Lost Wax Investment Casting Services
Choosing the right manufacturing method for your product order is essential. There are a variety of ways to produce metal parts, and each has benefits for particular use cases. Lost wax investment casting is the right choice when you need highly precise, complex parts.
Advanced Prototype Molding has experience in producing steel, aluminum and bronze castings in prototype and production quantities
Lost Wax Investment Casting
Lost wax investment casting, commonly referred to simply as investment casting, is a manufacturing method that uses epoxy or aluminum molds to produce identical goods. Designers create an original wax pattern, which is encased in layers of plaster. Once the plaster forms a hardened shell, it can be filled with molten metal to create the parts. The process gets its name from the use of wax to create the original part pattern, as well as the dewaxing stage where the wax is melted and removed from the mold.
The Benefits of Investment Casting
Using investment casting offers several advantages over other manufacturing methods. The key benefits of this process include:
- Detailed part production. The mold creation process ensures that every detail of the original design is captured. The metal parts that solidify in the mold will be detailed, precise, and require very little finishing to match the original design. Lost wax investment casting works with both simple and intricate pieces.
- Cost-effectiveness. Investment casting requires fewer individual processes, which allows manufacturers to save time and money on the total production process.
- Flexibility. This process works with both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Companies also have a high degree of freedom when creating the design for the castings and mold, especially in terms of shape, size, and thickness.
- Smooth finish. The parts capture the precise surface texture of the mold with a reduced risk of defects. Not only does this mean they can be very detailed, but the parts also have an excellent surface finish.
Lost Wax Investment Casting Process
The lost wax investment casting process has multiple distinct steps, but the overall procedure is relatively simple for experienced manufacturers.
- Tooling to create a wax mold is created from CNC cut aluminum or epoxy.
- Product designers create a detailed wax model of the desired end product. Since it's made from soft wax, it's easy to tool and can hold a lot of detail.
- A model is mounted on a wax system of various risers and gates and covered with alternating layers of ceramic slurry and stucco.
- Once the thick, multi-layered shell dries and hardens, the wax is melted to create a precisely shaped hollow.
- Molten metals or alloys are poured into the mold and left to harden.
- The shell gets broken to remove the precisely cast metal piece.
- Any needed finishing services are performed, though oftentimes they may not be needed.
Investment Casting Materials
While this casting method is compatible with a wide variety of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, it's commonly used with:
- Aluminum. Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, is lightweight, and is popular for covers and plates.
- Bronze. Bronze alloys such as aluminum bronze, manganese bronze, silicon bronze, and tin bronze are resistant to corrosion, durable, and have an appealing surface appearance.
- Steel. Steel is strong and durable. Stainless steel is popular because of its resistance to corrosion.
In terms of the wax mold itself, aluminum or epoxy may be used to create the tooling necessary for developing the mold.
- Epoxy is cheaper than aluminum which saves a small amount of money up front. Epoxy used to be the industry standard, but it is now used primarily for very short production runs due to the limited service life of the mold.
- Aluminum has become the standard for this type of tooling because machining and material costs have dropped. Aluminum tooling only costs about 10% more than epoxy. CNC cutting for aluminum is fast and the tool lasts indefinitely.
Common Applications of Lost Wax Investment Casting
A variety of industries benefit from the complexity and versatility afforded by lost wax investment casting. This method is ideal for parts with internal structures, thin walls, fine details, and asymmetrical elements.
At Advanced Prototype Molding, we commonly provide investment casting for:
- Military and defense
- Process equipment
Why Advanced Prototype Molding?
Advanced Prototype Molding specializes in creating high-quality molds and castings through a variety of specialized techniques. Our additional services include stamping, CNC machining, 3D printing and prototyping, and more.
At APM, we can create high-quality prototype and production orders of casted parts for a variety of industries and applications. For more information about our investment casting capabilities, please contact us or request a quote.