Centrifugal casting

Centrifugal casting

Centrifugal casting or rotocasting is a casting technique which has application across a wide range of industrial and artistic applications:

  • It is used as a means of casting small, detailed parts or jewelry. An articulated arm is free to spin around a vertical axle, which is driven by an electric motor or a spring. The entire mechanism is enclosed in a tub or drum to contain hot metal should the mold break or an excess of metal be used. Single use molds are prepared using the lost wax method. A small amount of metal in a crucible (a sort of ceramic pan) next to the mold is heated with a torch. When the metal is molten the arm is released, forcing (by centrifugal force) the metal into the mold. The high forces imposed on the metal overcome the viscosity, resulting in a finely detailed workpiece. A similar advantage is obtained by vacuum casting.
  • For industrial casting of small parts using poured hot metal, a disk shaped mold is contained within a rotating drum, and molten metal is poured into the center.
  • Centrifugal casting is also applied to the casting of disk and cylindrical shaped objects such as railway carriage wheels or machine fittings where the grain, flow, and balance are important to the durability and utility of the finished product. It is used by UFIP for casting cymbals.
  • It is applied to the fabrication of large telescope mirrors, where the natural curve followed by the molten glass greatly reduces the amount of grinding required. Rather than being cast by pouring glass into a mold an entire turntable containing the peripheral mold and the back pattern (a honeycomb pattern to lighten the finished product) is contained within a furnace and charged with the glass material used. The assembly is then heated while spun at slow speed until the glass is liquid, then gradually cooled over a period of months.

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