When To Use 3D Printed Sand

In the metal casting industry, two basic pieces are needed: a mold of some sort and a foundry to pour the mold. A traditional pattern shop supplies the pattern while a foundry packs sand around the pattern to make the mold. From there, the mold is poured resulting in a casted part.

Hoosier Pattern fits the bill of the traditional pattern shop, but our expanded capabilities give us a competitive edge with the addition of our in-house 3D sand printer. By printing ready-to-pour-sand molds, we are able to bypass the tooling, possibly saving our customers time and money.

Since purchasing a 3D sand printer and having it in our facility since 2013, HPI has made strides within new and diverse industries. The possibilities with sand printing are almost endless and with the HPI team, we try to make every “out of the box” concept a reality.

We are always looking for new customers and ways to solve problems within the industry. When talking with new and potential customers we are often asked questions like the following:

                “How do we know when we should use 3D printed sand for our projects instead of using traditional foundry tooling?”

                “What are the advantages of sand printed parts?”

                “How would using 3D sand printing benefit my project?”

Since 3D sand printing is still a fairly new process in the industry, it’s important to give our clients a detailed overview of what to expect when starting a new project with this process. If we had to sum up the benefits of 3D sand printing in a few points, we’d be sure to hit on the following:

Perfect for Prototypes

Sand printed molds and cores are printed from a CAD file and are for one-time use. This process makes printed sand molds and cores ideal for prototyping parts. CAD files can be altered in a very timely manner, allowing for quick changes to the design if needed. Customers are able to avoid paying for tooling that is produced and priced to be used hundreds or thousands of times.


Multi-Piece Core Assembly With A Single Printed Core

Eliminate multi-piece core assemblies by printing a single “merged” core to eliminate mud joints and improve the accuracy of the core.


Easy to Manufacture

In the world of pattern-making and design, it’s not uncommon for engineering changes to pop up. In traditional pattern-making, these changes no matter how small can pose a problem once the tooling has been produced. Since our 3D sand printed molds and cores are printed from a CAD file, the customer is able to create and design geometrically complex castings to be manufactured with ease. Designs don’t have to be compromised in order to meet low-cost, high-functioning manufacturability.


It’s Fast

The conventional method of building a pattern can take anywhere from weeks to months. HPI’s standard lead time for 3D printed sand is 2 weeks, with the option of 1 week and 3 days expediting available. This turnaround time includes printing, cleaning and packaging the parts, followed up by sending the item to a foundry to be poured.


The printer at HPI has a job box the size of 70″ x 39″ x 27″ and prints about 1.3″ every hour. A full job box takes anywhere from 19-23 hours to print, making for an incredibly quick turnaround.


Hoosier Pattern is rooted in traditional pattern-making and will continue to produce high-quality traditional foundry tooling. However, the 3D sand printer opens opportunities to work with clients who need smaller quantities and quicker turnarounds. It is a tool in the HPI toolbox used to help customers with projects and set us apart from the competition. In fact, Hoosier Pattern is one of the few shops in the United States that owns and operates its equipment in-house that supplies production sand cores. 


Our in-house printers and dedicated team members work diligently and consistently to bring the best products to our customers. We will continue to raise the bar within the industry and always work to improve our company and our products because our customers deserve the best.