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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.

Even today, the use of primary aluminum in casting and other manufacturing processes is less prevalent because recycled aluminum is much more efficient to produce. According to some estimates, processing recycled aluminum requires just 8% of the energy needed to create the same amount of new aluminum.

Whether recycled or primary, pure aluminum is usually only found in laboratories. Most aluminum casting today uses alloys like aluminum magnesium or aluminum silicon. The alloys all share the same advantages that first made aluminum desirable for casting and other industrial uses:

  • Durable
  • Highly reflective
  • Corrosion resistant
  • High electrical and thermal conductivity
  • Uniform quality
  • Light weight but high strength

Compared to steel, aluminum casting also lends itself more easily to post-casting processes, like machining anodizing, polishing and powder-coat painting.

Molten aluminum’s high fluidity presents another advantage. Because it flows so easily, aluminum is well-suited for casting thin-walled parts, much thinner than what’s possible with steel. Aluminum also solidifies uniformly and relatively quickly, reducing the need for gating and risering.

Aluminum cast parts also can have a shorter lead time to production, thanks to a special solid molding process available at our Markesan, WI, facility. Instead of coating the prepared sprue with ceramics to create the mold, we place the sprue in a metal can, which is then filled with a proprietary slurry and baked. This takes the time to create a mold from four or five days to 20-24 hours.

Our aluminum casting expertise extends over a wide range of components, including:

  • Heat sink parts
  • Medical devices
  • Motorcycle parts
  • Aircraft parts
  • End-of-arm tooling for manufacturing robots
  • Flow-measuring equipment

Regardless of the component, aluminum investment casting offers important advantages over other casting methods. For instance, investment casting provides a better level of detail than sand casting and can be performed at a fraction of the cost of die cast molding.

Avalon’s investment casting capabilities provide another great advantage. Because aluminum and ferrous casting require such different equipment and processes, most companies only offer one or the other.

But Avalon offers both ferrous and aluminum investment casting, providing a one-stop shop for our customers who require components made from both types of material.

What is Investment Casting?

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