It is typical to run into challenges while picking out the parts you need while manufacturing. Some of the parts may not be readily available, and you would need to create them yourself. There are a number of ways you can go about this. One of them is through investment casting. In this article, I will show you investment casting advantages and disadvantages.
What is Investment Casting?
Investment casting is one of the most popular process manufacturers use when creating products. An alternative name for investment casting is lost wax casting. Here, you obtain a wax or polymer material. Then you dip it into a refractory material slurry.
The refractory material coating will then harden after which, you repeat the first step again, i.e., dipping the material into the refractory slurry.
You will need to determine the coating thickness that you need for your product. When you reach this thickness, you will then melt out the wax. The melted wax will leave a cavity behind. You will have to pour some melted metal into the cavity the wax leaves behind.
It will take a few hours for the molten metal to solidify and harden. When it does, you can then break the refractory mold encasing the metal. What will be left will be the material that you intended to create.
This process is useful in a number of ways. The most important of them is the fact that it can help to create highly accurate castings. Other casting processes such as sand casting do not come close when it relates to precision. The various products you can use investment casting for include turbine rotors, gears, valves, dental mixtures, etc.
History of Investment Casting
There is generally no consensus about the specific details of how investment casting came to be. However, from the records available, it is safe to say that investment casting began around 1100 AD. This was when a monk known as Theophilus Presbyter described various forms of manufacturing, including investment casting.
Before this time, however, ancient Egyptians made use of wax to produce detailed artworks. Furthermore, artists scattered all over Africa, and ancient China also made use of the process while sculpting. What we have now are relics of their handiwork, seeing as there are no detailed written works about their crafts.
Shortly after the dark ages in Europe, an Italian sculptor known as Benvenuto Cellini also made use of the lost wax procedure. He is regarded as one of the most important artists of the Mannerism era. However, it is possible that he gleaned the knowledge of the process from the writings of Theophilus Presbyter.
You probably have seen the movie Perseus. There, the hero Perseus defeats Medusa by deftly chopping her head off. Well, the specifics of the movie is not the point of referencing it. My point is to show you that Perseus’s bronze statue holding Medusa’s head was created using investment casting. If you’d like, you could visit the Loggia dei Lanzi of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy, to see it for yourself.
It was until the late 19th century that investment casting gained modern acceptance. Dentists made the process popular because they used it to create inlays and crowns for their patients.
Unsurprisingly (or surprisingly, if you may), the second world war increased the demand for investment casting.
During that time, manufacturers sought to produce war materials that didn’t require a lot of machining. Nevertheless, even after the war ended, investment casting still remained as one of the vestiges of that period. At the moment, its application has spread to virtually every sphere of the manufacturing industry.
Advantages of Investment Casting
Investment Casting is very popular. The reasons for that are not far-fetched. Below, you will find some of the reasons why a lot of manufacturers prefer using the process.
1. Used for Intricate Designs
Investment casting is most useful when creating products with intricate designs and finishes. Even if the product requires tiny details, you can replicate and achieve it with investment casting.
This explains its popularity with industries that require precision. Thus, jewelers make use of it during designs. Also, the automobile and aerospace industries rely on it, too.
2. It Produces Smooth Finishes
The process you use during investment casting ensures that the product has a smooth finish in the end. Of course, you may still need to do some post-production finishing. However, those will be minimal. You will not need to spend as much time as you would with any other process.
3. Retains Dimensional Accuracy
One other benefit that you gain from investment casting is that you maintain the product’s dimensional accuracy. This will eventually affect the integrity of the material you want to use the product for.
This is one of the greatest attractions for investment casting. You can engage the process to create a wide range of products across different industries.
Furthermore, it does not confine you to using just one type of metal or alloy. You can use different types of metals. The result then is that the manufacturer would not have to worry about metal compatibility.
5. Eliminates the Need for Combining Different Parts
Modern investment casting has eliminated the need to combine several different parts during the process. This is quite important because it saves you both time and money. Additionally, it eliminates the possibility of errors occurring.
Disadvantages of Investment Casting
Regardless of these numerous benefits, there are some downsides to investment casting. These demerits do not overshadow the benefits. However, the point here is to bring them to your notice.
One of the downsides of investment casting is that it can be quite expensive. This is especially if you compare it with the other casting process available.
Generally, creating a product using this method saves you some money in the long run. However, at the start, prepping can cost quite a bit. This is because prepping the process can be labor-intensive.
2. Requirement of Large Machinery
You may need to employ large machinery during this process. This is more the case when you are producing in a large quantity.
3. Takes a Longer Time
On the whole, investment casting takes a long time. At the moment, it is possible to automate most of the processes. However, a large chunk of the industry has not caught up with this. Thus, if you intend to rely on a fast and efficient system, this may not be the best process to use.
4. Unsuitable for Products with Cores
As already mentioned, investing casting is versatile as you use it to create a wide range of products. However, there is one snag: you cannot use it to produce items with hollow cores. The process is most suitable for creating wholly solid items. Else, you may be better served by another process.
Well, if you were at a loss concerning investment casting’s advantages and disadvantages, you should have things cleared up by now. This article shows you the pros and cons. You can now choose what to do with this insight!