In August Hoosier Pattern Inc. will become North America’s first commercial supplier of 3D-printed sand molds and cores when it inaugurates a new S-Max 3D, developed by The ExOne Company and acquired recently by the Decatur, IN, operation.

The S-Max 3D system dispenses foundry-grade resin into 0.011-in.-thick layers of specially engineered sand according to patterns derived from CAD data, building up layers to produce molds and cores that are dimensionally accurate and uniform. The “additive manufacturing” process also is fast, reducing lead times, and flexible: Hoosier Pattern indicated it will be able to customize and modify mold designs to improve casting performance, reduce weight, or add complexity to castings. It also said it would be able to offer rapid prototyping for concept designs.

The S-Max provides one of the largest workspaces available through additive manufacturing, a “build envelope” measuring 70.9x39.37x26.56 in. for building molds and cores. Hoosier Pattern indicated the large envelope presents the option to build cores and molds that it had been unable to supply using its CNC machines.

Hoosier Pattern’s Steve Murray explained that the 3D printing “is not an answer to every casting or foundry tooling problem, but it does fulfill a niche that has needed filling for some time.

“Engineers who need parts with no draft can now make them,” the additive manufacturing manager elaborated. “Get a sample casting before you invest in expensive tooling.”

He emphasized that customers needing a pattern quickly would have a realistic option of accomplishing their tight delivery schedules by initiating a 3D printing project.