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When Is Casting an Effective Alternative to Fabrication?

Castings are the right choice for many metal product applications. It’s not unusual to prototype a new product using a fabricated assembly, but once production starts, the inefficiencies of cutting, shaping, and welding individual components together begin to add up. In contrast, castings are efficient because material is only applied where needed, and welding is eliminated. In many instances, casting can save time and money while increasing quality. So, how do you know if casting is right for your product?


Determining if Casting is a Good Fit for Your Design

We’ve compiled a list of seven considerations to help you decide if casting is right for your next project. It’s important to explore all these factors before switching from fabrication.

  1. Complexity – Casting is great for parts with complex geometry because it allows you to quickly create a repeatable and consistent shape. Cored or hollow sections are also possible, sometimes for little additional cost.
  2. Size & Thickness – Allowing for appropriate solidification and metal flow, wall thickness of 4 mm or less can be achieved, with variation depending on material and geometry. Casting is possible for isolated thin or thick sections, but the overall design will require expert analysis to ensure success.
  3. Strength Requirements – Fabricated joints can be weak spots. In contrast, castings are produced as one piece and can leverage more organic geometries to integrate ribs, gussets, and other strengthening features. This means they are more structurally sound and durable in the long term.
  4. Quantity – Fabrication works if you only need a few pieces. Casting may be a more cost-effective option if you need hundreds of pieces. The break-even point gets even lower as the number of components increases in the fabricated assembly.
  5. Quality – Casting can improve quality and longevity by reducing welding stress, improving machinability, and increasing dimensional consistency and strength.
  6. Efficiency & Cost – Producing a large quantity of fabricated parts requires considerable welding time and cost. Multiple pieces also mean multiple drawings, more production and shipping coordination, and increased inspection time.
  7. Materials – With casting, you have great freedom to specify material options to tailor to the application.


Achieving Optimal Performance Through Casting

Our best practice is to align engineering with a casting expert during the design phase for any new component. This ensures that the material and process selection meets the design requirements. We also focus on what best suits your fit, form, and function needs to achieve quality standards at a competitive cost.

Another way we achieve optimal performance is by coordinating the casting process with the desired mechanical properties of the material. Understanding the end use for the casting helps us determine subsequent processing steps, like heat treatment or shot blasting, which can impact the mechanical properties. Our capable design team will help you choose the right material for the application and identify any secondary processes or testing to ensure the material properties meet your needs.


Working with EQI on Casting Conversion

EQI offers a streamlined process to help you successfully transition to cast products. We also have fabrication to casting conversion solutions for various components to reduce weights, optimize design, and decrease costs for OEM customers. When you work with us, you can expect the following process:

  • Work together to identify opportunities for casting
  • Provide design feedback on geometry, materials, and process
  • Give preliminary feedback on directional pricing
  • Create CAD model of new part
  • Validate the design using advanced modeling for flow and solidification
  • Provide a firm quote after the drawing/ design is finalized
  • Produce samples for PPAP approval
  • Launch production


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