What is the metal casting process?

There are a multitude of different casting processes that have been developed over hundreds of years. Perhaps the most commonly used ones are continuous casting, sand casting, investment casting and centrifugal casting.

Continuous casting is used in steelworks to produce large quantities of simple shapes, such as round bars, square billets or rectangular blooms and slabs. It has also been developed to produce relatively thin sheets.

Sand casting is the oldest casting process, where a sand mould is made in order to cast an approximate shape. The surface finish from the sand mould is relatively rough, so this approach is used where the external finish is less critical. Common parts sand cast in stainless steels and nickel alloys can include pump bodies, valve bodies and bonnets.

Investment casting, also known as the ‘lost wax’ process, is typically used to produce large numbers of smaller, more complex geometry shapes with excellent finish and near-net shape. Creating the patterns and moulds can be quite expensive, hence the fit with repeat production of longer runs to amortise this investment.

Centrifugal casting is used to form tubular products, where the molten metal is poured into the inner surface of a rotating mould. It can be used to cost-effectively produce longer or larger diameter parts that would be expensive to machine from a solid bar.

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