Critical replacement parts and difficult-to-source castings often suffer from the long lead times, most caused by the wait to procure traditional patterns or core boxes. The expensive acquisition of tooling machined from wood or metal for low-volume or one-off pours is often not cost effective.
Yet the most critical castings, often for infrastructure or transportation applications, are in high demand, and supply chain delays are increasingly common. Disruptive technologies are driving growth with the next generation of metal castings.
A traditional replacement casting carried a 10 month lead time for tooling. This replacement was produced with sand 3D printing and delivered in weeks
Digital sandcasting using binder jet 3D printing eliminates the high-cost and months-long lead times of traditional foundry tooling. The sand 3D printing process uses digital data to replace tooling by printing moulds and cores in sand directly from CAD files. No delays are caused waiting for new patterns to be created or core boxes to be repaired after years of storage. Legacy parts can be supplied without the upfront cost of creating new tooling to supply a single, yet critical, replacement metal casting.
Foundries, like producers in other industrial sectors, are benefiting from integrating 3D printing to solve supply chain challenges and are operating more efficiently while exceeding the expectations of customers by supplying rapid castings for replacement parts.
On-demand tooling enables decentralised production, a solution to help de-risk supply chains.
Sand 3D printing has been used in foundries for more than two decades to create metal casting tooling and today’s binder jetting systems produce precision moulds and cores at with production-volume output. An industrial printhead selectively deposits a binder into a bed of sand particles creating a solid part one thin layer at a time, similar to printing on sheets of paper.
The benefits of 3D printing can also be leveraged to improve the quality of hard to source components that often run into quality and consistency issues during casting. Building forms with binder jetting provides a design freedom that allows innovation in casting tooling, creating complex, consolidated geometries that enable light weighting and optimised part performance not possible with traditional processes.
The design freedom of additive manufacturing unlocks benefits like core consolidation for reduced scrap or organic rigging features that help successful first pours to get precision critical castings into service fast.