How to Estimate Your Investment Casting Cost?

Investment casting is one of the most used methods for casting components in the automotive, industrial industries, and railway. Since different factors affect the investment casting cost, the best method to estimate casting cost is to outline all factors that will impact your total cost. If you want to get a specific investment casting cost estimation of your project, you can send your inquiry to us.

The impact of these various factors on each project will be different. Having better knowledge about the production process of foundries is essential for you to estimate the cost of investment casting parts. So let’s take a look below at the factors that can serve as your total investment casting cost calculator.

 

Cost of the Main Materials – Metals

The cost of the main materials, particularly metals, is often the primary expense in the production of investment casting parts. Considering the casting process, the weight of the metal material used is always larger than the final size of the product. Thus, the design of casting pouring is essential as material wastage during casting and subsequent finishing stages can further escalate the overall casting cost. 

The design engineers help decide the selection of metal according to the end-use case of the casting. The investment casting cost per kg is driven by the price of metals such as stainless steel, iron, aluminum, and specialty alloys. These materials are chosen for their specific properties to meet exacting standards required in various industries. However, their market prices are subject to fluctuations due to factors like demand-supply balance, global economic conditions, and resource availability.

Some metals are more expensive than others metals. As an example, Titanium is more expensive than Aluminium. Working with a casting foundry consultant to create an effective plan for projects will be crucial in the investment casting cost calculation. 

Take Steel as an Example

The steel cost will be different based on the region, demand, supply, time of the year, and industrial trend. Carbon steel casting usually costs less than stainless steel casting, while the cost of alloy steel will differ according to the metal type. In China, the upstream supply chain of various metals are typically more well-developed than other countries like India and Vietnam. Therefore, for steel parts, it’s actually still best to consider China as a premium supplying country.

If you are looking for a investment casting cost calculator, your foundry can support you choose the correct steel to reach your focused specifications and get the final estimation.

Pouring Simulation

 

Investment Casting Cost for Design

The complexity of the design also mainly affects the investment casting cost. Complex structures may need some additional procedures and treatments. That will also further add to the price of the investment casting products.

When designing the casting process, our engineers would consider two main types of cost for total cost reduction:

· Cost of Direct Materials: This consists of materials like cast metal or alloy that make the product, typically breaking down into recycled steel, non-ferrous metals, and rare metals.

· Cost of Indirect Materials: This consists of dispensable cores, molding sand, investment casting tooling cost, etc. 

Cost for Investment Casting Products Yield 

Casting Yield plays a critical role in determining the cost-effectiveness of the investment casting process. Essentially, Casting Yield is the ratio of the weight of the final usable cast product to the total weight of metal poured, including the product, gate, runners, and any scrap. A higher Casting Yield indicates a more efficient use of material, leading to reduced waste and lower material costs.

When the Casting Yield is lower, it signifies that a larger proportion of the material does not contribute to the final product but rather becomes waste. This waste material still incurs costs in terms of procurement, melting, and processing, thereby escalating the overall investment casting cost. As a result, the cost per kilogram of the final product increases when the yield is lower.

For instance, if the investment casting cost per kg of is 9 RMB ($2.53 USD) per kilogram, the actual cost per kilogram of the final product will vary significantly based on the Casting Yield. With a 45% yield, the total cost for each kilogram of the final product becomes 20 RMB (because a larger proportion of the material is wasted). If the yield is only 30%, this cost increases further to 30 RMB/kg ($4.2/kg), as even more material is wasted. Conversely, with a 60% yield, the efficiency is higher, reducing the front section cost to 15 RMB/kg ($4.2/kg), demonstrating the direct impact of yield on production costs.

Typically products with complex structures could have a lower yield rate. Therefore, improving yield can lead to substantial cost savings, especially when the initial yield is low. Experience in specific industries and product types could significantly reduce the casting cost for investment casting foundries.

