Ice patterns generated by rapid freeze prototyping or a molding process can be used to make ceramic investment molds for metal castings. Due to the use of ice, the ceramic slurries must be poured around the pattern and cured at sub-freezing temperatures. Success of this process depends greatly on the mold strength after the gelation of the slurries. This paper describes the experimental results of the mold strength after the gelation of the slurries under different compositions. The parameters considered include mixing time, alumino-silicate vs. fused silica ratio, volume of binder, and volume of catalyst. The strength of the gelled slurries is examined by breaking test bars on a four-point bending apparatus. Weibull modulus for each trial is calculated based on the breaking strength from four-point bend tests. Analysis of variance for breaking strength and Weibull analysis is performed to evaluate the significance of the effect of each parameter. The casting of a bolt is used to demonstrate that metal castings of complex geometry can be fabricated using investment casting with ice patterns.

Meeting Name

15th Annual Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium (2004: Aug. 2-4, Austin, TX)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Second Department

Materials Science and Engineering


The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Science Foundation grants (DMI-0128313, DMI-0140625 and DMI-0321712).

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type




Publication Date

04 Aug 2004