Rapid prototyping is an essential step in the research and development process. But often, manufacturers run into snags finding a fast and economical way to run 20 or 30 prototypes of their parts to test in the field, especially if their parts feature complex geometries.

When machining and dye casting are too expensive or take too long to deliver prototype parts, it is time to consider investment casting with Waltek. Our engineers will work with you to take your project from design concept to testable prototype in two weeks or less. Here is a look at the advantages investment castings has over other techniques for rapid prototyping.

Test Fit, Form, and Function of Initial Part Designs

Investment casting is an ideal choice for testing fit, form, and function in the research and development phase of part design. At Waltek, our expert design team uses your part design to create a 3-D printed pattern of the entire part. Then, we cast that pattern for you 20 or 30 times so you can rigorously test it in the field.

Once your field testing is complete, you will know if your design and metal choices are sufficient or if you need to make adjustments. If changes are required, investment casting makes it easy and efficient to create the updated parts or recast the parts in a different metal or alloy for additional testing. At Waltek, we can repeat this rapid prototyping process until your part is perfect, then cast a larger batch of the final parts.  

Run Prototypes of Complex Geometries

Another benefit of rapid prototyping with investment castings is the ability to create parts with complex geometries without machining or welding. Part geometry often places restraints on which fabrication method can be used. For example, the curved internal passage of a turbo housing is very difficult or impossible to machine, and propellers are inefficient to sand cast.

However, both of these parts are easily created with investment casting. Undercuts, flow channels, spirals, parts with soluble cores, and other complex designs are easily accommodated by the investment casting shell build process. Plus, investment casting eliminates the need to weld pieces of a part together, improving its structural integrity and tolerances.

The Investment Castings Sweet Spot

Machining is time-consuming, expensive, and generates a lot of waste. That is why many companies choose it to run a single complex part. On the other hand, dye casting requires substantial quantity to be profitable, which makes it an expensive choice for rapid prototyping.

Investment casting is the ideal choice for low-volume rapid prototyping and mid-volume runs of approximately 1,500 parts per year. Waltek can turn around prototype parts in two week or less, with minimal waste and low volume requirements. If you need just 25 to 100 prototype parts to test in the field, investment casting is your best option. Get in touch with our engineering and design team to talk through your project. Contact Waltek today