Home     /     Blog     /     Investment Casting: Steps in the Investment Casting Process
By Coco

Investment casting, also known as lost-wax casting, is a precision metal casting process used to create complex and intricate parts with high accuracy.

The investment casting process involves several key steps, from pattern creation to the final casting. Here are the essential steps in the investment casting process:

  1. Pattern Creation:
    • Design the desired part using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
    • Create a physical pattern of the part, which serves as a replica. Patterns can be made from wax, plastic, or other materials.
    • The pattern can be created through methods like traditional hand carving, injection molding, or 3D printing.
  2. Pattern Assembly:
    • Attach any necessary gating systems, runners, and vents to the wax pattern. These components facilitate the flow of molten metal into the mold and the escape of air and gases.
  3. Pattern Inspection:
    • Carefully inspect the wax pattern for any defects, such as air bubbles, cracks, or distortions. Correct any imperfections to ensure a high-quality casting.
  4. Ceramic Shell Building:
    • Dip the wax pattern, along with its attached gating systems, into a ceramic slurry. This process is repeated multiple times, allowing a ceramic shell to build up around the pattern.
    • Each dip of the pattern in the slurry is followed by a drying period to create a layer of ceramic coating.
    • The number of layers and the composition of the ceramic slurry can vary depending on the specific requirements of the part.
  5. Drying and Curing:
    • Once the ceramic shell has been built up with multiple layers, it is allowed to thoroughly dry and cure. This ensures that the ceramic shell is strong and can withstand the high temperatures of the casting process.
  6. Dewaxing:
    • The entire assembly, including the ceramic shell and the wax pattern inside it, is heated to melt and remove the wax. This leaves behind an empty cavity within the ceramic shell that matches the shape of the desired part.
  7. Preheating:
    • The ceramic shell mold is preheated in a furnace to ensure it is at the correct temperature to receive the molten metal.
  8. Metal Casting:
    • Molten metal, which has been heated to the appropriate temperature, is poured into the preheated ceramic shell mold. The metal flows into the empty cavity left by the melted wax pattern.
  9. Solidification:
    • The poured metal begins to solidify as it cools within the ceramic shell. This process typically takes a few minutes to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the part.
  10. Cooling and Shell Breakout:
    • After the metal has solidified, the entire assembly is allowed to cool to room temperature.
    • The ceramic shell is carefully broken away from the solidified metal casting using various methods, such as vibration, mechanical breaking, or sandblasting.
  11. Finishing and Inspection:
    • The rough casting is inspected for defects and imperfections.
    • Any remaining gates, runners, and vents are removed, and the casting is finished to meet the required specifications.
    • Additional processes such as machining, heat treatment, and surface finishing may be performed as needed.
  12. Quality Control:
    • The final casting undergoes rigorous quality control inspections, including dimensional checks, non-destructive testing (NDT), and material analysis, to ensure it meets the desired quality standards.
  13. Final Product:
    • The finished investment casting is ready for assembly or use in its intended application.

The investment casting process’s ability to create highly detailed and intricate parts with excellent surface finishes makes it a valuable manufacturing method in industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical devices, and more.

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