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History of Investment Casting

By Li Chenyu / hcfire360 July 2021

The basic technique of investment casting, under its popular name ‘lost wax casting’ has a history of use in the world reaching back to centuries ago. It is one of the oldest known metal shaping methods.

Anklets in bronze, dating from 4500 BC, have been found in East Asia and lost wax castings in Mesopotamia from about 4000 BC; the Chinese used the technique about 2000-3000 BC to cast elaborate bronze objects and many examples of cast forms with delicate filigree can be dated to the Shang Dynasty. Knowledge of the process was diffused in the ancient world and, by the time of Christ, it appears to have been practiced in China, South East Asia, Mesopotamia, Greece, Italy, and Northern Europe.

Little is known of the progress of this versatile casting technique for nearly 1000 years. Remarkable copper statutory, believed to be lost wax castings from around 900 AD, have been found in India. By the 13th century, bronze tomb effigies were being investment cast, examples being those of King Henry III and Queen Eleanor in Westminster Abbey.
In South America, the Quimbaya goldsmiths from the Cauca Valley of Columbia produced detailed and intricate hollowed cast gold figures and jewelers by lost wax methods, and the Aztec goldsmiths are known to have used the method.

Dentists took up the process, at around the turn of the century, to produce accurate castings for gold fillings and dental inlays and it is to this industry that much credit must go for developing some of the basic methods upon which the modern engineering investment casting depends. In 1932, they developed the lost wax ceramic block mould process (an alternative to the ceramic shell process) and the cobalt-chromium series of heat resistant alloys for dental applications and orthopedic components.

Today precision investment castings are used in the following: in the industries of Agricultural Equipment, Mineral Processing, Mining Equipment, Oil & Gas Industry, Ground Engaging & Heavy Equipment, Food Machinery, Automobile Industry, Railway Industry, Ship Building Industry, Cement Industry, Power Industry, etc.