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Rapid casting solutions: a review

Munish Chhabra
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Moradabad Institute of Technology, Moradabad, India, and
Rupinder Singh
Department of Production Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, India

Abstract
Purpose This paper seeks to review the industrial applications of state-of-the-art additive manufacturing (AM) techniques in metal casting
technology. An extensive survey of concepts, techniques, approaches and suitability of various commercialised rapid casting (RC) solutions with
traditional casting methods is presented.
Design/methodology/approach The tooling required for producing metal casting such as fabrication of patterns, cores and moulds with RC directly
by using different approaches are presented and evaluated. Relevant case studies and examples explaining the suitability and problems of using RC
solutions by various manufacturers and researchers are also presented.
Findings Latest research to optimize the current RC solutions, and new inventions in processing techniques and materials in RC performed by
researchers worldwide are also discussed. The discussion regarding the benefits of RC solutions to foundrymen, and challenges to produce accurate and
cost-effective RC amongst AM manufacturers concludes this paper.
Research limitations/implications The research related to this survey is limited to the applicability of RC solutions to sand casting and investment
casting processes. There is practically no implication in industrial application of RC technology.
Originality/value This review presents the information regarding potential AM application RC, which facilitates the fabrication of patterns, cores
and moulds directly using the computer-aided design data. The information available in this paper serves the purpose of researchers and academicians to
explore the new options in the field of RC and especially users, manufacturers and service industries to produce casting in relatively much shorter time and
at low cost and even to cast complex design components which otherwise was impossible by using traditional casting processes and CNC technology.

Keywords Additive manufacturing, Rapid casting solutions, Rapid investment casting, Rapid sand casting, Metalworking industry,
Foundry engineering, Sand casting, Investment casting

Paper type General review

Abbreviations RIC Rapid investment casting


RP&T Rapid prototyping and tooling
3DP Three dimensional printing RTV Room temperature vulcanizing
ABS Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene SL Stereolithography
AM Additive manufacturing SLS Selective laser sintering
BPM Ballistic Particle manufacturing ZCorp ZCorporation
CAD Computer-aided design
DMLS Direct metal laser sintering 1. Introduction
DSPC Direct shell production casting
EARP European action on rapid prototyping After nearly 20 years of research, development and use, the
EOS Electro optical system additive manufacturing (AM) industry continues to grow with
FDM Fused deposition modelling the addition of new technologies, methods and applications
IC Investment casting (Wohlers, 2007). In the early development of AM
IT International tolerance technologies, the emphasis was directed towards the
LENS Laser engineered net shaping creation of touch-and-feel models to support the design
LOM Laminated object manufacturing (Chua et al., 1998). But, because of frequent changing
MMII Model maker II requirements of manufacturing industry due to short product
MSFC Marshal Space Flight Center life cycles, fickle consumer demands, complex shaped
PS Polystyrene designs, higher quality, reducing the cost and time to
RC Rapid casting
RCT Rapid casting technique
The authors are thankful from the core of their hearts to Avi Cohen
(Head of Medical Solutions Objet Geometries LTD), Joe Hiemenz
(Stratasys, Inc.) and Ellen J. Kehoe (Senior Editor, Publications SME) for
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at granting permissions to use figures from their sources. The authors are
www.emeraldinsight.com/1355-2546.htm grateful to Management, Director General Prof. R. Yadav and HOD ME
Prof. Vineet Tirth of Moradabad Institute of Technology, Moradabad for
motivation and moral support.

Rapid Prototyping Journal Received: 6 December 2009


17/5 (2011) 328 350 Revised: 17 February 2010, 26 June 2010, 6 September 2010,
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1355-2546] 4 November 2010
[DOI 10.1108/13552541111156469] Accepted: 7 November 2010

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

market for new product and shorter product development investing refractory ceramic coatings on the patterns. On
times, industry has been searching solutions for fabricating completion of the coating, the expandable wax patterns are
direct metal parts since the earliest day of AM. Presently, removed at about 1408C and 200 KPa in a steam autoclave
direct metal fabrication AM technologies (also called as rapid (Groover, 1996). The mould is further hardened by heating,
manufacturing) are used in a wide variety of industries, from the procedure called firing, and the molten metal is then
automotive and aerospace to electronics and dentistry poured while it is still hot. When the casting is solidified, the
(Wohlers, 2006). There are only few AM techniques mould is broken and the casting taken out during the
available which can manufacture metal parts directly, but knockout process (Jain, 2009). IC produces high quality and
they are just the tip of the iceberg. geometrically complex near net shaped metal parts with tight
Although, direct manufacturing of metal parts with AM is not tolerances economically in case of mass production. The
well developed, indirect methods have been found and shown economic benefits of IC are limited to mass production.
feasible through the combination of AM and traditional metal Limitations of traditional IC:
casting (Detlef et al., 1999). The application of AM in metal .
Traditional IC requires the production of metal tooling for
casting process to produce metal cast parts is regarded as rapid the injection of wax material to produce sacrificial patterns
casting (RC). The most important part for any casting process is which leads to cost justification problems for prototyping,
to design and produce pattern for the production of moulds into pre-series, customized and single casting and small and
which to cast metal. Further, for some casting processes medium quantity production.
(like sand casting), designing and preparation of core boxes and .
Major part of the total lead time is consumed in
gating system upon which the overall quality of casting depends production of metal tooling required for wax pattern
are most time consuming and costly process especially in case of generation.
complex design castings. The use of AM technologies in the . Before committing to manufacturing, numbers of design
creation of casting patterns allows a foundry to manufacture a iterations are performed by tool makers by evaluating
metal part without the use of tooling for small quantities different mould design which further incorporate an
(Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000). In particular, patterns, additional cost and lead time (Beaman et al., 1997).
cores and cavities for metal casting can be obtained through RC 2.1 Rapid investment casting (RIC)
(Wang et al., 1999; Bernard et al., 2003; Chua et al., 2005). The The term RIC represents the employment of RP&T techniques
relevance of RC techniques consists, above all, in a short time in IC (Cheah et al., 2005). The cost involved in designing and
for part availability. Traditionally, in order to produce cast fabrication of metal tooling for wax injection process can be
prototypes, a model and eventual cores have to be created overcome by using AM techniques to fabricate sacrificial
involving time and costs that hardly match the rules of patterns for IC. AM also facilitates to reduce the overall lead
competitive market (Bassoli et al., 2007). Now, it is possible to time involved in production of prototype casting with excellent
fabricate a complex pattern and other tooling required for quality. By employing AM-fabricated patterns to produce the
casting in a matter of hours and provide a casting in a matter of prototypes, there is no need to commit to production tooling for
days. single part or small quantity production (Chua et al., 2005). AM
The art of foundry is ancient, dating back to the dawn of techniques provide various cost effective solutions by which pre-
civilization. It is a revolutionary change in manufacturing series casting can be produced very economically. Presently,
industry that one of the oldest metal manufacturing almost all commercialised AM techniques have been employed
techniques, which dates back to 4000-6000 BC , is being to produce IC patterns with varying success and many RC
used with one of the most modern technology-rapid solutions in IC are being used by various industries and
prototyping. The first use of AM-fabricated patterns as researchers. The use of AM in IC is in three basic forms. Figure 1
sacrificial patterns in traditional investment casting (IC) shows the three basic approaches used as RC solutions in RIC.
started in 1989 (Greenbaum and Khan, 1993). Since then all
major AM techniques have been used in different casting
3. Direct fabrication of IC sacrificial patterns
methods to provide RC solution for producing metal parts.
The aim of this paper is to present valuable information (approach1)
about the application of AM in investment and sand casting AM techniques have been employed to produce direct IC
technology. A little step has been taken to collect and review sacrificial patterns in wax and non-wax forms for producing
the information available about commercialised RC solutions investment cast parts.
invented by various researchers and technocrats in order to
provide information and implementation of concurrent Direct wax IC patterns
engineering approach in producing prototype, pre-series and The selective laser sintering (SLS), Fused deposition
for customized production metal casting to manufacturing modelling (FDM), stereolithography (SL) and model maker
industry. In order to explain how RC solutions may be II (MMII) systems have been found capable of producing wax
successfully used in foundry applications, a few examples and patterns, which can be used directly in IC (Dickens et al.,
case studies have also been included. A list of various major 1995; Chua et al., 2005). The main problem of using direct
commercialised RC solutions based on different AM wax patterns is the brittleness of waxes and due to that there
processes and their suppliers is presented in Table I. are chances of damaging of these patterns while transport
them to foundry. These are also not recommended for thin
2. AM applications in IC wall castings.

