A prototype is a first or preliminary model of an object from which other forms are developed or copied. Engineers and manufacturing professionals can use a number of different methods to produce prototypes, one of the most popular being casting with molds. Casting is one of the first manufacturing methods known to humankind, dating back 5000 years ago. Below we will discuss the basic steps of prototype casting, its benefits, and the different industries that use prototype casting.
What is Casting and how is it done?
Casting is a manufacturing process in which a liquid material is usually poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process.
Basic Steps to Casting:
- Melting the metal
- Pouring the metal into a previously made mold or cavity which conforms to the shape of the desired component
- Allowing the molten metal to cool and solidify in the mold
- Removing the solidified component from the mold, cleaning it and subjecting it to further finishing and treatment, if necessary
Benefits of Prototype Casting
- Designers can gain tangible proof of the quality of the component, find unexpected flaws and perform testing that delivers invaluable data
- Marketers can use prototypes to gain feedback from customers or investors before production begins
- Allows designers and engineers to make parts in a wide range of sizes and surface details with a variety of finishes
- Any complex shape can be easily produced
- Practically any type of material can be cast, from aluminum to bronze and more
- Any size of casting can be produced up to 200 tons
- Casting is the often cheapest and most direct way of producing a shape with certain desired mechanical properties
3D Modeling seems to be the rage these days in manufacturing. It is increasingly becoming an alternative to prototype casting. 3D modeling is a process that produces a three-dimensional physical object from a digital printer by laying down many successive thin layers of material. The possibilities can seem quite endless with 3D modeling, but it does have its limitations. In a 3D print, the layers of material are built on top of each other, but are not perfectly fused together resulting in a prototype that would not be an accurate test of strength.
Other Disadvantages of 3D Modeling
- Limited materials
- Questionable accuracy
- Manufacturing confines
- Size and durability issues
Many different industries today benefit from prototype casting. The auto industry uses casting to produce a wide range of automotive products such as engine and cylinder blocks to custom accessories for high-end rides. The aerospace industry uses prototype casting to manufacture airplane engines, pistons, and piston rings. Even interior designers cast unique decorative objects such as wall plaques and ornaments.
Patriot Foundry & Castings is a leading world class foundry and prototype casting service. See how Patriot Founding Castings can produce thousands of custom products for you today. Simply request a quote or call us at 1-603-934-3919