While metal casting might be the best process to manufacture a wide range of components, depending on your needs, a forging could be the best option. Or vice-versa. Here are 5 things to consider when deciding if a casting or forging is right for your component, application, and overall needs.
Which casting process should you use to manufacture your metal part? This is a common question when customers develop a new component or are considering making a switch to metal castings from a fabrication or forging. Partnering with a supplier that brings a full range of metalworking processes lets you be confident that you are getting the best metalworking advice and not just being sold on an idea because it is the only answer a supplier has.
In this article, we will cover various casting processes you might select based on your product design and needs in a simple, bullet point format.
NOTE: This article assumes you have a basic understanding of various casting methods. More specifically, sand casting, investment casting, and centrifugal casting.
Partnering with a supplier that brings a full range of metalworking processes lets you be confident that you are getting the best metalworking advice – and not just being sold on an idea because it is the only answer a supplier has. The replacement of multi-piece weldments or highly-machined hogouts by single piece castings has been proven time and again to be one of the most effective ways to reduce real product cost. Here are just five real-life examples of when the casting process was a better choice for the customer than a fabrication or forging.
#1.) Centrifugal Casting Replaced Complex Fabrication
Controllable pitch propulsion (CPP) systems provide the ability to alter the angle of the ship’s propeller while in use, allowing for different performance during cruising and maneuvering. A centrifugal hub provides the strength and size needed to transfer up to 50,000 shaft horsepower to five attached propeller blades. The hub and 15 other accessories that MetalTek produces for the CPP must perform in corrosive environments for the life of the vessel. Fabrications previously used were very intricate, with multiple pieces and welds, and much machining. The single piece nickel aluminum bronze hub that MetalTek has supplied for 35 years is the largest, most complex centrifugal casting ever produced. The use of a single piece part in this application eliminates welded joints and defects in those fabrications that are only discovered after finished machining.
#2.) Fabrication Could Not Achieve Dimensional Stability
International research, including that done in conjunction with the DOE, strives to create conditions in the lab necessary to support nuclear fusion. Huge machinery, such as the “Z-Machine”, can create temperatures of 2.9 million °F (1.6 million °C) for fractions of a second. Integral components must have the ability to conduct electricity and perform in the machine’s water cooling system. Attempts to use fabrications in those applications were abandoned because dimensional stability could not be achieved. The customer came to MetalTek for a casting solution, a particularly challenging one because of the product’s large size. MetalTek specializes in large investment castings, and now supplies products with better dimensional consistency than was available with a fabrication.
There is more than one way to bake a cake. Ingredients, temperature, bake time, and how many you are serving dictate your approach. Making brownies for the third grade class is not the same as baking an elaborate wedding cake for 350 degrees. The same is true when it comes to selecting a right metal casting process to manufacture any component. Which process offers the best all-in cost, considering requirements for features, material, quality, and quantity?
The list of methods to produce metal parts is long, and includes machining/hogouts, forging, fabrication, and more. In this article, we will just discuss various casting processes you might select to make an important component.