The future of metal casting: giving physical form to digital designs

Today was the day I gave physical existence to a purely digital entity.

My Casting Design and Simulation class has been dealing with the gating (channels for metal delivery) design for this part for a few weeks now:

Those thin features on the side are 1/16″ thick.

The students collectively created a design:

CAD view Part Design

And we turned it into a mold:

CAD view half mold
Only half shown here, but you get the picture.

I created a simulation of the fluid flow and metal solidification behavior of this digital design:

Using these simulations, we also predicted where porosity defects were likely to occur:

One spot at the top, and one spot in the dead center.

Alongside these models, we got the mold design 3D printed, allowing us to exactly replicate our digital design. Up to this point, everything existed solely on a computer. Here was the first physical manifestation of our process.

Down there in the shadows are some very, very thin features that we were convinced would never work. They’d either get burned through or just snapped off entirely.


The mold halves were put together, to prepare for pouring.

After we poured iron into the mold and gave it a little bit of time to solidify, we opened the mold to see our results:

Yeah, probably still a little hot.

The sand and metal were still so hot that we could actively see the binder burning out and the sand dropping off as it lost all strength:

The slots came out!

Here’s the money shot–a large porosity holeĀ exactly where the simulation predicted:

So not only have we now confirmed the accuracy and validity of the simulation, we have given exact physical form to an object that had only before existed in a digital space. This is the future.



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