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Investment Casting Equipment to Optimise Your Casting Operations [Product List]

08 November 2021 /

Discover which casting furnace features will optimise your equipment, drive up operational efficiencies and future-proof your investment casting process.

While investment casting itself is one of the oldest metal-forming techniques, modern casting furnaces are complex pieces of equipment made up of multiple systems and processes. 

Every component is essential to the correct running of the casting furnace, yet some features can be tailored to deliver optimised performance across both of the main casting types (equiax or DS/SX).

In this article, discover some of the most common features, what functions they deliver and how VFE can help you incorporate them into your process and future-proof your operations. 

Find out more about our range of casting furnace products and services

Investment casting equipment: product list

Whether you’re expanding your operations or planning a new site, being able to identify these components when designing a new furnace (or request them, if you’re upgrading an existing machine) will help you to improve your investment casting efficiencies long-term:

  1. Induction coil upgrades

  2. Next-generation immersion thermocouples

  3. Upgraded two-colour pyrometers

  4. Flapper-style isolation valve

  5. Retech billet chargers

  6. Dry vacuum pumps and advanced control systems (FMCS)

1. Door-mounted coaxial induction coil

Within a typical two-chamber design, melting is achieved using an induction coil, which couples directly to the metal/alloy in the crucible and heats it up to its melting point.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: As part of a retrofit to an existing machine, VFE can mount the induction coal directly onto the melt chamber door, giving full access. This offers a number of technical advantages:

  • Interchangeable coils optimise the melt rate.

  • Water connections outside the vacuum chamber provide ease of maintenance.

  • A motorised tilt system enables fast, accurate pouring.

2. Immersion thermocouple

For melt temperature measurement, casting furnaces are usually fitted with an immersion thermocouple (TC). This enables the automatic calibration of the optical pyrometer temperature to the immersion TC.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: VFE supports the latest generation of immersion thermocouple design, which gives repeatable/accurate positioning of the thermocouple with position feedback to the control system for consistent casting results. (Read on for more information about control systems.)

3. Two-colour optical pyrometer

A modern-day casting furnace is equipped with an optical pyrometer for continuous temperature measurement of the charge/melt.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: VFE provides upgraded two-colour pyrometers to the latest supportable models. Features include an externally mounted optical sensor with argon purge to prevent plating, and continuous accurate temperature monitoring and data capture.

Related read: 3 Ways to Reduce Heat Treatment Costs

4. Flapper-type mould chamber isolation valve

Many vacuum casting furnaces are equipped with a mould chamber to allow moulds to be placed in and out of the furnace without breaking the vacuum inside the main melt chamber. The mould chamber is separated from the main melt chamber using an isolation valve. 

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: VFE supports the latest design of this valve known as a ‘flapper-style’ valve. The advantage of this type of valve is it doesn’t get splashed by the molten metals during pouring causing the seal to fail or become damaged or damage to the valve itself. This valve in some cases can be retrofitted to replace other types of valves such as sliding gate valves.

5. Billet charger

For fully automated operation, a billet charging device is usually incorporated into vacuum precision casting furnaces to allow crucible liners and billets to be loaded into and out of the main chamber without breaking the vacuum. The systems are either vertically or horizontally configured.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: VFE supports the latest Retech designs, which are easily adaptable for:

  • liner insertion

  • liner removal

  • ingot insertion (rotates to prevent ceramic inclusions)

6. Dry vacuum pumps and advanced control systems 

Vacuum pumping groups are integral to the functioning of both the melt and the mould chamber, while control systems provide advanced management and operational capabilities, which are invaluable for large sites with multiple furnace operations.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: VFE provides innovative dry vacuum pumps and FMCS with state-of-the-art management and control capabilities. In particular, VFE’s FMCS product allows for the programmable/adjustable height to accommodate a range of moulds for equiax/DS/SX casting furnaces as well as more accurate position monitoring of the withdrawal ram for DS/SX

We have recently written about these cost-effective upgrades in detail — read this article to learn more about the operational benefits of upgrading your machines.

Specialists in the investment casting process

VFE has been successfully providing upgrades, services and calibration for all well-known brands of vacuum precision investment casting (VPIC) systems for over 30 years. As a result, we are able to upgrade, service and calibrate any make or model of VPIC system in operation today.

To talk to us about any of the casting furnace upgrades discussed in this article, get in touch.

Furthermore, our partnership with Retech enables us to supply our customers with state-of-the-art VPIC systems designed by the world’s most fully integrated furnace manufacturer. 

We also work closely with Retech for the delivery of aftermarket services that help our customers to maximise their investments, sustain output and keep their operations running.

All of this is fully supported by VFE’s own world-class customer service and quality assurances, so you can invest confidently in the solutions you need to optimise your casting process and run a more efficient operation.

For more information about our investment casting products and services, click the image below to download your copy of our VPIC service sheet.

Casting furnace services