3D Printed Sand Cores And Molds: You Need To Know

June 23, 2024

3D printed sand cores and molds are revolutionizing the foundry and metal casting industry by enabling the creation of highly complex and precise geometries that are difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional methods. This technology leverages additive manufacturing, specifically binder jetting, to produce molds and cores directly from digital models.Learn about our sand mold 3D printing services.

Overview of 3D Printed Sand Cores and Molds

3D Printed Sand Cores:

  • Definition: Sand cores are used to create the internal cavities of a casting. They are placed inside the mold to form hollow sections or intricate internal features.
  • Materials: Typically made from silica sand, with a binder (often a resin) to hold the sand particles together.

3D Printed Sand Molds:

  • Definition: Sand molds are the negative forms into which molten metal is poured to create the final cast part.
  • Materials: Similar to sand cores, they use silica sand bound by a binder.

Our company has launched many models of industrial 3D printers to meet the production of large-size sand molds and sand cores. These machines are currently playing an important role in major foundries in China. At the same time, they are now being sold overseas, if you need to click to get a free quote.

Process of 3D Printing Sand Cores and Molds

  1. Design:
    The process begins with creating a digital model using CAD software. This model can be highly detailed and include complex geometries.
  2. Printing:
    The most common technology used is binder jetting. In this process, a layer of sand is spread over the build platform;
    A print head moves across the sand layer, selectively depositing a binder to adhere the sand particles together according to the digital model;
    The platform is lowered, and another layer of sand is spread and selectively bonded. This process is repeated layer by layer until the entire core or mold is built.
  3. Post-Processing:
    Once printing is complete, the cores and molds may undergo additional curing to fully set the binder.
    Excess, unbound sand is removed, often using compressed air or a vacuum system.
Sand Molds, Sand Core Printing Process

Advantages of 3D Printed Sand Cores and Molds

  • Complex Geometries: Enables the production of intricate and highly complex internal and external geometries that are challenging or impossible with traditional methods.
  • Customization: Facilitates rapid customization and iteration of designs, making it ideal for prototyping and small batch production.
  • Reduced Lead Times: Speeds up the mold-making process significantly, reducing the time from design to casting.
  • Material Efficiency: Reduces material waste, as only the sand required for the mold and core is used.
  • Cost-Effective for Small Runs: Particularly cost-effective for low-volume production and prototypes where traditional tooling costs would be prohibitive.


  • Automotive Industry: Used for casting complex engine blocks, cylinder heads, and other intricate automotive components.
  • Aerospace Industry: Essential for producing turbine blades, housings, and other components that require precise internal geometries.
  • Industrial Manufacturing: Applied in the creation of various industrial components with complex shapes and internal features.
  • Art and Sculpture: Used to produce detailed and complex sculptures and artistic pieces.

3d printing sand mold, sand core case

Challenges and Considerations

  • Initial Investment: The initial cost of sand 3D printing equipment and materials can be high, although this is often offset by the long-term benefits.Understanding the Cost of 3D Printed Sand Molds
  • Material Properties: The mechanical properties and thermal stability of the printed sand molds and cores must be carefully managed to ensure they meet the requirements of the casting process.
  • Binder Selection: The choice of binder affects the strength, thermal stability, and ease of removal of the core or mold after casting.
  • Post-Processing Needs: Some printed sand structures may require additional finishing or strengthening processes.

The technology for 3D printed sand cores and molds is continually advancing. Some future trends include:

  • Improved Printing Speed and Resolution: Developments in printer technology will further enhance the speed and detail of printed sand molds and cores.
  • New Materials: Research into new sand and binder materials will lead to improved properties and expanded applications.
  • Integration with Digital Manufacturing: Greater integration with digital manufacturing workflows will streamline the entire casting process, from design to final product.


3D printed sand cores and molds offer significant advantages in terms of design flexibility, lead time reduction, and material efficiency. As the technology continues to evolve, it is expected to become an even more integral part of the metal casting industry, enabling the production of highly complex and precise components across various sectors.

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Longyuan AFS Co., Ltd. is a leading provider of 3D printing equipment and manufacturing services in China, providing high-quality R&D pilot production and rapid manufacturing services for small-lot, multi-species and complex structure metal products based on the integrated technology of "3D printing, casting, machining and inspection".

  • Email: sales@lyafs.com
  • Phone:+86 13299265105
  • Add: No.7 Jin Yi Street, Shunyi District, Beijing, China.