Thomas J. Mueller, President, Mueller AMS
Less than 25 years since their introduction, printed patterns, or investment casting patterns created by an additive manufacturing process, have become the de facto standard method of creating prototype investment castings that have been used by more than 98% of commercial investment casting foundries in North America and are becoming increasingly popular in art foundries. Because no tooling is required,, they allow casting designers to cost effectively test multiple design iterations, resulting in higher quality designs and shorter time to market.
Printed patterns have also been increasingly used for very low volume jobs, avoiding the creation of tooling. They have also seen increasing usage for bridge production, making additional castings of the final design so that product development can continue while tooling is being built.
To date, there has been little if any use of printed patterns for production use other than for very low volume projects. This presentation will examine what changes in cost and performance of additive manufacturing systems will be necessary if printed patterns will be used in production. It also explains what markets and applications are most likely to be first users of printed patterns for production.