Metal casting has been around for thousands of years. Without it, today’s world would look very different. Whether it’s a car, an airplane or a ship – they all can’t do without castings. But even such a traditional industry can experience innovation through modern technologies. In the past, casting molds were mostly made by hand, but now the industry has a variety of innovative technologies at its disposal. One of the latest and most promising: 3D printing for foundries.

Today, 3D printing in the foundry is already demonstrating in impressive ways, for example with sand molds and models, that it is the key technology of the 21st century. While models and tools are milled from blocks in classic metal casting, a 3D printer produces them at the push of a button. Without geometric restrictions, without regard to undercuts and cost-efficiently from batch size one. 3D printing processes in the foundry make it possible to produce things exactly as they are needed and – more importantly – as they were intended.

The hybrid additive manufacturing process secures competitive advantages for the foundry industry

Advantage of geometric and design freedom

Complexity

By eliminating the need for tooling or molds, additive production processes reduce component manufacturing times by up to 75%. With the 3D printing process for foundries, they can be produced in a single compact production step. Sand molds and cores or investment casting patterns can be produced in just a few hours. This means time savings of several weeks.

Advantage of cost efficient

Cost-effective

Complex geometries and ever more varied and smaller batch sizes. Wherever conventional processes reach their economic limits due to cost-intensive mold construction or changeover times, 3D production processes offer essential economic advantages. Produced completely digitally and without tools, undercuts or draft angles lose their significance in the calculation and can be produced in a cost-optimized manner.

Advantage of hybrid assembly

Hybridization

voxeljet has the world's largest and most powerful 3D printing systems for large components or large runs of small components. This allows us to eliminate existing limitations of conventional 3D printing systems and processes. The use of foundry-standard materials such as sand and complementary binders ensures optimal casting results through seamless integration into classic production processes.

By using voxeljet's binder jetting technology, we can significantly reduce the delivery time of molds and cores for our customers. In addition, we achieve new bests in terms of the size and weight of the parts we cast.

Oliver Johnson, CEOTEI

TEI, USA relies on voxeljet Hybrid Manufacturing

3D Printing for Sand Casting

Among the many types of metal casting, sand casting is one of the oldest. In the classic process, models of the desired component or tools and molds are milled from blocks and then cast in sand. Cores are used for cavities, and the hot slurry is filled into the mold via gating systems and risers. After cooling, the final component is available. The production of such patterns and molds can take several weeks and is one of the highest cost drivers in the production of castings.

In 3D printing, the molds are printed directly, layer by layer, in a bed of sand, hence the name sand casting. Classic quartz sands are used, and furan or phenolic resins and inorganic binders serve as binders. The layered structure means that there are no longer any limits for the designers. Undercuts can be easily implemented, and geometric adjustments such as gas lines can be used to optimize the molds for ideal thermal control. Subsequently, the 3D-printed molds can be handled like classic molds and integrated into existing production lines.

For complex cavities, core designs can be 3D printed and combined with conventional molds. Various special sands are also available for this purpose to withstand the thermal stresses of high-temperature alloys.

3D printing saves costs in sand casting

By using additive manufacturing, production costs of molds and models for prototypes or small series can be significantly reduced.

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Aditive Casting with voxeljet

Printed Casting - 3D Printing for Foundries

Binder jetting can be used to optimize business models for sand metal casting and investment casting, especially for the production of technical prototypes.

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3D printing for the casting industry from voxeljet

How foundries stay competitive in the future

The direct, additive production of metals is gaining more and more market share. But with sand 3D printing, foundries can stay competitive.

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3D printing for investment casting

Unlike sand casting, the additive manufacturing of investment casting models does not involve printing negative molds, but positive models. The plastic polymethyl methacrylate is used for their production – an ultra-fine powder with which even minimal wall thicknesses and details can be precisely reproduced.

In investment casting, the 3D-printed models are treated like conventional wax patterns. First, they are coated with a ceramic slag and burned out in an autoclave. The ceramic hardens, and the printed model burns out without leaving any residue. What remains is a hollow ceramic mold into which the molten metal can be poured. Seamlessly integrable into existing process chains and without costly post-processing, 3D-printed investment casting models offer foundries a cost-effective solution for highly complex components and rapid prototyping or small and medium-sized series production.

Printed casting for casting

Whether aerospace, automotive or design – the award-winning American investment casting company Aristo Cast relies on 3D-printed models for investment casting.

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What foundries need to know

How can foundries benefit from additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing? Find all the important information and benefits here.

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AIRLAB table legs

With these table legs, AIRLAB from Singapore shows how voxeljet’s 3D printing technology opens up new design possibilities for (interior) architects.

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Whitepaper


Find out how 3D printing from voxeljet can support you in your investment casting processes in this whitepaper.

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More Case Studies for Metal Casting

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