07/12/2019

Why is investment casting right for you?

As a manufacturing company that has embraced changing technologies in order to stay at the forefront of production and provide the best possible service to our customers, we understand that some of the enquiries we receive will be either be more suited to our CNC machining, foundry or rapid prototyping production departments.

Some projects are more suited to modern production methods like CNC machining, whilst for others a more traditional approach is required. We know that the production method of a part is determined by the nature of its design and its end application. 

With so many production methods to choose from, why do engineers still choose to use one of the oldest metal forming techniques available?

The answer is simple… Investment casting is reliable and has many benefits that allow engineers to produce good, sound components with freedom.

Freedom of Design – Unlike other casting processes, Investment Casting allows complex parts to be cast. Components with complex internal designs can also be produced through the use of ceramic cores. Thin wall sections (just 1.5mm thick in Aluminium components and 2.5mm thick in Steel components) and features such as ‘undercuts’ can be cast with ease, making the process ideal for producing components where weight is critical. The tooling process associated with Investment Casting means that designs do not have to be altered to incorporate draft angles and taper – not only maintaining design integrity, but also saving time and alteration costs. 

The process is ideal for creating castings with complex internal detail, and other features such as: cooling fins, cooling pips, PCB guides, sealing grooves, fine detail and lettering.

Choice of Material – Investment Castings can be produced from a wide range of materials, covering most properties to satisfy your requirements. The process can be used to produce ferrous and non-ferrous components, making it a versatile method of manufacturing.

Flexible Size Range – The investment casting process can be used to cast small parts (from around 5mm) to parts up to around 600mm in diameter. Even larger parts can be cast, depending on the nature of their design and complexity. 

Tight Tolerances – Tight tolerances can be achieved using Investment Casting allowing designs to be produced with accuracy, making an ideal production method for critical parts. The tolerances that can be achieved are ± 0.125 per 25mm. This along with the process’ other benefits make it a first choice to manufacture parts that are destined for precision engineering applications.

Components with Integrity – Components produced through Investment Casting are good sound parts which are not subject to compromised integrity; unlike parts produced using other casting methods, such as Sand Casting. 

A Fine Surface Finish – The ‘as cast’ surface of finished components produced using the Investment Casting Process is measured at 3.2 microns. This surface finish can be improved further with after casting machining processes and polishing.

Production Volume – The Investment Casting process can be utilised to produce components in small runs as well as in batches with quantities in the thousands. 

Rapid Prototyping can also be utilised harmoniously with the process to create one off prototype components – allowing you to have a component sample made before production begins. 

Affordable Tooling – The tooling costs associated with this process are much cheaper than those associated with other casting processes (such as Die Casting). This is due to the fact that dies are machined from Aluminium, not steel. This also provides a secondary advantage, being that any necessary alterations can be made with relative ease – keeping costs and production times as low as possible. 

Quality Control – As Investment Casting is such a labour intensive process, components are inspected regularly during production. This allows any alterations and adjustments that are required can be made when necessary, helping to ensure that the final casting produced is a sound part that meets all of its design requirements. 

Cost Savings – With the ability to produce complex shapes in a range of materials, investment castings offer potentially substantial production cost savings, especially where components are difficult to machine from solid or fabricate. This coupled with relatively low tooling costs can help make considerable savings with production.

The Investment Casting process has many benefits which will help designs to be realised with little to no compromise in an affordable way. When you consider that these benefits can also be enhanced with the aid of Machining and Finishing processes, investment casting really does become the ideal production technique for precision engineering components.

Investment Casting Process

If you are not familiar with the process, we have created a great overview of the investment casting manufacturing process, you should definitely take a look.

View the process