The Hidden Complexity of Fabrication to Casting

August 15, 2023

In the early stages of manufacturing, we tend to conceptualize components as individual building blocks. While this method can work wonders, it leads to a complex and labour-intensive manufacturing process. 

Imagine taking all those separate parts and fusing them into a single, elegantly cast piece—like turning a complex puzzle into a sleek, smooth picture. 

This is the promise of shifting from fabrication to casting. 

However, changing from one process to another is not as easy as snapping your fingers.  

Turning all those building blocks into a single cast component is a delicate craft. It demands close collaboration between the manufacturer and you, the customer. 

And both parties need to bring their A-game in terms of knowledge, collaboration, and communication. 

At Arrow Machine and Fabrication Group, we know that converting a part from fabrication to casting isn’t just a matter of ‘print and covert.’ Let’s explore how this transformation takes place and why it’s more than just a process change—it’s a story of partnership and innovation.


Understanding Fabrication, Casting, and the Leap from Fabrication to Casting

Fabrication to casting refers to converting a part’s manufacturing process from one that involves fabrication to one that primarily involves casting. The term covers the broad set of considerations, adjustments, and changes necessary to facilitate this shift. 

Manufacturing by fabrication involves making a product from raw or semi-finished materials rather than assembling it from ready-made components. It often involves techniques such as cutting, shaping, or forming materials using tools, machinery, and human labour. 

In contrast to fabrication, casting is a manufacturing process in which a liquid material is usually poured into a mold containing a hollow cavity of the desired shape and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part, also known as a casting, is then removed from the mold for further processing. 

Importantly, the conversion from fabrication to casting involves re-designing the part for the casting process, creating new molds, setting up new production lines, adjusting quality control processes, and many other changes. We’ll describe these factors in more detail as we go. 


Why Consider Moving from Fabrication to Casting?

Shifting away from a fabrication process to one of casting can be a smart move for various reasons, including:

  • Efficiency: Casting can be more economical than fabrication as it requires less labour and material, particularly for mass production.
  • Design Complexity: Casting can produce intricate designs at scale with greater consistency than traditional fabrication. 
  • Improved Performance: Beyond cost savings, casting a part instead of fabricating it can produce a smoother, more polished-looking piece with specific performance benefits.

However, some parts that are better suited to this shift than othe
rs. Not all fabricated parts are suitable for casting. The decision to explore fabrication to casting must be a calculated one.


Benefits of a Fabrication to Casting Conversion

Casting is a word that opens up a world of possibilities in the manufacturing world, particularly when transitioning from fabrication.

At Arrow, we have helped a number of customers convert from fabrication to casting. A few of the key benefits of the shift are:

  • Cost Savings: By creating parts in a single step, the costs associated with labour, materials, and extra machinery go down drastically. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all deal. A well-coordinated plan with the manufacturer will ensure you realize the cost savings without sacrificing quality when converting from fabrication to casting.
  • Design Flexibility: With casting, many constraints of traditional manufacturing are lifted. It allows for intricate and detailed designs that might be impossible or highly expensive otherwise. This flexibility promotes innovation. However, it also necessitates careful evaluation to determine whether casting is the most suitable method for specific components. 
  • Material Efficiency: Casting minimizes material waste by utilizing the exact amount of alloy needed for the part. Any leftover material can be easily recycled. 
  • Enhanced Quality: Through precise control over the molding process, casting can achieve consistency and quality that might be hard to replicate in traditional methods. By eliminating multiple machining steps, the risk of human error is minimized. The result is superior finish and strength. 
  • Scalability: Casting fits well within both small-batch and high-volume production. Whether it’s a specialized component for a niche market or a mass-produced item for a global audience, casting’s scalability makes it a universally adaptable solution. Assessing if casting is suitable for specific components is vital to leverage this benefit fully. 
  • Improved Aesthetics: The smooth finish and precise detailing achievable through casting meet functional requirements and elevate the product’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Speed of Production: Casting’s streamlined process enables quicker production cycles. By cutting down multiple fabrication steps into a single casting process, the lead time is significantly shortened. This speed can allow for faster market entry and responsiveness to consumer demands.

Certainly, the potential benefits of fabrication to casting touch every stage of production. Casting can be a complete solution aligned with modern manufacturing deman
ds. It’s a bridge between the old and the new.


Key Considerations in the Shift from Fabrication to Casting

Shifting from a traditional fabrication process to one centred around casting is not as simple as flipping a switch.

While not exhaustive, the following is a partial list of the considerations in determining whether a fabricated part is a good fit for casting:

  • Geometry and Complexity of the Part: Complex geometries with tight tolerances may be easier to produce through fabrication methods like machining or additive manufacturing. Simpler shapes or those with uniform cross-sections might be better suited for casting. Complex geometries might be more difficult or expensive to produce. 
  • Material Selection: Different casting processes have different material compatibility. The desired material must be suitable for casting, whether it is metal, plastic, or other substances.
  • Tolerance Requirements: If the part has extremely tight tolerance requirements, casting may not be the best method. It generally has a wider tolerance range compared to machining. 
  • Production Volume: Better suited for low-volume production due to higher unit costs. Casting is usually more cost-effective for large-scale production. The initial tooling costs can be spread across a greater number of units. 
  • Surface Finish Requirements: Casting might leave a rougher surface that requires post-processing. If a smooth surface finish is essential, consider the extra steps needed in the casting process. 
  • Mechanical Properties: The mechanical properties of cast parts can differ from those of fabricated parts due to factors such as grain structure. You must consider these properties if there are specific strength, hardness, or other mechanical property requirements.


Additionally, details can vary widely depending on the specific processes used in fabrication and casting. The industry and application of the part are also key factors. 

Fabrication to Casting Means More than ‘Print and Convert’

At the core of these considerations is a need for precision, communication, and shared understanding. Also, the transition to casting must align with the broader goals of efficiency, innovation, and flexibility in modern manufacturing. 

The bottom line is, converting from fabrication to casting isn’t a simple ‘print and convert’ operation. Investing in detailed planning, commitment, and cooperation is crucial to reap the benefits of cost savings and quality.


Fabrication to Casting: Partnership in Progress

In the shifting manufacturing landscape, fabrication to casting offers a promising alternative that embodies the evolution of industrial practices.

However, transitioning from fabrication to casting is a complex process that demands more than mere technical expertise. It requires a deep partnership, clear communication, and a shared vision between the manufacturer and the customer. 

From evaluating the feasibility to implementing the transition, you must plan and execute each step with precision. 

At Arrow, we take time to understand the unique requirements of each project. We offer tailored solutions that take into account the individual needs of our customers. This customer-centric approach ensures optimal results throughout the product lifecycle. 

Our growth strategy further strengthens this commitment. By forming strategic alliances and acquiring leading metalworking companies, we expand our range of solutions and infuse new expertise into our operations. This keeps us at the forefront of the industry, demonstrating our ongoing dedication to partnership, success, and the realization of innovative manufacturing possibilities. 

Because fabrication to casting is not just a process change—it’s a paradigm shift to meet the demands of evolving industries. 

For more information


Mike Ritchie

President and CEO

Arrow Machine and Fabrication Group

Skip to content