MetalTek offers more metal casting process diversity. Your ability to source centrifugal, sand, investment, HPLT, or continuous cast products from a single company is not available anywhere else in the world. Not sure which precision casting process is right for your components or application? Read the below article on the basics of casting and feel free to contact us if you have questions. We would love to become your metals partner Because You Demand More Than Metal.
Today, metal casting is a complex and intricate process which requires exact chemistry and flawless execution. While current methods may be relatively new when compared to the history of human civilization, the first casting of metals can actually be traced all the way back to around 4000 BC. In those times, gold was the first metal to be cast because of its malleability, and back then, metal from tools and decoration was reused because of the complications of obtaining pure ore. However, a copper frog is the oldest existing casting currently known; it is estimated that it was made in 3200 BC in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Bronze then became the metal of choice to cast with because its rigidity compared to gold, and it was melted and cast into various tools and weapons by way of permanent stone molds. The process of casting made its way to Egypt by 2800 BC, and effectively performing this process was tremendously influential on their gain of power during the Bronze Age. Around 1300 BC, the Shang Dynasty in China were the first to utilize sand casting when melting metals. Then around 500 BC, the Zhou Dynasty introduced cast iron to the world, but it was used mostly for farmers. Cast iron did not become a military tool or decoration until the Qin Dynasty almost 300 years later.
Fast forward almost 1000 years, religion played a major role in advancing and innovating foundry technology during that time. Extraordinary evolution came from the construction of cathedrals and churches, melting and mold-making processes advanced rapidly to keep up with the demand of the dominant Catholic church. This also marked the boundary of the period between casting for the purpose of art and viewing casting as a technology with unknown potential. It was not too long after the advancements of bell casting that, ironically, a monk in Ghent (present-day Belgium) was the first to cast a cannon in 1313 with the same technology. Over 150 years after the first cast cannon, Vannoccio Biringuccio, also known as the father of the foundry industry, recorded the first written account of casting and foundry practices. His work, De Le Pirotechnia, was separated into 10 sections that covered many subjects including minerals, assaying, smelting, alloys, casting, as well as alchemy; it is one of the oldest technical documents still around from the Renaissance era.
Design requirements, cost, and feasibility to manufacture, dictate which metalworking processes (including which casting processes) are most suitable when choosing how to manufacture a product. This article describing investment casting is designed to assist you in making an informed manufacturing process decision.
Investment casting employs techniques that produce precision engineered components that minimize material waste, energy, and subsequent machining. No other casting method, perhaps other than die casting, can ensure production of very intricate parts. That makes this process quite useful to design engineers.
So what is the investment in “Investment” casting? The term “invested” is not often used this way today, but carries the historical meaning of “clothed” or “surrounded”. Investment casting employs a ceramic, plaster, or plastic shell that is formed around a wax pattern, into which metal is poured.
The process of choosing the right metal casting supplier should not be the same as choosing your supplier for bolts, manufacturing equipment, or office supplies. While some may treat metal castings as a commodity, they are far from it and the process for selecting the right supplier for a specific application requires careful consideration.
Supplier qualification is the most important part in the purchasing process. Traditionally, a purchaser’s primary responsibility was to find qualified and responsive suppliers. In some cases, purchasers assumed that any supplier willing to contractually meet the purchase requirement was qualified. However, using low cost and unqualified suppliers can cause quality issues, and wasted time and money in the long run.
To help you through the process, here are some things to consider when choosing the right metal casting supplier.
Think of a test that you face in metal component design or application. Here are some examples of where leveraging the advantages of investment casting have helped solve an application challenge. Maybe you will see a problem you are working to resolve.
Minimizing Casting Upgrades Or Additional Processing
While all applications are expected to perform, some industries like defense and aerospace are even less tolerant of products that need upgrade prior to use. Investment castings that require minimum machining or other processing, including those produced using processes compliant with demanding standards like Nadcap, offer the best opportunity to save time, cost, and ensure that essential equipment continues to perform.