Metalcasting is one of the most important industries in the modern world. Without it, many of the products, manufacturing capabilities, and other things we now take for granted may not exist at all. This practice actually dates back more than 6,000 years according to historical accounts. In the early days, simple methods were used for softening and melting metals and shaping them into tools, coins, and other items. Of course, the techniques and technology of the industry have evolved significantly over the centuries.
For those who are thinking about entering the metalcasting industry, understanding the practice and the steps involved is essential. This can certainly be a lucrative field. It’s also in high demand and is sure to become even more crucial moving forward. Businesses that require metalcasting services should also understand the process companies like Cast Metals Technology use to meet clients’ needs.
In short, metalcasting is the process of creating a solid product using molten metal. Various types of molten metals are poured into molds. Molds can come in endless shapes, sizes, and designs depending on the desired finished products. Those metals are left in their molds to cool and solidify. Once they’ve hardened and taken on the desired form, they’re removed from the molds to be further processed. Interestingly enough, the products created via metalcasting are known as metal castings.
Many metals can be used in casting, such as aluminum, steel, copper, and a long list of alloys. A range of methods are used for purifying and processing the materials used as well. That gives companies several ways to manipulate the metals to achieve various qualities. These include hardness, strength, malleability, and conductivity to name a few. In the end, metalcasting offers numerous benefits and allows for ample customization.
Exploring the Metalcasting Process
Metalcasting actually begins with product designs. Companies determine the metal products they need. From there, their engineers and other members of their design and development teams work out the dimensions, makeups, and other aspects they’ll expect from those products. They often need to test several theories and prototypes before developing the final design. Metalcasting may come into play when creating prototypes as well. After coming up with a product, a pattern or core box may need to be created.
Creating the Pattern or Core Box
Some types of metal castings require patterns or core boxes. Those can be created using CNC technology or other solutions. Patterns and core boxes are used to make molds, which are the next step in the metalcasting process.
Developing Molds and Cores
Molds, as alluded to earlier, are the devices used to shape metal parts. For hollow parts, a core is placed inside the mold to further give the metal the desired shape. In some cases, companies can begin with the mold and the core as not all products require patterns and core boxes.
Melting and Pouring
Once the molds and cores are ready for use, it’s time to move on to the next step of the process. That’s when metals are melted and poured into the molds and around the cores. Different melting methods are used depending on the types of metal in question.
As mentioned previously, metals must be allowed to solidify once they’re poured into their molds. Different metals and alloys require varying cooling and solidification periods. The conditions under which the metals are left to cool may vary as well.
Reaching a Finished Product
Once a metal casting is ready to be removed from its mold, it may need to be further processed to remove rough edges, achieve a specific finish, or cover other requirements. Those are the general steps involved in metalcasting. Keep in mind, numerous variables enter the mix when working with different types of metals and creating distinct products, so the process isn’t exactly the same for all items.