ADVANCE uses plaster casting to fabricate high-quality prototypes equivalent to die cast standard, suitable for small-lot production runs with fast turnaround.
Casting (also known as founding) is a traditional technique that has been in use since ancient times. Die-casting is a form of casting that is quick, suitable for mass production, and provides superior dimensional accuracy. It is used extensively for making auto parts and digital devices, typically with materials such as zinc, aluminum and magnesium. While die-casting is more suited to mass production, plaster casting provides an alternative with equivalent levels of precision for smaller prototype production runs.
ADVANCE also offers low-pressure casting, which provides a higher level of dimensional accuracy.
Plaster casting is equivalent to die-casting for prototypes
Plaster is used to fabricate a mold for casting. There is no metal mold involved. This provides the same level of precision as die-casting and is suitable for thin shapes, yet is quicker and cheaper than die-casting. Sand used for casting produces a rough surface. Plaster, however, produces a smooth casting surface finish equivalent to die-casting.
At ADVANCE, we use our expertise in low-pressure casting techniques to produce high-quality castings.
ADVANCE can fabricate prototypes from challenging materials
The aluminum die cast material AC7A is tough and durable as well as resistant to corrosion and anodic oxidation, but is also difficult to cast and cut. However we are able to make AC7A plaster cast prototypes that exhibit excellent performance characteristics. We use die cast materials such as AC4B, AC4CH and ADC12 as well as the aluminum alloy HT-1 for die-casting which offers high thermal conductivity. We can also produce castings from the exciting new Silafont 36 material.
The reason why plaster cast prototypes from ADVANCE are faster and lower cost with high precision
ADVANCE plaster castings are linked to various in-house resources. Initial master production is provided in the laser beam lithography, 3-D printing or cutting departments. To make silicon molds, we link with the vacuum injection department that uses the same manufacturing process in terms of technology and materials.
Plaster casting can be used to replicate the precise structural details of the master in reverse. Highly trained operators in the plaster casting department remove the casting from the plaster and finish it off by hand with great attention to detail. In secondary processing, we finish product using the latest machinery and high precision cutting technology.
The finished prototypes are equivalent to die cast products. However using plaster molds within the integrated in-house production setup makes it much quicker and easier than metal molds, and this translates into quicker delivery times and lower costs to the client. Depending on the shape, the completed prototype can be produced in as little as 10 days.
* Maximum work size 450 x 450 x 150 mm
* Dimensional tolerance (error):
AC2A, AC4B and AC4CH pieces up to 50 mm: ±0.1 mm
ADC12, HT-1 and AC7A pieces 50 to 100 mm: ±0.2 mm
Zn pieces 100 to 200 mm: ±0.3 mm, 200 to 300 mm: ±0.5 mm
Plaster casting process
1Make prototype master
Using Laser beam lithography, 3-D printing, cutting, etc.
2Make reverse silicon mold
Make master from silicon mold
Then reverse that mold again to make a silicon mold. This reverse silicon mold can be reused to make the required number of plaster molds in a small-lot production run.
3Make plaster molds
Pour in plaster and submerge silicon mold in center, then allow to cure.
Carefully remove plaster mold.
Pour molten aluminum alloy (or equivalent material) into plaster mold.
Carefully take off plaster mold and remove prototype casting.
Finish by hand
Finished product after passing the final inspection. (Additional machining and surface treatment may be performed before the inspection if the client requires.)