3D Printed Casting Patterns Deliver Efficient Solution for Metal Parts Production

Investment
casting patterns delivered faster and more affordably with 3D printing.

As
one of the oldest-known metal forming techniques, investment casting remains an
effective manufacturing methodology many centuries after its introduction.
Investment casting begins with a pattern, around which a ceramic shell is
formed through a dipping and firing process. The firing process removes the
initial pattern, leaving behind an empty vessel for metal pouring. Also known
as a sacrificial pattern, the ceramic shell is broken away once the metal has
cooled, leaving behind a final metal part.

The
investment casting process works with an incredibly diverse range of metals,
and the end results are geometrically precise to the mold that shapes them.
When all is said and done, it’s an incredibly useful technique, but traditional
methods to acquire the casting pattern are not always the most time- or
cost-effective.

As
the origin point of the process, the investment casting pattern is of primary
importance. Traditionally, this pattern is achieved using wax tooling, which
can take several weeks or months and upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to
produce. For certain applications this can be a worthwhile trade off if
speed-to-market is not critical or if a high quantity of final parts can
justify the expense of tooling. If these criteria are not met, however, the
logistical barriers to pattern creation have typically ruled out the process
until the arrival of compatible 3D
printing materials and methodologies.

3D
printing now offers a smart option for low volume investment casting, bridge
tooling and risk mitigation throughout design. 3D Systems offers both wax and
resin materials for investment casting applications that dramatically reduce
metal part production costs with overnight delivery speeds. Savvy industrial
part manufacturers, jewellers and foundries have been quick to catch on, and
many have already acquired stereolithography (SLA) or MultiJet (MJP) Wax
printers of their own to deliver high quality 3D printed investment casting
patterns faster and more affordably.

In
direct comparisons between traditional investment casting patterns and 3D
printed ones, customers have saved anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 per part
and shaved substantial time from the process. 3D printed
investment casting patterns
offer
additional benefits such as the ability to make more complex and functionally
efficient patterns that cannot be produced using conventional tooling. The high
surface quality of 3D Systems’ printing technologies also helps reduce
post-processing requirements for increased efficiency downstream.

To
learn more about our investment casting solutions, get in touch with one of our
On Demand Manufacturing experts today on + 61 3 9819 4422 or email us here to discuss your project requirements.

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