Several different techniques can be used for prototyping, such as 3D printing and machining. CIREX often uses 3D printing in prototyping to produce a 3D model from a 3D design. This 3D model is a replacement for the wax model, which is usually made using a wax injection mold.
The 3D model created in prototyping passes through the usual molding process at CIREX. When using a plastic 3D model, besides melting the wax, which takes place in the standard process, the plastic also needs to be burnt out. The prototypes are cast under batch production conditions, which ensures that the mechanical properties of the prototype are representative for later batch production.
Overview of the process
The prototyping process is performed during a batch process in which another product is cast, as shown in the figure above. The figure shows a schematic overview of the 10 steps in the standard process at CIREX (green line and numbered orange circles).
START OF THE PROCESS
As with serial production, the prototyping process starts with the client requirements. The CIREX engineers then create a design that meets these requirements and is suitable for production. The 3D model is produced using one of the available prototyping techniques.
DURING THE PROCESS
Next, the product is added to the sprue of a regular batch (blue 3). A ceramic mold is produced around the product, after which the wax is burnt out from this mold. As the prototyping models are made of plastic, the required temperature is higher than during the regular process (blue 5.5). This ensures that the plastic is burnt out of the ceramic mold. From this point on, the process proceeds identically to the standard process. This means that the steel is poured into the ceramic mold (6), the steel cools (7), and finally, the ceramic mold is removed from the product.
FINALIZATION OF THE PROCESS
The product can now be cut from the sprue (8), and all products are checked (9). The check is vital for the prototyping process, as this step shows whether any additional adjustments are required and whether the product is suitable for batch production. After inspection, the prototyping products are shipped to the client (10).
Read more about the standard casting process used at CIREX here: