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Fast, Inexpensive Method and Materials for Ceramic Shell Casting

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (University of Wisconsin)
posted on 04/25/2008

Investment casting is commonly used to produce high quality metal objects possessing extremely fine detail. Investment casting typically involves creating a thin-walled ceramic shell, or mold, around a pattern of a part; melting or otherwise removing the pattern once the ceramic shell has hardened; filling the ceramic shell with molten metal and letting the metal solidify; and finally conditioning the metal part to finish it. In this casting process, the step of making the ceramic casting shell is particularly time-consuming. Creation of the shell involves dipping the part’s pattern into a slurry of liquid refractory material, and then, while the coat is still wet, sieving dry refractory grains (e.g., silica) onto the pattern. After the coat air-dries, dipping and sieving are repeated as many as seven times to produce the desired, thin-walled shell. This invention provides a novel colloidal refractory material and method for investment casting that can create a casting shell in as little as one coat. In addition, this process produces a casting shell that retains more heat and hardens faster than traditional investment casting shells.


  • Produces a casting shell in as little as one coat, dramatically reducing the equipment needed for process automation
  • Reduces four-fold the time needed to make a casting shell (from 24 to six hours), saving significant labor and expense
  • Eliminates the need to apply dry refractory grains, which can pose a health hazard
  • Shell’s improved ability to retain heat allows pouring of molten metal at lower temperature, providing dramatic energy savings
  • Requires less material than conventional methods, and material is 100 percent reusable
  • Provides a stable slurry that requires no mixing, unlike conventional slurries
  • Slurry can be applied in many ways, including brushing, spraying, dipping, pouring and packing
  • Can be used for all types of metal casting, as well as casting of other materials
  • Fully compatible with current robotic application technologies

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