IC is a precision casting process which employs wax pattern as Direct non-wax IC patterns
sacrificial pattern to produce solid-metal parts. These The non-wax patterns are having strength, durability and
sacrificial patterns are used to create a ceramic mould by toughness by which these can be used to produce thin

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table I Commercialised RC solutions & their application in metal casting


AM process Manufacturer RC solution and their applications in metal casting
Stereolithography (STL) 3D systems Quick Cast 1.0, Quick Cast 1.1 and QuickCast 2.0 patterns for IC
Epoxy patterns for sand casting and soft tooling
OPTOFOTM patterns for sand casting
EOS EOS-stereolithography (acrylate resin) patterns for IC
Selective laser sintering (SLS) DTM Corp. Investment casting wax, polycarbonate and TrueForm pattern for IC
(presently 3DSystems) Rapid tool for direct fabricating moulds for IC
TrueForm, composite nylon, polycarbonate for sand casting and soft tooling
CastForme PS patterns for IC
CRP Tech WindFormwPS patterns for IC
EOS EOSINT-S laser sintering AM to produce sand casting moulds and cores
directly from CAD solid model using polymer coated green sand
EOSINT P IC patterns fabricating using polystyrene material
Fused deposition modelling (FDM) Stratasys Wax & ABS patterns for IC
ABS patterns and core boxes for sand casting
Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) Helisys Laminated paper master patterns for sand casting and IC
(Currently Cubic Tech.)
Drop-on-powder deposition inkjet Soligen DSPC for ceramic investment casting mould fabricated directly from CAD
printing technology(3DP) solid model
ExOne ProMetal RCT to produce sand casting moulds and cores directly form CAD
files
ZCorporation Starch patterns for IC
Plaster based material patterns for sand casting
ZCaste direct metal casting process for sand casting
Drop-on-drop deposition inkjet printing technology Objet PolyJete for photopolymer resin patterns for sand casting
3D systems Thermojet for producing wax patterns directly for IC
Solidscape MM II pattern for IC
(Sanders prototype)
Solid ground curing Cubital Wax patterns for IC
Ballistic particle manufacturing BPM Wax pattern for IC

Figure 1 Approaches used as rapid casting solutions in rapid investment casting

Rapid investment casting

RP-fabricated IC RP-fabricated moulds Direct fabrication of


sacrificial patterns for wax injection ceramic IC shell moulds
(approach1) (approach2) (approach3)

Wax patterns Non wax patterns

Indirect tooling Direct tooling

wall castings. Non-wax patterns also allow finishing operations problems associated with using AM sacrificial wax and non-
for improving the surface quality of patterns which further wax patterns for IC. Introduction and practical application of
improve the surface quality of final casting. The problem of major commercial RIC solutions based on direct fabrication of
ceramic shell cracking and two other main problems related to IC patterns are presented in following sections.
incomplete pattern burning out and residual ash have been
observed and reported by various researchers during the use of 3.1 RIC using FDM technique
non-wax patterns for IC. Case study 1 explains the project The Stratasysw FDM-AM system offers a different approach
performed by tooling and casting subgroup of the European as compared to traditional IC method practiced by thousands
action on rapid prototyping (EARP) to investigate the of IC foundries across the world. This AM technique is used

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

to create pattern directly from either acrylonitrile-butadiene- casting of precision parts (Gebhardt, 2003). The feasibility of
styrene (ABS) or wax materials. Both wax and ABS patterns employing MMII system to fabricate sacrificial IC patterns by
constructed from the FDM process have proven to be suitable using direct and indirect tooling approach is presented as case
for burn out from the ceramic shell with minimal modification study in Sections 3.2.1 and 4.2, respectively.
to the standard foundry processes (Grimm, 2003). The parts
3.2.1 Case study: RIC using MMII fabricated patterns
produced by FDM-ABS have a much higher surface
The feasibility of employing patterns fabricated by MMII as
definition than those produced in wax, owing to the good
sacrificial IC patterns to produce metal casting was studied by
powdering characteristics of the ABS, which allows final Chua et al. (2005). The build material protoform is used in
surface finishing to be carried out[1]. The key strength of MMII system having the properties similar to those of the
employing FDM-fabricated pattern over MMII-fabricated foundry wax material. Researchers investigated two casting
patterns includes short-built time for the process to build a solutions by using MMII-AM system. The first is by using
part. For the build of the benchmark model, MMII process MMII fabricated pattern directly as sacrificial IC pattern
took more than 80 hours while the FDM process took only (approach1) and second solution is an indirect tooling
16 hours (Chua et al., 2005). The use of this RIC solution is (approach2) involving the utilization of room temperature
presented as a case study in Section 3.1.1. vulcanizing (RTV) silicon rubber moulding with an MMII-
3.1.1 Case study: RIC using direct FDM-ABS patterns fabricated master pattern to produce sacrificial IC-wax pattern.
Gouldsen and Blake (1998) reported the results of a program The researchers claimed better accuracy by employing MMII-
in which six foundries had participated to evaluate the use of fabricated patterns over FDM-fabricated patterns.
ABS parts created from FDM-AM system as a substitute for In the direct method, the MMII-fabricated pattern was
the injected wax patterns in RIC. In IC with this approach, wax directly used as a sacrificial pattern in IC. Researchers
gates and vents are attached to the ABS pattern by the foundry. investigated this approach to produce aluminium alloy IC and
The ceramic slurry is then invested on the pattern to make claimed that:
ceramic shell similar to traditional IC process. Now the major
.
The microstructure of MMII part was built more densely
difference in this approach is that the shell is placed into a flash as compared to FDM or SLS.
fire furnace where temperatures reach upward of 1,0938C and
.
There was no porous structure in MMII part and no
the pattern combusts, giving off gas possibly leaving a small sealing or coating was needed on the MMII part surface.
amount of ash in the hollow shell mould. The gates and vents
.
The pattern produced in this approach melted off at
allow gas to escape the mould during burn out and allow relatively low temperatures with little or no residual ash
molten metal to be poured into the mould. An autoclave may left (due to similarity between material characteristics of
not be used, because the ABS thermoplastic does not melt at MMII patterns and foundry wax).
those relatively low temperatures (approximately 3508C)
.
No sign of shell mould cracking was observed during the
(Jain, 2009). The shells are removed from the furnace and IC process.
. By using direct approach, there is a significant amount of
inspected for cracks and residual ash. If any ash remains, it is
time saving and cost saving can be achieved as compared
removed by rinsing or high-pressure air. From this point on,
to the conventional metal tooling method for pattern
apart from having to reheat the moulds, there is no difference
production.
in the process than if wax were being used. .
This approach will be economical when only three to five
Based on the results demonstrated by all participated
models are required and component having complicated
foundries, the authors claimed that the patterns built from
design.
FDM-ABS offer a number of quality advantages over patterns
made by other AM processes, namely, clean burn-out, 3.3 RIC using QuickCast 1.0 technique
robustness, the ability to be handled without damage, A problem of ceramic shell cracking has been reported by
dimensional stability and ease of pattern preparation. One various researchers while using non-wax AM patterns in IC.
major disadvantage with this approach is that the surface layer One example is use of SLs acrylic patterns, which expand
and built style produces a very rough surface condition. So, during burn-out process and crack the ceramic shell during
surface finish preparation of the pattern is important to IC. The latest method is the 3D systems QuickCast build
achieve the best results. style (consisted of triangular geometry), which eliminates
Example: Hydro Quebec, an electrical power company in 95 per cent of the internal mass of a part made of epoxy resin
Canada has been producing IC since 1997. Figure 2 shows a (Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000). The concept of
set of six FDM-ABS patterns that were cast in aluminium at QuickCast is based on the fact that hollow structures would
Shellcast in Montreal, Canada. soften at lower temperatures and collapse inwards upon itself
before critical stress levels are developed (Jacobs, 1993). The
3.2 RIC using MMII technique idea of QuickCast is to build the pattern such that it collapses
Solidscapes MMII system based on drop-on-drop deposition inwards under the influence of heat, rather than expanding
inkjet printing technology uses two drop-on-demand inkjets to outwards and cracking the ceramic shell (Yao and Leu, 1999).
build patterns. One inkjet is used for build material Using QuickCast, users can produce patterns for metal
(thermoplastic) and the other is for support material (wax). castings in a fraction of time (Wohlers, 1995b). Aluminium,
The supports are removed by washing it away with an ATOS titanium, stainless steel, tool steel and copper alloys have all
solvent (Chua et al., 2005). The important feature of MMII is been cast successfully using IC with QuickCast patterns at
that it is the highest resolution additive process having capability Ford (McMains, 1995) and QuickCast has also successfully
to build fine castings from wax patterns using 0.0125 mm thick applied for building tooling required for production of plastic
layers (Wohlers, 1995a). Each layer is milled resulting in very parts, casting patterns, dies and other tooling item in Ford
precise models that are especially well suited for the precision motor company (Denton, 1994).

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 2 Aluminium investment casting using FDM ABS patterns

(a) (b)
Notes: (a) ABS patterns; (b) Al castings
Source: Gouldsen and Blake (1998)

