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Rapid casting solutions: a review

Munish Chhabra
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Moradabad Institute of Technology, Moradabad, India, and

Rupinder Singh
Department of Production Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, India
Abstract Purpose This paper seeks to review the industrial applications of state-of-the-art additive manufacturing (AM) techniques in metal casting technology. An extensive survey of concepts, techniques, approaches and suitability of various commercialised rapid casting (RC) solutions with traditional casting methods is presented. Design/methodology/approach The tooling required for producing metal casting such as fabrication of patterns, cores and moulds with RC directly by using different approaches are presented and evaluated. Relevant case studies and examples explaining the suitability and problems of using RC solutions by various manufacturers and researchers are also presented. Findings Latest research to optimize the current RC solutions, and new inventions in processing techniques and materials in RC performed by researchers worldwide are also discussed. The discussion regarding the benets of RC solutions to foundrymen, and challenges to produce accurate and cost-effective RC amongst AM manufacturers concludes this paper. Research limitations/implications The research related to this survey is limited to the applicability of RC solutions to sand casting and investment casting processes. There is practically no implication in industrial application of RC technology. Originality/value This review presents the information regarding potential AM application RC, which facilitates the fabrication of patterns, cores and moulds directly using the computer-aided design data. The information available in this paper serves the purpose of researchers and academicians to explore the new options in the eld of RC and especially users, manufacturers and service industries to produce casting in relatively much shorter time and at low cost and even to cast complex design components which otherwise was impossible by using traditional casting processes and CNC technology. Keywords Additive manufacturing, Rapid casting solutions, Rapid investment casting, Rapid sand casting, Metalworking industry, Foundry engineering, Sand casting, Investment casting Paper type General review

Abbreviations
3DP ABS AM BPM CAD DMLS DSPC EARP EOS FDM IC IT LENS LOM MMII MSFC PS RC RCT Three dimensional printing Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene Additive manufacturing Ballistic Particle manufacturing Computer-aided design Direct metal laser sintering Direct shell production casting European action on rapid prototyping Electro optical system Fused deposition modelling Investment casting International tolerance Laser engineered net shaping Laminated object manufacturing Model maker II Marshal Space Flight Center Polystyrene Rapid casting Rapid casting technique

RIC RP&T RTV SL SLS ZCorp

Rapid investment casting Rapid prototyping and tooling Room temperature vulcanizing Stereolithography Selective laser sintering ZCorporation

1. Introduction
After nearly 20 years of research, development and use, the additive manufacturing (AM) industry continues to grow with the addition of new technologies, methods and applications (Wohlers, 2007). In the early development of AM technologies, the emphasis was directed towards the creation of touch-and-feel models to support the design (Chua et al., 1998). But, because of frequent changing requirements of manufacturing industry due to short product life cycles, ckle consumer demands, complex shaped designs, higher quality, reducing the cost and time to
The authors are thankful from the core of their hearts to Avi Cohen (Head of Medical Solutions Objet Geometries LTD), Joe Hiemenz (Stratasys, Inc.) and Ellen J. Kehoe (Senior Editor, Publications SME) for granting permissions to use gures from their sources. The authors are grateful to Management, Director General Prof. R. Yadav and HOD ME Prof. Vineet Tirth of Moradabad Institute of Technology, Moradabad for motivation and moral support. Received: 6 December 2009 Revised: 17 February 2010, 26 June 2010, 6 September 2010, 4 November 2010 Accepted: 7 November 2010

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Rapid Prototyping Journal 17/5 (2011) 328 350 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1355-2546] [DOI 10.1108/13552541111156469]

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

market for new product and shorter product development times, industry has been searching solutions for fabricating direct metal parts since the earliest day of AM. Presently, direct metal fabrication AM technologies (also called as rapid manufacturing) are used in a wide variety of industries, from automotive and aerospace to electronics and dentistry (Wohlers, 2006). There are only few AM techniques available which can manufacture metal parts directly, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Although, direct manufacturing of metal parts with AM is not well developed, indirect methods have been found and shown feasible through the combination of AM and traditional metal casting (Detlef et al., 1999). The application of AM in metal casting process to produce metal cast parts is regarded as rapid casting (RC). The most important part for any casting process is to design and produce pattern for the production of moulds into which to cast metal. Further, for some casting processes (like sand casting), designing and preparation of core boxes and gating system upon which the overall quality of casting depends are most time consuming and costly process especially in case of complex design castings. The use of AM technologies in the creation of casting patterns allows a foundry to manufacture a metal part without the use of tooling for small quantities (Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000). In particular, patterns, cores and cavities for metal casting can be obtained through RC (Wang et al., 1999; Bernard et al., 2003; Chua et al., 2005). The relevance of RC techniques consists, above all, in a short time for part availability. Traditionally, in order to produce cast prototypes, a model and eventual cores have to be created involving time and costs that hardly match the rules of competitive market (Bassoli et al., 2007). Now, it is possible to fabricate a complex pattern and other tooling required for casting in a matter of hours and provide a casting in a matter of days. The art of foundry is ancient, dating back to the dawn of civilization. It is a revolutionary change in manufacturing industry that one of the oldest metal manufacturing techniques, which dates back to 4000-6000 BC , is being used with one of the most modern technology-rapid prototyping. The rst use of AM-fabricated patterns as sacricial patterns in traditional investment casting (IC) started in 1989 (Greenbaum and Khan, 1993). Since then all major AM techniques have been used in different casting methods to provide RC solution for producing metal parts. The aim of this paper is to present valuable information about the application of AM in investment and sand casting technology. A little step has been taken to collect and review the information available about commercialised RC solutions invented by various researchers and technocrats in order to provide information and implementation of concurrent engineering approach in producing prototype, pre-series and for customized production metal casting to manufacturing industry. In order to explain how RC solutions may be successfully used in foundry applications, a few examples and case studies have also been included. A list of various major commercialised RC solutions based on different AM processes and their suppliers is presented in Table I.

investing refractory ceramic coatings on the patterns. On completion of the coating, the expandable wax patterns are removed at about 1408C and 200 KPa in a steam autoclave (Groover, 1996). The mould is further hardened by heating, the procedure called ring, and the molten metal is then poured while it is still hot. When the casting is solidied, the mould is broken and the casting taken out during the knockout process (Jain, 2009). IC produces high quality and geometrically complex near net shaped metal parts with tight tolerances economically in case of mass production. The economic benets of IC are limited to mass production. Limitations of traditional IC: . Traditional IC requires the production of metal tooling for the injection of wax material to produce sacricial patterns which leads to cost justication problems for prototyping, pre-series, customized and single casting and small and medium quantity production. . Major part of the total lead time is consumed in production of metal tooling required for wax pattern generation. . Before committing to manufacturing, numbers of design iterations are performed by tool makers by evaluating different mould design which further incorporate an additional cost and lead time (Beaman et al., 1997). 2.1 Rapid investment casting (RIC) The term RIC represents the employment of RP&T techniques in IC (Cheah et al., 2005). The cost involved in designing and fabrication of metal tooling for wax injection process can be overcome by using AM techniques to fabricate sacricial patterns for IC. AM also facilitates to reduce the overall lead time involved in production of prototype casting with excellent quality. By employing AM-fabricated patterns to produce the prototypes, there is no need to commit to production tooling for single part or small quantity production (Chua et al., 2005). AM techniques provide various cost effective solutions by which preseries casting can be produced very economically. Presently, almost all commercialised AM techniques have been employed to produce IC patterns with varying success and many RC solutions in IC are being used by various industries and researchers. The use of AM in IC is in three basic forms. Figure 1 shows the three basic approaches used as RC solutions in RIC.

3. Direct fabrication of IC sacricial patterns (approach1)


AM techniques have been employed to produce direct IC sacricial patterns in wax and non-wax forms for producing investment cast parts. Direct wax IC patterns The selective laser sintering (SLS), Fused deposition modelling (FDM), stereolithography (SL) and model maker II (MMII) systems have been found capable of producing wax patterns, which can be used directly in IC (Dickens et al., 1995; Chua et al., 2005). The main problem of using direct wax patterns is the brittleness of waxes and due to that there are chances of damaging of these patterns while transport them to foundry. These are also not recommended for thin wall castings. Direct non-wax IC patterns The non-wax patterns are having strength, durability and toughness by which these can be used to produce thin 329

2. AM applications in IC
IC is a precision casting process which employs wax pattern as sacricial pattern to produce solid-metal parts. These sacricial patterns are used to create a ceramic mould by

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table I Commercialised RC solutions & their application in metal casting


AM process Stereolithography (STL) Manufacturer 3D systems RC solution and their applications in metal casting

