Continuing AFS-sponsored research seeks to harness the power of 3D printing to expand the marketability and viability of the lost foam casting process.
Lost foam tooling is, in general, prohibitively expensive with long lead times associated with the complexity of tool designs. Consequently, it is typically restricted to high-volume production. Principal investigator Marshall Miller of Flowserve Corporation is attempting to address this by demonstrating production of tools for high-mix, low-volume-production using 3D-printed aluminum.
The project is considering material durability, material costs, cycle time, equipment costs, and the skill level required for production as compared to conventional methods. Initially beginning with traditional aluminum, titanium and high-temperature polymers will also eventually be tested to find acceptable parameters for quality, cost, delivery, and performance. It is expected that this research will result in halving of both costs and tooling-related lead times, allowing foundries to enter new markets. Also, new generative software is being employed to design for the additive process and further improve performance.
This work is being monitored by the AFS Lost Foam Division and the Additive Manufacturing Division. Those interested in more information about the project should email AFS Technical Research Assistant Ryan Davis.