Additively Manufactured Single-Use Molds and Reusable Patterns for Large Automotive and Hydroelectric Components
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Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to reduce costs in the casting industry, particularly for large parts (i.e., components with any dimension > 12 in.). Here, pilot-scale production case studies of hydroelectric and automotive parts were used to evaluate two AM-enabled casting methods: the direct printing of sand molds by binder jet and printing of reusable cope and drag patterns for sand casting. An additional benefit was found when additively manufactured patterns were used in combination with heat-treat free aluminum alloys, to produce castings of complex hydrodynamic surfaces. These parts previously required production via subtractive machining due to part distortion induced by the quench step of heat treatments. The machine types used for the three case studies are sand-binder jet, high-resolution polymer fused deposition modeling (FDM), and big area additive manufacturing (BAAM) FDM in combination with CNC machining. Each method demonstrated distinct advantages over traditional casting practices in particular use cases. Single-use molds show great reductions in start-up cost to produce one-off or legacy parts, and additively manufactured impression patterns show promise for innovating the tooling design process for complex geometry and large castings.
Keywordscasting additive manufacturing pattern tooling
This research was sponsored by the Critical Materials Institute, an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office, and Eck Industries. This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes. The Department of Energy will provide public access to these results of federally sponsored research in accordance with the DOE Public Access Plan (http://energy.gov/downloads/doe-public-access-plan).
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