The Shells Number also Affects Investment Casting Costs

The number of shells in investment casting is another significant factor that impacts the cost of the process. In investment casting, a ceramic shell is built around the wax pattern to create the mold. The complexity and dimensions of the final product dictate the number of layers or shells needed to achieve the desired thickness and strength of the mold.

Increasing the number of shells has a direct effect on the overall cost of investment casting due to several reasons:

  1. Material Costs: More shells mean more ceramic material is required. The materials used to create these shells, which often include high-grade refractory ceramics, can be quite expensive. As the number of shells increases, the material cost proportionally rises.
  2. Labor and Time: The process of applying each shell layer is meticulous and time-consuming. More layers not only increase the direct labor involved but also extend the total production time. This can lead to higher labor costs and lower overall production efficiency.
  3. Energy Consumption: Each shell layer needs to be dried and cured properly before the next layer can be applied. This step often requires heating and maintaining specific environmental conditions. More shells thus translate to higher energy consumption during the drying and curing phases.

However, it’s also important to note that the number of shells is often determined by the complexity and requirements of the final product. While fewer shells can reduce costs, they must still provide sufficient strength and detail to meet the product specifications. Large metal investment casting generally requires three or more layers. Striking the right balance between the number of shells and the cost considerations is crucial for optimizing the investment casting process, ensuring both the quality of the final product and the cost-effectiveness of the production.

Best_Investment_Casting

 

Labor Cost for Precision Investment Casting 

Any precision investment casting companies should add the labor cost estimation when calculating the total investment casting cost. The average wage of an investment casting foundry worker also has a massive impact on lost wax casting cost estimation. 

Can we cut down on the labor cost? Traditionally, labor is heavily used for the investment casting mold building process, metal pouring, and sand mold removal. However, modern equipment and technology have helped automate some processes to reduce manual labor and eliminate human errors. Although we can’t remove the labor cost when in the precision investment casting cost calculator, some foundries can reduce this cost.

At Dawang Casting, we have adopted many advanced equipment and moved towards a more automated production process.

Production_process_Mold

 

Setup Cost for Metal Investment Casting

The setup cost per part for metal investment casting is higher when making parts in fewer volumes (such as prototypes) than substantial volume orders. With increased volumes, the cost scales accordingly, and the per-metal investment casting costs will reduce.

This typically refers to the wax pattern mold of the investment casting process. 

Cost for Investment casting mold  

The cost of investment casting molds, specifically for creating wax patterns, is an important consideration in the casting process due to several factors.

These molds, typically crafted from aluminum or other durable materials, require precision engineering to produce highly detailed and accurate wax patterns, which directly influence the quality of the final cast parts.

The complexity of the mold design, the number of cavities (which determines the production output), and the longevity of the mold itself contribute to the initial investment. Additionally, the technical expertise needed for designing and machining these molds adds to the overall cost.

While the upfront cost for these molds can be significant, their ability to produce intricate parts with high repeatability and minimal material wastage often justifies the investment, especially in large-scale or continuous production scenarios.

Investment Casting vs Sand Casting Cost

Investment casting and sand casting are two prominent casting methods, each with distinct cost implications.

Investment casting is known for its ability to produce highly detailed and complex parts with excellent surface finish. However, it comes with higher costs due to the materials (like specialized ceramics for the molds) and labor-intensive steps involved, such as creating precise wax patterns and multiple ceramic shell layers.

On the other hand, sand casting is more cost-effective for larger volumes and larger parts, primarily due to its simpler mold-making process using sand and its reusability, leading to lower material and labor costs. However, it generally results in a rougher surface finish and may require additional machining and finishing work, which can add to the overall cost.

The choice between the two methods often hinges on the specific requirements of the project, including the level of detail, production volume, material specifications, and cost constraints.

 

Conclusion

The above is our method of estimating the investment casting cost per kilogram, but this result will vary due to different industry and project needs. Therefore, if you want to know precisely the investment casting cost per kilogram of investment casting foundry, it is best to consider all factors separately before calculating, and consult with a professional consultant!

Contact us today for your project needs and get an estimation within 48 hours!

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