Bronze is an excellent alloy for precision parts casting. Its composition typically includes copper, tin, zinc, phosphorus and in some
When it comes to getting the parts you need for whatever product you are manufacturing, there are a variety of processes that can be utilized. With all of the options available, it’s important to know which will produce the best quality part at the most cost-effective price.
Investment casting allows for a quality end product and rapid turnaround, not to mention offers an array material, sizes and configuration options. This may be the best choice for your casting need. But before making your decision, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the process to help you better discern if it’s the right option.
Advantages of Investment Casting
There are some big advantages of using investment casting to get the piece you desire. One such advantage is that it is possible to make more intricate forms—even forms with undercuts. Also, the casting that is produced has a very smooth surface, which is created without a parting line—something that would be unavoidable in some other processes.
The accuracy of investment casting is second to none. Even parts with the highest precision can be cast with little to no machining or detailing required. And since the finished piece will need no welding or assembling, you save on time and cost that would be required using other methods.
Since new alloys have been developed that allow for more complex parts to be cast, the process of combining several parts together to get the intricate shape can be eliminated. This not only saves time and money, but it also diminishes the chances that an error could occur while combining the parts.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of investment casting is that it is possible to produce a very wide variety of products across different industries. This versatility is a definite plus over other casting methods that either have difficulty producing some designs or cannot produce them at all. Also, many different metals and alloys can be used in investment casting, diminishing the need for designers to worry about the production of the casting they have visualized.
An example of a larger-sized product that can be made using investment casting is turbine blades with complex shapes for power generation industries. The blades can be single-crystal, directionally solidified, or conventional equiaxed blades. The firearm industry is another example of where investment casting is used, but for smaller precision parts. Some of these parts include firearm receivers, triggers, and hammers.
Disadvantages of Investment Casting
There are, however, some disadvantages to investment casting. One of the biggest disadvantages is size limitation. Usually, only smaller castings (up to about 250lbs) can be made using this process. There have been situations where it has been used to produce somewhat larger parts like aircraft door frames or heavy steel and aluminum castings, but for the most part, those interested in using this process should stick to smaller, more complex pieces.
Another downside is the initial cost. Although investment casting saves on cost in a variety of ways, prep work can be labor-intensive compared to other methods. The preparation of the wax patterns and shell molds require much time and effort to ensure a quality product.
On a similar note, large machinery is required for this process, and when extremely high-volume manufacturing is desired, the associated costs and longer cycle times can make investment casting a less-suitable option depending on your needs and deadlines.
Another inconvenience that you can run into with investment casting is the use of holes in the mold. They cannot be smaller than about 1/16 of an inch and usually cannot be any deeper than about 1.5 times the diameter. So if these limitations don’t suit the design of the casting, then another process may need to be used.
When trying to determine which method is best for your part production, take into account both the advantages and disadvantages that come with utilizing lost wax investment casting. In the end, it often comes down to the type of part you need produced. Overall, when larger and heavier parts are desired, it may be a good idea to look into other methods. But if you’re looking to make a smaller, more intricate and complex piece, then investment casting could be the choice for you!