What is the difference between sand casting and investment casting?


Sand casting and investment casting are both widely used casting processes for manufacturing metal parts, but they differ in several key aspects:

Process Overview:

Sand Casting: Sand casting, also known as sand molded casting, involves creating a mold made of sand into which molten metal is poured. The sand mold is typically formed by compacting sand around a pattern (the shape of the final part) inside a flask. Once the mold is prepared, molten metal is poured into the cavity created by the pattern. After the metal has solidified, the sand mold is broken away to reveal the casting.

Investment Casting: Investment casting, also known as lost-wax casting, is a process that involves creating a wax or plastic pattern, coating it with a ceramic material (investment), and then melting out the wax or plastic to leave behind a hollow ceramic mold. Molten metal is poured into the ceramic mold, which is then broken away after solidification to reveal the casting.

Pattern and Mold Preparation:

Sand Casting: Sand molds are formed around patterns made of wood, metal, or other materials. The sand is packed around the pattern, and the mold cavity is created by removing the pattern from the sand mold. Sand casting allows for relatively simple pattern fabrication and is suitable for larger, less intricate parts.

Investment Casting: Investment casting patterns are typically made of wax or plastic and are produced using injection molding or other techniques. The patterns are then assembled onto a sprue to create a cluster, which is coated with multiple layers of ceramic slurry to form the mold. Investment casting is well-suited for producing highly detailed and complex parts with fine surface finishes.

Surface Finish and Tolerance:

Sand Casting: Sand casting typically produces rougher surface finishes compared to investment casting. The sand mold may impart a textured surface to the casting, and additional finishing operations may be required to achieve the desired surface quality. Sand casting can achieve looser tolerances compared to investment casting.

Investment Casting: Investment casting can produce parts with excellent surface finishes and intricate details directly from the mold. The ceramic mold can capture fine features of the pattern, resulting in smooth surfaces and precise dimensions. Investment casting can achieve tighter tolerances compared to sand casting.


Sand Casting: Sand casting is commonly used for producing larger, bulkier parts, such as engine blocks, cylinder heads, and large machinery components. It is also suitable for low to medium production volumes and prototypes.

Investment Casting: Investment casting is preferred for producing smaller, more intricate parts, such as jewelry, dental appliances, aerospace components, and medical implants. It is well-suited for high-precision applications and can accommodate a wide range of metals and alloys.

In summary, sand casting and investment casting are both valuable casting processes with their own advantages and limitations. Sand casting is favored for its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and suitability for larger parts, while investment casting excels in producing highly detailed and complex parts with superior surface finishes and dimensional accuracy. The choice between the two processes depends on factors such as part size, complexity, required tolerances, and production volume.

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