Choosing the Right Steel Casting Foundry
Stainless steel casting, which dates back to the early 1900’s, remains one of the most essential casting processes available to modern manufacturers. Modern technology and machinery in today’s steel casting foundries produce custom stainless steel castings with extremely intricate detail and excellent dimensional accuracy.
Choosing a Steel Casting Foundry
While bigger doesn’t always mean better, a large casting foundry will have the best equipment, industry experience, and manpower to bring your project to life. Once you’ve located a few large casting foundries to compare, use the following criteria to help you select the right one:
An experienced foundry will have a history in custom mold making, ideally in-house. If a steel casting foundry does not offer a one-stop mold making and casting service, be sure to ask about lead times and budgets. While à la carte services may seem the best approach for tight budgets, the longer lead times due to shipping and back-and-forth can increase costs in the long run. If possible, keep everything in-house.
Machining & Testing
Using a steel casting foundry that performs all machining and testing in-house can save valuable time and budget. Ask about the metallurgical lab, the tools, and the inspection process. Stainless steel investment casting produces high-precision parts with tight tolerances, but most commercial and industrial applications will require additional machining and testing prior to use. For steel castings, be sure to ask about surface treatments. Choose a steel casting foundry that offers customized, cost-effective surface treatments and an online gallery of precision machining equipment.
If your project is specific to the arms or aviation industry, it’s important to work with a casting foundry who has expertise in that sector. An experienced casting foundry will give you the advantage of producing virtually any shape imaginable, no matter how complex, without significantly affecting the cost of the part. Internal holes and passages are as easy to cast as external components such as flanges, shoulders, and bosses. Be sure to ask about processes that will control shrinkage. As molten metal shrinks when it freezes, the shapes within the design need to be considered – long, slender parts will freeze and shrink at a faster rate than stout or rounded shapes – so that shrinkage is better controlled. As a rule, overall size ratios within a single design should be kept at less than 4:1 to ensure uniform solidification. With some design acumen and a basic understanding of how molten metal behaves when it freezes, virtually any complex component design can be turned into a high-quality, detailed, and repeatable cast with the help of an experienced casting foundry.
Investment casting also offers the ability to combine multiple parts into a single unit and cast in one application, saving the manufacturer hours of finishing and assembly time. The steel casting foundry that you choose should not only be aware of this option, but they should recommend it during the design and prototyping phase. For example, multiple parts of a component that would normally be joined together after the casting process by welding or other machining processes can be redesigned and cast as one single part. By reducing post-production hours, reducing waste, and streamlining the “assembly” process through thoughtfully combined designs, the casting process becomes more efficient and less costly to the manufacturer.
Custom Steel Casting
While generally best suited to smaller, lighter (less than 150 lbs.) castings, this method remains essential to manufacturers of heavy automotive gears, dental fixtures, aerospace components, and everything in between. From firearms to hydraulics — whatever your industry, an experienced steel casting foundry should be able to assist you in engineering custom steel investment casts for any project. Multiple available grades of stainless steel allows foundries to customize your design to meet the requirements of every industry and produce economical, high-quality, and enduring components. Their experts will guide you through every step of the process and provide a reliable estimate for your project.
At KICastings, our steel casting foundry is a perfect match for those looking for savings in cost and lead times without sacrificing quality. We routinely produce steel components with complex shapes and dimensional accuracy, giving our customers access to the experience and equipment required for a successful outcome. Contact our U.S. Customer Service/Sales team today, and add KICastings to your list of casting service providers.
Still researching investment casting? Read our other post, Advantages of Investment Casting.