Steel Investment Casting & the Modernization of the Lost Wax Process

Sinotech    March 25, 2013

Geek Field Trip - MSU ArcheologySteel investment casting, also called lost-wax casting, uses techniques that date back over five millennia to make complicated metal objects like turbine blades, firearms, golf club heads and implants for hip replacements.

Ancient Civilizations

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that ancient civilizations used investment casting to make jewelry, idols and ornaments using beeswax, clay and manually operated bellows. Such cultures – like those in the Egyptian, Aztec, Mayan, Harappan, Mesopotamian and Benin civilizations – often used gold, bronze and copper.

In 1100 A.D., Theophilus Presbyter, a monk, created written accounts of the investment casting process he used. Italian artist Benevenuto Vellini used Presbyter’s records and wrote down the methods he used to cast the famous “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” sculpture in the 16th century.

19th and 20th Century

It wasn’t until the 19th century that investment casting manufacturers applied their trade to modern industrial processes. However, steel investment casting didn’t pick up speed until World War II, as the demand for quick, precision net-shape manufacturing for jet propulsion and civilian aircraft grew.

After the war, the popularity of steel investment casting grew among industries that required the manufacturing of complex metal parts. Today, investment casting manufacturers play a leading role in the foundry industry.

Casting Materials

Investment casting manufactures use a wide range of materials, like copper, brass, titanium and aluminum. The use of steel, however, has increased dramatically over the years and accounts for up to 35 percent of the investment casting products made. The aerospace industry was one of the first to take advantage of investment casting, but other industries soon followed. Today, investment casting manufacturers use steel to create products for the food, transportation, petrochemical, textile, nuclear, medical, armament and engineering industries.

To learn more about the steel investment casting process and to order your own specialty parts, contact Sinotech.

[Photo by: betsyweber, via CC License]
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