Non-Ferrous Cast Parts via Plaster Mold
Prototype non-ferrous parts can be made in various different methods. Those methods include plaster mold casting, sand casting, investment casting, and CNC machining. The following information further describes one of these methods; plaster mold casting.
Plaster mold casting is a method of simulating the die casting process for prototyping parts that will eventually be die cast or permanent mold parts in production. Plaster mold casting can be used for a low volume production process when the cost of die cast tooling cannot be justified.
The process of plaster mold casting is relatively straightforward. First, a master model is created of the finished part via a rapid prototyping technology. This master model looks just like the eventual casting, but it is slightly larger to allow for material shrinkage during the metal casting process. Next, after the establishment of parting lines, a slurry plaster is poured onto the master model, allowed to solidify, then it is extracted, and dried. Once the mold halves are fully dried and hardened, they are rejoined to create the complete mold. At this point molten material is introduced into the mold. After solidification of the cast metal, the plaster mold (or shell) is broken off. The result is a simulation of a die cast part.
This process can produce aluminum and zinc parts. The process allows for casting of thin walls (.040" in aluminum and .025" in zinc). An advantage to this process is the parts have a smooth surface finish ranging from 63-125 RMS. Typically this process takes 3 to 5 weeks from order placement to first part in your hand and varies with the complexity of the part.
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