An Overview of Stainless Steel Castings

Posted on May 29, 2021

Stainless Steel Castings

Stainless steel is a ferrous alloy containing chromium – a composition that prevents the metal from rusting and corroding. It is also known for its heat-resistance property. Through heat treatment, the material can be further strengthened. 

In this article, we are not going to spend too much time addressing the properties and compositions of stainless steel, but to mainly focus on investment casting applications in association with stainless steel. This is often referred to as stainless steel investment casting, or simply stainless steel casting.

What Is Stainless Steel Castings?

Stainless steel casting is basically the formation of ceramics around a wax pattern to produce a shell for casting stainless steel. The wax patterns are melted into the gate system once created, immersed in slurry and sand to form an outer shell. It is then replaced by molten stainless steel. 

What Can Stainless Steel Casting Produce?

The Stainless steel casting process can be used to create parts for a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, medical, petrochemical, food and more. Common parts and components produced through the investment casting process include pumps, valve bodies, housings, gears, arms, brackets, bushings, handles, marine equipment, medical equipment, etc.

:: Read more : What are Investment Casting Products?

How Do Stainless Steel Castings Work?

Stainless steel casting involves pouring liquid metal into a mold container with a specific shape, creating a wax model and the image with plaster and layers until a strong shell engulfs the model. When the wax melts completely, the molten stainless steel is poured into the mold to create a perfect replication of the original wax pattern. The process typically starts out in steel mills, where the stainless materials are continuously cast into ingots, blooms, billets, or slabs. These raw manufacturing materials will then be shaped by further processing. 

That said, stainless steel investment casting can produce cast products with high resolution and highly sophisticated detail. It is also able to produce a very smooth surface finish compared to machine separations. Other notable advantages of stainless steel casting include flexibility in product size (can be as small as 0.1 in. to 24 in.), reasonable weight (maybe a bit over 50 pounds), tight tolerances, reliable process control, repeatability, superb design and casting versatility, efficient production process, affordability, and material variety.

Material Grade at a Glance

Finally, we’d like to address the different grades of stainless steel that are available to you. It can typically be categorized into the 300 series, 400 series, and the precipitation hardening alloys. 

The 300 series stainless steel is a non-magnetic chromium-nickel alloy. These types of stainless steel casting alloys feature exceptional rust resistance, but cannot be strengthened through heat treatment. A few subtypes worth mentioning is the 304, a corrosion resistant alloy that is widely used in the plumbing, medical, and mining industry; and then the 316 type, most notable for its superb corrosion resistance and uses in automotive and petrochemical environments. 

The 400 series stainless steel is characterized by high strength and machinability. The distinguishing feature of these chromium-magnesium alloys is that they can be hardened through heat treatment. Some of the common ones, such as the 410 & 416 types, are high strength and highly machinable. You often see them used for investment casting machine parts and valves for automotive applications.  

Last but not least, we have the precipitation hardening stainless steel, a type of high strength and corrosion resistant alloys that can be strengthened with heat treatment. This type of investment casting alloy is largely used by the aerospace, military, and petrochemical industries. Some defining subtypes include the 15-5 and 17-4 stainless steel.


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