3.3.1 Case study: project of EARP cracking due to solid, incompletely drained patterns with low-
EARP has carried out a project to find out the problems void ratios. To overcome these problems 3D systems
associated with using AM models as sacrificial pattern for IC by introduced QuickCast 1.1 (Jacob, 1995). This involved the
accessing the accuracy and surface finish of the models and change in the geometry of build style from triangular to
castings (Dickens et al., 1995). Models were manufactured by square. The build style features triple up-facing and down-
different AM processes, namely, 3D systems-QuickCast 1.0, facing skins 27 times stronger than they were previously,
DTM-SLS, Cubital Solider (waxes from acrylic mould), which eliminate pinholes and sag which further improve the
FDM (wax models), laminated object manufacturing (LOM), surface finish. With these features QuickCast1.1 produced
electro optical system (EOS)-SL and three foundries were used lower expansion stresses on ceramic IC shells; bringing
to produce casting from a given set of models. The project was casting yields up to 95 per cent. QuickCast 1.1 is being used
completed in three phases: computer-aided design (CAD) to produce castings of unprecedented quality from an AM
modelling, AM model productions and IC. The CAD modelling pattern (Wohlers, 1995b). The another development in this
was performed on pro-engineer and a stereolithography (STL) process is the development of QuickCast 2.0, which is the
file supplied to different AM machines to produce models for result of the involvement of changing the build style from
IC. Some models received surface finishing to smoothing the square to an offset hexagon. QuickCast 2.0 patterns
surface by abrasive bead blasting. produce less than one-third the shell stress of QuickCast 1.1
The most accurate sets of models were produced by 3D during pattern burnout, significantly reducing the probability
systems QuickCast and from DTM Corporations SLS of shell cracking (Hilton and Jacob, 2000).
among all AM processes. The greatest variation was observed on
SL models. Three foundries were used to produce aluminium 3.5 RIC using Thermojet technique
ICs from the model received from different AM processes. Thermojet modeller based on the drop-on-drop deposition
inkjet printing technique (Dimitrov et al., 2008) is the ideal
Major findings of the project
wax prototyping machine. Using 3D-CAD data files in STL
. Most models did not suffer any damage during
format, the part to be cast can be programmed for the current
transportation to foundries except those from FDM.
shrink and orientation. This AM technique produces patterns
.
Owing to porous structure of SLS models, researchers
by additively spraying layers of tiny wax droplets on to a
reported that a sealing with thin layer of wax must be
platform surface, much like an inkjet printer. These wax
employed to SLS models before investing the shell
patterns are used directly in IC and having ability to be
material. Figure 3 shows the results of casting produced
autoclaved easily. This process has been accepted widely
by using sealed SLS model and not sealed SLS model.
within the industry owing to the ease of use within the
.
The great surprise from the results of this project was the
foundry (Tromans, 2004). Thermojet from 3D systems is
lack of accuracy observed in various models. Models from
all the AM processes were much less accurate than capable of producing parts very quickly, whereas the Model
expected. The 3D systems QuickCast models were Maker series from Solidscape produces fine detailed parts,
generally the most accurate and these models also but is rather slow (Hopkinson, 2002).
produced the most accurate castings.
3.6 RIC with three dimensional printing (3DP)
3.4 RIC using QuickCast 1.1 & QuickCast 2.0 technique using Zp14 pattern material
Ashley (1995) reported various problems of using patterns Starch-based Zp14 material is introduced by ZCorp to
fabricated with QuickCast1.0 in IC. Major problem is the produce parts which after infiltration with wax are used
formation of pinholes during the removal of supports from extensively as patterns for IC without using moulds[2]. This
downward-facing surfaces, which led to the ceramic slurry Zp14 material is used to fabricate patterns for IC by printing
entering the casting patterns interior. QuickCast parts often on ZCorps 3DP machines. Then a ceramic shell is invested
exhibited drainage and void-ratio problems, especially in thin- on the pattern using traditional IC method and then
curved sections. Finally, the less-than-optimal 80-per cent evacuated to obtain the cavity for pouring metal. Figure 4
yield of aerospace industry-acceptable castings attainable with shows the process stages of producing 3,16l exhaust
QuickCast 1.0 was found to be caused primarily by shell manifold of a racing car using this RC solution at

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 3 Aluminium casting

(a) (b)
Notes: (a) Using not sealed SLS model; (b) using sealed SLS model
Source: Dickens et al. (1995)

Figure 4 Investment casting of 316 l exhaust manifold of a racing car using Zp14 IC patterns

(a) (b) (c) (d)


Notes: (a) CAD model; (b) starch pattern; (c) shell moulds; (d) final casting[3]

University of Michigan[3]. Bassoli et al. (2007) has verified Table II AM processes with pattern materials used for MSFC project
the feasibility to produce thin-walled parts and evaluated the
dimensional accuracy of the patterns and the parts produced S. no. AM process Pattern material
by using this RC solution. 1 SLS Polycarbonate casting pattern material
3.6.1 Case study: project of Marshal Space Flight Center (MSFC) 2 SLS Trueform polyamide
(sponsored by NASA) 3 FDM IC wax
Copper and Wells (2000) have evaluated the capabilities of 4 LOM High performance paper
various AM processes and produced quality test hardware 5 3DP (ZCorp) Starch (cellulose)
grade IC models at MSFC, a sponsored project by NASA, 6 FDM ABS plastic
Washington, DC. The IC patterns of a selected propulsion 7 Stereolithography (SL) Epoxy 1570
hardware component, a fuel pump housing, were rapid 8 MMII IC resins
prototyped on several AM processes. Table II shows the AM
processes with pattern materials used to cast the selected
component for this study. The shelled models were fired and 15 times faster than FDM pattern (four hours verses
cast with NASA-2, a test hardware material. Researchers have 65 hours).
reported after this investigation that each AM processes were .
The least expensive model was the ZCorp pattern, which
of varying degrees of success and each proved a significant also was the fastest to complete at 3.5 hours, and also one
cost advantage over conventional manufacturing techniques. of the least accurate.
The major findings of this research
.
Researchers recommended that the ZCorp patterns will
.
The SLS-TrueForm model provided the most acceptable be more suitable for initial prototype casting, i.e. near-net-
casting followed by FDM-wax and SLS pattern built shape castings.

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

3.7 RIC with SLS technique using CastForme applications are fabrication of complex IC patterns and
polystyrene pattern material casting with highly reactive alloys like titanium, in addition to
CastForme (CF) polystyrene (PS) is a polystyrene based typical cast alloys. Compared to other polystyrene materials
material developed by DTM Corp. in 1999 to fabricate IC available, Windformw PS has:
patterns by using SLS machines (DTM Corporation, 1999). .
improved surface quality and details reproduction; and
Presently, 3D systems Corp[4] is the supplier of CF material, .
very low-ash content suitable for highly reactive alloys,
which acquired DTM in 2001. SLS system using CF material namely, Ti, Al, Mg, steel and Ni alloys.
is one of the fastest and most cost-effective techniques for
rapid fabrication of small quantities of wax-like patterns for 4. Fabrication of moulds for producing IC-wax
IC. CF is a low-ash pattern material that produces high- patterns (approach2)
quality castings, even with high-reactive alloy such as
titanium[5]. The pattern fabrication using this technique For producing large quantity of IC-wax sacrificial patterns, it
involves two stages: first the building of green part, and second is feasible to employ wax injection mould fabricated by
its infiltration with wax (Dotchev et al., 2007). The main idea various AM techniques. For mould fabrication, further two
behind this two-stage process is to fabricate a pattern with approaches, namely, direct tooling and indirect tooling
properties very close to those of conventional wax patterns, approaches are used which are further classified as soft and
and therefore, and to be compatible with standard foundry hard tooling (Chua et al., 1999). In direct tooling approach,
practices for IC. Post processes necessary for CF patterns the mould fabricated by AM techniques will not use any
include dipping in liquefied wax to seal surface porosity and to intermediate steps. For improving the accuracy, strength and
increase pattern strength (Cheah et al., 2005). Dotchev and surface finish of moulds, some post-processing techniques
Soe (2006) analyzed experimentally all stages of CF pattern may be used. In indirect tooling approach, AM fabricated
fabrication process and reported that the cleaning and wax master patterns are employed to create the necessary moulds.
infiltration are the main leading reasons for inferior quality, The materials used for fabrication of moulds in indirect
part distortion and breakage. CRP Technology[6], a division tooling are polymers and silicon rubbers, which result in
of the Cevolini Group, is the first to use CF material for relatively weaker moulds. Different direct and indirect tooling
fabrication of IC patterns with DTM-SLS system for RC of approaches for fabrication of moulds for producing IC-wax
hard to cast shapes of Minardi F1 car components (uprights, patterns have been reported by various researches (Chua et al.,
suspension supports, clutch box, steering box and gear box) 1999; Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000; Dickens et al., 2000;
with the titanium alloy (Ti-6Al4V)[7]. With the combination Cheah et al., 2005).
of SLS and CF formula, CRP saved cost and time to produce Direct tooling. In this approach, moulds fabricated on AM
components having very complicated shapes and geometries machines are used for fabricating multiple wax patterns (Pal
and gained freedom to investment cast parts in the alloy of and Ravi, 2007). Some pioneering processes such as direct
choice (Titanium, Aluminium, Steel alloys or Super alloys)[8]. metal laser sintering (DMLS), Rapid Tool, ProMetal, LENS
Figure 5 shows the CF disposable pattern fabricated for and DirectAIM have been used successfully for direct
F1upright titanium RC. fabrication of moulds for producing wax patterns. This
approach is employed in medium to high-volume production
3.8 RIC with SLS technique using Windformw PS and when reduction in time-to-market the product is major
pattern material goal for manufacturer (Karapatis et al., 1998).
Windformw PS is a new PS-based material developed by CRP Indirect tooling. This approach involves fabrication of mould
Technology to fabricate IC patterns using SLS technique[9]. from an AM master pattern, which is used for fabricating wax
It is particularly suited for the foundry, since the main IC patterns. Silicon rubber tooling (RTV), Epoxy resin
tooling, Keltool tooling and Spray metal tooling as indirect
Figure 5 CF disposable pattern (laser sintering and red wax infiltration) approach for mould fabrication have been applied successfully
fabricated for F1Upright Titanium rapid casting for moulding wax patterns (Smith et al., 1996). All of them,
like the best-known called Silicon rubber tooling (RTV), do
not relate directly to AM, but are used for fabrication of
moulds by using AM master patterns. In silicon rubber
tooling process, the AM master pattern is equipped with
runners put in a frame and covered with silicon rubber. After
hardening, the solid block of silicon rubber is cut according to
the parting line and the master is removed, leaving the
required cavity. The resulting cavity is cast with wax, which
used as wax pattern in IC. Figure 6 shows the steps involved
in fabrication of IC-wax pattern using silicon rubber tooling.
Practical application of indirect tooling for mould fabrication
using FDM-ABS and MMII master patterns are presented in
Sections 4.1 and 4.2, respectively.

