Copper: Made for Copper Investment Casting
My family used to make regular trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan each Memorial Day. First we would travel to Mackinac Island, and from that point we would head to our hotel in St. Ignace. One year, at some point during our trip, at a gift shop I bought a little plastic box filled with pure copper flakes. I still don’t know why this appealed to me. I don’t know where the box is now, and I have no desire to search for it. After all, that souvenir caused problems for me. When I returned to school after vacation (this was in early elementary school), I brought the copper with me to class. For some reason, don’t ask me why, I thought it would be a good idea to chew on them in class. I was lucky for two reasons that day: my teacher noticed almost immediately and stopped me, and copper is highly malleable.
Malleability is, metallurgically speaking, basically another word for softness. As far as I know, it was my ego, rather than my teeth, that ended up suffering that day, and I have experienced no observable negative consequences except for the occasional shuddering I experience when I recall the memory. While copper is certainly no good for chewing, it was made for investment casting. A malleable, moldable material like copper fits right into investment casting processes. Considering that the process involves melting the material down and investing it in a ceramic shell, it’s no surprise that copper was discovered to be an excellent candidate for investment casting.
Copper investment castings can be found in use in all kinds of contexts, including in industry, commerce and in consumer products contexts. It is used to make copper parts that can’t be formed through other metalworking processes. The downside to investment casting is that it is time- and labor-intensive, but this is because it can create products with more detail and precision than other kinds of casting methods. Copper is often used to create complex metal parts, so investment casting is often a good choice for the material when it is intended to be formed into a complex product. When in the hands of elementary school students, copper might not seem so valuable. But when subject to investment casting, there are no limits to the kinds of copper products that can be produced.