Have you heard of investment casting? A variation of lost wax casting, it’s become increasingly popular in recent years. From automotive and aerospace components to golf clubs and medical prostheses, it’s used to make a variety of common products. With that said, there are both pros and cons to investment casting of which you should be aware.
What Is Investment Casting?
Investment casting is a casting process that’s designed to create metal parts by pouring molten metal into a mold. The process begins by creating a wax wold in the desired shape of the finished product. The wax mold is then dipped in liquid ceramics, after which it’s allowed to dry. Once dry, molten metal is poured into the mold’s cavity, essentially vaporizing the wax. The newly created casting is then removed from the mold’s cavity.
Investment Casting Pros
Investment casting offers several advantages, one of which is a superior surface finish. As the molten metal vaporizes the wax mold, it create a smooth finish. It’s so smooth, in fact, that investment casting often eliminates the need for subsequent machining.
Investment casting allows for the creation of castings in complex shapes. It’s not restricted to basic or simple shapes. Rather, manufacturing companies can use investment casting to create castings in just about any shape.
Another benefit of investment casting is that it produces minimal waste. Very little excess material is produced in the form of waste from investment casting, which is one more reason why it’s a popular casting process.
Investment Casting Cons
There are still some disadvantages to using investment casting, one of which is a high cost. When compared to other casting processes, investment casting is somewhat expensive. It costs money to create the custom molds used in investment casting, and it also costs money to acquire the molten metal used in this process.
In addition to being somewhat expensive, investment casting isn’t suitable for small holes. According to Wikipedia, investment casting isn’t suitable for holes measuring less than 1.6 millimeters in diameter. If an application requires the use of larger holes, a different casting method should be used.
It’s also worth mentioning that production cycles for investment casting are typically longer than those of other casting processes. As previously mentioned, investment casting contains multiple steps. Manufacturing companies must create a custom wax mold, dip the mold in liquid ceramics, wait for it to dry and then pour molten metal into the mold. As a result, it has longer production cycles than other casting processes.