4.1 Case study: RIC using FDM-ABS pattern and wax


pattern moulded through RTV moulds, moulded by
FDM ABS master pattern
Lee et al. (2004) investigated the feasibility of employing
FDM process to built sacrificial IC patterns (using direct

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 6 Steps involved in fabrication of IC-wax pattern using silicon rubber tooling

(a) (b) (c) (d)


Notes: (a) CAD model; (b) SLA fabricated master pattern; (c) RTV mould; (d) Wax pattern for IC
Source: Pal and Ravi (2007)

and indirect approach) by using ABS material to produce metal .


No risk of core shifting in casting of complex shapes that
casting rapidly. Researchers investigated and compared the require core inserts, because shell and core are fabricated
FDM system, FDM3000 for creating direct sacrificial IC as a single structure.
pattern in ABS material and by producing injected wax pattern .
Furthermore, cores can be made hollow, leaving less
via silicon rubber moulding (indirect tooling approach). The material to be leached out.
study showed substantial advantages when employing ABS .
It is possible to adjust the ceramic shell thickness during
models as direct IC patterns or as master patterns for producing fabrication, which further helps to control the rate of heat
silicon rubber moulds to cast wax IC patterns in terms of cost transfer from the casting.
and time savings, relatively accurate final castings with
reasonable surface quality and the complete elimination of 5.1 Direct shell production casting
hard tooling required in conventional IC process. The Soligen Technology Inc. (Northridge, CA) is one of the
researchers claimed that it is much more beneficial for licensees of 3DP AM technology developed at the MIT
foundries to employ FDM-ABS-fabricated patterns in IC for (Cambridge, MA) and produced DSPC system in 1993[10].
single or small quantity production of castings (, 5) and to By using 3DP AM technique, this system directly fabricates
employ the indirect approach of fabricating IC patterns via the ceramic moulds (negative) with integral cores for IC of
silicon rubber moulding for medium quantity (tens of casting) metals. This eliminates the need for wax patterns and tooling
production. for cast metal parts (Wohlers, 1992). The DSPC process
utilizes the bonding approach and requires post processing
4.2 Case study: RIC using wax pattern moulded through (Carrion, 1997). In this process, alumina (refractory)
RTV moulds fabricated with MMII master pattern powders are held together through the spraying of colloidal
In this approach, researchers have employed an MMII- silica binder with multi-jet print head. The unbound powder
fabricated master pattern to create RTV silicon rubber mould is removed and the resulting shell is fired to create a rigid
(Chua et al., 2005). From the rubber mould, wax patterns ceramic mould prior to pouring the molten metal of any
were cast and used as sacrificial pattern in IC. Researchers castable alloy. DSPC can be used to produce parts of virtually
claimed that this approach will be more economical to any shape. Diverse metals, including copper, bronze,
fabricate a silicon rubber mould with MMII fabricated master aluminium, cobalt chrome, stainless steel and tooling steel,
pattern and produce wax pattern from the silicon rubber have been successfully cast in the ceramic shells produced by
mould for IC when several tens of models are required. this process. Metal parts can generally be produced in two to
three days (McMains, 1995). Sachs et al. (1991) reported the
use of DSPC-fabricated ceramic shells for production of
5. Direct fabrication of ceramic IC shell nickel super alloy casting. DSPC is used for fabrication of
(approach3) prototype and small quantity of fully functional castings.
Figure 7 shows a metal casting of an automotive component
This RC technique fabricates the ceramic mould (negative) produced by using DSPC process. Figure 8 shows the
with integral cores directly from the CAD model for the IC of orthopedic knee casting using ceramic mould made by 3DP.
metals. This technique provides a greater advantage over
traditional IC method and other RIC techniques by removing
the steps of wax pattern generation, ceramic shell production,
autoclaving and firing of mould. An introduction of
6. AM applications in sand casting
commercialised RC solution Direct shell production Sand casting is the most widely used casting process in
casting (DSPC) based on this approach is given in manufacturing industry in which components are cast by
Section 5.1. The major advantages of this technique are: pouring liquid metal into the cavity of sand mould. Among
.
Reduction in cost and lead time (in traditional method, the sand casting processes, moulding is most often done with
making of metal dies for production of wax pattern are green sand, which is a mixture of sand grains, clay, water and
typically expensive and time consuming, with lead time other materials, which can be used for moulding and casting
ranging from two to six months). processes (Heine et al., 1997). The detailed process sequence
.
Less risk of damaging of shells during transportation by for sand casting is shown in Figure 9 (Groover, 1996). The
preserving dimensional tolerances. basic steps involved in sand casting processes are:

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

.
preparation of the pattern; 6.1 Rapid sand casting
.
making the mould (ramming of sand around the pattern, Traditionally, for sand casting process, skilled workers used to
gating system for the entry of the molten metal); fabricate patterns and core boxes by taking design data either
.
core making and core setting in mould; from 2D drawings or from hand crafted prototypes of clay,
.
closing and weighting; and wood, plastic or other materials. This time consuming process
.
pouring liquid metal into the cavity; can now be performed by using a number of different AM
processes. This approach may also be referred to as rapid sand
Figure 7 Intake manifold casting produced by using DSPC[10] casting process because by using AM techniques, patterns,
cores and gating system can be fabricated in a relatively short
period of time. The use of AM process has proved to be a cost
effective and time efficient approach for producing pattern,
core boxes and gating system for sand casting (Wang et al.,
1999). AM helps to fabricate pattern with added cores by
disregarding internal cavities and designing core prints. LOM
is fairly popular for this application, since LOM moulds have
the feelings and look of wood, which is a traditional foundry
tooling material (Rosochwski and Matuszak, 2000). Pak and
Klosterman (1997) have documented the use of LOM AM
process to fabricate the tooling required for sand casting.
Pereira et al. (2008) have reported the advantages gained with
the application of FDM patterns in sand moulding. Many
commercialized AM techniques have been employed to
produce tooling required for sand casting with varying
success and many RC solutions in sand casting are
being used by various industries and researchers as shown
in Table I.
Figure 8 Orthopedic knee casting made of medical cobalt chrome alloy There are mainly three approaches by which application of
by using ceramic mold made by 3D printing[11] AM techniques can be used in sand casting technology
(Kouznetsov, 2004). Figure 10 shows the basic approaches
used as RC solutions in rapid sand casting. By using direct
tooling approach, AM generated objects can be utilized
directly as patterns in sand moulding in case of small or
medium volume casting production as a substitution for
traditionally employed wooden patterns. The objects
fabricated by almost all AM techniques can be used as
patterns. Indirect tooling approach in sand casting can be
efficiently employed in case of large-volume production and
when great durability of pattern is required. The most
common approach is the use of AM generated model as
pattern for moulding RTV and the pouring urethane into the
mould. The resulting plastic part can be used as a pattern for
sand moulding. Third and latest approach is the use of AM
technique to direct fabrication of sand moulds (pattern less
moulds). EOS DirectCastw , ProMetal rapid casting

Figure 9 Process sequence for sand casting

Fabricate Fabricate
core boxes pattern

Core Mold
material core

degate and
Prepare Build Break out clean
Sand
sand mold raw casting inspection

Raw Melting Pour Solidification Finished


metal metal casting and cooling casting
Source: Groover (1996)

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 10 Approaches used as RC solutions in rapid sand casting

Rapid sand casting

AM-fabricated pattern AM-fabricated pattern Direct fabrication


and core boxes and core boxes of shell moulds
(direct tooling approach) (indirect tooling approach) (Pattern less mould)

technology (RCT), and ZCast501 processes have been used considerations, and deterioration due to environmental effects
successfully for direct fabrication of moulds in casting and repeated use. The process flow for fabricating the sand
industry. casting tooling using LOM process is shown in Figure 11. The
Based on these approaches, introduction of major time and cost saving in fabricating a part by using this approach
commercially used rapid sand casting solutions and some has been presented as an example given below.
case studies and examples related to them are presented in the
next sections. Example: casting of ballistic projectile by using LOM
technique. Authors of this investigation have also reported an
example of casting of 25 mm ballistic projectile by using LOM-
7. Fabrication of sand casting patterns using
AM technique, which was provided by Lufkin Industries, Inc. of
direct tooling approach Lufkin, TX. The CAD design of part, match plate, pattern and
7.1 Rapid sand casting using LOM technique core box shown in Figure 12. The final LOM pattern and core
LOM is an AM process developed by Helisys Inc. (USA) and box together with cores and sand cast part are shown in
currently, Cubic Technologies, successor to Helisys Inc., is Figure 13. Technical tooling details are given below:
the exclusive manufacturer of the LOM-AM machines
.
part envelope dimensions (mm): 83.68 27.94 27.94;
(Chua et al., 2003) in which a part is built sequentially
.
match plate dimensions (mm): 431.80 304.80 76.20;
from layers of paper, plastic, metal or composite sheets, all
.
core box dimensions (mm): 203.20 127 44.45;
coated with a thermally activated adhesive (Chua, 1994;
.
LOM machine: LOM 2030;
McMains, 1995; Upcraft and Fletcher, 2003). The slices of
.
LOM paper thickness: 0.09 mm double layered;
material sheets are cut in required shape from roll of material
.
finish material: sanding lacquer sealer and lacquer spray;
by using laser beam. The cutting material sheet is laid on and
machine platform and bonded to the previous sheet using a
.
application: sand casting of ductile iron.
hot roller, which activates a heat sensitive adhesive. After The authors have reported a 50 per cent saving in time and
addition of all sheets, the solid part of the material is removed cost compared to aluminium tooling by using LOM AM
from the platform. Surrounding material and material in technique in sand casting. Part geometry of thin wall may not
regions of the part that are hollow must be removed in a be suitable for LOM-based rapid tooling. The authors have
Decubing post processing step (Wang et al., 1999). LOM is also mentioned that the LOM process introduces a variety of
allegedly five to ten times faster than other AM processes, errors into the pattern and core-box fabrication process,
because the laser beam need only trace the outline of each which should be carefully understood and controlled to
cross section, not the entire area (Chua, 1994). LOM ensure the realization of time and cost saving.
technique is widely used in fabrication of patterns for both
sand casting and IC. Castings produced by LOM patterns
7.2 Rapid sand casting using OPTOFORM technology
were found to be well within the acceptable quality range and
SMC Colombier Fontain Company has carried out a study
gave 25 per cent cost saving (Mueller and Kochen, 1999).
based on tooling manufacturing with a new AM process in order
LOM is fairly popular for sand casting, since LOM models
to reduce time to market and the cost of the product
have the feeling and look of wood, which is a traditional
development in the sand casting process (Bernard et al., 2003).
foundry tooling material. The paper patterns of the LOM
The study was based on tooling manufacture by integrating
process also work well with IC. The paper can be burnt out
CAD softwares and a new AM process OPTOFORM which
with little expansion, however, the ash residue may be
is a paste polymerization process. Part designing, assembly,
substantial (Rosochwski and Matuszak, 2000). A case study
filling of molten metal and the solidification simulation was
proving time and cost savings in sand casting using LOM
done with the CAD software to validate the sand mould. The
technique is presented below in Section 7.1.
pattern plates and core boxes were designed with the cluster
7.1.1 Case study modelling. Master patterns were manufactured with a new
Wang et al. (1999) have investigated experimentally the specific rapid tooling process, which was introduced by OPTOFORM
considerations that are relevant to using the LOM AM process in 1998 and which was purchased by 3D systems in 2001.
to fabricate patterns and core boxes for sand casting. Authors This process, close to SL, brings into play material
have also proposed that to make high-quality patterns and core exploitable in paste form, which allows a large-application
boxes for sand casting using the LOM process, several important range. Indeed, the resin paste permits a high level of
issues must be considered, such as compatibility of the part additional material, which increases the mechanical
geometry, error source generation and propagation, shrinkage properties. The paste is set down into thin layers with

