What is sand casting used for?

The advantages, applications and process of sand casting.

The sand casting process has many advantages.

Sand casting is used to create high-precision, high-integrity castings across varied sectors including ICE automotive, electric vehicles, defence and aerospace.

Why should you choose sand casting?

While sand casting is one of the oldest production processes, modern sand casting uses technology to optimise the entire process; from initial enquiry stage through to production and inspection. Data-driven science has evolved sand casting massively in just the last 20 years, delivering a process that can achieve the complex castings needed to meet global 21st century challenges.

GW_Sand Casting Process Map


Creating complex geometries in a single metal part

Sand casting can create complex geometries in a single part - vital for lightweighting and material reduction. Or put simply, sand casting allows us to reduce the weight of things that move and improve the efficiency of machines that use fuel. Both are essential for a greener future. Data-driven simulations, tailored aluminium alloys, 3D sand printed cores, and the use of CT scanning to inspect the inside of parts, are all part of the modern sand casting foundry.

Read more: How to design a high-integrity sand casting with DFM

Read more: What are the most common casting methods?

Read more: Why solidification rates are crucial to achieving a quality sand casting

What are the advantages of sand casting?

Sand casting is a reliable, relatively quick and cost effective casting process, allowing highly complex parts to be created in almost any size, weight or alloy, and at low cost compared to other methods. It's a powerful process for prototyping. Sand casting is also a sustainably manufacturing process – it’s almost 100% circular.

How can sand casting optimise part properties and function?

Sand castings allows for flexibility and optimisation across the entire production process. This includes:

  • Optimising materials used (both in the sand for moulds and the ability to create bespoke alloys)
  • The casting process method chosen
  • Finishing methods
  • Validation methods chosen 

While sand casting is hugely flexible, the process doesn't suit all applications. For example, volumes greater than 10,000 are not suitable for sand casting. Your project requirements will determine the best process.

What shapes can be made with sand casting?

Sand casting is suitable for complex and simple net shape forms, limited only by the pattern produced. The ability to cast large parts in a single piece provides opportunities for future automotive applications, allowing drastic part reduction and lightweighting. For an example, read more in our blog on what Tesla has achieved with the Giga casting.


How fast is the casting process?

Additional finishing with machining is usually required after casting, but the lead times are short compared to other methods (any company supplying Formula 1 with just two weeks between races must be able to turn round design changes very quickly!).

Casting process and innovation

What applications use the sand casting process?

The flexibility of a manual assembly process and the fact that tooling board can be machined quickly mean that sand casting has a fast turnaround. This makes it suitable for low quantities- particularly prototyping and low volume series production.

What process considerations are needed in sand casting?

Old fashioned casting techniques used to cause porosity and mis-runs, but these are much reduced with today's simulation technology. The process is tremendously versatile. Consideration needs to be given to dimensional tolerancing and the ability to generate fine detail. Good method and process design is required to put the right material properties in the right places.


Want to know more about the sand casting process? 

Download our free ebook, 'The Basics of the Sand Casting Process'.

Read the sand casting ebook