3D Systems has released the ProJet MJP 2500 IC, a wax 3D printer for investment casting (IC).
An ideal choice for customized metal parts, and low volume production, the system takes only a fraction of time and cost to produce 100% wax patterns, compared to traditional methods.
Mike Stanicek, Vice President of Product Management at 3D Systems, said, “the ProJet MJP 2500 IC not only eliminates the need for injection-molded tools, it could potentially increase the casted part functionality while reducing part weight, both critical factors for improving part efficiency.”
3D Systems will display the system at the Investment Casting Institute Technical Conference and Exposition, Kansas City (23-24 October).
3D printing wax castings
Investment casting, also known as “lost wax process” is a lengthy procedure.
Firstly, a wax prototype is made, which is then dipped into a liquid ceramic, repeatedly, until the wax is completely layered with ceramic. Once the ceramic hardens, the wax is melted leaving behind only the ceramic mold.
Molten metal is poured into the ceramic mold and the metal is cooled. When the metal has taken shape within the mold, the mold is broken with the use of vibrations to reveal the finished metal part.
Currently, the industry average for this whole process is 8-16 weeks.
The ProJet system has reduced the time it takes to build wax molds. Designing and fabricating a mold can be achieved within weeks, using 3D systems proprietary VisiJet M2 ICast wax, a paraffin-based wax mixed with resin.
The design process itself only takes few hours or days. A major benefit of using 3D printing for wax patterning is that designers can try multiple designs, without spending too much time or money.
Furthermore, 3D printed molds designs are stored on a web-based server. Whereas traditional molds need to be stored along with the tools, and a foundry incurs additional storage costs.
The edge in manufacturing
Solidscape, a subsidiary of Stratasys, is another manufacturer of wax 3D printers. This company recently released the Solidsape S390, for producing jewelry castings.
Using 3D printing in a traditional setting UK-based William Cook Holdings acquired a Voxeljet VX1000 3D printer that uses PMMA material as an alternative to wax for metal investment castings.
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Featured image shows wax castings 3D printed with ProJet MJP 2500 IC. Image via 3D Systems.