Quick Cast 1.0, Quick Cast 1.1 and QuickCast 2.0 patterns for IC Epoxy patterns for sand casting and soft tooling OPTOFOTM patterns for sand casting EOS EOS-stereolithography (acrylate resin) patterns for IC Selective laser sintering (SLS) DTM Corp. Investment casting wax, polycarbonate and TrueForm pattern for IC (presently 3DSystems) Rapid tool for direct fabricating moulds for IC TrueForm, composite nylon, polycarbonate for sand casting and soft tooling CastForme PS patterns for IC CRP Tech WindFormwPS patterns for IC EOS EOSINT-S laser sintering AM to produce sand casting moulds and cores directly from CAD solid model using polymer coated green sand EOSINT P IC patterns fabricating using polystyrene material Fused deposition modelling (FDM) Stratasys Wax & ABS patterns for IC ABS patterns and core boxes for sand casting Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) Helisys Laminated paper master patterns for sand casting and IC (Currently Cubic Tech.) Drop-on-powder deposition inkjet Soligen DSPC for ceramic investment casting mould fabricated directly from CAD printing technology(3DP) solid model ExOne ProMetal RCT to produce sand casting moulds and cores directly form CAD les ZCorporation Starch patterns for IC Plaster based material patterns for sand casting ZCaste direct metal casting process for sand casting Drop-on-drop deposition inkjet printing technology Objet PolyJete for photopolymer resin patterns for sand casting 3D systems Thermojet for producing wax patterns directly for IC Solidscape MM II pattern for IC (Sanders prototype) Solid ground curing Cubital Wax patterns for IC Ballistic particle manufacturing BPM Wax pattern for IC

Figure 1 Approaches used as rapid casting solutions in rapid investment casting


Rapid investment casting

RP-fabricated IC sacrificial patterns (approach1)

RP-fabricated moulds for wax injection (approach2)

Direct fabrication of ceramic IC shell moulds (approach3)

Wax patterns

Non wax patterns Indirect tooling Direct tooling

wall castings. Non-wax patterns also allow nishing operations for improving the surface quality of patterns which further improve the surface quality of nal casting. The problem of ceramic shell cracking and two other main problems related to incomplete pattern burning out and residual ash have been observed and reported by various researchers during the use of non-wax patterns for IC. Case study 1 explains the project performed by tooling and casting subgroup of the European action on rapid prototyping (EARP) to investigate the 330

problems associated with using AM sacricial wax and nonwax patterns for IC. Introduction and practical application of major commercial RIC solutions based on direct fabrication of IC patterns are presented in following sections. 3.1 RIC using FDM technique The Stratasysw FDM-AM system offers a different approach as compared to traditional IC method practiced by thousands of IC foundries across the world. This AM technique is used

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

to create pattern directly from either acrylonitrile-butadienestyrene (ABS) or wax materials. Both wax and ABS patterns constructed from the FDM process have proven to be suitable for burn out from the ceramic shell with minimal modication to the standard foundry processes (Grimm, 2003). The parts produced by FDM-ABS have a much higher surface denition than those produced in wax, owing to the good powdering characteristics of the ABS, which allows nal surface nishing to be carried out[1]. The key strength of employing FDM-fabricated pattern over MMII-fabricated patterns includes short-built time for the process to build a part. For the build of the benchmark model, MMII process took more than 80 hours while the FDM process took only 16 hours (Chua et al., 2005). The use of this RIC solution is presented as a case study in Section 3.1.1. 3.1.1 Case study: RIC using direct FDM-ABS patterns Gouldsen and Blake (1998) reported the results of a program in which six foundries had participated to evaluate the use of ABS parts created from FDM-AM system as a substitute for the injected wax patterns in RIC. In IC with this approach, wax gates and vents are attached to the ABS pattern by the foundry. The ceramic slurry is then invested on the pattern to make ceramic shell similar to traditional IC process. Now the major difference in this approach is that the shell is placed into a ash re furnace where temperatures reach upward of 1,0938C and the pattern combusts, giving off gas possibly leaving a small amount of ash in the hollow shell mould. The gates and vents allow gas to escape the mould during burn out and allow molten metal to be poured into the mould. An autoclave may not be used, because the ABS thermoplastic does not melt at those relatively low temperatures (approximately 3508C) (Jain, 2009). The shells are removed from the furnace and inspected for cracks and residual ash. If any ash remains, it is removed by rinsing or high-pressure air. From this point on, apart from having to reheat the moulds, there is no difference in the process than if wax were being used. Based on the results demonstrated by all participated foundries, the authors claimed that the patterns built from FDM-ABS offer a number of quality advantages over patterns made by other AM processes, namely, clean burn-out, robustness, the ability to be handled without damage, dimensional stability and ease of pattern preparation. One major disadvantage with this approach is that the surface layer and built style produces a very rough surface condition. So, surface nish preparation of the pattern is important to achieve the best results. Example: Hydro Quebec, an electrical power company in Canada has been producing IC since 1997. Figure 2 shows a set of six FDM-ABS patterns that were cast in aluminium at Shellcast in Montreal, Canada. 3.2 RIC using MMII technique Solidscapes MMII system based on drop-on-drop deposition inkjet printing technology uses two drop-on-demand inkjets to build patterns. One inkjet is used for build material (thermoplastic) and the other is for support material (wax). The supports are removed by washing it away with an ATOS solvent (Chua et al., 2005). The important feature of MMII is that it is the highest resolution additive process having capability to build ne castings from wax patterns using 0.0125 mm thick layers (Wohlers, 1995a). Each layer is milled resulting in very precise models that are especially well suited for the precision 331

casting of precision parts (Gebhardt, 2003). The feasibility of employing MMII system to fabricate sacricial IC patterns by using direct and indirect tooling approach is presented as case study in Sections 3.2.1 and 4.2, respectively. 3.2.1 Case study: RIC using MMII fabricated patterns The feasibility of employing patterns fabricated by MMII as sacricial IC patterns to produce metal casting was studied by Chua et al. (2005). The build material protoform is used in MMII system having the properties similar to those of the foundry wax material. Researchers investigated two casting solutions by using MMII-AM system. The rst is by using MMII fabricated pattern directly as sacricial IC pattern (approach1) and second solution is an indirect tooling (approach2) involving the utilization of room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) silicon rubber moulding with an MMIIfabricated master pattern to produce sacricial IC-wax pattern. The researchers claimed better accuracy by employing MMIIfabricated patterns over FDM-fabricated patterns. In the direct method, the MMII-fabricated pattern was directly used as a sacricial pattern in IC. Researchers investigated this approach to produce aluminium alloy IC and claimed that: . The microstructure of MMII part was built more densely as compared to FDM or SLS. . There was no porous structure in MMII part and no sealing or coating was needed on the MMII part surface. . The pattern produced in this approach melted off at relatively low temperatures with little or no residual ash left (due to similarity between material characteristics of MMII patterns and foundry wax). . No sign of shell mould cracking was observed during the IC process. . By using direct approach, there is a signicant amount of time saving and cost saving can be achieved as compared to the conventional metal tooling method for pattern production. . This approach will be economical when only three to ve models are required and component having complicated design. 3.3 RIC using QuickCast 1.0 technique A problem of ceramic shell cracking has been reported by various researchers while using non-wax AM patterns in IC. One example is use of SLs acrylic patterns, which expand during burn-out process and crack the ceramic shell during IC. The latest method is the 3D systems QuickCast build style (consisted of triangular geometry), which eliminates 95 per cent of the internal mass of a part made of epoxy resin (Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000). The concept of QuickCast is based on the fact that hollow structures would soften at lower temperatures and collapse inwards upon itself before critical stress levels are developed (Jacobs, 1993). The idea of QuickCast is to build the pattern such that it collapses inwards under the inuence of heat, rather than expanding outwards and cracking the ceramic shell (Yao and Leu, 1999). Using QuickCast, users can produce patterns for metal castings in a fraction of time (Wohlers, 1995b). Aluminium, titanium, stainless steel, tool steel and copper alloys have all been cast successfully using IC with QuickCast patterns at Ford (McMains, 1995) and QuickCast has also successfully applied for building tooling required for production of plastic parts, casting patterns, dies and other tooling item in Ford motor company (Denton, 1994).

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 2 Aluminium investment casting using FDM ABS patterns

(a) Notes: (a) ABS patterns; (b) Al castings Source: Gouldsen and Blake (1998)

(b)

3.3.1 Case study: project of EARP EARP has carried out a project to nd out the problems associated with using AM models as sacricial pattern for IC by accessing the accuracy and surface nish of the models and castings (Dickens et al., 1995). Models were manufactured by different AM processes, namely, 3D systems-QuickCast 1.0, DTM-SLS, Cubital Solider (waxes from acrylic mould), FDM (wax models), laminated object manufacturing (LOM), electro optical system (EOS)-SL and three foundries were used to produce casting from a given set of models. The project was completed in three phases: computer-aided design (CAD) modelling, AM model productions and IC. The CAD modelling was performed on pro-engineer and a stereolithography (STL) le supplied to different AM machines to produce models for IC. Some models received surface nishing to smoothing the surface by abrasive bead blasting. The most accurate sets of models were produced by 3D systems QuickCast and from DTM Corporations SLS among all AM processes. The greatest variation was observed on SL models. Three foundries were used to produce aluminium ICs from the model received from different AM processes. Major ndings of the project . Most models did not suffer any damage during transportation to foundries except those from FDM. . Owing to porous structure of SLS models, researchers reported that a sealing with thin layer of wax must be employed to SLS models before investing the shell material. Figure 3 shows the results of casting produced by using sealed SLS model and not sealed SLS model. . The great surprise from the results of this project was the lack of accuracy observed in various models. Models from all the AM processes were much less accurate than expected. The 3D systems QuickCast models were generally the most accurate and these models also produced the most accurate castings. 3.4 RIC using QuickCast 1.1 & QuickCast 2.0 Ashley (1995) reported various problems of using patterns fabricated with QuickCast1.0 in IC. Major problem is the formation of pinholes during the removal of supports from downward-facing surfaces, which led to the ceramic slurry entering the casting patterns interior. QuickCast parts often exhibited drainage and void-ratio problems, especially in thincurved sections. Finally, the less-than-optimal 80-per cent yield of aerospace industry-acceptable castings attainable with QuickCast 1.0 was found to be caused primarily by shell 332

