Additive approach to castings

09 Feb 2021

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

A new digital manufacturing centre will offer customers access to a new process that applies additive manufacturing techniques to sand and investment casting processes.

The Silverstone-based Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC), which will launch commercially in March, is working with Enable Manufacturing, a UK-based start-up behind a process it calls Additive Casting.

Additive Casting will be available to DMC customers from March onwards. Depending on specific part requirements, design and material selection, the DMC and Enable Manufacturing will be able to adapt customer models to suit one of three possible Additive Casting processes – sand casting for parts up to 60 tonnes, investment casting for fine detail parts (250 by 250 by 250mm) and investment casting for ultra-fine detail components (190 by 160 by 160mm).

Enable Manufacturing’s Additive Investment Casting is suitable for thin-walled and highly detailed components. It uses a polymer 3D printed tooling part coated in a sacrificial ceramic shell to form the mould. Additive Sand Casting, on the other hand, is better suited to large parts and the mould is built by printing a binding agent onto a bed of sand. Once cast and cooled, parts from both processes are shot blasted to improve their surface finish prior to optional post-processing and final inspection.

Kieron Salter, Chief Executive Officer at the DMC, commented: “Our mission is to provide engineering-led manufacturing solutions for the most demanding applications from aerospace to industrial. This means that we seek out the best manufacturing processes and technologies and apply them to solve the challenges that our customers face. Enable Manufacturing’s Additive Casting process offers perfect synergies to the DMC’s additive, net shape and subtractive capabilities, giving us a diverse array of production options to suit exacting customer requirements.”

“Over the coming months, we will be working closely with the Enable team to seamlessly integrate Additive Casting into our existing digitalised processes. This collaboration is another exciting demonstration that the DMC and its partners are leading UK manufacturing into and beyond the fourth industrial revolution.”

Phil Kilburn of Enable Manufacturing added: “Casting is often seen as a traditional manufacturing method that cannot meet the high-specification requirements of leading-edge industries. In developing Additive Casting, our team has completely revolutionised the process, allowing for far more complex parts, much shorter lead times and eliminated the need for expensive tooling. We are excited to work alongside the DMC to bring this technology to the global manufacturing marketplace.”

Headquartered at Silverstone Park, the DMC aims to realise the disruptive potential of additive and connected manufacturing. It offers both serial production parts and technology solutions and was set up by KW Special Projects with significant investment from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).