What Is Investment Casting And How Is This High-Tech Process Is Used?

Learn The Investment Casting Process

For more than 70 years, Hitchiner Manufacturing has been manufacturing parts used by the country's leading industries. The process we use to create parts is called investment casting, a highly effective and efficient way to produce complex parts. While many people have some understanding of how casting works, this post will cover the investment casting process and how Hitchiner uses it to make high-quality, high-volume parts.

Investment casting is a method of manufacturing parts by pouring molten metal into a hollow mold shell. The shell is made by an “investment” of ceramic materials built around a wax model.  Sometimes called precision investment casting or lost wax casting, investment casting begins by creating wax replicas, or patterns, of the desired castings by injecting hot wax into a die. The patterns are attached to a wax stick, called a sprue, to form a casting cluster or assembly. Next, a shell is built around the wax patterns by immersing the assembly in a liquid ceramic slurry and then into a bed of fine sand. At Hitchiner, we use specialized shell building robots during this step for a consistent build and to allow for larger molds than could be built by manual methods. Once the ceramic is dry, the wax is melted out, creating a negative impression of the assembly within the shell. Molten metal is then poured into the shell. At Hitchiner, we use our exclusive Countergravity Casting process. Instead of pouring in the metal, molten metal is drawn into the mold cavity in a controlled fashion, resulting in superior products. Once the metal begins to harden, the vacuum is released, and the ceramic is then broken away to leave the metal part. 

A wide range of industries use investment casting because it offers designers and engineers the ability to create parts using a wide range of alloys. It is also capable of producing precise detail in parts weighing many pounds or just a few ounces. 

What Is Created Using The Investment Casting Process

Investment casting creates high-quality products and gives companies the flexibility to design and produce a wide range of parts in a cost-efficiently way. This versatility is why so many companies, and so many industries, use the technology to create parts, including the automotive, biomedical, and aerospace industries.

The ability to make precise parts is one reason the automotive industry has utilized investment casting. Hitchiner's processes can help companies develop parts that are high-performance and increase fuel efficiency. When parts programs call for ready-to-use or fully finished and assembled investment castings in high, moderate, or low volumes, Hitchiner has the capabilities to meet customers' needs.

Fuel-efficient, high-performance automotive components created using Hitchiner's countergravity processes are uniquely well-suited for these parts and applications areas:

  • Turbocharger wheels

  • Wastegate

  • Fuel rail function blocks

  • Actuator rods

  • Rocker arms

  • Intermediate levers

  • Steel pistons

  • Fuel cell

  • Direct injection system

  • Variable valve timing

  • Exhaust gas regeneration

In the aerospace industry, Hitchiner has worked with companies such as Bodycote, TCC, Elison Surface Technologies, HiTemco, and many other OEM-qualified suppliers. Whether for commercial airlines of defense contractors, Hitchiner's investment casting process is excellent for parts such as:

  • Compressor

  • Combustor

  • Turbine

  • Augmenter/nozzle

  • Fan

  • Landing gear

  • Structural components

  • Auxiliary power unit components

  • Defense armament applications

  • Missile canard & fin

  • Rocket motor case

  • Valves

  • Propulsion components

New applications for investment casting are being developed every day by industries around the world. Hitchiner is proud of our high-quality work. If you are interested in learning more about the history of investment casting and how it works, please click here.