THE INVESTMENT CASTING PROCESS

Investment Casting is a manufacturing method that is used to produce a great variety of components for a wide range of industries. The investment casting process is sometimes referred to as the “Lost Wax Process” due to the role that wax has to play in the casting process.

At PI Castings we have over 65 years of experience manufacturing components through the Investment Casting process. We can produce castings from both Ferrous and Non-Ferrous metals at our UK based foundry; we do so by carrying out the following procedure:

STAGE 1

The first stage of the Investment Casting process is to produce an exact replica (or “pattern”) of the required casting. This is made by injecting wax into a die. Aluminium dies are used, which are economical to make and easily modified if design changes are required. Loose pieces may be used to form any undercuts and internal detail.

investment casting process wax pattern creation
investment casting process wax pattern assembly

STEP 2

The wax pattern is assembled onto a wax feeder system. Each assembly or “tree” may have just one large pattern or many small patterns.

STEP 3

The wax assembly is dipped by a large robot into a high-grade ceramic slurry. This stage is known as the investment stage – the part of the process from which the production method gets its name.

investment casting process - investment process
investment casting process lost wax casting investment process

STEP 4

Whilst the assembly is still wet, larger particles of ceramic are dropped onto its surface. This is done to build up a thicker coating. After drying, this coating process (or “investment” process) is repeated several times, building a shell mould thickness of approximately 10mm.

STEP 5

After the final shell mould is dried, the wax is melted out in a steam autoclave (hence why the process is sometimes referred to as the “lost wax process”. The moulds are fired at over 1000°C to remove any remaining wax and to strengthen the mould.

investment casting process - burn out
investment casting process - precision investment castings investment casting pouring process

STEP 6

Molten metal is poured into the moulds, whilst they are still hot, enabling the metal to run into thin wall sections.

STEP 7

After cooling, the ceramic shell mould is broken away and the casting is cut away from the feeder system.

Investment casting process ceramic shell removal
investment casting process - precision investment castings testing and inspection

STEP 8

The castings are carefully fettled, blasted and heat treated. Setting operations may also be required. Material testing, x-ray, dye penetrant testing or machining can then be carried out, if this is required.

Want to see the investment casting process from start to finish?

Watch our investment casting process video below!

Get in touch

If you have any questions about our Investment Casting services, Machining services, Rapid Prototyping services or Low Cost Sourcing services, please make contact with one of our capable engineers and they will provide you with more information

MAKE AN ENQUIRY