Casting is a common and growing sub-field of rapid prototyping as many try to find less-expensive alternatives to traditional sand casting. The University of Michigan 3D Lab combined with efforts at the University of Michigan Dearborn lead to great insight in the use of thermal spraying for the coating of rapid prototyped parts. This process allowed for durable metal parts without the elevated expense that comes from traditional sand casting.
Initially, a part is designed in CAD and then printed using our rapid prototyping services. Once printed it is then placed in a contained area in which the part is then coated with metal. To coat the part, metal is heated to a tremendous temperature and then emitted from a robotic arm as a spray. This molten metal adheres to the part as the robotic arm continues to spray metal over the surface. The metal cools and the originally printed part is burned out leaving only the metal shell.