3D print to metal casting

Pattern making for metal casing is a precision work. It demands precision in dimensions, design considerations for production – like the draft angle, thickness, smoothness, etc. Traditionally, pattern making is being done by craftsmen on wood or soft materials for generations. It requires expertise in hand skills which comes with experience over the time. Today’s computer integrated technologies have made it simpler and precise with the potential to make solid pieces directly from CAD designs.

3D printing is gaining popularity in casting industries as it is very useful in pattern making for casting. With suitable materials, 3D printed parts can be directly used in vacuum casting or investment casting (lost wax). In Nepal, the application has been quite well over the past two years (2018-2019). Before the commercialization of 3D printing, conventional methods were used to make patterns for sand casting. Any sufficiently complex parts were all but impossible to produce, vendors and entrepreneurs had to fly abroad—India or China—to get the right part with the huge investment on time and cost.

Now, with the combination of 3D printing and right CAD design even the engineering students are able to easily produce their complex metal parts using 3D printed patterns.

3D Printed pattern for sand casting of Matribhumi Air Supply Disk Burner.
Metal parts of Air supply Disc produced using 3d printed pattern.

Matribhumi Urja Pvt. Ltd.  specializes in natural daft mud Improved Cook Stoves for efficient burning of firewood. The Air Supply Disk Burner in the image is the patented product of the company. ASDB functions in maintaining natural airflow in the cook stove such that the firewood burns with maximum efficiency. Hence, the least consumption of firewood and minimal release of smoke. Before 3D printing, it was not possible to produce such a complex pattern with conventional techniques in Nepal.

LPG burner produced in brass using PLA 3d printed part in investment casting.

Researchers and PhD Scholars can easily produce the metal parts required for their testing in various levels. Depending upon the size and complexity, different casting methods are applied. For smaller parts with greater details, investment casting is the better option, while large parts can be easily produced through sand casting.

Guide vane parts in brass using PLA investment casting.
Turbine part produced using 3d printed pattern in sand casting.

Apart from Engineering and product developments, 3D printing in metal casting has been widely used in the field of Art and Crafts. 3D Artists can easily produce the sculptures, artifacts, and jewelry models, using 3D printers. The copy is then used as a master copy for mass production.

Logo text to be mass produced for a metal company—Tiger Metal, Bhaktapur—which produces sheet metal items.
Generally parts for art and craft are 3d printing in SLA/DLP resin printers as they require high surface finish quality. Above examples shows the examples of part printed in Form2 for the local manufacturers in Patan.

A lot has been done in this sector using 3D printing technologies. The examples included here only cover a few works we have done in the field of metal casting using 3D printed patterns. Among others, those mentioned in this article are the very common applications in the context of Nepal.