Lost foam casting is a process used to make complex and intricate metal parts. This method has the ability to create full, net-shape patterns with unparalleled dimensional accuracy and precision. It also cuts several steps out of the manufacturing and assembly processes that ultimately lead to saving time and extra labor costs.
Lost foam casting is best suited for intricate designs found in automotive, marine, agricultural, military, and heavy truck applications. It is also a perfect solution for mass-produced pieces that all need to be uniform in dimension and shape.
Let’s dive deeper into six benefits of using lost foam patterns.
1. Dimensional Accuracy
The net shape capabilities of lost foam outpace all other technologies. With other casting methods, the material is simply meant to fill the mold but with lost foam casting, the polystyrene foam actually expands within the space, filling out every detail of tight internal passageways.
Other methods may require creating several patterns to piece together later if a part is intricately detailed or complex, leading to potentially inaccurate final castings. But with lost foam casting, the entire part can be cast as a whole, dynamic, 3-dimensional unit that is far more accurate and detailed with little risk of being thrown out for misconstruction.
While some methods have a challenge keeping dimensional accuracies in internal passageways, the best companies have a process that lends itself to intricate design, fully captured internal passages and perfect net shape dimensional accuracy that isn’t seen in other technologies.
2. Reduced Steps in Machining
Lost foam casting helps reduce the number of steps in the manufacturing process which translates to less time and labor costs.
While most other casting methods require additional machining and assembly steps to piece parts together and smooth out the rough edges, with lost foam casting, the process can help reduce the forming, conditioning or finishing steps required. By condensing intricate designs into a single unit, it minimizes the time and energy spent creating the final product.
Lost foam casting also reduces the amount of metal in the finished part. Since other technologies cannot provide the same net-shape accuracy — and oftentimes cannot obtain a whole cast — additional metal is used then extracted when joining pieces together. But with lost foam casting, there is less of a need for extra materials or effort.
In fact, it can help reduce the amount of overall waste, so it is an environmentally friendly option as well. Plus, lost foam castings can limit the amount of flash that requires secondary steps. because there is limited flash with lost foam casting
And since lost foam casting can provide a consistent surface finish, it can save manufacturers additional time and steps to get the right finish. Speed and accuracy are benefits every step of the way with lost foam.
3. Integration of Assemblies
Castings allow for fewer parts, which minimizes machining and assembly and ultimately reduces the cost of the end product. Detailed casts that would have been split into several parts using other technologies can be cast as a single and whole unit, cutting out several assembly steps and possible errors.
There is much less concern that pieces won’t line up or fit together properly when using a full mold casting. And no need for additional welding or assembly steps to create the part.
Lost foam casting is best used for anything with internal passages, thin walls, or intricate design, such as cooling system housings, engine blocks and cylinder heads. It is perfect for any part with complex details and dimensions that cannot be fully captured otherwise.
And lost foam casting has a design flexibility that isn’t seen in other casting systems. Design improvements are common over the life of a part and sand casting requires new tools and new parts to be able to accommodate these design changes. With lost foam, changes are easily accommodated in the patterns without the need for new tools.
4. Works With Five Molten Metals
Lost foam casting lends itself to intricate design and a variety of metals.
The expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is designed to support ductal and grey iron, aluminum, brass and stainless steel, which are all commonly used in manufacturing. The metals just need to be hot enough to evaporate the polystyrene during casting.
5. Lower GWP Than Green Sand Casting
Creating foam patterns for foundries requires lower water and energy consumption than other alternatives. Lost foam allows for energy savings during the process when benchmarked against sand casting and leaves less of a carbon footprint.
There is also less metal used and less waste generated which makes for a cleaner manufacturing site. And since the sand in the lost foam casting process is not mixed with any binders, sand recovery is faster, easier and cleaner. Reusing and recycling sand cuts material costs as well.
The accuracy of lost foam casting means faulty products are not being tossed out due to the increased likelihood of errors found in the green sand casting process.
6. Widest Variety of Densities on the Market
Lost Foam Patterns by Atlas Molded Products are one of the most versatile products available. They feature parts from 1.4 pcf to 5.0 pcf (pounds per cubic foot). Patterns are also available with 3-4 mm wall thickness in order to minimize the weight of the castings.
Choose Lost Foam By Atlas Molded Products
Lost Foam Patterns by Atlas are perfect for internal passages, thin walls and intricate designs that are commonly found in cooling system housing, exhaust manifolds, engine blocks and cylinder heads. They also save time and energy due to reduced manufacturing and assembly processes.