What is Metal Casting? Working Process, Types?

Imagine this: You’re a busy entrepreneur deeply engaged in the metalworking industry, striving to make high-quality components. The clock is ticking, and you’re in dire need of understanding metal casting—a crucial process in your production line. Well, you’ve come to the right place!


Metal casting is an age-old manufacturing technique where molten metal is poured into a mold to form specific shapes and components.


Intrigued? I bet you are. Stick around as we delve deeper into the fascinating world of metal casting.

What is Metal Casting?

Think of metal casting as the Swiss Army knife of manufacturing techniques. Essentially, it’s a method where molten metal is guided into a mold, replicating its shape as it cools and solidifies. Sounds simple? It’s anything but. The process is a symphony of precise timing, impeccable temperature regulation, and meticulous material selection.

Unlike other fabrication methods, casting allows for the production of complex and detailed shapes in a relatively straightforward manner. It’s not just about filling a mold and calling it a day; it involves a high level of expertise in metallurgy, fluid dynamics, and thermal properties.

In today’s industrial landscape, casting isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. It’s customized to the nth degree, thanks to advancements in computer-aided design (CAD) and other high-tech tools. And let’s not forget, the range of materials you can work with is expansive—aluminum, bronze, cast iron, you name it!

Why is Metal Casting Important?

Mass Production

Firstly, let’s talk volume. Metal casting is your go-to when you must produce large quantities of components. The same mold can be reused multiple times, allowing for high-volume production without losing quality. 

Small and Large Items

Size matters, but in the world of metal casting, it’s no obstacle. The flexibility of this technique allows for the production of items that can fit in your palm or take up the entire room. We’re discussing everything from tiny dental implants to colossal ship engine parts.

Waste Reduction

Casting minimizes waste because the molten metal fills the mold, leaving minimal excess material to be trimmed or reprocessed. The result? Cost savings and a lighter carbon footprint. It’s a win-win.

Material Flexibility

Aluminum, steel, bronze, and even titanium—if you can melt it, you can cast it. This material flexibility allows manufacturers to meet specific requirements for durability, weight, and corrosion resistance, among other things.

What Materials Are Suitable for Metal Casting?

Knowing which material to use for your casting process can make or break the functionality and longevity of your final product. 

Iron Casting

Iron casting has been a crowd-pleaser for centuries, and for good reason. It’s your go-to for high wear resistance and excellent machinability. Engine blocks, pipes, and even decorative pieces often use iron casting. It’s the bread and butter of the casting world, reliable and versatile.


However, note that iron tends to be brittle. So, if your application requires more flexibility, you should look elsewhere. Nonetheless, the sheer variety of iron alloys available means that you can often find one that fits your specific needs, from gray iron to ductile iron.


Popular grades: Grey Iron: ASTM A48 Class 20

                           Ductile Iron:ASTM A536 60-40-18 /ASTM A536 65-45-12


For iron, sand casting and shell molding are the most commonly employed methods.


Steel Casting


Now, steel casting is the elite choice when you’re after strength and durability. It’s like iron’s sophisticated cousin. We’re talking about applications subject to high-stress or corrosive environments—think mining equipment or heavy-duty machinery.


The downside? Steel casting can be more expensive due to the alloying elements and the need for additional heat treatment. However, when failure is not an option, steel casting is your best bet.


Popular Grades

Carbon Steel Casting Grades: ASTM A27 Grade 65-35/ASTM A27 Grade 70-40

 Low Alloy Steel Casting Grades: ASTM A148 Grade 80-40/ASTM A148 Grade 90-60

Investment casting is often the method of choice due to its ability to produce intricate parts with high dimensional accuracy. 

Stainless steel is the James Bond of metal casting materials—sleek, professional, and exceptional in challenging environments. Its resistance to corrosion makes it ideal for applications in medical, food processing, and marine industries.


This material is a bit pricier, but you get what you pay for—a component that can withstand the tests of time and environment. If you want aesthetics and functionality, stainless steel casting delivers the complete package.


Popular grade: SS304/SS316


For stainless steel, investment casting is often preferred because of its excellent dimensional accuracy and the ability to cast complex shapes. 


Aluminum Casting

When you’re looking for light and strong, aluminum should be high on your list. It’s widely used in the automotive and aerospace sectors, where weight reduction is critical for performance.


Despite its lightweight, take advantage of its ability to take a hit. Aluminum casting offers good corrosion resistance, making it suitable for outdoor applications as well. And let’s remember its excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, which makes it a darling in the electronics industry.


Popular grades: A380,Aluminum alloy 383


Copper Casting


Known for its superior electrical and thermal conductivity, copper is commonly used in electrical components and heat exchangers. Its antimicrobial properties also make it a popular choice for medical equipment.


However, copper can be challenging to cast due to its high melting point and propensity for gas porosity. But if your application demands high conductivity or corrosion resistance, the extra effort is well worth it.


It’s also worth noting that copper alloys, such as bronze and brass, expand the possibilities further, offering a range of mechanical properties for different applications.


Popular grades:C99300


Sand casting is often used for copper and alloys like bronze and brass, especially for larger, simpler shapes. 


Zinc Casting

With a lower melting point than aluminum and copper, zinc casting is economical and offers a smooth surface finish. It’s commonly used in applications like toys, locks, and consumer electronics.