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 11 Process flow for fabricating the sand casting tooling using LOM

2D drawing of CAD solid model of Conversion of CAD


pattern and core box pattern and core box model in to. stl format

Fabrication on Post processing (decubing, Traditional sand Final


LOM machine smooth and seal) casting process casting

Figure 12 The CAD design of part, match plate, pattern and core box

Source: Wang et al. (1999)

Figure 13 Final LOM pattern and core box together with cores and the reduction of the design costs owing to a difference of
sand cast part about 20 per cent cheaper with the numerical channel
(AM and SolidWorks) than with the traditional techniques.
By the achievements of this study, SMC has introduced a
new AM technology to manufacture the production tooling
for the sand casting process. The result proved the importance
in simulation reliability due to good metallurgical results, in
spite of wall thickness reduction (to 4 mm) under the process
limits. The successful introduction of SolidWorks reduced the
part design time and CAD hourly rate. Since then, all the new
products have been designed and industrialized using the
numerical chain and design methodology in SMC.

7.3 Rapid sand casting using PolyJete technology


Objets patented PolyJete technology based on 3DP system
provide high resolution RC solution to sand casting process.
The process provides a complete 3DP solution for virtually
any sand casting application by using Objet FullCurew
material (photopolymer resin) and Objet software (Cohen,
Source: Wang et al. (1999) 2008). The concept is based on the use of photopolymers as
building materials. A wide area inkjet head layer wise deposits
both build and support material. It subsequently completely
specific scrapers, and then solidified by a laser. This process
cures each layer after it is deposited with a UV flood lamp
also uses a ceramic paste to obtain parts and cores. In this mounted on the print head. The support material, which is
research, ceramic component and tools and alumina and also a photopolymer, is removed by washing it away in a
metallic parts were manufactured for the validation of the secondary operation (Dimitrov et al., 2008). Sand casting
process. A total of 500 moulds were produced and the results facilities use Objets PolyJete technology to create mould
were very good. The OPTOFORM process for sand casting patterns (solid and split) as they offer high-resolution printing
was validated without any problem with the small production. and utilize materials that fit the requirements of this
Researches claimed that there was 20 per cent improvement application niche. Both solid and split patterns can have
in average time of all the operations that composed the cores inserted to complete the final part shape[12].
industrialization with the numerical channel (integration of The Figure 14 shows the rapid sand casting of brass
CAD and AM) then with the traditional techniques. But the component with PolyJete technology.
overall development costs were about 15 per cent more with
the numerical channel than with the traditional techniques.
8. Direct fabrication of sand moulds (pattern less
This problem was due to the difficulty to realize the complex
moulding study with the CAD tools (CATIA, Pro-engineer,
moulds)
etc.). SMC solved this problem by using the new user-friendly 8.1 Rapid sand casting using EOSINT-SLS machine
CAD software SolidWorks. It introduced a new outlook EOS GmbH, Munich, Germany have been marketed
on the CAD. For the parts without core, it highlights EOSINT-S Laser Sintering AM machine in which sand

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 14 (a) 3D model printed using PolyJete technology; (b) sand casting mould; (c) the pattern is removed from the mould; and (d) final casting of
brass component

(a) (b) (c) (d)


Source: Cohen (2008)

casting moulds and cores fabricated directly from CAD solid moulds and cores directly from a CAD model without using
model using polymer-coated green sand[13]. The process is any physical pattern or core box. RCT tends to cast
based on the powder-based laser fusion process. Lightman geometrically complex shapes which are often impossible to
(1997) reported that this machine is a modification of EOS create by conventional means. A layer of sand (bonded with
standard sintering machines, in which coated refractory sand furan resin) mixed with the hardener is spread evenly on a
is used as the powder. Sand moulds and cores are produced machine build platform and a binding agent is then applied
by using a CO2 laser that causes the sand particles to adhere using print heads at the specified areas determined by the
by heating and binding their coating. Moulds for complex CAD data. The hardening agent contained in the sand
parts can be built quickly, and castings can be made directly hardens the binder and creates the objects one layer at a time
into the sand mould (Figure 15). EOS has named the process from top to bottom[16]. The sand moulds and cores
DirectCastw (Freitag et al., 2003) which has been allowed fabricated with this process are poured immediately without
patent status in the USA in 2000[14]. Presently, EOS using secondary operation. Figure 16 shows the mould of
producing two laser sintering machines such as EOSINT automotive intake manifold manufactured by this process and
S700 and EOSINT S 750, which use dual lasers to fabricate the final casting. The key advantage of this RC solution is that
complex moulds and cores using foundry sands EOSINT it provides flexibility to produce complex and pattern less
Zircon HT and EOSINT Quartz 4.2/5.7 (Chua et al., 2003). castings. Multiple and unique moulds can be produced at the
same time while reducing production costs and time to
8.2 ProMetal RCT market. Table III provides the information regarding material
ExOne (formerly Extrude Hone Corporation) has offered being cast with these processes and their application areas.
three commercial 3DP machines R10, SR-2 and RCT S15 RCT process can be used to produce prototype castings
based on 3DP technique in 2005, which are used to perform economically and to validate mould designs. In certain
two processes, namely, ProMetal Direct Metal Printing and applications, it could be used to eliminate core boxes or to
ProMetal Rapid Casting [15]. Using the 3DP technology, produce especially intricate cores.
RCT S15 and RCT S-Max produce complex sand casting RCT S15 is a factory-floor solution which provides
everything necessary to produce casting moulds and cores
directly form CAD files. This system includes a process
Figure 15 Sand mould, sand positive, and aluminium casting produced station, unloading station and a mixing unit that prepares and
within one day by using EOSINT-S laser sintering stages sand for use during the process. The S15 system by
using 512 jets provides the maximum size of mould up to
1,500 750 700 mm and is the only system using foundry
grade materials (Wohlers, 2003). ProMetal RCT S-Max
machine is also in the market for the manufacturing of most
complex moulds and core with larger build size of
1,800 1,000 700 mm[17].
8.2.1 Example: use of ProMetal RCT for DiMoras1,200 HP
engine components of worlds most expensive vehicle, the Natalia
SLS 2
Car-designer Alfer J. DiMora has emphasized through an
article in 2007, the importance of using the RCT methods for
technically advanced engines[18]. He stated that the extreme
complexity of the 16-cylinder DiMora Volcano engine
requires the flexibility and precision that only RCT can
provide. Advanced Technology & Design Inc. president
Clifford Sands added in the same article that:
By removing the constraints of hard tooling, RCT allows extreme engine
design to become a reality. At 14 liters displacement and producing
1,200HP, the proprietary DiMora Volcano V16 is an extreme engine design.
We take DiMoras CAD data file and design the sand mould assembly which
Source: Lightman (1997) will be used to create this cutting-edge engine.

