How we can Incorporate 3D Printing into Foundry Processes
Last week, we spoke about foundries on the blog…. what they do and where opportunities for improvement exist. In each instance, 3D Printing proved to be the tool that could make foundries more efficient. Today, we kick it up a notch as we cover exactly how 3D Printing manages to do that. Let’s look at some real-world applications!
Two massively impactful ways we can incorporate 3D Printing into the conventional casting process.
- Producing 3D Printed Dies
- Integrating 3D Printing into Sand Casting
Producing 3D Printed Dies
Die casting is a process characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mold cavity. It’s preferred to sand casting because it has a shorter production cycle, but there’s still room for improvement there. You see, the traditional process for die casting relies heavily on cooling channels because cooling the die is critical for the metal to take shape and solidify. If the cooling channels created aren’t optimal – and in many cases they are not—we run into some issues. Generally, cooling channels are designed and machined to be straight lines no matter what the geometry of the die entails. This often leads to uneven cooling or a longer cooling process or both! In turn, we’re left with deformities and in many cases, the shelf life of the product is compromised as well.
Did you know Hot Wheels are die casts? Imagine something with that geometry only having lines as cooling channels. Ahh, now you’re with us!
With 3D Printing, we have more flexibility in the design process for cooling channels. No matter how complex the geometry of the part is, a craftsman has more control over the internal structure of the part. This means uniform cooling, a faster cooling process, and better production value.
Integrating 3D Printing into Sand Casting
Sand casting, the most widely used casting process, utilizes expendable sand molds to form complex metal parts that can be made of nearly any alloy. The traditional method requires hand-packing sand around a pattern, much like we would sandcastles on the beach. Then a casting core (sometimes several, depending on the complexity of the cast) is placed in the mold to create casting silhouettes. The sand casting process often requires various casting iterations to create positive and negative models with cores. So, you can imagine how much time goes into the process.
Again, 3D Printing can help save us time and relieve us from some tedious manual labor. Both the sand molds and cores can be designed within a CAD environment and then sent to a 3D Printer. This process completely circumvents the pattern and core making phases which are very time consuming.
Lost, But Now Found(ry)?
It’s time to meet your foundry challenges head on with 3D Printing. DesignPoint’s team of 3D Printing experts are ready to show you how to keep your fires burning bright. Give us a call (or send up a smoke signal)!
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