3D PRINTING FOR CASTING AND PATTERN MAKING
Casting is the process of pouring liquid metal into a mould, where it cools and solidifies into a particular shape. The casting process can produce everything from engine parts, tools to art pieces. The shape of the object we are making is determined by the mould cavity, and the cavity is formed by a specific pattern. Patternmaking is the way a mold is shaped for casting to be done. All industrial manufacturers understand how time consuming and expensive it can be to maintain quality products of patternmaking and casting.
There are a number of different types of patterns, and also a number of ways in which error can occur. Mistakes often arise at both the patternmaking and casting stages. Also, generally patterns are fabricated by hand and that consumes a lot of time and utilizes labour. Labour can often be unavailable or unskilled, leading to more errors in the process. The task becomes more even more difficult when a highly complex mold is to be manufactured.
3D printing can be a saviour in patternmaking and casting!
#1 Creating patterns using 3D printer associated CAD programs
#2 Manufacturing moulds using 3D printers
#3 Casting using prepared molds
Following are all the benefits of patternmaking using additive manufacturing:
Ease in designing: Existing patterns can be scanned to very high levels of accuracy and exact digital patterns can be generated. These scanned design models can be digitally modified to make any necessary changes.
Production materials: Materials available to print out moulds are physically strong and resistant to most chemical activity. Materials like PLA and ABS are often used in creating moulds.
Mould made with a) PLA and b) ABS
Improved efficiency: When the task of manufacturing is left to the printer, labour will be free to complete other tasks. Also, it won’t be necessary to keep a check on the process continuously.
Reduced errors in production: In traditional manufacturing of moulds, patterns may have initial defects or their manual creation may cause a designing flaw. When that occurs, the process has to be repeated which increases expenses and consumes more time. With a 3D printer, these issues do not occur.
Less time and capital, more accuracy: 50-70% time and 60-80% money is saved with additive manufacturing of patterns and moulds. If a mould is found to be good, another command to print it out can be given within seconds as the design is already fed into the computer. Unlike the uncertainty associated with manually moulded patterns, these will the exact same as the previous ones.
3D Printed Pattern to Metal by PLA Casting
The 3D pattern is printed as per the 3D CAD model, and the 3D printed model is finished by removing the support materials used for printing.
The patterns are produced using PLA and ABS material in the 3D printer as per CAD model.
Following this, casting is done on a dense mixture (investment). 3D printed model is submerged into the investment leaving the investment to solidify. The investment is preheated so that the water content in the investment evaporates leaving the dry investment. It is further maintained until the plastic burns and vaporizes leaving behind cavity. To create a metal structure, molten metal is added to this cavity or mould. That is how metal structures can be created from any design that can be printed out with PLA.
Casting High Quality Jewellery
Jewellery designs can be printed out, printed out with 3D printers using PLA or ABS. The jewellery mould can then be used in casting actual jewellery.
Rings, Bracelets, Pendants- anything can be produced based on specific demands of the customer.
Making Special and Unique Food Moulds
3D printing can be effectively used to make food-safe moulds. Owners of chocolate confectioneries, bakeries, etc. can use these moulds to expand the variety of shapes they can offer their products in. They can also explore small-batch production runs of custom designs for clients who demand it.