A new process used in Investment Casting uses 3D printed ceramic cores for quicker results.
Investment Castings is the process of making metal parts by pouring molten metal into a hollow mould. Ceramic slurry coats plastic or wax patterns to make an outer shell. Next, the pattern is melted away and the mould remains ready for molten metal to be poured and left to cool. Finally, the ceramic outer shell is shattered and the beautiful metal casting is revealed.
Aluminum, bronze, steel, titanium and magnesium are examples of castable metals.
It is now possible to create metal parts without the above traditional process. This enables customers to obtain 3D printed metal parts within hours or days. Not months!! First option is creating 3D printed patterns or cores as discussed below. Alternately, the other option uses a 3D printer to directly manufacture metal parts. Either way, it means customers can get their parts and sell them much quicker.
3D printed Wax Patters
It is also an option to 3D print wax patterns and then introduced them into the standard workflow. This is very attractive to a casting factory so there are no difficulties in the firing phase. Patterns with contamination (Ash content) will cause issues. Furthermore, being able to create one-off-patterns so casting of quantity 1-5 become possible. This is great for testing new designs!
3D printed Ceramic Cores
Another exciting development is the option to create 3D printed ceramic cores used to create hollow structures in metal parts. These are used to create complex cooling channels in parts like turbine blades. The image above shows a slight alternative process of inserting a 3D printed core into the wax pattern ready for coating in the ceramic slurry.