cracking due to solid, incompletely drained patterns with lowvoid ratios. To overcome these problems 3D systems introduced QuickCast 1.1 (Jacob, 1995). This involved the change in the geometry of build style from triangular to square. The build style features triple up-facing and downfacing skins 27 times stronger than they were previously, which eliminate pinholes and sag which further improve the surface nish. With these features QuickCast1.1 produced lower expansion stresses on ceramic IC shells; bringing casting yields up to 95 per cent. QuickCast 1.1 is being used to produce castings of unprecedented quality from an AM pattern (Wohlers, 1995b). The another development in this process is the development of QuickCast 2.0, which is the result of the involvement of changing the build style from square to an offset hexagon. QuickCast 2.0 patterns produce less than one-third the shell stress of QuickCast 1.1 during pattern burnout, signicantly reducing the probability of shell cracking (Hilton and Jacob, 2000). 3.5 RIC using Thermojet technique Thermojet modeller based on the drop-on-drop deposition inkjet printing technique (Dimitrov et al., 2008) is the ideal wax prototyping machine. Using 3D-CAD data les in STL format, the part to be cast can be programmed for the current shrink and orientation. This AM technique produces patterns by additively spraying layers of tiny wax droplets on to a platform surface, much like an inkjet printer. These wax patterns are used directly in IC and having ability to be autoclaved easily. This process has been accepted widely within the industry owing to the ease of use within the foundry (Tromans, 2004). Thermojet from 3D systems is capable of producing parts very quickly, whereas the Model Maker series from Solidscape produces ne detailed parts, but is rather slow (Hopkinson, 2002). 3.6 RIC with three dimensional printing (3DP) technique using Zp14 pattern material Starch-based Zp14 material is introduced by ZCorp to produce parts which after inltration with wax are used extensively as patterns for IC without using moulds[2]. This Zp14 material is used to fabricate patterns for IC by printing on ZCorps 3DP machines. Then a ceramic shell is invested on the pattern using traditional IC method and then evacuated to obtain the cavity for pouring metal. Figure 4 shows the process stages of producing 3,16l exhaust manifold of a racing car using this RC solution at

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 3 Aluminium casting

(a) Notes: (a) Using not sealed SLS model; (b) using sealed SLS model Source: Dickens et al. (1995)

(b)

Figure 4 Investment casting of 316 l exhaust manifold of a racing car using Zp14 IC patterns

(a) (b) (c) Notes: (a) CAD model; (b) starch pattern; (c) shell moulds; (d) final casting[3]

(d)

University of Michigan[3]. Bassoli et al. (2007) has veried the feasibility to produce thin-walled parts and evaluated the dimensional accuracy of the patterns and the parts produced by using this RC solution. 3.6.1 Case study: project of Marshal Space Flight Center (MSFC) (sponsored by NASA) Copper and Wells (2000) have evaluated the capabilities of various AM processes and produced quality test hardware grade IC models at MSFC, a sponsored project by NASA, Washington, DC. The IC patterns of a selected propulsion hardware component, a fuel pump housing, were rapid prototyped on several AM processes. Table II shows the AM processes with pattern materials used to cast the selected component for this study. The shelled models were red and cast with NASA-2, a test hardware material. Researchers have reported after this investigation that each AM processes were of varying degrees of success and each proved a signicant cost advantage over conventional manufacturing techniques. The major ndings of this research . The SLS-TrueForm model provided the most acceptable casting followed by FDM-wax and SLS pattern built 333

Table II AM processes with pattern materials used for MSFC project


S. no. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 AM process SLS SLS FDM LOM 3DP (ZCorp) FDM Stereolithography (SL) MMII Pattern material Polycarbonate casting pattern material Trueform polyamide IC wax High performance paper Starch (cellulose) ABS plastic Epoxy 1570 IC resins

15 times faster than FDM pattern (four hours verses 65 hours). The least expensive model was the ZCorp pattern, which also was the fastest to complete at 3.5 hours, and also one of the least accurate. Researchers recommended that the ZCorp patterns will be more suitable for initial prototype casting, i.e. near-netshape castings.

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

3.7 RIC with SLS technique using CastForme polystyrene pattern material CastForme (CF) polystyrene (PS) is a polystyrene based material developed by DTM Corp. in 1999 to fabricate IC patterns by using SLS machines (DTM Corporation, 1999). Presently, 3D systems Corp[4] is the supplier of CF material, which acquired DTM in 2001. SLS system using CF material is one of the fastest and most cost-effective techniques for rapid fabrication of small quantities of wax-like patterns for IC. CF is a low-ash pattern material that produces highquality castings, even with high-reactive alloy such as titanium[5]. The pattern fabrication using this technique involves two stages: rst the building of green part, and second its inltration with wax (Dotchev et al., 2007). The main idea behind this two-stage process is to fabricate a pattern with properties very close to those of conventional wax patterns, and therefore, and to be compatible with standard foundry practices for IC. Post processes necessary for CF patterns include dipping in liqueed wax to seal surface porosity and to increase pattern strength (Cheah et al., 2005). Dotchev and Soe (2006) analyzed experimentally all stages of CF pattern fabrication process and reported that the cleaning and wax inltration are the main leading reasons for inferior quality, part distortion and breakage. CRP Technology[6], a division of the Cevolini Group, is the rst to use CF material for fabrication of IC patterns with DTM-SLS system for RC of hard to cast shapes of Minardi F1 car components (uprights, suspension supports, clutch box, steering box and gear box) with the titanium alloy (Ti-6Al4V)[7]. With the combination of SLS and CF formula, CRP saved cost and time to produce components having very complicated shapes and geometries and gained freedom to investment cast parts in the alloy of choice (Titanium, Aluminium, Steel alloys or Super alloys)[8]. Figure 5 shows the CF disposable pattern fabricated for F1upright titanium RC. 3.8 RIC with SLS technique using Windformw PS pattern material Windformw PS is a new PS-based material developed by CRP Technology to fabricate IC patterns using SLS technique[9]. It is particularly suited for the foundry, since the main Figure 5 CF disposable pattern (laser sintering and red wax inltration) fabricated for F1Upright Titanium rapid casting

applications are fabrication of complex IC patterns and casting with highly reactive alloys like titanium, in addition to typical cast alloys. Compared to other polystyrene materials available, Windformw PS has: . improved surface quality and details reproduction; and . very low-ash content suitable for highly reactive alloys, namely, Ti, Al, Mg, steel and Ni alloys.

4. Fabrication of moulds for producing IC-wax patterns (approach2)


For producing large quantity of IC-wax sacricial patterns, it is feasible to employ wax injection mould fabricated by various AM techniques. For mould fabrication, further two approaches, namely, direct tooling and indirect tooling approaches are used which are further classied as soft and hard tooling (Chua et al., 1999). In direct tooling approach, the mould fabricated by AM techniques will not use any intermediate steps. For improving the accuracy, strength and surface nish of moulds, some post-processing techniques may be used. In indirect tooling approach, AM fabricated master patterns are employed to create the necessary moulds. The materials used for fabrication of moulds in indirect tooling are polymers and silicon rubbers, which result in relatively weaker moulds. Different direct and indirect tooling approaches for fabrication of moulds for producing IC-wax patterns have been reported by various researches (Chua et al., 1999; Rosochowski and Matuszak, 2000; Dickens et al., 2000; Cheah et al., 2005). Direct tooling. In this approach, moulds fabricated on AM machines are used for fabricating multiple wax patterns (Pal and Ravi, 2007). Some pioneering processes such as direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), Rapid Tool, ProMetal, LENS and DirectAIM have been used successfully for direct fabrication of moulds for producing wax patterns. This approach is employed in medium to high-volume production and when reduction in time-to-market the product is major goal for manufacturer (Karapatis et al., 1998). Indirect tooling. This approach involves fabrication of mould from an AM master pattern, which is used for fabricating wax IC patterns. Silicon rubber tooling (RTV), Epoxy resin tooling, Keltool tooling and Spray metal tooling as indirect approach for mould fabrication have been applied successfully for moulding wax patterns (Smith et al., 1996). All of them, like the best-known called Silicon rubber tooling (RTV), do not relate directly to AM, but are used for fabrication of moulds by using AM master patterns. In silicon rubber tooling process, the AM master pattern is equipped with runners put in a frame and covered with silicon rubber. After hardening, the solid block of silicon rubber is cut according to the parting line and the master is removed, leaving the required cavity. The resulting cavity is cast with wax, which used as wax pattern in IC. Figure 6 shows the steps involved in fabrication of IC-wax pattern using silicon rubber tooling. Practical application of indirect tooling for mould fabrication using FDM-ABS and MMII master patterns are presented in Sections 4.1 and 4.2, respectively. 4.1 Case study: RIC using FDM-ABS pattern and wax pattern moulded through RTV moulds, moulded by FDM ABS master pattern Lee et al. (2004) investigated the feasibility of employing FDM process to built sacricial IC patterns (using direct 334

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Figure 6 Steps involved in fabrication of IC-wax pattern using silicon rubber tooling

(c) (a) (b) Notes: (a) CAD model; (b) SLA fabricated master pattern; (c) RTV mould; (d) Wax pattern for IC Source: Pal and Ravi (2007)

(d)

and indirect approach) by using ABS material to produce metal casting rapidly. Researchers investigated and compared the FDM system, FDM3000 for creating direct sacricial IC pattern in ABS material and by producing injected wax pattern via silicon rubber moulding (indirect tooling approach). The study showed substantial advantages when employing ABS models as direct IC patterns or as master patterns for producing silicon rubber moulds to cast wax IC patterns in terms of cost and time savings, relatively accurate nal castings with reasonable surface quality and the complete elimination of hard tooling required in conventional IC process. The researchers claimed that it is much more benecial for foundries to employ FDM-ABS-fabricated patterns in IC for single or small quantity production of castings (, 5) and to employ the indirect approach of fabricating IC patterns via silicon rubber moulding for medium quantity (tens of casting) production. 4.2 Case study: RIC using wax pattern moulded through RTV moulds fabricated with MMII master pattern In this approach, researchers have employed an MMIIfabricated master pattern to create RTV silicon rubber mould (Chua et al., 2005). From the rubber mould, wax patterns were cast and used as sacricial pattern in IC. Researchers claimed that this approach will be more economical to fabricate a silicon rubber mould with MMII fabricated master pattern and produce wax pattern from the silicon rubber mould for IC when several tens of models are required.

