Precision Investment Casting, also referred to as lost wax casting, is a process in which metals are casted into different shapes using wax and ceramics to act as the mould for the casting. This is one of the oldest known techniques for metal casting and has stood the test of time over centuries.
It finds usage in various industries like firearms industry, energy industry, gas and oil and even food industry. While many debate upon the strength and durability of this form of casting, doubting mainly that this method might provide weaker metal shapes as compared to forging or metal fabrication, these doubts have been laid to rest since aerospace, defence and medical fields have trusted equipment that are made from Precision Investment Casting.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR PRECISION INVESTMENT CASTING?
As mentioned earlier, the process for Precision Investment Casting requires wax and ceramics to be the mould for the main metal. This is done in a very simple yet precise way (hence the name) and the steps are:
? Pattern Formation –Manufacturing of the wax pattern is the very first step involved in investment casting. Here it should be mentioned that wax is preferred over plastic, because wax melts easily and can be reused for another casting which is again a beneficial point from costing aspect. Special aluminium moulds are made to cast the pattern and this requires some trial and error, because factors like shrinking of the wax, the ceramic or even the metal should be incorporated.
The hard facts on marine hardware and components
While it may seem like a proportionally small detail for an overall marine fabrication project, finding the best hardware can significantly prolong the lifespan of an end product and tailor it to a specific customer’s needs. The technology for marine hardware is always changing, and it can be hard to keep up with the new products in the gap between trade shows. We caught up with a few of the nation’s most successful manufacturers and distributors to find out what’s hot this summer, and what fabricators can do to stay in the loop on the latest hardware products available.
The development cycle
Manufacturers insist that input from marine fabricators, regardless of the size of the shop they run, is key to developing new and more technologically advanced hardware. However, the process for developing a new item can take upwards of three years.
Because of the lengthy testing period, some of the marine hardware just entering the market now are products that have been around for a year or more—but manufacturers say that should help fabricators feel confident that these “hot” new products are road-tested and trade-show approved.
Alan Butcher of Intermold says his company is seeing rising popularity in two of its more versatile products: a new Lever Lock Joiner that securely fastens the telescoping support poles of an awning without having to use screws, and a universal deck hinge that can adapt to a wide variety of boat decks.
“There’s a whole bunch of deck hinge combinations out there, which is one reason we made the universal deck hinge,” Butcher says. “It swivels, and it fits a lot of different deck combinations, so the customer doesn’t have to have the exact angle. In the past they’ve had to slip wedges under them to change the angle of a hinge, because every deck has a little bit different camber to it. So we added a universal hinge that will adjust to whatever deck you put it on, and many customers have found that to be to their advantage.”
Tom Koster also emphasizes the importance of being able to offer versatile hardware. He says that one of his most popular new products is a ball and socket fitting, which can help a fabricator to fit a frame around the curved edges and adapt to new kinds of boats.
“Boats used to be more or less a lot of right angles, or straight angles, but now boats are manufactured with compound curves,” Koster says. “So when you put a frame down, it isn’t a straight line, because the boat itself is curved, the fittings have to be flexible, and allow movement within the hinge itself.”
The newest product we found has only been in development for 18 months, and is just being placed on the market for the first time: YKK’s new adhesive snap fastener, called the Snad. Rod Helwig of YKK says that the Snad was developed as a response to fabricators’ concerns about traditional snap applications.
The Stainless Steel Handrail Bracket Round for round or flat handrail. Sleek in design, easy to install and is safe and sturdy upon completion. It benefits from our new interchangeable mounting mechanism which makes it easy to mount to various surfaces such as Wood/Sheet Rock, Steel or Glass.
Suitable for flat or round top rail (adapter included)
Satin/Brushed Finish Stainless Steel AISI 316 Marine Grade for outdoor and indoor areas
Suitable for round handrail of 1 1/2" to 1 3/4" diameter
Suitable for wood or steel handrail
Mountable into wood stud, steel stud, or concrete