate multiple wax patterns.
Creating the Shell for the Mold
The next step in the machine investment casting process involves dipping the entire wax mold pattern in ceramic. We use cutting-edge ceramic shelling core technology that helps reduce material waste manufacturing costs. Once we dip the pattern in ceramic, we cover it with stand stucco and leave it to try. This process is repeated until a shell of the desired thickness is accumulated. How thick the shell needs to be is dictated by the size and specifications of the product. A strong ceramic shell can hold the molten metal that will form the part.
Dewax & Burnout
Next, the mold is placed in flash-fired dewax oven. This removes the wax or epoxy resin. When this process is complete, the mold has a cavity in the precise shape and dimensions of the part.
Pouring the Metal
The mold must be preheated before it is filled with molten metal to ensure it flows into every part of the cavity. Barron Industries creates investment castings from aluminum, stainless steel, armor alloys, carbon steel, low-alloy steel, nickel, and cobalt.
Removal & Finishing
When the casting is sufficiently cool, the ceramic mold is removed through a vibratory knockout or waterjet blast operation. Gates and risers are cut from the casting, and then there may be post-processing grinding, sandblasting, or machining to make sure the part’s dimensions meet engineering specifications.
Parts are subjected to non-destructive radiographic, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, or other inspections. Barron Industries verifies alloy test results and dimensions before shipment.
Cast parts from Barron Industries offer multiple advantages, including:
- Highly Accurate Dimensions
- Superior Surface Finish
- No Parting Lines or Flashing
- Better Value for Your Money
- Less Waste
Time and time again, investment casting has made a critical difference to our customers. Here are just a few examples some applications that rely on precision investment casting:
- Turbine Blades
- Drivetrain Components
- HVAC Components
- Engine Mounts
The components we previously listed are just a small sample of what can be made from investment casting. If you have a specific part in mind, contact our team at Barron Industries today.
Have Questions About Machine Investment Castings? Contact Barron Industries Today!
The Barron Family has been in the metal casting business since 1923 when Joseph Barron started a Detroit foundry. Barron Industries has been an industry-leading metal casting manufacturer since 1923. Originally serving Detroit, MI, we’ve since grown into a fully global manufacturer. We proudly assist clients in the aerospace, defense, automotive, oil and gas, nuclear, and medical sectors, as well as other commercial industries.
As a quality-focused manufacturer, we maintain a wide range of certifications, including AS 9100, NADCAP, ISO 9001, and TS 16949. We’re also proud members of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the National Defense Industrial Association, the Investment Casting Institute, the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association, and the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan.
If you have questions about our machine investment casting process, or would like to request a quote, please fill out our online form today. A team member will be in touch with you within 24 hours.