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What are the Cost Drivers of Investment Casting?

At Aero Metals, we will work with you to provide a proven, cost-effective design strategy that takes into consideration all the key factors within your project. Depending on your specifications, we can design your project with cost reduction in mind allowing for a better understanding of the overall project cost estimates. Additionally, our high-volume production requirements provide the capabilities to further reduce costs.

How are Investment Casting Costs Calculated?

The following considerations should be examined before deciding on what type of investment casting option is best for your project. While we like to think that anything is possible, it always comes down to what it costs to produce it.

There are several elements that factor into the costs of investment casting, including:

  • Materials & Alloys Used
  • Part Size
  • Volume of Order
  • Complexity of Design
  • Tooling Factors
  • Testing & Certification

Investment Casting Alloy Material Options

Precision investment castings can be created from an almost limitless variety of investment casting alloys. The cost of lost wax casting will vary depending on the material or alloy needed for your specific application or environment.

Investment casting requires the use of a metal die (usually aluminum), wax, ceramic slurry, furnace, molten metal, and any machines needed for sandblasting, vibratory tumbling (with or without a grinding or polishing media), cutting, and grinding.[AB1] 

We work with varying metals based on your project needs. The materials available for you to choose from include, but are not limited to:

Learn more about the investment casting process and investment casting basics on our resource pages. 

Part Size, Order Volume, & Design Complexity Impact on Costs

The size of the part and the number of parts ordered are unavoidable cost drivers when it comes to investment casting. Your part size directly impacts the amount of material used, as well as the volume of your order.

Another cost driver is the complexity of your design. At Aero Metals, we work with you from the beginning to determine if any changes can be made to the design of a cast part in order to reduce costs. This way any hidden challenges can be identified early on, saving you money, time, and a headache down the line.

Factors Impacting the Cost of Wax Injection Tooling

Our company began as a tool and die shop, and we’ve continued offering these in-house capabilities to this day. At Aero Metals, all tooling is custom-made in-house. This guarantees the quality and accuracy of our tooling, while also reducing tooling costs for you.

Wax Injection Tooling Treatment Methods

Depending upon the tooling option best suited for your application, the cost will be impacted. The greater the number of cavities per mold, the higher the tooling cost, but the lower the piece price.

Tooling type in order of least tooling cost but highest piece price are as follows:

  • Mold with WaxManual (may require some tool modifications)
  • Semi-automatic
  • Fully automatic

There are different tooling methods possible based on the complexity of your design and other factors including:

  • Multi-piece Wax Assemblies
  • Effect of Pieces per Tree
  • Gate Grinding
  • Blast Cleaning
  • Straightening
  • Gauging

An investment casting expert at Aero Metals can discuss which tooling method is the best choice for your specific project. Our experienced toolmakers, engineers, foundry and production technicians will work with you to explain how tolerance control, piece price, pour weight, design width, etc. all factor in as cost drivers. Learn more about the tooling options we offer at Aero Metals.

If your configuration does not allow metal cores to be drawn in, your options include the following treatments:

  1. Collapsible Cores - Where possible will yield the lowest piece price but a higher tool cost.
  2. Loose Inserts - Only for low volume parts, but not recommend.
  3. Soluble Cores - Additional wax injection mold and injection labor required. Higher piece price but maintains tolerance control.
  4. Pre-formed Ceramic Cores - Expensive for specialized shapes and only used as a last resort.[AB2] 

Certification, Inspection & Testing

In order to guarantee high-quality, reliable lost wax casting components, we use comprehensive processes for inspection and certification.

Certification includes chemical and mechanical test reports as well as marking each casting with Heat Codes for tractability. We also utilize Non-Destructive Casting Quality Testing (NDT) in order to inspect a casting without destroying it. The quality testing methods we perform include:

  • Magnetic particle inspection
  • Liquid penetrant inspection
  • Radiographic inspection

With top-notch metal casting quality, testing and inspection standards, Aero Metals is a trusted source for premium grade precision investment casting services for a variety of industries.

Contact Us Today for Quality Metal Castings

When you work with the professionals at Aero Metals, you are aware and informed of the cost drivers of investment casting. Our goal is that you feel confident in the materials we use, our precision tooling and dies to cast, and quality inspection methods. Check out this video to learn more about how you can lower part costs with Aero Metals. Request a Quote on your investment casting or Contact Aero Metals to learn more.