Turning to Investment Casting for Near-Net-Shape Features
A component for oilfield drilling operations was originally produced via sand casting, but by redesigning the component as an investment casting—produced by RLM Industries (Oxford, Michigan), the OEM was able to reduce machining time and weight.
Investment casting is a near-net-shaped process offering tighter dimensional and profile tolerances with no or minimal draft and excellent as-cast surface finish. The process uses disposable wax patterns, which are typically assembled using multiple pieces. The process allows design engineers the freedom of consolidating complex features and sub-assemblies into one-piece casting configurations.
Using an additive manufacturing process of printed wax-like materials and printed direct ceramic shell molds and cores, further design freedom is feasible by taking advantage of patternless and toolingless processes for prototyping and low volume serial production.