Vacuum casting is a great technique used when designing and producing prototypes. Vacuum casting can also supplement processes like 3D printing and CNC machining or it can be used as a separate process. Vacuum casting has many applications in prototyping.
3DPrintings.com.au offers the best 3D printing services and vacuum casting services in Australia and we offer many other services that you can adopt for your company to streamline your production processes and lessen the financial cost and production processes while enhancing the quality of the final product.
Now, let’s see how this process can help in producing prototypes.
What is Vacuum Casting?
First of all, let’s understand how vacuum casting works in the first place. There are several simple steps
An initial high-quality master model is produced using processes such as stereolithography (SLA) or selective laser sintering (SLS). Then the finalised master model is cast in a vat of liquid silicone. Once the silicone mould is cured, it’s injected with a choice polymer-based resin and then left to cure again. All this is done in a vacuum to ensure no air bubbles are formed, or if they are, they’re sucked out by the vacuum quickly. Once cured, the resin mould is now ready to replicate that particular part with high accuracy.
So, why should vacuum casting be considered in the first place?
The first and foremost reason is quality. These silicone resin moulds are capable of capturing and recreating every detail of the master model and then replicating the part to production-level quality. When supplemented with 3D printing or CNC master models, vacuum casting is able to produce virtually indistinguishable parts.
Vacuum casting brings a level of versatility to it with the wide range of material choices that you can use. While the mould itself is the main choice, the final casting polymer can be from a broad range. Plastics, Elastomers, transparent materials and more. There are also castable and curable high-quality resins that are similar to thermoplastics like Polyurethanes that can be used for the final cast.
The degree of accuracy with which the final product is produced creates parts and prototypes that are either indistinguishable from the final product or are highly similar, this can allow engineers and researchers to test this product as if it was the real thing. Quality assurance can then be done to a high accuracy allowing for the final results of the testing phase to be efficient and with an incredibly low margin for error.
Thus, the rapidity and efficiency of the vacuum casting process allow for quicker and easier production of materials and to capture their aesthetic qualities as sharply as possible.
As mentioned in the last paragraph, vacuum casting can be efficient that is because conventional moulding processes are more complicated due to them requiring tooling. This can be fine for mass production. But for prototyping, the process of silicone moulding while being supplemented by high-quality master models made through CNC or 3D printing can drastically reduce the time it takes to produce a prototype.
And the quicker a prototype is produced, the faster it is analysed and tested, the faster it can be approved and sent to mass production, and deadlines are even reached quicker. This makes vacuum casting a much more time-efficient option than conventional prototype-producing processes.
The cost of producing prototypes this way is even lower due to the fact that the materials used in vacuum casting such as resin and polymers are relatively cheaper than the conventional tooling that is made of metal. The silicone moulds are lower costing than steel or aluminium moulding and the labour load is also less complex, reducing labour costs.
Therefore, vacuum casting as a whole is far more beneficial than traditional prototype-production processes. It is far more convenient, time-saving and cost-reducing. And it does all this while maintaining, and in some cases, enhancing the quality of the prototypes. More and more companies are therefore adopting the vacuum casting process in their prototype production.
And if you are a business looking into the advantages and the qualities that vacuum casting offers over conventional methods, then hopefully this blog was enlightening. If you are looking to adopt this vacuum casting technology for your own prototype production, then 3DPrintings.com.au is the right place to be. We offer this and other processes such as 3D printing services, CNC machining, SLS and SLA printing and much more.