No risk of core shifting in casting of complex shapes that require core inserts, because shell and core are fabricated as a single structure. Furthermore, cores can be made hollow, leaving less material to be leached out. It is possible to adjust the ceramic shell thickness during fabrication, which further helps to control the rate of heat transfer from the casting.

5. Direct fabrication of ceramic IC shell (approach3)


This RC technique fabricates the ceramic mould (negative) with integral cores directly from the CAD model for the IC of metals. This technique provides a greater advantage over traditional IC method and other RIC techniques by removing the steps of wax pattern generation, ceramic shell production, autoclaving and ring of mould. An introduction of commercialised RC solution Direct shell production casting (DSPC) based on this approach is given in Section 5.1. The major advantages of this technique are: . Reduction in cost and lead time (in traditional method, making of metal dies for production of wax pattern are typically expensive and time consuming, with lead time ranging from two to six months). . Less risk of damaging of shells during transportation by preserving dimensional tolerances. 335

5.1 Direct shell production casting Soligen Technology Inc. (Northridge, CA) is one of the licensees of 3DP AM technology developed at the MIT (Cambridge, MA) and produced DSPC system in 1993[10]. By using 3DP AM technique, this system directly fabricates the ceramic moulds (negative) with integral cores for IC of metals. This eliminates the need for wax patterns and tooling for cast metal parts (Wohlers, 1992). The DSPC process utilizes the bonding approach and requires post processing (Carrion, 1997). In this process, alumina (refractory) powders are held together through the spraying of colloidal silica binder with multi-jet print head. The unbound powder is removed and the resulting shell is red to create a rigid ceramic mould prior to pouring the molten metal of any castable alloy. DSPC can be used to produce parts of virtually any shape. Diverse metals, including copper, bronze, aluminium, cobalt chrome, stainless steel and tooling steel, have been successfully cast in the ceramic shells produced by this process. Metal parts can generally be produced in two to three days (McMains, 1995). Sachs et al. (1991) reported the use of DSPC-fabricated ceramic shells for production of nickel super alloy casting. DSPC is used for fabrication of prototype and small quantity of fully functional castings. Figure 7 shows a metal casting of an automotive component produced by using DSPC process. Figure 8 shows the orthopedic knee casting using ceramic mould made by 3DP.

6. AM applications in sand casting


Sand casting is the most widely used casting process in manufacturing industry in which components are cast by pouring liquid metal into the cavity of sand mould. Among the sand casting processes, moulding is most often done with green sand, which is a mixture of sand grains, clay, water and other materials, which can be used for moulding and casting processes (Heine et al., 1997). The detailed process sequence for sand casting is shown in Figure 9 (Groover, 1996). The basic steps involved in sand casting processes are:

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh


. .

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. . .

preparation of the pattern; making the mould (ramming of sand around the pattern, gating system for the entry of the molten metal); core making and core setting in mould; closing and weighting; and pouring liquid metal into the cavity;

Figure 7 Intake manifold casting produced by using DSPC[10]

Figure 8 Orthopedic knee casting made of medical cobalt chrome alloy by using ceramic mold made by 3D printing[11]

6.1 Rapid sand casting Traditionally, for sand casting process, skilled workers used to fabricate patterns and core boxes by taking design data either from 2D drawings or from hand crafted prototypes of clay, wood, plastic or other materials. This time consuming process can now be performed by using a number of different AM processes. This approach may also be referred to as rapid sand casting process because by using AM techniques, patterns, cores and gating system can be fabricated in a relatively short period of time. The use of AM process has proved to be a cost effective and time efcient approach for producing pattern, core boxes and gating system for sand casting (Wang et al., 1999). AM helps to fabricate pattern with added cores by disregarding internal cavities and designing core prints. LOM is fairly popular for this application, since LOM moulds have the feelings and look of wood, which is a traditional foundry tooling material (Rosochwski and Matuszak, 2000). Pak and Klosterman (1997) have documented the use of LOM AM process to fabricate the tooling required for sand casting. Pereira et al. (2008) have reported the advantages gained with the application of FDM patterns in sand moulding. Many commercialized AM techniques have been employed to produce tooling required for sand casting with varying success and many RC solutions in sand casting are being used by various industries and researchers as shown in Table I. There are mainly three approaches by which application of AM techniques can be used in sand casting technology (Kouznetsov, 2004). Figure 10 shows the basic approaches used as RC solutions in rapid sand casting. By using direct tooling approach, AM generated objects can be utilized directly as patterns in sand moulding in case of small or medium volume casting production as a substitution for traditionally employed wooden patterns. The objects fabricated by almost all AM techniques can be used as patterns. Indirect tooling approach in sand casting can be efciently employed in case of large-volume production and when great durability of pattern is required. The most common approach is the use of AM generated model as pattern for moulding RTV and the pouring urethane into the mould. The resulting plastic part can be used as a pattern for sand moulding. Third and latest approach is the use of AM technique to direct fabrication of sand moulds (pattern less moulds). EOS DirectCastw , ProMetal rapid casting

Figure 9 Process sequence for sand casting


Fabricate core boxes Mold core Prepare sand degate and clean inspection Fabricate pattern

Core material

Sand

Build mold

Break out raw casting

Raw metal

Melting metal

Pour casting

Solidification and cooling

Finished casting

Source: Groover (1996)

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Figure 10 Approaches used as RC solutions in rapid sand casting


Rapid sand casting

AM-fabricated pattern and core boxes (direct tooling approach)

AM-fabricated pattern and core boxes (indirect tooling approach)

Direct fabrication of shell moulds (Pattern less mould)

technology (RCT), and ZCast501 processes have been used successfully for direct fabrication of moulds in casting industry. Based on these approaches, introduction of major commercially used rapid sand casting solutions and some case studies and examples related to them are presented in the next sections.

considerations, and deterioration due to environmental effects and repeated use. The process ow for fabricating the sand casting tooling using LOM process is shown in Figure 11. The time and cost saving in fabricating a part by using this approach has been presented as an example given below. Example: casting of ballistic projectile by using LOM technique. Authors of this investigation have also reported an example of casting of 25 mm ballistic projectile by using LOMAM technique, which was provided by Lufkin Industries, Inc. of Lufkin, TX. The CAD design of part, match plate, pattern and core box shown in Figure 12. The nal LOM pattern and core box together with cores and sand cast part are shown in Figure 13. Technical tooling details are given below: . part envelope dimensions (mm): 83.68 27.94 27.94; . match plate dimensions (mm): 431.80 304.80 76.20; . core box dimensions (mm): 203.20 127 44.45; . LOM machine: LOM 2030; . LOM paper thickness: 0.09 mm double layered; . nish material: sanding lacquer sealer and lacquer spray; and . application: sand casting of ductile iron. The authors have reported a 50 per cent saving in time and cost compared to aluminium tooling by using LOM AM technique in sand casting. Part geometry of thin wall may not be suitable for LOM-based rapid tooling. The authors have also mentioned that the LOM process introduces a variety of errors into the pattern and core-box fabrication process, which should be carefully understood and controlled to ensure the realization of time and cost saving. 7.2 Rapid sand casting using OPTOFORM technology SMC Colombier Fontain Company has carried out a study based on tooling manufacturing with a new AM process in order to reduce time to market and the cost of the product development in the sand casting process (Bernard et al., 2003). The study was based on tooling manufacture by integrating CAD softwares and a new AM process OPTOFORM which is a paste polymerization process. Part designing, assembly, lling of molten metal and the solidication simulation was done with the CAD software to validate the sand mould. The pattern plates and core boxes were designed with the cluster modelling. Master patterns were manufactured with a new rapid tooling process, which was introduced by OPTOFORM in 1998 and which was purchased by 3D systems in 2001. This process, close to SL, brings into play material exploitable in paste form, which allows a large-application range. Indeed, the resin paste permits a high level of additional material, which increases the mechanical properties. The paste is set down into thin layers with 337

