Investment Casting Cost Estimates

The best way to get accurate investment casting cost estimates is to outline all of the factors for your project. Before you start gathering prices, it’s important to consider all of the factors that will impact your total cost. Price ranges in the casting industry vary, even though investment casting is the preferred method for the aerospace, automotive, railway, and firearms industries. Each process has unique costs due to different methods and quality requirements. There is no one standard way of estimating investment casting costs, but there are common variables and factors that can be used to make the most accurate estimate that will ensure time and money savings from the very beginning. Working with an experienced casting foundry will ensure that your pricing and lead time estimates are reliable.

Material Cost Estimation

For any casting process, the amount of material needed to actually make the component will always be larger than the volume of the finished part itself. If you’re working with an experienced foundry, they have probably produced finished pieces in the material you’re considering for your project. The initial cost of the metal plays a big role in the final estimate for total production. If you’re not sure which material is right for your project, review the industries served chart for each material on our investment castings page. If you know that aluminum die casting is the process that you need, pricing will be based on part complexity and part size.

Metal prices are determined by the market, and supply and demand. Most casting projects use a mix of recycled scrap metal and alloying metals. Although there are over 3500 different grades of steel, commercial steel is categorized into four groups based on their content and end-use applications. Pricing will vary based on the region that you’re buying from (EU, Asia, or North America), supply and demand, industry trends, and the time of year.

      1. Carbon Steel
        Carbon Steel usually costs significantly less than stainless steel.
      2. Alloy Steel
        (aka steel with aluminum, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel, silicon, titanium, tungsten, or vanadium). Alloy Steel costs will vary depending on the metal type and are subject to supply and demand as alloy steels play a large role in the building and construction industry.
      3. Stainless Steel
        While the initial price of stainless steel is higher than other alloys, the longevity of the material can deliver economic costs over time.
      4. Tool Steel
        Carbon steel is the most common type of tool steel, alloy steel comes in second. Pricing for your tool steel will depend on grade and size requirements, including water-hardening tool steels, oil-hardening tool steels, air-hardening tool steels, high speed, hot working, or shock resisting tool steels. If you’re considering a tool steel casting project, identify special circumstances and considerations so that your foundry can help you select the right steel to achieve your exact specifications.

Two factors that play a major role in estimating investment casting cost are the estimated costs of in-direct and direct materials.

  • Cost of Direct Materials: For direct materials, the cost estimation is made on materials like cast metal or alloy that appears in the product.
  • Cost of Indirect Materials: Indirect materials consist of molding sand, feeding aids, and dispensable cores.

Labor Cost Estimation

Labor costs make up a significant portion of the total cost for any investment casting project. When estimating costs, the average wage of a foundry worker plays a significant factor in investment casting cost estimates. When you calculate the time required for the mold making process — the labor needed for the pouring of the metal, and the hours required to then remove the part from the mold and clean it, labor costs cannot be cut.

Setup Cost Estimation

Because it takes time to set up the machinery to cast any kind of part, it must be accounted for—regardless of volume and total batch size. Producing cast parts in low volumes (such as prototypes) the setup cost per part for casting will be higher than large volume orders. With increased volumes, the cost scales accordingly and the per part costs go down.

Tooling Cost Estimation

The cost of tool wear during machining can be estimated based on the tool material required, the part material being cut, and the process by which it is produced. The cost is determined by the material and manufacturing of the tooling, and the material is selected depending upon the tool life required, which varies with the order quantity.

Expended Energy Cost Estimation

In order to produce a part, energy in the form of electric kilowatt-hours is used. Energy cost is estimated based on the casting weight, yield, pouring temperature, melting equipment and how many kilowatt-hours are needed to melt the metal. Energy expense should be factored in every cast part carefully, given the volatile nature of energy rates.

When all of these variables are accounted for, you can be sure that an investment casting service provider has given you an accurate estimate on your project. When you are in a position to make business decisions based on accurate estimates, it will benefit your bottom line with increased profits.

About KICastings

At KICastings, we have over 25 years of experience as precision mold making facility. In 2008, we upgraded our facility with a new investment casting foundry that can produce an annual output capacity of approximately 300 tons. We give every customer a supportive consultation process to provide accurate estimates for all projects and initiatives. If you’re looking for a comprehensive, one-stop casting service, KICastings is the solution for you.
For more information on our investment casting services, contact us today.