Pros and Cons of Making Foundry Patterns Via 3D Printing

A new method of pattern making brings various advantages, not the least of which is expanded design freedom. But 3D printing of patterns is not without trade-offs.

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In casting, a mold produces the form of the cast part, while a pattern is used to make the form of this mold. Pattern making is therefore the heart of casting.

Danko Arlington is a company that recently turned to 3D printing—specifically, fused deposition modeling—as a potentially more efficient way to make castings. In a report on the company’s website, company president John Danko discusses the pros and cons of making patterns through additive manufacturing. According to Mr. Danko, those pros and cos include:

Pro

  • Design freedom
  • Incorporation of intricate features
  • Reduced labor
  • Speed
  • Customers’ high interest in 3D printing

Con

  • Equipment cost
  • Material cost
  • Risk of pattern distortion during printing
  • Difficulty repairing or modifying a pattern made through 3D printing
  • Potential distortion of 3D printed patterns by hot foundry sand

Read more in Danko Arlington’s report.

Yet another option, instead of 3D printing a pattern, is to 3D print the mold itself directly in sand.

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