7. Fabrication of sand casting patterns using direct tooling approach


7.1 Rapid sand casting using LOM technique LOM is an AM process developed by Helisys Inc. (USA) and currently, Cubic Technologies, successor to Helisys Inc., is the exclusive manufacturer of the LOM-AM machines (Chua et al., 2003) in which a part is built sequentially from layers of paper, plastic, metal or composite sheets, all coated with a thermally activated adhesive (Chua, 1994; McMains, 1995; Upcraft and Fletcher, 2003). The slices of material sheets are cut in required shape from roll of material by using laser beam. The cutting material sheet is laid on machine platform and bonded to the previous sheet using a hot roller, which activates a heat sensitive adhesive. After addition of all sheets, the solid part of the material is removed from the platform. Surrounding material and material in regions of the part that are hollow must be removed in a Decubing post processing step (Wang et al., 1999). LOM is allegedly ve to ten times faster than other AM processes, because the laser beam need only trace the outline of each cross section, not the entire area (Chua, 1994). LOM technique is widely used in fabrication of patterns for both sand casting and IC. Castings produced by LOM patterns were found to be well within the acceptable quality range and gave 25 per cent cost saving (Mueller and Kochen, 1999). LOM is fairly popular for sand casting, since LOM models have the feeling and look of wood, which is a traditional foundry tooling material. The paper patterns of the LOM process also work well with IC. The paper can be burnt out with little expansion, however, the ash residue may be substantial (Rosochwski and Matuszak, 2000). A case study proving time and cost savings in sand casting using LOM technique is presented below in Section 7.1. 7.1.1 Case study Wang et al. (1999) have investigated experimentally the specic considerations that are relevant to using the LOM AM process to fabricate patterns and core boxes for sand casting. Authors have also proposed that to make high-quality patterns and core boxes for sand casting using the LOM process, several important issues must be considered, such as compatibility of the part geometry, error source generation and propagation, shrinkage

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Figure 11 Process ow for fabricating the sand casting tooling using LOM
2D drawing of pattern and core box CAD solid model of pattern and core box Conversion of CAD model in to. stl format

Fabrication on LOM machine

Post processing (decubing, smooth and seal)

Traditional sand casting process

Final casting

Figure 12 The CAD design of part, match plate, pattern and core box

Source: Wang et al. (1999)

Figure 13 Final LOM pattern and core box together with cores and sand cast part

the reduction of the design costs owing to a difference of about 20 per cent cheaper with the numerical channel (AM and SolidWorks) than with the traditional techniques. By the achievements of this study, SMC has introduced a new AM technology to manufacture the production tooling for the sand casting process. The result proved the importance in simulation reliability due to good metallurgical results, in spite of wall thickness reduction (to 4 mm) under the process limits. The successful introduction of SolidWorks reduced the part design time and CAD hourly rate. Since then, all the new products have been designed and industrialized using the numerical chain and design methodology in SMC. 7.3 Rapid sand casting using PolyJete technology Objets patented PolyJete technology based on 3DP system provide high resolution RC solution to sand casting process. The process provides a complete 3DP solution for virtually any sand casting application by using Objet FullCurew material (photopolymer resin) and Objet software (Cohen, 2008). The concept is based on the use of photopolymers as building materials. A wide area inkjet head layer wise deposits both build and support material. It subsequently completely cures each layer after it is deposited with a UV ood lamp mounted on the print head. The support material, which is also a photopolymer, is removed by washing it away in a secondary operation (Dimitrov et al., 2008). Sand casting facilities use Objets PolyJete technology to create mould patterns (solid and split) as they offer high-resolution printing and utilize materials that t the requirements of this application niche. Both solid and split patterns can have cores inserted to complete the nal part shape[12]. The Figure 14 shows the rapid sand casting of brass component with PolyJete technology.

Source: Wang et al. (1999)

specic scrapers, and then solidied by a laser. This process also uses a ceramic paste to obtain parts and cores. In this research, ceramic component and tools and alumina and metallic parts were manufactured for the validation of the process. A total of 500 moulds were produced and the results were very good. The OPTOFORM process for sand casting was validated without any problem with the small production. Researches claimed that there was 20 per cent improvement in average time of all the operations that composed the industrialization with the numerical channel (integration of CAD and AM) then with the traditional techniques. But the overall development costs were about 15 per cent more with the numerical channel than with the traditional techniques. This problem was due to the difculty to realize the complex moulding study with the CAD tools (CATIA, Pro-engineer, etc.). SMC solved this problem by using the new user-friendly CAD software SolidWorks. It introduced a new outlook on the CAD. For the parts without core, it highlights 338

8. Direct fabrication of sand moulds (pattern less moulds)


8.1 Rapid sand casting using EOSINT-SLS machine EOS GmbH, Munich, Germany have been marketed EOSINT-S Laser Sintering AM machine in which sand

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Figure 14 (a) 3D model printed using PolyJete technology; (b) sand casting mould; (c) the pattern is removed from the mould; and (d) nal casting of brass component

(a) Source: Cohen (2008)

(b)

(c)

(d)

casting moulds and cores fabricated directly from CAD solid model using polymer-coated green sand[13]. The process is based on the powder-based laser fusion process. Lightman (1997) reported that this machine is a modication of EOS standard sintering machines, in which coated refractory sand is used as the powder. Sand moulds and cores are produced by using a CO2 laser that causes the sand particles to adhere by heating and binding their coating. Moulds for complex parts can be built quickly, and castings can be made directly into the sand mould (Figure 15). EOS has named the process DirectCastw (Freitag et al., 2003) which has been allowed patent status in the USA in 2000[14]. Presently, EOS producing two laser sintering machines such as EOSINT S700 and EOSINT S 750, which use dual lasers to fabricate complex moulds and cores using foundry sands EOSINT Zircon HT and EOSINT Quartz 4.2/5.7 (Chua et al., 2003). 8.2 ProMetal RCT ExOne (formerly Extrude Hone Corporation) has offered three commercial 3DP machines R10, SR-2 and RCT S15 based on 3DP technique in 2005, which are used to perform two processes, namely, ProMetal Direct Metal Printing and ProMetal Rapid Casting [15]. Using the 3DP technology, RCT S15 and RCT S-Max produce complex sand casting Figure 15 Sand mould, sand positive, and aluminium casting produced within one day by using EOSINT-S laser sintering

moulds and cores directly from a CAD model without using any physical pattern or core box. RCT tends to cast geometrically complex shapes which are often impossible to create by conventional means. A layer of sand (bonded with furan resin) mixed with the hardener is spread evenly on a machine build platform and a binding agent is then applied using print heads at the specied areas determined by the CAD data. The hardening agent contained in the sand hardens the binder and creates the objects one layer at a time from top to bottom[16]. The sand moulds and cores fabricated with this process are poured immediately without using secondary operation. Figure 16 shows the mould of automotive intake manifold manufactured by this process and the nal casting. The key advantage of this RC solution is that it provides exibility to produce complex and pattern less castings. Multiple and unique moulds can be produced at the same time while reducing production costs and time to market. Table III provides the information regarding material being cast with these processes and their application areas. RCT process can be used to produce prototype castings economically and to validate mould designs. In certain applications, it could be used to eliminate core boxes or to produce especially intricate cores. RCT S15 is a factory-oor solution which provides everything necessary to produce casting moulds and cores directly form CAD les. This system includes a process station, unloading station and a mixing unit that prepares and stages sand for use during the process. The S15 system by using 512 jets provides the maximum size of mould up to 1,500 750 700 mm and is the only system using foundry grade materials (Wohlers, 2003). ProMetal RCT S-Max machine is also in the market for the manufacturing of most complex moulds and core with larger build size of 1,800 1,000 700 mm[17]. 8.2.1 Example: use of ProMetal RCT for DiMoras1,200 HP engine components of worlds most expensive vehicle, the Natalia SLS 2 Car-designer Alfer J. DiMora has emphasized through an article in 2007, the importance of using the RCT methods for technically advanced engines[18]. He stated that the extreme complexity of the 16-cylinder DiMora Volcano engine requires the exibility and precision that only RCT can provide. Advanced Technology & Design Inc. president Clifford Sands added in the same article that:
By removing the constraints of hard tooling, RCT allows extreme engine design to become a reality. At 14 liters displacement and producing 1,200HP, the proprietary DiMora Volcano V16 is an extreme engine design. We take DiMoras CAD data le and design the sand mould assembly which will be used to create this cutting-edge engine.

