Talbot's Guide to the Proper selection of Casting Techniques

  Description Metals Size Range Tolerances * Tooling Costs+ Part Price+ Design Freedom+ Surface Finish Minimum Draft Requirements** Normal Minimum Section Thickness++ Ordering Quantities Normal Lead Time+++
Die Casting
Molten metal is injected, under pressure, into hardened steel dies, often water or oil cooled. Dies open and castings ejected.

Aluminum, Zinc, Magnesium, Lead and limited Brass.

Not normally over 2 feet square. Some foundries capable of larger sizes.

Al and Mg ± .002”/in.
Zinc ± .0015”/in.
Brass ± .007”/in. Add ± .001” to ± .016” across parting line depending on size.

1 5 4

32-63 RMS

Al & Mg: 1° to 3°
Zinc: ½° to 2°
Brass: 2° to 5°

Al: .03” Small parts
.06” Medium parts
Mg: .03” Small parts
.045” Medium parts
Zinc: .025” Small parts
.040” Medium parts

Usually 2,500 and up.

Samples: 12-20 weeks
Production: 4-8 weeks A.S.A.

Permanent Mold Molten metal is gravity poured into steel or cast iron molds, coated with ceramic mold wash. Cores can be metal, sand, sand shell or other. Molds open and castings ejected. Low Pressure Perm Mold method pressure pours with up to 15 p.s.i. Aluminum, Magnesium, Zinc, some Brass, Bronze, H.C. Copper, Lead, and Gray Iron.

Limitation mainly foundry capabilities. Aluminum and Copper Base ounces to 100 lbs. Ferrous: 60 lbs. max.

Aluminum: Basic ± .015”.
Add ± .002”/in. If across parting line add ± .010” to ± .030” depending on size.
Copper Base: Similar to investment. Iron: ± .03” Basic.


Non-Ferrous 3-4
Ferrous 4

Non-Ferrous 3
Ferrous 5

Aluminum: 150-250 RMS
Copper Base: 125-200 RMS
Ferrous: 200-350 RMS

Outside: 2° Min. (3° desirable)
Inside: 2° Min. (4° desirable)
Outide: 1°, Inside: 5°

Non-Ferrous: .100" Small Areas, up to ¼” Large Areas.
Ferrous: 3/16” Small Areas, ¼” Normal

Minimum One Day’s Run: (100-1,000, depending on size).

Samples: 8-20 weeks
Production: 4-8 weeks A.S.A

(Lost Wax)
Metal mold makes wax or plastic replica. These are sprued, then surrounded with investment material, baked out, and metal poured in resultant cavity. Molds broken to remove castings.

Most castable metals.

Fraction of an ounce to 150 lbs.

± .003” to ¼”
± .004” to ½”
± .005” per in. to 3” ± .003” for each additional inch.




63-125 RMS


.030” Small Areas
.060” Larger Areas

Aluminum: usually under 1,000.
Other metals: all quantities

Samples: 5-16 weeks (depending on complexity).

Production: 4-12 weeks A.S.A (depending on subsequent operations).
Plaster Mold Plaster slurry is poured onto pattern halves, allowed to set, then mold is removed from pattern, baked, assembled, and metal is poured into resultant cavity. Molds broken to remove castings. Aluminum, Magnesium, Zinc, Limited Copper Base. Up to 500 square inch area. Copper Base much smaller.

One side of parting line ± .005” up to 2”.

Over 2” add ± .002”/in. Across parting line add ± .010”.




63-125 RMS

External: 0° to ½ °
Internal: ½° to 2°


Usually low. Often used to prototype for die castings.
Average: 50-250 pieces.

Samples: 2-6 weeks
Production: 2-4 weeks A.S.A.

Ceramic Mold Ceramic slurry poured over cope and drag patterns, allowed to set, then molds removed from pattern, baked at 1800°F, producing hard, stable molds. Molds assembled with or without cores and metal poured into resultant cavity. Molds broken to remove castings.

Most castable metals

5lbs. to 350 lbs.

One side of parting line ± .005” up to 2”.

Over 2” add ± .004”/in. Across parting line add ± .010”. (Assumes Epoxy or Metal Patterns)

Wood 5
Epoxy or Metal 4



80-125 RMS

0° to ½ °


Low to medium. Often used for tooling for other casting methods

Samples: 3-8 weeks (depending on complexity)
Production: 2-8 weeks A.S.A (depending on metal and quantity)

Graphite Mold Same as Permanent Mold, except no ceramic mold wash is needed, since Graphite molds are used. Core pins are usually steel.

