What is Permanent Mold Casting?

27 Mar 2023

What’s Permanent Mold Casting?

Permanent mold casting is the process of using gravity to fill a pre-heated, reusable steel mold with molten nonferrous alloys.

Permanent mold castings have less shrinkage, lower gas porosity and a denser microstructure than their sand and die casted counterparts.

The custom castings are typically 1-100 pounds with an estimated annual usage of 500 to 50,000 parts (depending on size).

How is Permanent Mold Different from Die Casting?

The major difference between die casting and permanent mold casting is that die casting uses a pressurized system to fill the molds, while permanent mold is gravity-fed. The advanced pressurized system makes mold tooling more expensive, but is more efficient for high production quantities.

Therefore, die casting is most common in the automotive industry. Permanent mold is common in many industries with moderate production volume, such as medical equipment, food/beverage, and industrial equipment.

food machinery casting

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Compared to die castings, permanent mold castings are less likely to contain trapped gas. No trapped gas means a pressure tight, stronger casting with fewer obstacles in machining finishing work.

Benefits of Permanent Mold Casting

  • Stronger and less porous than sand casting or die casting
  • Good surface finish/texture control
  • Long reusable mold life
  • Good dimensional accuracy – high precision
  • Good for moderate to high volume production
  • Relatively quick cycle time
  • Can use sand cores, making it semi-permanent mold
  • Fine grain structure

Disadvantages of Permanent Mold Casting

  • Higher tooling costs than sand casting, but lower than die casting
  • Not cost effective for low volume production
  • Size limitations and design requirements (such as draft)
  • Parting lines (can be removed by machining/polishing)

How is Permanent Mold Different from Sand Casting?

Sand casting uses a single-use sand mold, while permanent mold casting uses a reusable steel mold. Sand molds create a rougher surface finish than steel molds. Reusable permanent molds also create more consistent, repeatable parts. On average, a maintained permanent mold will last about 10 years, or 100,000 cycles.

While permanent mold castings use a gravity, machine-controlled pour to fill the mold, sand castings are dump-poured. Inconsistent dump pours can create more turbulence during pouring, creating porosity or shrink.

static pour method casting

Pictured Above: Sand casting static dump pour

Pictured Above: Permanent mold tilt pour

Sand casting has a low tooling cost and is ideal for smaller production runs (under 1,000 parts per year) or even prototyping.

What Metals are Used in Permanent Mold Casting?

Permanent mold casting is used to create components of nonferrous alloys. Aluminum is the most commonly metal used in permanent mold casting. At Batesville Products, we cast aluminum and zinc.

Other metals include copper, magnesium, brass, nickel, and bronze.

How Permanent Mold Casting Works

Different pouring methods can be used in permanent mold casting that impact the success of your part:

  • Static standard – A traditional pour, similar to sand casting
  • Tilt pour – The most common permanent mold pour, used to decrease turbulence
  • Reverse tilt pour – Similar to tilt pour, used primarily for geometric, symmetrical, heavy parts

Air escapes from the top of the mold as it fills with molten metal. The metal begins to solidify, with the coolest metal settling to the bottom and the hottest at the top.

We monitor the molten metal as it flows through the gating and fills the mold. This reduces unwanted turbulence or hot spots that could cause weaknesses in the final casting.

Once the solidification process is complete, the casting is ejected from the mold, already near the dimensions of the final product spec. This tight-tolerance, near net shape minimizes secondary operations, like machining.

You might like this article: 7 Important Specs when Designing for Permanent Mold Casting

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Request a quote and a Batesville team member will be in touch to discuss your metalcasting goals and how our metalcasting experts can help make your next project a success.