Expendable mold casting is a generic classification that includes sand, plastic, shell, plaster, and investment (lost-wax technique) moldings. This method of mold casting involves the use of temporary, non-reusable molds.
Sand casting is one of the most popular and simplest types of casting, and has been used for centuries. Sand casting allows for smaller batches than permanent mold casting and at a very reasonable cost. Not only does this method allow manufacturers to create products at a low cost, but there are other benefits to sand casting, such as very small-size operations. The process allows for castings small enough fit in the palm of one's hand to those large enough only for train beds (one casting can create the entire bed for one rail car). Sand casting also allows most metals to be cast depending on the type of sand used for the molds.
Sand casting requires a lead time of days, or even weeks sometimes, for production at high output rates (1–20 pieces/hr-mold) and is unsurpassed for large-part production. Green (moist) sand has almost no part weight limit, whereas dry sand has a practical part mass limit of 2,300–2,700 kg (5,100–6,000 lb). Minimum part weight ranges from 0.075–0.1 kg (0.17–0.22 lb). The sand is bonded together using clays, chemical binders, or polymerized oils (such as motor oil). Sand can be recycled many times in most operations and requires little maintenance.
Plaster mold casting
Plaster casting is similar to sand casting except that plaster of paris is used instead of sand as a mold material. Generally, the form takes less than a week to prepare, after which a production rate of 1–10 units/hr-mold is achieved, with items as massive as 45 kg (99 lb) and as small as 30 g (1 oz) with very good surface finish and close tolerances. Plaster casting is an inexpensive alternative to other molding processes for complex parts due to the low cost of the plaster and its ability to produce near net shape castings. The biggest disadvantage is that it can only be used with low melting point non-ferrous materials, such as aluminium, copper, magnesium, and zinc.