Shell mold casting is a metal casting process similar to sand casting, in that molten metal is poured into an expendable mold. However, in shell mold casting, the mold is a thin-walled shell created from applying a sand-resin mixture around a pattern. The pattern, a metal piece in the shape of the desired part, is reused to form multiple shell molds. A reusable pattern allows for higher production rates, while the disposable molds enable complex geometries to be cast.
Advantages of shell mold casting:
1.Good surface quality
Because shell molding uses phenolic resin as the sand binder, so the smooth and hard surfaces of sand molds make the castings have good surface smoothness. The following photo could be taken as sample for the surface quality.
2. High rough casting dimensional accuracy
This molding material is a type of hard mold, so there will be less swell of sand molds, so the dimensional tolerance will be smaller. This advantage will be very useful for producing high accuracy rough castings, and reduce machining cost.
3. Thin wall thickness and complex castings
Less than 5mm wall thickness will be taken as very thin as for sand castings.Only shell molding process could produce these cast products.
4. Less manpower and molding skill requirements
Since the main works have been completed by the molding machines, so this process could be operated by women workers, and there is no special skill required. This is very different with green sand casting process.
The shell mold casting process consists of the following steps:
Pattern creation - A two-piece metal pattern is created in the shape of the desired part, typically from iron or steel. Other materials are sometimes used, such as aluminum for low volume production or graphite for casting reactive materials.
Mold creation - First, each pattern half is heated to 175-370°C (350-700°F) and coated with a lubricant to facilitate removal. Next, the heated pattern is clamped to a dump box, which contains a mixture of sand and a resin binder. The dump box is inverted, allowing this sand-resin mixture to coat the pattern. The heated pattern partially cures the mixture, which now forms a shell around the pattern. Each pattern half and surrounding shell is cured to completion in an oven and then the shell is ejected from the pattern.
Mold assembly - The two shell halves are joined together and securely clamped to form the complete shell mold. If any cores are required, they are inserted prior to closing the mold. The shell mold is then placed into a flask and supported by a backing material.
Pouring - The mold is securely clamped together while the molten metal is poured from a ladle into the gating system and fills the mold cavity.
Cooling - After the mold has been filled, the molten metal is allowed to cool and solidify into the shape of the final casting.
Casting removal - After the molten metal has cooled, the mold can be broken and the casting removed. Trimming and cleaning processes are required to remove any excess metal from the feed system and any sand from the mold.