Vacuum Casting is a tried and tested process for producing multiple high quality models and prototypes for a full scope of applications, including form, fit and function testing. For certain applications, where size and material requirements are appropriate, the process can also be used for small batch production runs.
The vacuum casting process requires a master model from which to create the cast or mould. There are many ways of creating a master model, but one of the most successful methods is to use the Stereolithography (SLA) process - another process that Ogle has extensive experience of, with a number of SLA machines in house. The SLA process produces extremely accurate models - a prerequisite for vacuum casting - in a variety of resins that make them ideal for vacuum casting. Furthermore, the expertise and experience of the team at Ogle ensures that the very best results are achieved every time.
Once the master model has been created it is used to create a silicone mould or tool that can be used to produce up to 300 cast parts. The vacuum casting process accommodates a wide range of plastics and polymers, which, for prototype applications, can be selected to most closely mimic the production material plastic. Ogle offers a wide ranging of materials, which include ABS- and PP-type materials, as well as materials with fire retardant properties.
On completion of the mould, the casting material of choice is poured into the mould, and this step of the process takes place within a vacuum chamber. The vacuum conditions ensure that any trapped air is removed from the cast resin, which would distort the finished part. Once the part has cured, it can be removed from the mould and the process repeated to attain the required number of parts.
Part accuracy and repeatability results are excellent with this process. Vacuum casting offers many advantages, including the ability to texture and colour the models, which not only allows them to look like the end product, but feel like them too. Moreover, at Ogle, all parts can be finished by one of the company’s experienced model-makers to ensure an exceptional finish to the same standard as any one-off hand made model, but with greatly reduced costs and significantly shorter lead times.