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Aluminum Casting that Counts

Aluminum and the thousands of aluminum castings that make up our everyday lives are often taken for granted. After all, aluminum is just one of many materials available today and is sometimes eclipsed by newer, flashier materials.

But such wasn’t always the case.  For years after its discovery in the 1800s, aluminum was rare and often considered more valuable than silver or gold. Its rarity was due to the difficulties in refining aluminum, which truly weren’t overcome until the Great Depression. That’s when hydroelectric power projects provided enough electrical capacity for the energy-intensive methods of refining aluminum.

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What is Investment Casting?

Investment casting, also known as the lost-wax process, is one of the oldest metal-forming techniques, spanning the last 5,000 years. The investment casting process begins with injecting engineered wax into high precision dies or with printed rapid prototypes. The wax patterns that are produced through either method are then assembled onto a sprue along with a ceramic pour cup.

These wax setups are then invested, or surrounded, with a silica slurry mixture and refractory zircon sand. Many coats are applied until a hard shell covers the assembled wax patterns. This is generally the longest stage in the investment casting process since the shell must dry completely before applying additional coats. Humidity and circulation play large factors in the successful execution of this stage.

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