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Metal Casting Principles
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Effect Of Gases On Metal Casting
Metal Casting Design
Expendable Mold Casting
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Basic Permanent Mold Casting
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Expanded Polystyrene Casting
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In the expanded polystyrene casting process, a sand mold
is packed around a polystyrene pattern representing the metal casting to be
manufactured. The pattern is not removed, and the molten metal is poured into the
pattern which is vaporized from the heat of the metal. The liquid metal takes the
place of the vaporized polystyrene and the casting solidifies in the sand mold.
In metal casting industry this process is known as the
lost-foam process, evaporative pattern casting, or the full mold process. A large
variety of castings of different sizes and materials can be manufactured using this
technique. Parts produced in manufacturing industry using this process include
crankshafts, cylinder heads, machine bases, manifolds, and engine blocks.
The first step in the evaporative casting process is to manufacture the polystyrene
pattern. For small production runs, a pattern may be cut from larger sections of
polystyrene material and assembled together. For large industrial manufacturing
processes, the pattern will be molded. A die, often made from aluminum, is used for
this process. Polystyrene beads are placed in the die and heated, they expand from
the heat and the foam material takes the shape of the die.
Depending upon the complexity of the casting, several of these polystyrene
sections may have to be adhered together to form the pattern. In most cases the
pattern is coated with a refractory compound, this will help create a good surface
finish on the metal casting. In addition to the casting itself, the foam pattern will also
include the pouring cup and gating system.
The pattern is then placed in a flask and molding sand is packed around it. The
sand may or may not contain bonding agents, dependent upon the particular
The molten metal is then poured into the mold without removing the pattern. The
liquid metal vaporizes the polystyrene pattern, as it flows through the mold cavity.
Any left over product from the vaporized polystyrene material is absorbed into the
The molten metal is then allowed to harden within the sand mold. Once solidified,
the casting is removed.
Properties And Considerations Of Manufacturing
By Expanded Polystyrene Casting
- If a core is need it is incorporated within the pattern. Therefore placing
and securing a core in the mold cavity before the pouring of the metal casting is not
a step in this manufacturing process.
- Flasks for this process are simple and not expensive. Also the manufacturing
process itself is easy, since there is no parting line or removal of the pattern
- In manufacturing industry, patterns for expanded polystyrene metal casting will
always include the full gating system.
- Due to the extra energy required to vaporize the polystyrene, there will be a
large thermal gradient present at the metal-pattern interface as the casting is
- Very complex metal casting geometry can be produced using this process.
- This manufacturing process can be very efficient in the production of
metal castings for large industrial runs. The main cost is to create the die to
produce the foam polystyrene patterns. Once that is overcome, the process itself
is very inexpensive.
- This manufacturing process can be easily automated.