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.
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:
- Design freedom
- Incorporation of intricate features
- Reduced labor
- Customers’ high interest in 3D printing
- 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.
Kinetic energy additive process bonds metal not through melting, but with the use of compressed shop air.
Don’t think of rapid tooling purely for prototyping or short runs. Additive tech is making it possible to produce steel tools that have decided benefits for injection molding and die casting.
Tooling & Equipment International (TEI) used to make tooling for castings. Now, it casts prototype parts in a digital workflow using 3D printed sand molds in combination with simulation software, CT scanning and X-ray technology.