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 16 Automotive intake manifold

(a) (b1) (b2)


Notes: (a) Sand mould prepared with ProMetal RCT; (b1, b2) final casting[17]

gating system and provides facility of casting directly by


Table III ProMetal RCT casting materials and application areas pouring molten material into the mould.
S. no. Material Application areas Shell method. This method is used to manufacture larger
1 Al Automotive, prototyping mould than used in the direct pour method and when the
2 Cu alloys Marine, bearings, fittings gating system would require very large ZCast components.
3 Ferrous alloys (grey iron, Automotive, general purposes If the size of the mould exceeds the working volume of the
ductile iron, steel) printer, the shell method is recommended[20]. The mould
cavity is formed by a shell of ZCast material and is held in place
by backing it with conventional sand. The gating system is
constructed in the foundry sand by using traditional foundry
tooling. In this method, designer is allowed to mount ZCast
8.3 ZCast 501 direct metal casting
pieces on a pattern board, which align them with respect to the
ZCast501 Direct Metal Casting is an RC solution developed
rest of the mould. The ZCast shells have to be so designed that
by ZCorp for sand casting of non-ferrous materials[19].
they provide connections to the gating system vents and risers,
Conventionally, metal castings are produced by using sand
and they must have features that anchor them to the backing of
casting tooling, techniques and procedures as mentioned in
foundry sand. The printed mould pieces consist of cores and a
chart 2. Instead of utilizing this costly and time-consuming
uniform shell that surrounds the mould cavity. A flange
process, the ZCast process creates the shell moulds directly
(containing vent holes, core prints and alignment pin) of
from CAD data by using 3DP-AM technology. It eliminates
similar thickness extends out on the parting line. The mould
the pattern creation phase of the traditional sand casting
pieces are built in sections and aligned together on a blocking
process in a revolutionary way, resulting in a drastic reduction
board. The blocking board assembly is placed in a moulding
of the casting lead time from weeks to days (Krouth, 2002).
box. Standard gating forms are provided in moulding box and
ZCast provides three basic methods to fabricate moulds to
foundry sand is placed around the printed parts.
produce casting rapidly. Bak (2003) reported that the
accuracy and surface finish are consistent with sand casting Combination method (production intent casting). In this
by using ZCast process. Singh (2010) reviewed the use of this method, only cores are printed with the ZCast material and
RC solution for generating prototype castings. used in conventional sand moulds for producing hollow
Material. ZCast 501 powder is a plaster-ceramic composite castings. The sand mould can be created with traditional
suitable for non-ferrous materials. Various manufacturers and machined pattern or AM fabricated pattern. The main
researches have been produced successful castings in advantage of using this method is that cores and inserts can be
aluminium, zinc, bronze, magnesium and lead. Zb56 binder made without any special tooling (e.g. core boxes) that would
solution and Zc5 cleaning solution is commonly used for lengthen the time to produce the prototype casting.
making moulds.
8.3.2 Research based on ZCast process
Major features: Dimitrov et al. (2007) have presented the results obtained from
.
ZCast501 mould is recommended for non-ferrous metals the experimental studies on different RC solutions (all three
with pouring temperature below 1,1008C. methods of ZCast and fiber glass tooling) based on 3DP
.
The recommended shell mould wall thickness range is technology in order to improve the design and manufacture of
minimum 13 mm and maximum 25.4 mm[20]. foundry equipment that is used for sand casting of prototypes in
. Before pouring, ZCast moulds must be baked in an oven final material. Based on this research authors have suggested
that in cases where up to four cast components of high
from 1808C to 2308C for between four and eight hours
complexity are required, the ZCast-Direct pour method
(based on volume), until it is bone dry.
process should be used. On the other hand, in cases, where
.
Customers cast metal into these 3DP moulds for
more than 15 parts or higher runs are needed, or if the tools are
prototype evaluation or fully functional parts.
expected to undergo heavy handling, the production intent
8.3.1 ZCast methods casting or even the Fibreglass Tooling process is recommended.
Direct pour method. The process is based on 3DP using ZCast Bassoli et al. (2007) have investigated through experiments
material to fabricate a complete mould set including cores and to verify the feasibility and evaluation of the dimensional

340
Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

accuracy of two RC solutions based on 3DP technology. The researches have proved that the investigated ZCast
The first solution was IC starting from 3D-printed starch solution is effective in obtaining cast technological prototypes
patterns and the second solution was ZCast process for the in short times and with low cost, with dimensional tolerances
production of cavities for light-alloys castings. For the second that are completely consistent with metal casting processes.
solution, a design of manufacturing analysis was performed The previous major research accessed the feasibility of
on the selected benchmark with SOLIDCastw software. decreasing the shell wall thickness of mould obtained using
Starting from the CAD model of the casing, complete with ZCast solution to evaluate the dimensional accuracy and
feeding runners and riser, the mould was modelled with a mechanical properties of castings of various non-ferrous
wall thickness between 12 and 25 mm, minimizing the ZCast alloys. The literature is still lacking in finding the reasons or
material to limit production time and cost. Researchers factors for obtaining the minimum shell wall thicknesses of
reported that the ZCast technique provided satisfactory mould by using ZCast solution for a particular material.
results, limited at present to the field of light alloys. In a An attempt has been planned by the authors of this paper to
latest research, the mechanical performances of parts investigate the means for generating cost effective RCs using
produced by ZCast process were also optimized by varying
3DP technique[21]. To achieve this objective ZCaste Direct
thermal treatment parameters (heat treatment by varying
Metal Casting RC solution will be used to produce shells for
temperature and time) and proved that in the heat treatment
casting to verify the feasibility of decreasing shell wall
of ZCast parts time has a negligible effect on the compressive
thickness from 12 to 2 mm (12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2 mm) as
strength, whereas temperature has significant effect for best
mechanical response (Bassoli and Atzeni, 2009). shown in Figure 17d in order to reduce the cost and time for
Kaplas and Singh (2008) performed experimental study to the production of Al, Cu and brass castings. Starting from the
investigate the feasibility of decreasing the shell wall thickness identification of benchmark, component and shells have been
of mould from 12 to 2 mm thickness using ZCast process to modelled using UNIGRAPHICS version NX5 and materials
evaluate the dimensional accuracy and mechanical properties (Al, Cu and brass alloy) have also been selected to produce
of castings of zinc-alloy produced by this RC solution. technological prototype castings at different shell wall
Dimensional tolerances and mechanical properties were thicknesses using 3DP (Z Print machine, Model Z510) with
compared to verify the suitability of castings and further ZCast501e powder. Consistency of the tolerance grades of
results were supported by radiography analysis. the castings (IT grades) will be evaluated as per UNI EN
Singh and Verma (2008) verified the feasibility of 20286-I (1995) standards for casting process. Measurements
decreasing the shell wall thickness of shell mould from 12 to on a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) with GEOPAK
2 mm thickness using ZCast process in order to evaluate v2.4.R10 CMM software will be used in calculating the
the dimensional accuracy for aluminium castings. Further dimensional tolerances of the castings. Microstructure
consistency with the tolerance grades of the castings has been analysis and some important mechanical properties will
checked as per IT grades along with mechanical properties of be compared to verify the suitability of the castings. Further
the aluminium castings. the dependence of optimum shell wall thickness on change in
Singh and Singh (2009c) investigated the feasibility of volume of casting, pouring temperature, weight density and
decreasing the shell mould wall thickness using ZCast RC heat transfer rate of molten material will also be evaluated.
solution for brass and lead alloy castings. The study suggested The specific objectives of this proposed research study
that the production of sound casting for minimum wall include:
thickness depends upon pouring temperature and weight .
effect of change in volume of casting for obtaining
density. The results suggest that for small castings below a optimum shell wall thickness;
mass of 10 g, shell thickness can be reduced from the 12 to .
effect of pouring temperature of molten metal for
0.5 mm for lead alloy and 12 to 2 mm for brass alloy castings. obtaining optimum shell wall thickness;
Singh and Singh (2009a,b) also reported the investigation of .
effect of weight density of molten material for obtaining
this process under statistically control for the best shell wall optimum shell wall thickness;
thickness in case of low brass (2 mm) and lead (0.5 mm). .
effect of rate of heat transfer for obtaining optimum shell
Based on the results of these researches, it has been found wall thickness; and
that it is feasible to reduce the shell wall thickness of moulds . process capability study of optimum shell wall thickness of
prepared by using ZCast501 from the recommended
materials, namely, Al, Cu and brass experimentation.
thickness (13 mm)[20] and to save the cost and time for
the production of various non-ferrous material castings. Figure17 shows a pilot experiment processing steps from
The information in this regard is presented in Table IV. CAD design of shells to final aluminium casting of benchmark

Table IV Optimum minimum shell wall thickness achieved and reduction in cost and time in comparison to recommended 13 mm thickness using
ZCast501by various researches
Optimum minimum shell wall Production cost Production time
Researches Casting material thickness achieved saved (%) saved (%)
Kaplas and Singh (2008) Zinc alloy 7 mm 41 37
Singh and Verma (2008) Aluminium alloy 5 mm 54.6 55.4
Singh and Singh (2009a) Lead alloy 0.5 mm 45.75 43
Singh and Singh (2009b) Brass alloy 2 mm 40.05 32.84

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 17 Pilot experiment processing steps from CAD design of shells to final Al casting of benchmark using ZCast501 with Z510 printer

(a) CAD model of upper shell, component (b) Shells in stl. formet in (c) Printing of shells in Z510
and lower shell machine software machine

