Investment Casting vs. Die Casting

Investment casting and die casting are time tested manufacturing processes. Which one works best for you will depend on several factors, including the size of parts, the intricacy of designs, and the number of parts needed.Investment casting tooling is required for investment casting, and die tooling is used to create die-cast parts.

There are several key factors to consider when deciding between investment casting and die casting. These are:

  • Intricacy of design
  • Tooling costs
  • Tolerances
  • Finishing operations
  • Part size

Intricacy of Design

For very intricate designs, investment casting is the best choice. The investment casting tooling is used to create a wax mold that is then dipped in ceramic. This allows for intricate designs including thin-walled parts, trademarks, and complex geometric designs.

Tooling Costs

With investment casting or die casting, the initial tooling will be an expensive investment. Die casting tooling is more expensive than investment casting tooling, so investment casting is often more suitable to smaller production runs. For mass or long term production runs, die casting may be more financially feasible.

Tolerances

Investment casting can offer finer tolerances.  Generally speaking with investment casting, the smaller the part, the tighter the tolerance will be. However, die casting can often offer finer tolerances with very large parts.

Finishing Operations

Investment casting can greatly reduce finishing operations. The ceramic mold creates a very smooth surface. Investment casting easily results in a 125 micro finish. This can save time and production costs associated with finishing processes. Die casting will usually require finishing operations.

Part Size

Investment casting can be used to create parts from one ounce up to two hundred pounds. Size is limited because the wax mold must be gated to a sprue. Die casting is less limited by size. Die casting is often the better choice for very large parts, while investment casting truly shines with smaller intricate parts.

Final Considerations

When considering whether to use investment casting or die casting, the first consideration should be how intricate the design is. Investment casting is usually the best choice for very intricate designs. If you require extremely tight tolerances, investment casting is the best option.

If the intricacy and tolerance of the part don’t require investment casting, it’s best to determine the costs of both based on the number of parts you intend to create. Die casting can be more profitable for long production runs, but you will want to consider the cost of finishing operations as well.

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