The Difference Between Investment Casting and Lost Wax Casting
Lost wax casting and investment casting are terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are few key differences that manufacturers and project managers should know.
Investment Casting vs. Lost Wax Casting
Modern investment casting is a mechanized, industrialized process that is capable of producing precise, accurate units with tight tolerances, thinner walls, and smooth surface finishes.
During lost wax casting, the wax is eroded or destroyed during molding, and only certain metal alloys can withstand the process. During the modern investment casting process, a wax pattern is created and dipped in liquid ceramic, delivering superior dimensionality with minimal machining after the ceramic shell is broken off.
Although lost wax casting is a fairly precise and accurate procedure, it’s history includes molds with beeswax and clay, making it ideal for art-related projects like jewelry and ornamental work.
The term investment casting originated in the mid-1940s and comes from the process itself: the pattern surrounded by an “investment compound” and then baked so the investment is hardened to form a mold. Dictionary.com
The transportation industry relies heavily on modern investment casting. Unlike older lost wax casting techniques, the specialized components produced with the investment casting methods of today can withstand high temperatures without losing their efficiency.
Examples of investment cast parts for the transportation industry include:
- Actuator components
- Alloys for engine turbines
- Brake components
- Hydraulic fluid system components
- Structural castings
- Valve housings & more
- Brake systems
- Engine components
- Engine cylinder parts
- Transmission components & more
- Axle boxing & housing
- Bolts, brackets, hinges, and plates
- Join bars, fishplates & more
Modernization and improvements in investment casting techniques guarantee wear-resistant components and highly intricate design replication. Other sectors like the firearms industry, the energy sector, and the military also use investment casting for precision parts.
Ideal Metals for Investment Casting
There are many options for using metals with investment casting, including:
- Carbon steel casting
- Alloy steel casting (steel with additional alloying elements)
- Aluminum casting
- Copper steel casting
- Stainless steel casting
At KICastings, we give our customers a supportive consultation process to find the right casting solutions for projects and initiatives. Our investment casting foundry can produce an annual output capacity of approximately 300 tons, giving us a competitive advantage for delivering high-precision castings across a variety of industries. We have our own dedicated mold shop and access to the best equipment in the business. If you’re looking for a comprehensive, one-stop casting service, KICastings is the solution for you.