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The Pros and Cons of Vacuum Casting Manufacturing

by Tyron Denson

Recent technology developments have introduced various new manufacturing methods and improvements within the established one. The biggest impact was felt in the 3D printing industry that has exponentially grown in the several previous years.

At the same time, the vacuum manufacturing industry didn’t draw as much attention as the 3D printing industry, yet its popularity among manufacturers, makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, has never been greater.

It is fair to say that vacuum manufacturing is the preferred method for making parts that can potentially have an issue with air entrapment. 

But, at the same time, vacuum casting, the same as the other types of manufacturing, isn’t perfect and has its limitations. 

To give you a better picture of the process, we will reveal the pros and cons of vacuum casting manufacturing.

Pros of vacuum casting

1. Low costs & limited orders

Many startups can’t afford to make large orders. Vacuum casting is quite flexible in this regard as it is possible to make smaller orders at a good rate. The best part of all is that the quality of each part will be excellent. 

2. Quick overturns

Thanks to the working cycles of the vacuum casting machines there is a fast turnaround. Within a week, or sometimes even days, you can have a ready batch of products. 

3. Produce large parts

Nowadays, vacuum machines are designed so that they can pop-out much larger parts than in the past. 

4. Repeatability

When sales go up, production needs to follow. Thanks to vacuum casting, it is easy to make repeated orders and follow the demand on the market.

Cons of vacuum casting

1. An issue with intricate details

Vacuum casting can bring to life many complex products with many details. However, intricate details that require additional tooling like pressure forming present an issue for this type of manufacturing.

2. Molds and tooling parts need to be regularly maintained

This is something that is related to the company that provides the vacuum casting, and not the process per se. Thing is the mold used for the task need to be regularly cleaned. If not, there will be traces of mark-offs on the produced parts. 

Regularly cleaning the molds will take some of the production time and will require extra labor. All that will be eventually added to the final price of the product.

3. Hollowness is a potential issue

This is one of the most complex issues that can appear which at the same time isn’t related to measuring. Even the science and engineering dealing with this issue is still in its early days. 

In this regard, when it comes to producing hollow parts, it all comes to the experience of the crew that works the machine and controls the process. The challenge here is to set the right thickness of the walls.

In conclusion

Is it vacuum casting great? Yes, it is. Is it suitable for all types of plastic parts? No, it isn’t. It is fair to say that you need an expert that needs to weigh in on everything and make the final call on whether you need to use vacuum casting or some other manufacturing method. 

Thing is, the pros and cons here can give you a sense of vacuum casting, but only someone that is intimately familiar with the process and experience in this field should give the final yes or no. Very often, the determining factor is a small detail that can make all the difference in the world.

That is why we recommend consulting with a vacuum casting expert before making a decision.

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