(d) Shells with different wall (e) Shell ready for pouring (f) Shell poured with (g) Final casting obtained
thicknesses (12-2mm) molten metal using Zcast process

using ZCast501 with Z510 printer based on this current cracking, incomplete pattern burning out and residual ash
research. after autoclaving. Although many RC solutions are available
for the production of wax patterns (namely, FDM, MMII,
Thermojet and BPM) directly, non-wax AM patterns are
9. Discussion
more popular due to the property of durability and strength
The survey regarding RC solutions reported in this paper does and can be employed for casting of thin wall structure.
not present a complete picture of this incredible technology. Further, to improve the surface quality of patterns, finishing
The result from this review is that there is still considerable operation can be performed on non-wax patterns due to their
room for improvement and innovation of RC solutions. toughness property. Many AM materials used to produce
Despite the invention of various RC solutions, many factors non-wax patterns having capability to counter the problems of
need to be researched out for the implementation of RC ceramic shell cracking, incomplete pattern burning out
in traditional foundry practices. These factors are: AM and residual ash have been introduced by various
materials, AM systems, accuracy, surface finish, geometry AM manufacturers. The pioneers amongst them are FDM-
flexibility, build time, machine building size, mechanical and ABS, CastForm PS, WindForm PS and ZCorporations
thermal properties, cost and post processing of patterns, starch patterns. As far as ZCorporations starch patterns are
moulds and cores. The major deciding factor to adopt RC concerned, no residual ash appears after burnout process.
solutions is the cost, because AM systems and materials are Furthermore, starch patterns also have the capability to create
very much expensive when compared to traditional casting high-quality castings with excellent surface finish. Bassoli et al.
tooling. Presently, RC is economical when the component to (2007) claimed after experimental investigation that the
be cast is in the initial stages of design cycle and required in feasibility of these starch patterns was proven even in the case
low quantity. Furthermore, RC is also economical when there of thin walls. Table V presents the advantages and
is a need to produce geometrically complex castings and disadvantages of various AM materials for producing IC
requirement of changes in design are high. Many researchers patterns. Mechanical properties and general properties of
and manufacturers are involved worldwide into the some RIC pattern materials are presented in Tables VI and
development of potential new AM systems and materials VII, respectively.
used in IC and sand casting.
9.2 Fabrication of mould for producing wax IC patterns
9.1 Direct fabrication of IC patterns This approach utilizes direct and indirect rapid tooling
Although generation of prototype is a natural application of techniques to fabricate moulds for production of large
AM, it is proved that any AM generated component, which number of wax IC patterns economically and with better
can be flash fired without damaging the ceramic shell can be accuracy. This approach further relieves the manufacturer
used as a substitute of wax IC pattern. Since 1989, many AM from the problems related to non-wax pattern and using
materials have been invented to be used commercially to relatively costly direct AM wax patterns. The indirect tooling
produce direct pattern for IC. The main stress has been given technique is feasible and economical when usually 5-10 AM
on finding the new materials used for fabricating non-wax IC patterns of complex shape are required in short period
patterns without creating the problems of ceramic shell (one to five weeks) which otherwise required machine tooling

342
Table V Advantages and disadvantages of AM fabricated IC patterns
QuickCast FDM ABS FDM WAX Model Maker II TrueForm CastForm PS Windformw PS Thermojet
patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns Zp14 patterns
Advantages Easy burnout No risks of Easy burnout Easy burnout Post finishing is not Low burnout Post curing is not Easy burnout
damaging during required temperature required
clean up process
Best surface finish Better surface Casting techniques Good surface finish Good surface finish Processing of CF High surface finish Excellent up-facing
as compared to finish as compared using FDM-wax patterns as normal surface finish
other non-wax AM to FDM-wax patterns are wax patterns Due to wax
patterns normal as without any materials, patterns
traditional wax changes in can be used
Rapid casting solutions: a review
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

patterns without conventional IC directly in IC


any changes in the process
conventional IC
process
Low ash content Patterns can be No ash contents No support Low ash content Low ash content No separate
after burnout due transported easily structure is (,0.02%) after (,0.02%) after material required
to honeycomb due to high required burnout burnout for support
structure strength of structure

343
material
QuickCast build Less material is No risk of shell Less chances of Capable of being No risk of shell
style patterns are required to cracking shell cracking due autoclaved cracking
successful in produce patterns to low pattern Build material can
countering shell due to honeycomb expansion during be recycled
cracking during structure the shell firing
autoclaving
Enable to produce High accuracy as Better accuracy Patterns produced
casting with high compared to FDM with tight
accuracy patterns tolerances
Help to reduce lead Perfect for Al and Suitable to cast Cast with all cast Pattern can be Low production
time of casting as steel casting materials with alloys and highly produced quickly time and cost
compared to different melting reactive alloys
traditional IC temperature range
such as Al, Mg to
Rapid Prototyping Journal

titanium
(continued )
Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350
Table V
QuickCast FDM ABS FDM WAX Model Maker II TrueForm CastForm PS Windformw PS Thermojet
patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns patterns Zp14 patterns
Ability to produce Facilitate in casting Enable to cast very Enable to produce Enable to produce Enable to produce
thin wall patterns of highly detailed thin wall sections complex casting castings of complex casting
components like with internal complex geometry with varying
Rapid casting solutions: a review
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

jewellery cavities having thin thickness


wall thicknesses
Disadvantages Casting with Poor surface finish Slow build speed Not suitable for Down- facing
QuickCast patterns as compared to of system titanium alloy surface finish is
require more wax patterns poor
experience and fabricated with
special processing traditional wax
as compared to tooling process

344
other non-wax AM
patterns
Removal of Furnace is required Weak patterns Support material is Takes large casting Patterns are fragile Presently, very few Patterns are brittle Dimensional
support material for autoclaving due Transportation to a different from build time as compared and can be broken industries have in nature and variance induced
requires more time to high melting foundry requires material to CF patterns as it during cleaning experienced difficult to during wax dipping
and special care temperature of special care Solvent is required requires totally dry and wax WindFormPS transport to stage
Costly processing ABS material for cleaning the ceramic shell infiltration stage foundry
support material before autoclaving Wax infiltration Difficult to remove
increases support structure
manufacturing Expensive build
time and material
introduces further
dimensional errors
Rapid Prototyping Journal
Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350
Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table VI Mechanical properties of RIC pattern materials


CastForm PS FDM ABS Zp14
Tensile strength 2.8 MPa 34.45 MPa (ASTM D638) 10.8-15 MPa
Elastic modulus 1,604 MPa 2,495 MPa (ASTM D638) 3,000-4,000 MPa
Elongation .10% (%at yield)
Impact strength ,11 J/m 107 J/m (notched Izod test) 12-13 J/m
Hardness (shore D-scale) 78 68-74

Table VII General properties of RIC pattern materials


WindForm PS Thermojet88 CastForm PS
3 3
Density 0.43 g/cm (ASTM D4164) 0.846 g/cm 0.46 g/cm3
Ash content ,0.02% (ASTM D482) 0.00-0.01% (gray wax) 0.02% (ASTM D482)
Glass transition temp 87.5oC (DSC) 85-95oC 89oC

which take six-25 weeks to build. Furthermore, indirect DirectCastw, ProMetal RCT and ZCast501 are being used
tooling requires very simple processing and post processing successfully to produce patternless casting by producing
technique and less equipment and material cost as compared direct sand casting moulds and cores directly from a CAD
to direct tooling technique. model. The introduction of these systems eliminated the
Direct tooling technique for mould fabrication requires post- thousand-year-old requirement of physical patterns used to
processing steps like infiltration, de-binding, sintering and create sand moulds. Using this system highly complex and
finishing operations to fabricate mould with high accuracy and intricate designed component can be cast very quickly and at
quality. The major constraint to use this technique to generate low cost, which was earlier impossible for the traditional
wax IC pattern is the lead time require for mould production. foundry practice. This feature also motivates foundries to
Even though some pioneering processes such as DMLS, Rapid produce spare parts of any product whenever demanded by
Tool, ProMetal, LENS and DirectAIM have been used the customer. These systems also help to make job shop type
successfully for direct fabrication of moulds for injection of of production economical and feasible for an industry by
wax patterns, which result in relatively strong moulds and producing different designed components with fast
suitable for large volume production. production rate. Table VIII presents the technical features
and Table IX presents the advantages and disadvantages of
9.3 Direct fabrication of IC ceramic shells these direct sand mould RC solutions. The ProMetals RCT
In continuation to progress made in RIC, a novel casting S-max machine with largest build area amongst other
solution DSPC is moving with a stunning pace in available RC solution is a revolutionary invention in the
manufacturing industry to facilitate direct fabrication of the field of RC to produce large-size component of any geometry
IC ceramic moulds (negative) with integral cores to produce of any castable material. The EOS DirectCastw and ProMetal
parts of virtually any shape and material. This technique RCT are also capable produce functional metal casting
provides a greater advantage over other RIC techniques by in batches.
removing the steps of wax pattern generation, ceramic shell Available AM materials and machines used to fabricate
production, autoclaving and firing of mould. patterns, moulds and cores for sand casting are being improved.
3D-printed sand used for RC is a latest development in rapid
9.4 Sand casting sand casting. A recent study has been performed to investigate
Similar to RIC, extensive worldwide research is being the behaviour of 3D-printed sand in contact with molten metal
undertaken by various organizations to improve the existing (at elevated temperature) in order to measure the thermal
RC solutions for sand casting. All AM fabricated patterns distortions of the chemically bonded sand binder systems used
having strengths to bear the pressure of moulded sand and to print cores and moulds (Rebros et al., 2007).
ability to withstand the chemicals in the sand can be used as Based on applications of various RC solutions, case studies
sand casting patterns. As far as dimensional accuracy is and examples as discussed above, the major benefits of RC to
concerned, it is not a critical issue for rapid prototypes to be foundrymen and challenges amongst the AM manufacturers,
used as concept models for visualization purpose. However, researchers and developers of RC solutions are summarized
for producing AM-fabricated patterns and core boxes for sand below.
casting, any error in these casting tooling will be conveyed to
the final cast components. Wang et al. (1999) mentioned in an 9.5 The benefits of RC to foundrymen
investigation that the LOM process introduces a variety of 1 Cost saving. Cost is saved due to the elimination of
errors into the pattern and core box fabrication process for traditional casting tooling required to cast prototype or low
sand casting and further the part geometry of thin wall may volume production castings. The cost involved in
not be suitable for LOM-based rapid tooling. modifying a poor-designed component and iterations
A great need of RC solutions having capability of required before finalization of design is also reduced by
fabricating ready to pour moulds (pattern less casting) has using RC solutions. Casting tooling does not need to be
been raised by the manufacturers worldwide. Presently, EOS ordered until the design is finalized and frozen.

