Lead designers looking to create a functional, durable and attractive prototype for customers generally start with five variables in mind — appearance, materials, precision, elastomers and quantity.
Pieces made from urethane castings can’t be beat. You get total control over the finish without having to use any paint. Basically, after you supply a paint chip, Pantone color or something similar, the desired color is produced. You can even polish this material to achieve a transparent look.
A Versatile Material
Urethane casting formulas can be developed to mimic common plastics like acrylic, polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE) and even nylon. You can also mix in some additional resistance to weather and chemicals, which is a huge bonus if durability matters in your application. The industrial and agricultural companies among us can appreciate this feature.
You must keep in mind that this material is not perfect. If the final product is an attractive package or a large housing for a piece of equipment, cast urethane will deliver. If an intricate or tiny piece is ordered, go ahead and look for a precision machine shop to handle the job. As the cast urethane process has limitations to mold life, it is necessary to refurbish tooling in order to maintain critical features.
If you’re new to the cast urethane world, take the time to study and understand durometer. This measures the hardness of urethane, which can be mixed to be as hard as steel or as soft as a rubber band.
A urethane casting becomes cost-effective after approximately 2 parts, depending on the design. However, some molds may start losing quality after 25 castings. Nonetheless, if you’re talking about a high-quality, short run for a client, urethane will deliver.
Cast urethane provides what product designers need in a reliable material that’s easy to develop. Like anything else, there are shortcomings, but in the hands of a capable casting company, you will get the end results you need.