Zinc also scores high in the machinability department, allowing for tight tolerances and intricate shapes. Its ability to form strong bonds with other materials makes it ideal for creating multi-component assemblies.


However, there are better candidates than zinc for high-stress or high-temperature applications. It’s a specialist, not a jack-of-all-trades.


Popular grades:Alloy 2, Alloy 3, Alloy 5, and Alloy 7


Die casting is almost synonymous with zinc, thanks to zinc’s low melting point and excellent fluidity. 


Magnesium Casting


With the highest strength-to-weight ratio among structural metals, magnesium is your lightweight solution without sacrificing performance. Think aerospace, automotive, and even consumer electronics, where weight is a critical factor.


One of magnesium’s most attractive features is its excellent machinability. It can be easily cut, drilled, or milled, often without specialized tools. This makes it a favorite for applications that require complex geometries and fine details.


However, it’s essential to note that magnesium is more reactive than other casting materials, making it susceptible to corrosion if not properly treated.


Due to its lightweight and robust characteristics, magnesium is often cast using die casting for high-volume production. Sand casting can also be used for more significant components or low- to medium-volume runs.


Popular grades:AZ91A, AZ91B, and AZ91C

What is the Working Process of Metal Casting?

Pattern Making


First things first—you’ll need a pattern. Think of it as the prototype of your end product. This pattern is used to create the mold, so it’s essential that it’s made to precise specifications. 


Core Making


Sometimes, your design might require internal cavities that a basic mold can’t create. Enter the core, a precisely shaped piece placed inside the mold to create these interior features. Cores are generally made from sand and require their own molds called core boxes.



The mold is then created around the pattern (and core, if applicable). The choice of molding material—like green sand, resin, or ceramic—depends on several factors, including the casting material, part complexity, and required tolerances.


Melting and Pouring


Once the mold is prepped, it’s time for some heat. The chosen metal is melted in a furnace and poured into the mold. This step requires a keen understanding of the material’s melting characteristics and proper temperature control to ensure high-quality casting.


Solidification and Cooling


After the molten metal is poured, it needs time to cool and solidify within the mold. This is a critical phase as the cooling rate can affect the material’s microstructure and, consequently, its mechanical properties.


Removal and Cleaning


Once the metal has solidified, the mold is broken to reveal the casting. This newly born part goes through a series of cleaning processes to remove any residual sand, scale, or molding material. After this, the casting is often heat-treated to improve its mechanical properties.

What are the Different Types of Casting Methods?

Sand Casting

Different types of sand can be used depending on the application. Green sand, made from silica sand, clay, and water, is the most commonly used. It’s pliable, allowing easy mold creation, yet hard enough to withstand the molten metal

There’s also dry sand, treated with a fast-curing chemical to form complex molds. This type of sand is often used for casting materials with high melting temperatures, like steel and copper. 


In sand casting, the process begins by compacting sand around a pattern, a replica of the final product. Once the sand hardens, the pattern is removed, leaving a cavity into which molten metal is poured. After the metal solidifies, the sand mold is broken apart to retrieve the cast part. 


Die Casting

Die casting is the sleek, high-speed athlete of the casting world, perfect for high-volume production runs.


 In this process, molten metal is forced into a mold cavity under high pressure. The high pressure ensures excellent surface finish and dimensional accuracy, making it a go-to for complex parts with tight tolerances.


When it comes to the mold or ‘die,’ it’s usually made from high-grade tool steel, which can withstand the rigors of the process. 


Unlike sand casting, where the mold is single-use, the dies in die casting are designed for long-term use, contributing to the method’s speed and efficiency. With life spans often exceeding 100,000 cycles, these dies are a significant initial investment but offer long-term cost advantages.


Die casting is particularly favored for non-ferrous metals like aluminum, zinc, and magnesium.


Investment casting

Investment casting, also known as lost-wax casting, is the fine artist of the casting family. Where die casting is all about speed and volume, investment casting is focused on precision and complexity. 


The process starts with a wax pattern, a detailed replica of the final part. This pattern is coated with a ceramic slurry to create a shell. Once the shell hardens, the wax is melted, leaving a hollow ceramic mold. Molten metal is then poured into this mold and allowed to solidify. After the metal cools, the ceramic shell is broken off, revealing a part that closely mirrors the original wax pattern.


Investment casting accommodates a wide range of materials, from aluminum and copper alloys to various grades of steel and even titanium. One of the significant advantages is that it eliminates the need for secondary machining in many cases, thanks to its tight tolerances. 


Gravity casting

This method employs gravity to fill the mold with molten metal, unlike die casting, which uses high pressure. It’s a more straightforward, less intense method, but keep that from fooling you.


In gravity casting, a permanent or semi-permanent mold is often used, typically made from iron or steel. Molten metal is poured into the mold without the use of external forces, relying solely on gravity to fill the mold cavity. This results in a slower fill rate, which, interestingly enough, can be an advantage. A slower pace can minimize turbulence, leading to a finer grain structure and improved mechanical properties in the final part.


One of the critical benefits of gravity casting is its material versatility. It’s compatible with various metals, including aluminum, zinc, copper, and certain ferrous metals.


So, what’s your next move? If you’re looking for high-quality, on-demand CNC machining services for rapid prototyping or production parts, don’t hesitate to contact us

We offer unparalleled expertise in various casting methods backed by state-of-the-art technology. Let us partner with you in turning your vision into a tangible, high-quality product. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and get a custom quote.