Source: Lightman (1997)

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Figure 16 Automotive intake manifold

(a)

(b1)

(b2)

Notes: (a) Sand mould prepared with ProMetal RCT; (b1, b2) final casting[17]

Table III ProMetal RCT casting materials and application areas


S. no. 1 2 3 Material Al Cu alloys Ferrous alloys (grey iron, ductile iron, steel) Application areas Automotive, prototyping Marine, bearings, ttings Automotive, general purposes

gating system and provides facility of casting directly by pouring molten material into the mould. Shell method. This method is used to manufacture larger mould than used in the direct pour method and when the gating system would require very large ZCast components. If the size of the mould exceeds the working volume of the printer, the shell method is recommended[20]. The mould cavity is formed by a shell of ZCast material and is held in place by backing it with conventional sand. The gating system is constructed in the foundry sand by using traditional foundry tooling. In this method, designer is allowed to mount ZCast pieces on a pattern board, which align them with respect to the rest of the mould. The ZCast shells have to be so designed that they provide connections to the gating system vents and risers, and they must have features that anchor them to the backing of foundry sand. The printed mould pieces consist of cores and a uniform shell that surrounds the mould cavity. A ange (containing vent holes, core prints and alignment pin) of similar thickness extends out on the parting line. The mould pieces are built in sections and aligned together on a blocking board. The blocking board assembly is placed in a moulding box. Standard gating forms are provided in moulding box and foundry sand is placed around the printed parts. Combination method (production intent casting). In this method, only cores are printed with the ZCast material and used in conventional sand moulds for producing hollow castings. The sand mould can be created with traditional machined pattern or AM fabricated pattern. The main advantage of using this method is that cores and inserts can be made without any special tooling (e.g. core boxes) that would lengthen the time to produce the prototype casting. 8.3.2 Research based on ZCast process Dimitrov et al. (2007) have presented the results obtained from the experimental studies on different RC solutions (all three methods of ZCast and ber glass tooling) based on 3DP technology in order to improve the design and manufacture of foundry equipment that is used for sand casting of prototypes in nal material. Based on this research authors have suggested that in cases where up to four cast components of high complexity are required, the ZCast-Direct pour method process should be used. On the other hand, in cases, where more than 15 parts or higher runs are needed, or if the tools are expected to undergo heavy handling, the production intent casting or even the Fibreglass Tooling process is recommended. Bassoli et al. (2007) have investigated through experiments to verify the feasibility and evaluation of the dimensional 340

8.3 ZCast 501 direct metal casting ZCast501 Direct Metal Casting is an RC solution developed by ZCorp for sand casting of non-ferrous materials[19]. Conventionally, metal castings are produced by using sand casting tooling, techniques and procedures as mentioned in chart 2. Instead of utilizing this costly and time-consuming process, the ZCast process creates the shell moulds directly from CAD data by using 3DP-AM technology. It eliminates the pattern creation phase of the traditional sand casting process in a revolutionary way, resulting in a drastic reduction of the casting lead time from weeks to days (Krouth, 2002). ZCast provides three basic methods to fabricate moulds to produce casting rapidly. Bak (2003) reported that the accuracy and surface nish are consistent with sand casting by using ZCast process. Singh (2010) reviewed the use of this RC solution for generating prototype castings. Material. ZCast 501 powder is a plaster-ceramic composite suitable for non-ferrous materials. Various manufacturers and researches have been produced successful castings in aluminium, zinc, bronze, magnesium and lead. Zb56 binder solution and Zc5 cleaning solution is commonly used for making moulds. Major features: . ZCast501 mould is recommended for non-ferrous metals with pouring temperature below 1,1008C. . The recommended shell mould wall thickness range is minimum 13 mm and maximum 25.4 mm[20]. . Before pouring, ZCast moulds must be baked in an oven from 1808C to 2308C for between four and eight hours (based on volume), until it is bone dry. . Customers cast metal into these 3DP moulds for prototype evaluation or fully functional parts. 8.3.1 ZCast methods Direct pour method. The process is based on 3DP using ZCast material to fabricate a complete mould set including cores and

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accuracy of two RC solutions based on 3DP technology. The rst solution was IC starting from 3D-printed starch patterns and the second solution was ZCast process for the production of cavities for light-alloys castings. For the second solution, a design of manufacturing analysis was performed on the selected benchmark with SOLIDCastw software. Starting from the CAD model of the casing, complete with feeding runners and riser, the mould was modelled with a wall thickness between 12 and 25 mm, minimizing the ZCast material to limit production time and cost. Researchers reported that the ZCast technique provided satisfactory results, limited at present to the eld of light alloys. In a latest research, the mechanical performances of parts produced by ZCast process were also optimized by varying thermal treatment parameters (heat treatment by varying temperature and time) and proved that in the heat treatment of ZCast parts time has a negligible effect on the compressive strength, whereas temperature has signicant effect for best mechanical response (Bassoli and Atzeni, 2009). Kaplas and Singh (2008) performed experimental study to investigate the feasibility of decreasing the shell wall thickness of mould from 12 to 2 mm thickness using ZCast process to evaluate the dimensional accuracy and mechanical properties of castings of zinc-alloy produced by this RC solution. Dimensional tolerances and mechanical properties were compared to verify the suitability of castings and further results were supported by radiography analysis. Singh and Verma (2008) veried the feasibility of decreasing the shell wall thickness of shell mould from 12 to 2 mm thickness using ZCast process in order to evaluate the dimensional accuracy for aluminium castings. Further consistency with the tolerance grades of the castings has been checked as per IT grades along with mechanical properties of the aluminium castings. Singh and Singh (2009c) investigated the feasibility of decreasing the shell mould wall thickness using ZCast RC solution for brass and lead alloy castings. The study suggested that the production of sound casting for minimum wall thickness depends upon pouring temperature and weight density. The results suggest that for small castings below a mass of 10 g, shell thickness can be reduced from the 12 to 0.5 mm for lead alloy and 12 to 2 mm for brass alloy castings. Singh and Singh (2009a,b) also reported the investigation of this process under statistically control for the best shell wall thickness in case of low brass (2 mm) and lead (0.5 mm). Based on the results of these researches, it has been found that it is feasible to reduce the shell wall thickness of moulds prepared by using ZCast501 from the recommended thickness (13 mm)[20] and to save the cost and time for the production of various non-ferrous material castings. The information in this regard is presented in Table IV.

The researches have proved that the investigated ZCast solution is effective in obtaining cast technological prototypes in short times and with low cost, with dimensional tolerances that are completely consistent with metal casting processes. The previous major research accessed the feasibility of decreasing the shell wall thickness of mould obtained using ZCast solution to evaluate the dimensional accuracy and mechanical properties of castings of various non-ferrous alloys. The literature is still lacking in nding the reasons or factors for obtaining the minimum shell wall thicknesses of mould by using ZCast solution for a particular material. An attempt has been planned by the authors of this paper to investigate the means for generating cost effective RCs using 3DP technique[21]. To achieve this objective ZCaste Direct Metal Casting RC solution will be used to produce shells for casting to verify the feasibility of decreasing shell wall thickness from 12 to 2 mm (12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2 mm) as shown in Figure 17d in order to reduce the cost and time for the production of Al, Cu and brass castings. Starting from the identication of benchmark, component and shells have been modelled using UNIGRAPHICS version NX5 and materials (Al, Cu and brass alloy) have also been selected to produce technological prototype castings at different shell wall thicknesses using 3DP (Z Print machine, Model Z510) with ZCast501e powder. Consistency of the tolerance grades of the castings (IT grades) will be evaluated as per UNI EN 20286-I (1995) standards for casting process. Measurements on a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) with GEOPAK v2.4.R10 CMM software will be used in calculating the dimensional tolerances of the castings. Microstructure analysis and some important mechanical properties will be compared to verify the suitability of the castings. Further the dependence of optimum shell wall thickness on change in volume of casting, pouring temperature, weight density and heat transfer rate of molten material will also be evaluated. The specic objectives of this proposed research study include: . effect of change in volume of casting for obtaining optimum shell wall thickness; . effect of pouring temperature of molten metal for obtaining optimum shell wall thickness; . effect of weight density of molten material for obtaining optimum shell wall thickness; . effect of rate of heat transfer for obtaining optimum shell wall thickness; and . process capability study of optimum shell wall thickness of materials, namely, Al, Cu and brass experimentation. Figure17 shows a pilot experiment processing steps from CAD design of shells to nal aluminium casting of benchmark

Table IV Optimum minimum shell wall thickness achieved and reduction in cost and time in comparison to recommended 13 mm thickness using ZCast501by various researches
Researches Kaplas and Singh (2008) Singh and Verma (2008) Singh and Singh (2009a) Singh and Singh (2009b) Casting material Zinc alloy Aluminium alloy Lead alloy Brass alloy Optimum minimum shell wall thickness achieved 7 mm 5 mm 0.5 mm 2 mm Production cost saved (%) 41 54.6 45.75 40.05 Production time saved (%) 37 55.4 43 32.84

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Figure 17 Pilot experiment processing steps from CAD design of shells to nal Al casting of benchmark using ZCast501 with Z510 printer

(a) CAD model of upper shell, component and lower shell

(b) Shells in stl. formet in machine software

(c) Printing of shells in Z510 machine

(d) Shells with different wall thicknesses (12-2mm)

(e) Shell ready for pouring

(f) Shell poured with molten metal

(g) Final casting obtained using Zcast process

using ZCast501 with Z510 printer based on this current research.

