Investment Casting is a manufacturing process in which a wax pattern is coated with a refractory ceramic material. Once the ceramic material is hardened its internal geometry takes the shape of the casting. The wax is melted out and molten metal is poured into the cavity where the wax pattern was. The metal solidifies within the ceramic mold and then the metal casting is broken out. This manufacturing technique is also known as the lost wax process. Investment casting was developed over 5500 years ago and can trace its roots back to both ancient Egypt and China. Parts manufactured in industry by this process include dental fixtures, gears, cams, ratchets, jewelry, turbine blades, machinery components and other parts of complex geometry.
- Investment casting is a manufacturing process that allows the casting of extremely complex parts, with good surface finish.
- Very thin sections can be produced by this process. Metal castings with sections as narrow as .015in (.4mm) have been manufactured using investment casting.
- Investment casting also allows for high dimensional accuracy. Tolerances as low as .003in (.076mm) have been claimed.
- Practically any metal can be investment cast. Parts manufactured by this process are generally small, but parts weighing up to 75lbs have been found suitable for this technique.
- Parts of the investment process may be automated.
- Investment casting is a complicated process and is relatively expensive.
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