Features of Three Types of Vacuum Casting

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Vacuum casting is a versatile manufacturing process used to create intricate and complex parts from a wide range of materials. This process involves pouring a liquid resin or molten material into a rigid mold under vacuum conditions, resulting in precise and high-quality components. There are three primary types of vacuum casting processes: silicone rubber molding (SRM), polyurethane vacuum casting (PVC), and investment casting. Each of these techniques has distinct features and applications, catering to various industrial needs.

Silicone Rubber Molding (SRM)


Silicone rubber molding (SRM) is a vacuum casting process that utilizes liquid silicone rubber as the molding material. This technique is particularly well-suited for prototyping and low-volume production runs, making it an ideal choice for industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturing.

Key Features

  1. Flexibility and Durability: Silicone rubber molds are highly flexible and durable, allowing for easy part removal and reuse of the mold for multiple casting cycles.
  2. Reproducing Fine Details: SRM is capable of reproducing intricate details and textures with exceptional precision, making it suitable for applications that require intricate geometries and surface finishes.
  3. Material Versatility: A wide range of materials can be cast using SRM, including polyurethane resins, epoxy resins, and low-temperature alloys.
  4. Cost-Effective for Small Batches: SRM is a cost-effective solution for prototyping and small-scale production runs, as the silicone molds can be reused multiple times.
  5. Tolerance for Undercuts: Silicone rubber molds can accommodate moderate undercuts, reducing the need for complex mold designs or additional machining operations.


  • Prototyping and low-volume production
  • Design verification and functional testing
  • Medical device manufacturing (e.g., surgical guides, prosthetics)
  • Aerospace and automotive component production

Polyurethane Vacuum Casting (PVC)


Polyurethane vacuum casting (PVC) is a process that utilizes a two-part liquid polyurethane resin system. This technique is commonly used for manufacturing various components, particularly those requiring high strength, durability, and chemical resistance.

Key Features

  1. High Strength and Durability: Polyurethane resins offer exceptional mechanical properties, making them suitable for applications that require high strength and resistance to impact, abrasion, and chemicals.
  2. Versatile Coloring Options: Polyurethane resins can be easily colored using pigments or dyes, allowing for the production of components in a wide range of colors and effects.
  3. Rapid Curing: Polyurethane resins have a relatively short curing time, enabling faster production cycles and reduced lead times.
  4. Cost-Effective for Medium to Large Batches: PVC is a cost-effective solution for medium to large production runs, as the molds can be reused multiple times.
  5. Excellent Surface Finish: Polyurethane resins can produce components with smooth and high-quality surface finishes, reducing the need for additional finishing operations.


  • Industrial components (e.g., bearings, gears, housings)
  • Automotive components (e.g., interior trim, dashboard parts)
  • Consumer goods (e.g., figurines, decorative items)
  • Electrical enclosures and insulators

Investment Casting


Investment casting, also known as lost-wax casting, is a vacuum casting process that involves creating a disposable wax pattern, which is subsequently invested (surrounded) with a refractory material to form a ceramic mold. This mold is then heated, melting and removing the wax pattern, leaving a hollow cavity into which molten metal is poured.

Key Features

  1. Exceptional Dimensional Accuracy: Investment casting produces parts with extremely tight tolerances and excellent surface finishes, making it suitable for applications that require high precision and intricate details.
  2. Wide Range of Castable Materials: Various metals and alloys can be cast using the investment casting process, including stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, and superalloys.
  3. Complex Geometries: Investment casting can accommodate highly complex geometries and internal features that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with other manufacturing processes.
  4. Minimal Machining Required: Depending on the application, investment cast parts often require minimal machining or post-processing, reducing overall manufacturing costs.
  5. High Strength and Durability: Investment cast components exhibit excellent mechanical properties, making them suitable for demanding applications in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical.


  • Aerospace components (e.g., turbine blades, structural components)
  • Medical implants and surgical instruments
  • Automotive components (e.g., turbocharger housings, transmission parts)
  • Industrial machinery components

Comparison and Selection Criteria

When selecting the appropriate vacuum casting process for a specific application, several factors should be considered, including:

  1. Production Volume: SRM is typically preferred for prototyping and low-volume production, while PVC and investment casting are better suited for medium to high-volume production runs.
  2. Material Requirements: The desired material properties, such as strength, durability, chemical resistance, and temperature resistance, will influence the choice of casting process and materials.
  3. Complexity of Geometry: Investment casting is often the preferred choice for components with highly complex geometries and internal features, while SRM and PVC are more suitable for simpler geometries.
  4. Dimensional Accuracy and Surface Finish: Investment casting offers the highest level of dimensional accuracy and surface finish, followed by PVC and SRM.
  5. Cost Considerations: SRM is generally the most cost-effective option for prototyping and low-volume production, while PVC and investment casting become more economical for larger production runs.

By carefully evaluating these criteria, manufacturers can select the most appropriate vacuum casting process to meet their specific requirements and optimize the quality, performance, and cost-effectiveness of their products.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What are the main advantages of vacuum casting over other manufacturing processes? Vacuum casting offers several advantages, including the ability to produce intricate and complex geometries, accommodate undercuts, and achieve high dimensional accuracy and surface finishes. Additionally, vacuum casting processes can utilize a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, and composites.
  2. Which vacuum casting process is best suited for producing prototypes or low-volume parts? Silicone rubber molding (SRM) is typically the preferred choice for prototyping and low-volume production runs. SRM offers flexibility, durability, and the ability to reproduce fine details while being cost-effective for small batches.
  3. Can vacuum casting processes accommodate complex geometries with undercuts? Yes, vacuum casting processes like SRM and investment casting can accommodate complex geometries with undercuts. SRM can handle moderate undercuts due to the flexibility of silicone rubber molds, while investment casting can produce components with intricate internal features and complex geometries that would be challenging or impossible to achieve with other manufacturing methods.
  4. What are the typical materials used in polyurethane vacuum casting (PVC)? Polyurethane vacuum casting (PVC) utilizes two-part liquid polyurethane resin systems. These resins offer high strength, durability, and chemical resistance, making them suitable for various industrial and consumer applications.
  5. How does the dimensional accuracy and surface finish of investment casting compare to other vacuum casting processes? Investment casting produces parts with exceptional dimensional accuracy and superior surface finishes, often requiring minimal post-processing or machining. The dimensional accuracy and surface finish achieved through investment casting are generally higher than those of SRM and PVC processes.