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What Determines the Price of Investment Castings?

Update On Nov 18.2022

Investment casting price1

Investment casting, also known as "lost wax casting" or "precision casting", has been widely used for hundreds of years. It is famous for producing components with excellent surface finish, dimensional accuracy, and complex shapes. It is especially useful for manufacturing complex or close-to-final castings, because in this case, it may not be possible to machine or waste raw materials to machine. For our customers, the cost is obviously one of the important factors in choosing a supplier.

As we all know, more than 70% of the total product development cost has been frozen in the design stage, although the cost at this stage is less than 7% of the total cost. Through simultaneous product and process design, more resources are invested to detect and prevent potential manufacturing problems early, which can significantly reduce overall costs and lead times. 

At the same time, during our contact with most professional procurement personnel, we found that professional procurement personnel hopes to reduce the price of stainless steel castings in the same proportion through fluctuations in raw material prices, such as the decline in stainless steel prices. However, the cost of raw materials only accounts for 20%-30% of the total cost of precision casting.

This article will discuss the main factors affecting the cost of investment castings.

 

1. Raw Material Cost of Investment Casting

The cost will depend on the metal alloy. Among steel castings, stainless steel castings are the most expensive high-grade stainless steel. The material cost of stainless steel castings depends on the material grade. For example, SS316 (L) will be more expensive than SS304 (L). 

Compared with steel castings, cast iron parts are much cheaper due to the lower cost of ferroalloys. Of course, for the same material, the cost may change at different times. Therefore, when the material cost is lower, buyers will get cheaper castings.

Investment casting price

 

2. Casting Cost

There are three main factors that affect the casting cost

• Production rate of casting system

The production rate of the casting system is the percentage of the actual weight of the casting product to the weight of the entire casting system. The casting cost per unit weight is inversely proportional to the yield. The lower the production rate, the greater the cost.

Investment casting price

For a specific precision casting, the yield is equal to the total weight of the precision casting on the same tree, expressed as a percentage of the weight of the entire tree. It is related to precision casting structure and tree grouping scheme. It can range from 30% to 60%, most of which are between 40% and 50%. The lower the casting yield, the higher the cost.

The relationship between front-end cost (cost before casting) and yield is: the front-end cost per kilogram of castings is inversely proportional to the yield. The lower the production rate, the higher the cost of front-end precision casting per unit weight. If the production rate is lower, the impact of the increase in cost will be greater.

From the experimental data, it is concluded that the production cost before casting is calculated as the yield rate: for the same casting product, the rate of impact of the yield rate on the front-end cost of precision casting per kilogram is inversely proportional to the square of the yield rate. 

When the production rate is 45%, the cost of precision casting per kilogram will increase by 0.07 dollars for every one percentage point decrease. When the output is 30%, the cost of precision casting per kilogram of the front end will increase by about 0.12 dollars for every 1% decrease, which shows that the production rate has a significant impact on the cost.

Investment casting price

On the other hand, certain precision castings, especially thin-walled castings with irregular shapes, will result in a substantial decrease in the production rate due to the limitations of the structural design of the casting system. This important factor should be considered when determining the price of precision castings.

 

• Casting process

Precision foundries need to check whether the blank casting process can be used to produce blank castings. Some factories may use green sand, some may use resin sand, shell casting, and automatic molding processes. Green sand is cheaper, while shell casting is the most expensive. 

Relevant factors include dimensional tolerances, surface quality, structural complexity, annual demand, weight, and size. These factors will affect the cost of rough castings. Of course, if the casting process cannot meet the requirements of the product and order, other suitable processes can only be selected.

Here, we will also discuss the use of water glass investment casting and silica sol investment casting technology to make investment casting parts. Silica sol casting will make precision castings have better dimensional accuracy and surface finish.

Therefore, the cost will be higher than that of water glass casting. Of course, water glass castings are more easily accepted by customers due to their lower production costs. However, if more precise tolerances and surface finish are required, silica sol casting is preferred.

Investment casting price

 

• Number of shells

Due to different casting shapes and structures, the casting shell requires different layers. For example, for castings with elongated holes or grooves, more layers are required than in ordinary castings. Basically, the larger the casting, the more layers are needed. 

In general, the cost of raw materials and auxiliary materials accounted for 60%, fuel and power accounted for 25%, and wages accounted for 15%. Among the auxiliary materials, the consumption of zirconium sand and zirconium powder accounted for about 60%, accounting for 45% of the total cost of making the shell, and the cost of silica sol was about 13% of the cost of the shell.

Investment casting price1

 

3. Subsequent Processing Cost

Processing cost is usually calculated based on processing difficulty. The greater the processing difficulty, the higher the cost. At the same time, the annual demand is also an important factor affecting processing costs.

Investment casting price

If one foundry does not have the ability to perform self-host processing, it will have to entrust other specialized machining outsourcing partners to perform processing. 

This is not the best choice, because the cooperation between casting foundries and their processing plants may bring more difficulties and delay delivery. Besides, the quotation needs to take into account the relevant processing equipment, working hours, and prices. Therefore, the processing cost is difficult to calculate.

Besser Casting has its own machining workshop and professional technical team. We can not only guarantee the quality of castings, but also design a more reasonable machining plan through an in-depth understanding of the mechanical properties, micro-deformation, and tolerance accuracy of the castings. 

This is generally not available in factories that only focus on the machining of raw materials. Besser Casting focuses on professionalism. In this way, we can reduce machining costs and quality risks for customers.

Investment casting price

 

4. Other Costs

Fuel and electricity costs: Besser Casting is committed to the pursuit of sustainable reduction in energy consumption. In recent years, we have continuously studied the environmentally friendly energy consumption equipment launched by equipment manufacturers in the industry, and achieved the goal of continuously reducing energy consumption by purchasing equipment with higher energy consumption efficiency.

Labor costs: In China, although labor costs continue to rise, compared with developed countries, their costs are much lower. Manufacturing precision castings in Europe and the United States is very expensive. However, European countries, led by Poland and Italy, are already strong opponents of Chinese foundry companies in terms of casting prices, not to mention India, which has more mature technology and management. 

Therefore, Chinese foundry companies should spare no effort in the development investment and improvement of automation equipment, and use truly excellent technology and management to provide the world with high-quality and cost-effective castings.

Investment casting price

Solution cost: This includes the required quantity and delivery time. Larger quantities and relatively loose delivery time will help our customers get lower prices.

Packaging and transportation costs: We can package castings suitable for import and export by sea, air, and land according to customer requirements. Usually, we will protect the products with cartons and put them in custom-sized export wooden boxes. For more careful packaging, the cost will be higher.

Exchange rate costs: Exchange rate fluctuations are also one of the management costs of our castings for global customers.

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