"IF YOU CAN DRAW IT, WE CAN MAKE IT!"TECHNOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The Development of Aluminum Investment Casting
In our day and age, technology is everywhere, but when it comes to one of the most prevalent manufacturing processes in existence, the process has more or less stayed the same for hundreds of years. That process is aluminum investment casting, and it is one of the oldest metalworking processes known to man.
The earliest record of the process appears around 5,000 years ago, when it was used to produce bronze, copper, and gold jewelry and statues by the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, as well as the Han Dynasty of China and the Aztecs. Back then, the lost wax casting process used bee's wax to make a pattern which was then filled to make the final casting. The earliest text to describe the process has been attributed to a monk writing sometime around 1100 A.D. From that writing, the renaissance sculptor Benvenuto Cellini learned the process, which he then used to create a statue of the legendary figure Perseus, holding the head of Medusa -- a statue that still stands in Florence, Italy. By the mid 14th century, the investment casting process was more or less "standard" when it came to making bronze statues and other works of art.
Despite being such an old process, investment casting is an advanced metal forming technique that inexpensively provides high quality metal parts. Unlike other manufacturing processes, investment casting is a one to one process, meaning one wax pattern creates one metal part. However, due to the flexibility of the process, it can easily produce parts of extreme complexity. When combined with modern manufacturing technology, its benefits are multiplied by the ability to produce a greater volume of parts.
Today, while the underlying science behind casting remains the same, foundries have used state of the art technology and machining equipment to make the process more reliable and effective with advanced refractory materials, waxes, computerized process, and quality control equipment.
Modern copper and aluminum investment casting is used for the fast and reliable creation of parts and components that can't be produced by normal manufacturing techniques. For example, the planes that take us across the country as well as the equipment deployed by the military to defend our country all benefit from precision casting to give them the complex parts and components they require to function properly.
Many times, other components such as forgings, sand castings, and welded fabrication castings are converted into aluminum castings to reduce costs, further proving that the process delivers both the quality and the cost efficiency that industries around the world rely on. Other applications that depend on investment casting include turbine blades, airplane pats, automotive parts, weapon casings, aerospace parts, and more.