9. Discussion
The survey regarding RC solutions reported in this paper does not present a complete picture of this incredible technology. The result from this review is that there is still considerable room for improvement and innovation of RC solutions. Despite the invention of various RC solutions, many factors need to be researched out for the implementation of RC in traditional foundry practices. These factors are: AM materials, AM systems, accuracy, surface nish, geometry exibility, build time, machine building size, mechanical and thermal properties, cost and post processing of patterns, moulds and cores. The major deciding factor to adopt RC solutions is the cost, because AM systems and materials are very much expensive when compared to traditional casting tooling. Presently, RC is economical when the component to be cast is in the initial stages of design cycle and required in low quantity. Furthermore, RC is also economical when there is a need to produce geometrically complex castings and requirement of changes in design are high. Many researchers and manufacturers are involved worldwide into the development of potential new AM systems and materials used in IC and sand casting. 9.1 Direct fabrication of IC patterns Although generation of prototype is a natural application of AM, it is proved that any AM generated component, which can be ash red without damaging the ceramic shell can be used as a substitute of wax IC pattern. Since 1989, many AM materials have been invented to be used commercially to produce direct pattern for IC. The main stress has been given on nding the new materials used for fabricating non-wax IC patterns without creating the problems of ceramic shell 342

cracking, incomplete pattern burning out and residual ash after autoclaving. Although many RC solutions are available for the production of wax patterns (namely, FDM, MMII, Thermojet and BPM) directly, non-wax AM patterns are more popular due to the property of durability and strength and can be employed for casting of thin wall structure. Further, to improve the surface quality of patterns, nishing operation can be performed on non-wax patterns due to their toughness property. Many AM materials used to produce non-wax patterns having capability to counter the problems of ceramic shell cracking, incomplete pattern burning out and residual ash have been introduced by various AM manufacturers. The pioneers amongst them are FDMABS, CastForm PS, WindForm PS and ZCorporations starch patterns. As far as ZCorporations starch patterns are concerned, no residual ash appears after burnout process. Furthermore, starch patterns also have the capability to create high-quality castings with excellent surface nish. Bassoli et al. (2007) claimed after experimental investigation that the feasibility of these starch patterns was proven even in the case of thin walls. Table V presents the advantages and disadvantages of various AM materials for producing IC patterns. Mechanical properties and general properties of some RIC pattern materials are presented in Tables VI and VII, respectively. 9.2 Fabrication of mould for producing wax IC patterns This approach utilizes direct and indirect rapid tooling techniques to fabricate moulds for production of large number of wax IC patterns economically and with better accuracy. This approach further relieves the manufacturer from the problems related to non-wax pattern and using relatively costly direct AM wax patterns. The indirect tooling technique is feasible and economical when usually 5-10 AM patterns of complex shape are required in short period (one to ve weeks) which otherwise required machine tooling

Table V Advantages and disadvantages of AM fabricated IC patterns


FDM ABS patterns Easy burnout Easy burnout Post nishing is not Low burnout required temperature High surface nish Excellent up-facing Processing of CF surface nish patterns as normal Due to wax wax patterns materials, patterns without any can be used changes in conventional IC directly in IC process Post curing is not required FDM WAX patterns Model Maker II patterns TrueForm patterns CastForm PS patterns Windformw PS patterns Thermojet patterns Zp14 patterns Easy burnout

QuickCast patterns

Rapid casting solutions: a review

Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Advantages

Easy burnout

No risks of damaging during clean up process Best surface nish Better surface as compared to nish as compared other non-wax AM to FDM-wax patterns Casting techniques Good surface nish Good surface nish using FDM-wax patterns are normal as traditional wax patterns without any changes in the conventional IC process No ash contents No support structure is required Low ash content (,0.02%) after burnout Low ash content (,0.02%) after burnout

Low ash content after burnout due to honeycomb structure No risk of shell cracking Less chances of shell cracking due to low pattern expansion during the shell ring Better accuracy

No separate material required for support structure Capable of being autoclaved No risk of shell cracking Build material can be recycled

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High accuracy as compared to FDM patterns Perfect for Al and steel casting

Patterns can be transported easily due to high strength of material Less material is required to produce patterns due to honeycomb structure

QuickCast build style patterns are successful in countering shell cracking during autoclaving Enable to produce casting with high accuracy Help to reduce lead time of casting as compared to traditional IC

Suitable to cast materials with different melting temperature range such as Al, Mg to titanium

Patterns produced with tight tolerances Cast with all cast alloys and highly reactive alloys

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Pattern can be produced quickly

Low production time and cost

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(continued )

Table V FDM ABS patterns Ability to produce thin wall patterns Facilitate in casting Enable to cast very of highly detailed thin wall sections components like jewellery Slow build speed of system Not suitable for titanium alloy Enable to produce Enable to produce complex casting castings of with internal complex geometry cavities having thin wall thicknesses Down- facing surface nish is poor FDM WAX patterns Model Maker II patterns TrueForm patterns CastForm PS patterns Windformw PS patterns Thermojet patterns Zp14 patterns Enable to produce complex casting with varying thickness

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Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

QuickCast patterns

Poor surface nish as compared to wax patterns fabricated with traditional wax tooling process

344
Furnace is required for autoclaving due to high melting temperature of ABS material Takes large casting time as compared to CF patterns as it requires totally dry ceramic shell before autoclaving Weak patterns Support material is Transportation to a different from build foundry requires material special care Solvent is required for cleaning the support material

Disadvantages Casting with QuickCast patterns require more experience and special processing as compared to other non-wax AM patterns Removal of support material requires more time and special care Costly processing Patterns are fragile and can be broken during cleaning and wax inltration stage Wax inltration increases manufacturing time and introduces further dimensional errors

Presently, very few industries have experienced WindFormPS

Patterns are brittle in nature and difcult to transport to foundry Difcult to remove support structure Expensive build material

Dimensional variance induced during wax dipping stage

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table VI Mechanical properties of RIC pattern materials


CastForm PS Tensile strength Elastic modulus Elongation Impact strength Hardness (shore D-scale) 2.8 MPa 1,604 MPa ,11 J/m FDM ABS 34.45 MPa (ASTM D638) 2,495 MPa (ASTM D638) .10% (%at yield) 107 J/m (notched Izod test) 78 Zp14 10.8-15 MPa 3,000-4,000 MPa 12-13 J/m 68-74

Table VII General properties of RIC pattern materials


WindForm PS Density Ash content Glass transition temp 0.43 g/cm (ASTM D4164) ,0.02% (ASTM D482) 87.5oC (DSC)
3

Thermojet88 0.846 g/cm 0.00-0.01% (gray wax) 85-95oC


3

CastForm PS 0.46 g/cm3 0.02% (ASTM D482) 89oC

which take six-25 weeks to build. Furthermore, indirect tooling requires very simple processing and post processing technique and less equipment and material cost as compared to direct tooling technique. Direct tooling technique for mould fabrication requires postprocessing steps like inltration, de-binding, sintering and nishing operations to fabricate mould with high accuracy and quality. The major constraint to use this technique to generate wax IC pattern is the lead time require for mould production. Even though some pioneering processes such as DMLS, Rapid Tool, ProMetal, LENS and DirectAIM have been used successfully for direct fabrication of moulds for injection of wax patterns, which result in relatively strong moulds and suitable for large volume production. 9.3 Direct fabrication of IC ceramic shells In continuation to progress made in RIC, a novel casting solution DSPC is moving with a stunning pace in manufacturing industry to facilitate direct fabrication of the IC ceramic moulds (negative) with integral cores to produce parts of virtually any shape and material. This technique provides a greater advantage over other RIC techniques by removing the steps of wax pattern generation, ceramic shell production, autoclaving and ring of mould. 9.4 Sand casting Similar to RIC, extensive worldwide research is being undertaken by various organizations to improve the existing RC solutions for sand casting. All AM fabricated patterns having strengths to bear the pressure of moulded sand and ability to withstand the chemicals in the sand can be used as sand casting patterns. As far as dimensional accuracy is concerned, it is not a critical issue for rapid prototypes to be used as concept models for visualization purpose. However, for producing AM-fabricated patterns and core boxes for sand casting, any error in these casting tooling will be conveyed to the nal cast components. Wang et al. (1999) mentioned in an investigation that the LOM process introduces a variety of errors into the pattern and core box fabrication process for sand casting and further the part geometry of thin wall may not be suitable for LOM-based rapid tooling. A great need of RC solutions having capability of fabricating ready to pour moulds (pattern less casting) has been raised by the manufacturers worldwide. Presently, EOS 345

DirectCastw, ProMetal RCT and ZCast501 are being used successfully to produce patternless casting by producing direct sand casting moulds and cores directly from a CAD model. The introduction of these systems eliminated the thousand-year-old requirement of physical patterns used to create sand moulds. Using this system highly complex and intricate designed component can be cast very quickly and at low cost, which was earlier impossible for the traditional foundry practice. This feature also motivates foundries to produce spare parts of any product whenever demanded by the customer. These systems also help to make job shop type of production economical and feasible for an industry by producing different designed components with fast production rate. Table VIII presents the technical features and Table IX presents the advantages and disadvantages of these direct sand mould RC solutions. The ProMetals RCT S-max machine with largest build area amongst other available RC solution is a revolutionary invention in the eld of RC to produce large-size component of any geometry of any castable material. The EOS DirectCastw and ProMetal RCT are also capable produce functional metal casting in batches. Available AM materials and machines used to fabricate patterns, moulds and cores for sand casting are being improved. 3D-printed sand used for RC is a latest development in rapid sand casting. A recent study has been performed to investigate the behaviour of 3D-printed sand in contact with molten metal (at elevated temperature) in order to measure the thermal distortions of the chemically bonded sand binder systems used to print cores and moulds (Rebros et al., 2007). Based on applications of various RC solutions, case studies and examples as discussed above, the major benets of RC to foundrymen and challenges amongst the AM manufacturers, researchers and developers of RC solutions are summarized below. 9.5 The benets of RC to foundrymen 1 Cost saving. Cost is saved due to the elimination of traditional casting tooling required to cast prototype or low volume production castings. The cost involved in modifying a poor-designed component and iterations required before nalization of design is also reduced by using RC solutions. Casting tooling does not need to be ordered until the design is nalized and frozen.

