The Difference Between Sand-Casting And 3D Printing

  • Monday, 03 July 2017 00:00

Sand casting plays a critical role in manufacturing today. Yet, many organisations are still challenged by cost, quality and lead time. Contributed By BigRep

For long-term business success, manufacturers’ capability to produce affordable, high-quality moulds quickly is critical.

Sand moulded casting, also known as sand casting, is the most widely used metal casting process. The process uses temporary, non-reusable sand moulds to form metal objects.

The Sand Casting Process

The process of sand casting is described below:

Pattern Making

A replica of the object is made using wood, metal, plastics and other materials.


Sand mould is formed by packing sand around the pattern. When the pattern is removed, a hollow shape or cavity, forms the casting.


Molten metal is poured into the mould.


The solidified part (casting) is ejected, or broken out of the mould.

Uses Of Sand Casting

Sand casting is used to produce a wide range of metal objects. Metal casting is an ubiquitous process used in almost every manufacturing sector.


  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Railway
  • Shipping

Heavy Equipment

  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Mining
  • Machining


  • Plumbing pipes
  • Valves
  • Fittings
  • Joints

Challenges Of Sand Casting

  • Productivity: Sand casting is labour intensive, and has a long pattern production time.
  • Cost: There tends to be a high cost of production, and errors are similarly costly.
  • Complexity: It is difficulty to produce complicated patterns using conventional methods.

Adding Value To The Process

Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) can add value in the pattern making process.

Benefits Of 3D Printing

  • Market Position: Conquer new customer segments and expand customer base.
  • Added Value: Conquer new customer segments and expand customer base.
  • Cost: Significantly lower production cost.
  • Lights Out Production: Run the machine without supervision overnight and over the weekend.
  • Speed: Reduce pattern production time.
  • Tighten Control: Control the whole process of manufacturing the patterns in-house.

Propeller Pattern Making

Marine manufacturer CJR Propulsion, based in the UK, specialises in manufacturing steering gear for luxury yachts and work boats.

Several challenges were faced. Each propeller needed a design specifically for each vessel. Additionally, each pattern for every propeller needed to be produced quickly and economically. Lastly, outsourced pattern making took weeks to produce.

By incorporating 3D printing into their pattern making process by way of a large-scale printer from BigRep, the company was able to move production of the propeller patterns in-house.

This resulted in:

  • Lowered production cost.
  • Reduce production time from three weeks to three days.
  • Tightened control of the pattern making process.
  • Run the machine unattended overnight and over the weekend.
  • Ability to conduct multiple iterations of design.

APMEN Feature, May/June 2017

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  • Last modified on Wednesday, 28 June 2017 02:35
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