Investment Casting Service

Lost Wax Casting

Investment Casting: Process Overview

Investment Casting is the process of pouring molten metal into a plaster or ceramic mold with high heat resistance, letting it fill a custom designed void in that mold, allowing it to cool, and then removing the solidified part from the mold.  Relative to sand casting, this process is especially capable of achieving more delicate features.  Typically, the "pattern" used to create the investment casting mold is created by 3D Printing a "master pattern" and then putting the part into a furnace where it can drip out, leaving a perfectly shaped void in which to pour metal.

Also Known As

  • Lost Wax Casting
  • Plaster Casting

Process At A Glance

Common Materials

Gold, Silver, Brass, Copper

Standard Tolerance

+/-.03" to +/- 3% depending on part size

Stock Surface Finish

~600 µin Ra

Lead Time

15-25 Business Days

Maximum Size

6" x 6" x 6" (150mm x 150mm x 150mm)

Minimum Layer Thickness

n/a

Minimum Feature Size

0.01" (0.250mm) - Plaster Casting

Minimum Wall Thickness

0.04" (1mm) dependent upon material

investment casting

Advantages

  • Material Selection - There are a wide range of metal options available that are not readily printed or machined, particularly precious metals
  • Affordable For One-Off Small Parts - Due to the cost of precious powdered metal, generally speaking, investment casting is the most cost effective means of producing at small volumes 

Limitations

  • Size Limitations - While investment casting can deliver a greater degree of detail and precision than sand casting, that comes with a size tradeoff.  Generally speaking, investment casting is best suited to parts under 6 inches in each dimension
  • Lead Times Are A Bit Longer - While investment casting molds can be fabricated quickly using our 3D Printing capabilities, it nevertheless is a multi-step process to print the master, build the mold, cast the parts, and finish.  Other options can sometimes be quicker, especially at small volumes  

Example Machines

  • Custom Plaster Molds

Example Materials

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Copper