Rapid casting solutions: a review

Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Table VIII Technical features of direct sand mould RC solutions


Build envelope (X,Y,Z) (mm) Binder Resin N/A NO Sand Additional supports required? Building material Inltration agent Layer thickness (mm) Build speed 0.15-0.4 0.28-0.5 N/A 0.089-0.203 Prices (base price) $1.4 million $1.3 million $19,900

RC technology Sand 3DP 1,500 750 700 (Drop-on-Bed) 1,800 1,000 700 3DP 203 254 203 (Drop-on-Bed) 254 356 203 NO ZCast 501 Zb56

Machine

Core Company technology

ProMetal RCT technique

RCT S15 RCT S-Max

Ex One

ZCast direct metal casting

Z Corp

346
Sand LS 720 380 380 700 380 380 NO Quartz 4.2/5.7

15,000 cm3/h 59,400108,000 cm3/h 2-4 layers/min 2 layers/min

Z Printer 310plus Spectrum Z510 DirectCast EOSINT S EOSINT S750 EOSINT S700

EOS

N/A

N/A

0.2

2,500 cm3/h

e690,000

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Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

Table IX Advantages and disadvantages of direct sand mould RC solutions


DirectCast with EOSINT S700/750 Advantages Minimum post processing is required Cast any type of material from Al, Mg to high alloy steel Same sand material is used for support structure Enable to build large size castings Patternless Ability to make high quality fully functional castings in small series Enable to generate cost effective prototype castings rapidly Disadvantages Relatively large space is required to install the system Consume high power due to use of lasers to sinter the sand System is dedicated to fabrication of sand moulds and cores only ProMetal RCT S15/SMax No post processing is required Suitable for ferrous and nonferrous castings No support structure is required Larger build area for producing large moulds Patternless System is provided with automatic loading and unloading conveyors Online mixing of sand and hardener Ready to pour moulds ZCast501 with Zprinter501 Ability to cast relatively low volume part with good degree of complexity Geometry independent process Support is provided by the build material itself Suitable in ofce environment just like ofce printer Patternless Z510 printer is fastest 3D colour printer Cost effective castings can be produced in a short time

Large space required to install the system as Suitable only for non-ferrous castings compared to other two processes Suitable for small size prototype castings Costly build material and binders used as compared to other systems

Gating system optimization. The major effort involved in foundry is to optimize gating and runner system design. The use of AM patterns for trial run castings facilitates the optimization of gating system before placing the order of production tooling. Concurrent engineering approach. AM facilitates the implementation of concurrent engineering approach by creating a communication link between designers, pattern makers, foundry men and customer simultaneously. This approach helps to study the problems associated with every stage of casting a product and also to analyze product modication options by using AM models which result in short time to market the product. RC allows the foundry to cast components with complex geometry and intricate cavity which are either too expensive or impossible to cast by conventional casting methods. Process optimization. Before manufacturing the production tooling, the perfect positioning of parting lines, ejecting pins and inserts can be analyzed with prototype casting produced by using RC solution. Optimization of moulding parameter and evaluation of mould and pattern can be conducted effectively. The use of RC solutions is found more economical and feasible in emergency especially if quantities of castings are required before the production tool is ready.

4 5

6 7 8

9 10

that the use of these RC solutions will be benecial in terms of cost and lead time required to produce a unit of nal metal casting. Development of low cost RC materials and AM machines for small scale foundries. Need to familiarize the casters and pattern makers with available RC solutions, processes, parameters and techniques to implement RC in the traditional foundry practices. Development in AM machines to reduce the build time required to produce casting tooling. Fulll the requirement of mass production of metal casting at commercial level. Development of new AM material and machines to produce casting in metals, ceramic and composites directly. Solutions for problems associated with application of non-wax patterns in IC. Enhancement in work volume of AM machines to produce large-size cast components.

10. Future trends in the development of RCT and their application


Rapid casting has gained acceptance worldwide by the manufacturers and is expected to become one of the important applications of additive technology in future. RC solutions discussed in this paper are being improved continuously, and new casting solutions are being developed. It is anticipated that a number of new systems dedicated to provide casting solutions directly (without using any intermediate step) like DSPC, ProMetal RCT and EOSINT S will be on the market in the next few years. An important constraint to incorporate RC in foundry is the high cost of AM machines, building materials and consumables. Foundry industry requires cheaper machines with low-cost building materials and consumables to produce patterns or direct moulds for IC and sand casting. 347

9.6 Challenges amongst AM developers for RC 1 The claim of available RC solutions to produce dimensionally accurate, smooth surface nish and durable casting with shorter time to market needs to be further addressed, veried and improved. 2 Although RC tends to generate complex casting, some RC solutions require additional post-processing steps which increase the cost and lead time required to cast components. 3 From the above discussion, it is obvious that each RC solution possesses its own set of qualities. The real fact is that some RC solutions are in their initial development stages, and there is no clear evidence

Rapid casting solutions: a review Munish Chhabra and Rupinder Singh

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

The worldwide ongoing research in various elds of RC and AM will give momentum to the following developments in RC: . New wax like materials will be invented for IC patterns which will produce patterns with high accuracy, surface nish and without producing ash contents and shell cracking during autoclaving. . Invention of material to produce pattern less moulds for sand casting for ferrous and nonferrous material having high melting temperature. . Invention of material having high strength for production of patterns which can produce large number of moulds for mass production of casting. . New AM machines will be available in the market with large working platform to produce large-size patterns and moulds for casting of large-size components. . With the development of AM machines having features such as fast build speed, high resolution and capability of producing parts with thin layer thickness, the mass production of geometrically complex casting with desired material will be possible. There will be a great change in the attitude of foundry men by adopting RC solutions in their foundries. Although various RC solutions like EOSINT S and ProMetal RCT are available to produce moulds and cores directly using conventional foundry sand, invention of new AM material is possible in future, which will enhance owability of pouring metal and will also help to improve the microstructure of casting. In addition, transparent material will also be invented, so that the proper lling of cavity can be judged on the spot. The possibilities seem limitless. One future application is the development of expert system and intelligent AM systems, a combination of AM, RT, RC and articial intelligence. Several expert systems based on RC will be available in market for the selection of RC solutions, AM systems and suitable materials for the required casting. RC industry will also move toward standardization. All these future developments will be possible only when foundry industry will be willing to be an active partner in the development and use of these RC solutions.

accurate and better surface nish castings of any size, shape and material with more speed and at low cost. In order to strengthen the manufacturing capabilities, especially for developing countries to cope up with the impatient global customer demands, RC solutions and AM machines should be within the nancial reach for small-scale foundries.

Notes
1 Project-Innovative production machines and systems (2006), available at: www.iproms.org/system/les/ iproms_D4.9_APM_updated_State_of_the_Art_8_8_06. pdf 2 Z Corporation ZP14 investment casting processing guide, ZCorporation, available at: www.zcorp.com 3 http://um3d.dc.umich.edu 4 www.3dsystems.com/products/sls/index.asp 5 Italian Formula 1 Race Team Turns to Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing to Create HighPerformance Titanium Parts Made from CastForm PS Patterns PR Newswire 21 July 2000, available at: www. thefreelibrary.com 6 www.crptechnology.com 7 www.crp.eu 8 Racers digs speed of rapid prototyping, MetlFax, December 2000, available at: www.allbusiness.com/ manufacturing/ 9 www.windform.it/sito/en/windform-ps-new-polystyrenebased-material.html 10 Soligen Technologies Inc., www.soligen.com 11 www.mit.edu/, tdp 12 Sand Casting Applications, available at: www.2objet.com 13 www.eos-gmbh.de 14 US patent issued to EOS GmbH for sand-casting application of laser-sintering: DirectCast, 13 October 2000, available at: www.thefreelibrary.com 15 www.exone.com 16 RCT takes layer-by-layer approach to mold, core production, modern casting, 1 February 2005, available at: http://goliath.ecnext.com 17 www.prometal-rct.com 18 Rapid casting technology is critical to worlds most expensive production vehicle, Foundry Management and Technology, 11 October 2007, available at: www. foundrymag.com 19 www.zcorp.com 20 ZCast501 Direct Metal Casting, Design Guide, September 2004, ZCorporation, available at: www. zcorp.com 21 Three dimensional printing: shortcut to the nal product, technology transition: NSF-funded research to market, 6 May 2002, available at: www.nsf.gov

11. Conclusion
Based on the survey presented in this paper regarding RC solutions, a conclusion can be drawn that the RC which has evolved from AM, extends from its infant stage and is ready to play a mature role in achieving the goal to produce fully functional AM products in the required material. The main aim of this review is to present the various commercialized RC solutions in investment and sand casting technologies. One of the most important contributions of RC in manufacturing industry is the facilitation of concurrent engineering approach in design, development and production of any type of casting. The RC solutions reviewed in this paper for both IC and sand casting will serve the purpose of researchers, academicians, users, manufacturers and service industries to explore the new options and further development in the eld of RC. The various approaches and techniques explained of using AM in investment and sand casting processes may serve the purpose of foundrymen in different working conditions. The paper ends with a hope that in future, RC solutions will emerge with the capability to provide dimensionally more 348

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Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 17 Number 5 2011 328 350

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Further reading
Greul, M., Pintat, T. and Greulich, M. (1995), Rapid prototyping of functional metallic parts, Computers in Industry, Vol. 28, pp. 23-8. Shan, Z., Yan, Y., Zhang, R., Lu, Q. and Guan, L. (2003), Rapid manufacture of metal tooling by rapid prototyping, International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Vol. 21, pp. 469-75. Wohlers, T.T. (1991), Rapid prototyping: an update on RP applications, technology improvements, and developments in the industry, available at: www.wohlersassociates.com

Corresponding author
Munish Chhabra can be contacted at: munishchhabra2000@ yahoo.com

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