Design to cost
Once you have chosen an investment casting process for your project, your next business objective is maximising your return on investment by engineering your component to take advantage of the process. In other words, to lower manufacturing costs, engineers should approach each project with the aim of designing their component for optimal manufacturability.
You’re in luck! Design for manufacturability (DFM) is a CIREX core methodology. DFM ensures that investment cast parts perform to specification while reducing cycle times and the need for secondary operations. These are costly and time-consuming operations, and the best time to minimise them is during the design stage.
DFM is more than just a concept. It’s a way to reduce costs and eliminate inefficiencies before your project moves towards production. In this blog, we’ll explain three ways to design your investment cast component for additional cost savings.
1. Strategic gating
In the investment casting process, gating is a vital feature that engineers must factor into their design. You should consider the gate location when designing your component to reduce costs.
The gate location must be seamlessly integrated into the design so that it doesn’t disrupt part performance. To minimise porosity and reduce costs, you should consider where you will gate the part early on in the design process. The gate location should be incorporated on geometry adjacent to the thickest part of the casting to minimise porosity. Ideally, it should be on a surface that doesn’t have stringent tolerance requirements for functionality. Avoid isolated heavy sections if possible, as these may require additional gating, which negatively impacts cost.
2. Incorporating design and cosmetic features
If other manufacturing processes are used, then complicated design features like lettering, date codes, internal threads, splines and other unusual shapes require costly secondary operations. Investment casting, on the other hand, can incorporate these features directly into the casting, no matter how complex. Although this may slightly increase the cost of tooling, you won’t have to pay for additional secondary operations for each part. This ensures a considerable drop in piece part price. Also, since our wax is non-abrasive, the tooling will not wear down over time. Incorporating these complicated designs and cosmetic features into your investment cast geometry eliminates secondary operation costs down the line.
3. Take advantage of value engineering for savings and performance
Getting your supplier involved early in the process is the most important part of designing your component. Then overall costs can be reduced, and any potentially costly features in your part design identified, whether these could be detrimental to your bottom line or part performance.
For example, we often have customers who come to us with a project for several different parts that will be assembled in the final product. With CIREX’s value engineering, we can consolidate these parts in one single casting without any secondary assembly. By doing this, our engineers help you to optimise the component so that you gain maximum benefit from the capabilities of investment casting, while also securing a decrease in piece part price with the elimination of secondary assembly operations.
Experience is the best teacher when it comes to optimising your part for performance to avoid costly redesigns. At CIREX, our engineers have gained considerable experience over the years. They know how to engineer features that ensure dimensional stability, and which features put castings at risk of failing. For example, if you involve our design team at an early stage, then we can incorporate features like ribs and cores to provide strength and optimal solidification without sacrificing performance.