Ever wonder what the best way is to produce your metal part or prototype? There are metal 3D printing options available which offer both powder and non-powder options, but sometimes the process simply requires casting to be the right solution. In this article, we'll introduce you to Stereolithography as an option for investment casting and see how it stacks up against more traditional methods.
Traditional Investment Casting
Investment casting is a process for creating metal parts in which a sacrificial pattern is created and then dipped into or covered with ceramic. The full assembly is then put into a furnace where the pattern is burned out and the metal part remains. While investment casting provides higher accuracy and higher quality surface finish than other casting processes, it does have limitations.
Tooling costs for investment casting can be expensive and, with an average lead time of two months, the process can be lengthy. Investment casting requires an injection mold, further lengthening the total time from design to production when adjustments in the design are needed, new parts need to be ordered, etc.
Stereolithography for Investment Casting
Stereolithography (SL) technology combines high resolution and fine build layers with a generous build capacity capable of producing highly detailed parts, prototypes and casting patterns. Advantages of using SL technology to 3D print master patterns include:
- Freedom of design
- Reliability of investment casting process
- Ease of use
With the new Stratasys V650 Flex 3D printer, the benefits of additive manufacturing can now be incorporated into the investment casting process. The process starts by 3D printing a mostly hollow casting pattern. The pattern is then encased in ceramic, after which the master pattern is burned out and the metal is poured. Watch the process as the V650 flex creates a 99% hollow casting pattern and the final metal part is created in the video below.
For those looking for an on-site solution, but not ready to make the jump to a fully metal 3D printing system, Stereolithography technology provides a solution that will efficiently utilize resources and save your company time and money. With 2x the print capacity of competitor's models, an open-material system that allows you to choose your own materials and faster prototyping capabilities, the V650 Flex is the premier SL 3D printer.
Want to learn more about the Stratasys V650 Flex and how it could impact your processes? For more details, view our product page to download a spec sheet or request a quote today.