Vacuum casting also is known as urethane casting and is used ideally for prototyping and for low volume production of industrial parts. This process is versatile but is often overlooked. Most of its application is more on plastic products preview using plastic materials like ABS, PC PMMA, and PA, which are very suitable for product design engineers to make customized prototypes.
What is vacuum casting?
Vacuum casting services is actually a copying technique used in the production for small groups of functional parts using plastic materials. It is a reliable and flexible casting process, which is used to generate industrial parts and prototypes. The entire process needs a master model of the highest quality both in looks and in dimensions to prevent any flaw from transferring to the prototype or industrial parts that will come out at the end of the process. Generally, the model itself can be the finished part itself or creation of stereo lithography for prototyping applications.
Steps Involved in Vacuum Casting
In vacuum casting, the master model is encased in silicone rubber divided into two parts at a very high temperature. When it is cured, the mold is opened. It leaves a hollow center that perfectly matches the master model on its dimensions. This mold is now placed in a vacuum chamber while the hollow center can be filled with the chosen material.
If vacuum casting services are used in prototyping, the material that is commonly used in filling the mold is polyurethane resin, which is used to copy the features of the industrial material including polycarbonate, high-density polyethylene, and nylon, which are glass filled. Typically, the resin is combined with metallic powder or coloring pigment to have aesthetic and functional properties.
Once the mold is stuffed with resin, it is sealed inside the vacuum chamber so that air bubbles will be prevented and might ruin the final product. As a final addition, the final product is then cured in an oven and then the silicon mold is detached carefully. This silicon mold will then be reused for more copies of the master model. At this point, more finishing touches on the final product are employed like painting and decorations.
Benefits of Vacuum Casting Services
Depending on what you require for its application whether in prototypes or generating parts, vacuum casting services can provide many benefits. In terms of its use for visual purposes, vacuum casting can give a high level of reproduction precision and various finishing options. Vacuum casting also allows the coloring pigments to be added in the resin component while inside the vacuum chamber allows for the exact replication of your company’s color. The metallic powders that can be combined with the resin can also give a wide spectrum of finished for your part or prototype. These additional materials can be gold, aluminum, marble or bronze. This addition will result in a more highly valued finished product that for example, applying gold on the surface.
Resins can also be chosen to incorporate in the prototype like fire retardation, electrical resistance or shock resistance. The product turnaround is also faster, and it can create unusual shapes or thinner wall thickness, which other processes cannot do.
Vacuum casting services can be a good alternative if you are in need of prototypes and low production of parts for either development, market testing or engineering. It is also a very flexible process that delivers excellent results; you just have to understand its limitations.