Aluminum and Zinc.

One ounce to 10 lbs. Currently 12” by 14” with a depth of 7”.

First inch: ± .005"
Additional inches ± .002”/in.
Across parting line add ± .005”.




63-125 RMS

.100” (can go to .06 for very small areas).

Usually 300 and up.

Samples: 6-10 weeks
Production: 4 weeks A.S.A.

Resin Shell Mold Resin-coated sand is poured onto hot metal patterns, curing into shell-like mold halves. These are removed from pattern, assembled with or without cores. Metal is poured into resultant cavities. Molds broken to remove castings. Most Castable metals Normal maximum 550 square inches usable mold area. Depends on equipment at each foundry

Non-Ferrous: ± .008”/in. Decreasing with size.
Ferrous: ± .010”/in.

Add ± .005” to .010” across parting line




Non-Ferrous: 125-200 RMS
Ferrous: 200-350 RMS

Outside: ½° to 1°
Inside ½° to 2°

Non-Ferrous: 3/32"
Ferrous: 1/8"

Non-ferrous usually 100 and up.
Ferrous usually 1,000 and up.

Samples: 12-16 weeks
Production: 6-10 weeks A.S.A

Sand Casting Tempered sand is packed onto wood or metal pattern halves, removed from pattern, assembled with or without cores, and metal is poured into resultant cavities. Various core materials can be used. Molds broken to remove castings. Specialized binders now in use can improve tolerances and surface finish. Most castable materials

Limitation mainly foundry capabilities.
ounces to many tons

Non-Ferrous: ± 1/32” to 6” Add ± .003” for each aditional inch.
Ferrous: ± 1/32” to 3”, ± 3/64” from 3” to 6”.

Across parting line add ± .020” to ± .090” depending on size (Assumes metal patterns)

Wood: 5
Aluminum: 4
Iron: 2



Non-ferrous: 150-350 RMS
Ferrous: 300-700 RMS

1° to 5°
Cores: 1° to 1 1/2°

Non-ferrous: 1/8” to ¼”
Gray Iron: 1/8”
D.I. & Steel: 3/16”

All quantities

Samples: 2-10 weeks
Production: 2-4 weeks A.S.A

Semi-Solid Metal (SSM) Specially prepared metal slugs are gradually heated to a semi-solid state, then transferred to forming machine, where ram injects (squeezes), under pressure, the metal into die. Die opens and part is ejected. Aluminum, magnesium, and some copper alloys Ounces to 5 lbs., some processors capable of larger sizes

Al and Mg ± .002”/in.
Brass ± .007
Add ± .001 to ± .010 across parting line depending on size.




32-63 RMS

1° preferred
½° possible


2,500 pieces and up
(usally 50,000 pieces and up)

Samples: 10-15 weeks
Production:6-8 weeks A.S.A

Metal Injection Molding Very fine metal powder, combined with binder material, is injected into die. Part is ejected, the binder is removed. Parts are then sintered at high temperature, in a vacuum, resulting in 94-99% of theoretical density. Primarily ferrous alloys limited Copper Base

.0005 lbs. to .22 lbs.

± 005”/in.




45 RMS


.015” Small areas

Usally 10,000 and up

Samples: 10-16 weeks
Production: 4-6 weeks A.S.A.

Talbot Associates, Inc.
11 Cleveland Place
Springfield, NJ 07081-1507
Phone: (973) 376-9570
Fax: (973) 376-7617
E-Mail: sales@metalbot.com

The above are generalities and should be used only as a rough guide. When in doubt, check with your TAI Sales Engineer. Often you will wish to evaluate two or more processes for a given part. He can elaborate on the above information as applied to your specific parts.

Copyright 2009 Talbot Associates Inc.

A.S.A. After Sample Approval
* These are for critical dimensions and should not be specified where not necessary.
** Draft requirements inversely affected by depth of draw.
+ 1-Most. 5-Least.
++ Size and surface area influence this considerably
+++ This will vary widely depending on business conditions and foundry load. Availability
  of CAD files and New Rapid Prototyping processes can cut sampling time in half or less.