345
Rapid casting solutions: a review

Table VIII Technical features of direct sand mould RC solutions


Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Core Build envelope Additional supports Building Infiltration Layer thickness Prices
RC technology Machine Company technology (X,Y,Z) (mm) required? material Binder agent (mm) Build speed (base price)
ProMetal RCT RCT S15 Ex One Sand 3DP 1,500 750 700 NO Sand Resin N/A 0.15-0.4 15,000 cm3/h $1.4 million
technique RCT S-Max (Drop-on-Bed) 1,800 1,000 700 0.28-0.5 59,400- $1.3 million
108,000 cm3/h
ZCast direct metal Z Printer Z Corp 3DP 203 254 203 NO ZCast 501 Zb56 N/A 0.089-0.203 2-4 layers/min $19,900

346
casting 310plus (Drop-on-Bed) 254 356 203 2 layers/min
Spectrum
Z510
DirectCast EOSINT S EOSINT EOS Sand 720 380 380 NO Quartz N/A N/A 0.2 2,500 cm3/h e690,000
S750 LS 700 380 380 4.2/5.7
EOSINT
S700
Rapid Prototyping Journal
Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350
Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table IX Advantages and disadvantages of direct sand mould RC solutions


DirectCast with EOSINT S700/750 ProMetal RCT S15/SMax ZCast501 with Zprinter501
Advantages Minimum post processing is required No post processing is required Ability to cast relatively low volume part with
Cast any type of material from Al, Suitable for ferrous and nonferrous castings good degree of complexity
Mg to high alloy steel No support structure is required Geometry independent process
Same sand material is used for support Larger build area for producing large moulds Support is provided by the build material itself
structure Patternless Suitable in office environment just like office
Enable to build large size castings System is provided with automatic loading printer
Patternless and unloading conveyors Patternless
Ability to make high quality fully functional Online mixing of sand and hardener Z510 printer is fastest 3D colour printer
castings in small series Ready to pour moulds Cost effective castings can be produced in a
Enable to generate cost effective prototype short time
castings rapidly
Disadvantages Relatively large space is required to install the Large space required to install the system as Suitable only for non-ferrous castings
system compared to other two processes Suitable for small size prototype castings
Consume high power due to use of lasers to Costly build material and binders used as
sinter the sand compared to other systems
System is dedicated to fabrication of sand
moulds and cores only

2 Gating system optimization. The major effort involved in that the use of these RC solutions will be beneficial in
foundry is to optimize gating and runner system design. terms of cost and lead time required to produce a unit of
The use of AM patterns for trial run castings facilitates final metal casting.
the optimization of gating system before placing the order 4 Development of low cost RC materials and AM
of production tooling. machines for small scale foundries.
3 Concurrent engineering approach. AM facilitates the 5 Need to familiarize the casters and pattern makers with
implementation of concurrent engineering approach by available RC solutions, processes, parameters and
creating a communication link between designers, pattern techniques to implement RC in the traditional foundry
makers, foundry men and customer simultaneously. This practices.
approach helps to study the problems associated with 6 Development in AM machines to reduce the build time
every stage of casting a product and also to analyze required to produce casting tooling.
product modification options by using AM models which 7 Fulfill the requirement of mass production of metal
result in short time to market the product. casting at commercial level.
4 RC allows the foundry to cast components with complex 8 Development of new AM material and machines to
geometry and intricate cavity which are either too produce casting in metals, ceramic and composites
expensive or impossible to cast by conventional casting directly.
methods. 9 Solutions for problems associated with application of
5 Process optimization. Before manufacturing the production non-wax patterns in IC.
tooling, the perfect positioning of parting lines, ejecting 10 Enhancement in work volume of AM machines to
pins and inserts can be analyzed with prototype casting produce large-size cast components.
produced by using RC solution. Optimization of
moulding parameter and evaluation of mould and
pattern can be conducted effectively.
6 The use of RC solutions is found more economical and
10. Future trends in the development of RCT and
feasible in emergency especially if quantities of castings their application
are required before the production tool is ready. Rapid casting has gained acceptance worldwide by the
manufacturers and is expected to become one of the
9.6 Challenges amongst AM developers for RC
important applications of additive technology in future. RC
1 The claim of available RC solutions to produce
dimensionally accurate, smooth surface finish and solutions discussed in this paper are being improved
durable casting with shorter time to market needs to continuously, and new casting solutions are being
be further addressed, verified and improved. developed. It is anticipated that a number of new systems
2 Although RC tends to generate complex casting, some dedicated to provide casting solutions directly (without using
RC solutions require additional post-processing steps any intermediate step) like DSPC, ProMetal RCT and
which increase the cost and lead time required to cast EOSINT S will be on the market in the next few years.
components. An important constraint to incorporate RC in foundry is the
3 From the above discussion, it is obvious that each RC high cost of AM machines, building materials and
solution possesses its own set of qualities. The real fact consumables. Foundry industry requires cheaper machines
is that some RC solutions are in their initial with low-cost building materials and consumables to produce
development stages, and there is no clear evidence patterns or direct moulds for IC and sand casting.

347
Rapid casting solutions: a review Rapid Prototyping Journal
Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

The worldwide ongoing research in various fields of RC accurate and better surface finish castings of any size, shape
and AM will give momentum to the following developments and material with more speed and at low cost. In order to
in RC: strengthen the manufacturing capabilities, especially for
.
New wax like materials will be invented for IC patterns developing countries to cope up with the impatient global
which will produce patterns with high accuracy, surface customer demands, RC solutions and AM machines should
finish and without producing ash contents and shell be within the financial reach for small-scale foundries.
cracking during autoclaving.
.
Invention of material to produce pattern less moulds for
Notes
sand casting for ferrous and nonferrous material having
high melting temperature. 1 Project-Innovative production machines and systems
.
Invention of material having high strength for production (2006), available at: www.iproms.org/system/files/
of patterns which can produce large number of moulds for iproms_D4.9_APM_updated_State_of_the_Art_8_8_06.
mass production of casting. pdf
.
New AM machines will be available in the market with 2 Z Corporation ZP14 investment casting processing
large working platform to produce large-size patterns and guide, ZCorporation, available at: www.zcorp.com
moulds for casting of large-size components. 3 http://um3d.dc.umich.edu
.
With the development of AM machines having features 4 www.3dsystems.com/products/sls/index.asp
such as fast build speed, high resolution and capability of 5 Italian Formula 1 Race Team Turns to Rapid
producing parts with thin layer thickness, the mass Prototyping and Manufacturing to Create High-
production of geometrically complex casting with desired Performance Titanium Parts Made from CastForm PS
material will be possible. Patterns PR Newswire 21 July 2000, available at: www.
thefreelibrary.com
There will be a great change in the attitude of foundry men by 6 www.crptechnology.com
adopting RC solutions in their foundries. Although various 7 www.crp.eu
RC solutions like EOSINT S and ProMetal RCT are 8 Racers digs speed of rapid prototyping, MetlFax,
available to produce moulds and cores directly using December 2000, available at: www.allbusiness.com/
conventional foundry sand, invention of new AM material is manufacturing/
possible in future, which will enhance flowability of pouring 9 www.windform.it/sito/en/windform-ps-new-polystyrene-
metal and will also help to improve the microstructure of based-material.html
casting. In addition, transparent material will also be 10 Soligen Technologies Inc., www.soligen.com
invented, so that the proper filling of cavity can be judged 11 www.mit.edu/, tdp
on the spot. The possibilities seem limitless. One future 12 Sand Casting Applications, available at: www.2objet.com
application is the development of expert system and 13 www.eos-gmbh.de
intelligent AM systems, a combination of AM, RT, RC and 14 US patent issued to EOS GmbH for sand-casting
artificial intelligence. Several expert systems based on RC will application of laser-sintering: DirectCast, 13 October
be available in market for the selection of RC solutions, AM 2000, available at: www.thefreelibrary.com
systems and suitable materials for the required casting. RC 15 www.exone.com
industry will also move toward standardization. All these 16 RCT takes layer-by-layer approach to mold, core
future developments will be possible only when foundry production, modern casting, 1 February 2005, available
industry will be willing to be an active partner in the at: http://goliath.ecnext.com
development and use of these RC solutions. 17 www.prometal-rct.com
18 Rapid casting technology is critical to worlds most
11. Conclusion expensive production vehicle, Foundry Management
and Technology, 11 October 2007, available at: www.
Based on the survey presented in this paper regarding RC foundrymag.com
solutions, a conclusion can be drawn that the RC which has 19 www.zcorp.com
evolved from AM, extends from its infant stage and is ready 20 ZCast501 Direct Metal Casting, Design Guide,
to play a mature role in achieving the goal to produce fully September 2004, ZCorporation, available at: www.
functional AM products in the required material. The main zcorp.com
aim of this review is to present the various commercialized RC 21 Three dimensional printing: shortcut to the final
solutions in investment and sand casting technologies. One of product, technology transition: NSF-funded research to
the most important contributions of RC in manufacturing market, 6 May 2002, available at: www.nsf.gov
industry is the facilitation of concurrent engineering approach
in design, development and production of any type of casting.
The RC solutions reviewed in this paper for both IC and sand
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Corresponding author
Vol. 223, C9, pp. 2117-23.
Singh, R. and Verma, M. (2008), Investigation for reducing Munish Chhabra can be contacted at: munishchhabra2000@
wall thickness of aluminium shell casting using three yahoo.com

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