At Niagara Investment Castings, we are not only a manufacturer of high quality investment castings, but a learning resource as well.  We understand how best to allow you to take advantage of the investment casting process for your component manufacturing needs.  We believe that early involvement and input by our technical staff allows our customers to attain maximum value from our casting process.
Whether working to modern CAD drawings, or even standard 2D drawings or sample parts, we will turn your designs into 3D CAD drawings of the most cost effective and useful designs, utilized the FIT – FORM – FUNCTION basics of component design, which will ultimately lead to our ability to not only provide production quality cast steel parts, but innovative rapid prototypes as needed, to allow you to take your research and design to conclusion.
We are an experienced staff of innovative thinkers who are willing to support you in creative product design.  Any assistance needed – ranging from a simple tolerance review to full-scale engineering assistance – is available at our offices or yours. 
Simply stated … Fishbowls-2
Our goal is to help set you apart from the rest of your competition through partnering with us, because we BOTH benefit through cost saving innovation.


While the investment casting process offers unmatched flexibility compared to most other manufacturing processes, as with any process, there are specific limitations to what can be expected, and an investment casting should ALWAYS be designed with these limitations in mind.

We therefore offer the following general guidelines for consideration when designing an investment casting, and again, please remember we are pleased to meet with you, or have a discussion over the phone, to go over your specific requirements in greater detail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The investment casting process should be considered as capable of excellent dimensional tolerance and part-to-part reproducibility.  While the process is superior to any other casting method available, there are some sources of variation which need to be considered when designing the casting…
  • Process Capability: Due to normal fluctuations in process parameters, variances of ± .003″ to ± .004″ per inch can be expected.
  • Part Geometry: Most parts are complex in shape and are subject to variation in nominal size due to asymmetry of form and the resulting variable shrinkage rates in different areas of the part. This variation is totally dependent on part configuration and whether it is possible to compensate in the tooling, but it is not uncommon for additional tolerance requirements of ± .004″ per inch due to part shape. (An example of this is a cylinder closed on one end and open on the other. This shape will always “bellmouth” to some degree.)
  • Tooling: Prediction of part shrinkage factors and die makers’ tolerances can add as much as ± .002″ per inch to the total process tolerance requirements. This is especially true when dies require loose pieces and/or mechanically operated pulls.

 Normal linear tolerances reflect these three sources of variation as described above from nominal dimensions and are as follows:

Imperial System

Up to 1/2″ ±.007″

Up to 1″ ± 010″

Up to 2″ ± .015″

Each additional inch: ± .005″

Metric System

Up to 15 mm ± 0.20 mm

Up to 25 mm ± 0.25 mm

Up to 50 mm ± 0.40 mm

Each additional 25 mm: ±0.13 mm

Apply Normal Linear Tolerances only to those dimensions that are important to part function.

Premium Linear Tolerances

All three sources of variation can be reduced by:

i ) Part redesign, including addition of tie bars, ribs, and gussets to certain shapes.

ii) Tuning of wax injection tooling after the first sample to meet the nominal dimensions.

iii) Straightening

iv) Gauging and hand fitting

v) Machining

vi) Other secondary operations.

These factors can assist in obtaining tighter than normal tolerances. Niagara Investment Castings staff will work with the customer to meet all design requirements in the most economical and practical manner. Additional costs may be associated with items 1 through 6 in this list.

Premium tolerance capability must be considered on a part by part, dimension by dimension basis.

Noncritical dimensions that are put on a part drawing simply to describe the shape can be most economically produced by applying Normal Linear Tolerances.

Other Tolerances

Flatness and Straightness

Parts will be held flat and/or straight to .005″ per inch of length.

Heavy Part sections may also be dished up to .010″.

Unless otherwise agreed, feeler gauge and surface plate (or straight edge) method will be used to inspect flatness and straightness.


The hole profile will fall within Normal Linear Tolerances. Apply Premium Linear Tolerances when necessary. Apply General Linear Tolerances when possible.


Two cylindrical surfaces with common center axes will have centre axes separated by no more than .005″ times the difference between the diameters in inches. If the length of the cylinder is greater than two times the diameter, add the straightness tolerance above to concentricity.

Concentricity is not a simple characteristic to measure. Consider changing the control to a runout or position notation.

Angularity / Perpendicularity

Normally ± 0.5° or ± .008″/inch of length is a good production tolerance. Some shapes can be held to ± 0.25°; others require ±1.0° Some surfaces will be drafted up to .005″/inch of length, but draft is not normally needed if it will interfere with part function.

Cast Features- General Guideline

Through Holes

Through holes may be cast to:

Size Max. Depth

.060″-.090″ 2 x hole dia.

.091″ -.200″ 3 x hole dia.

.201″ -.400″ 4 x hole dia.

.401 ” + 6 x hole dia.

Preformed ceramic coring may allow hole depths up to 30 x diameter, at additional cost.

Blind Holes

Blind holes may be cast to:

Size Max. Depth Blending Corner Radii

.040″ -.120″ 5 x hole dia. .5 x hole dia.

.121″ -.400″ 1 x hole dia. .060- .090

.401″ + 2 x hole dia. .090- .180

In blind hole design, large corner radii blending from the part surface to the hole are necessary to provide adequate core strength. Bottoms of blind holes should be full round or generously radiused. Preformed ceramic cores can be used to allow greater blind hole depths.

Countersinks / Counterbores

Incorporate as needed with holes.


Through slots may be cast to:

Size ->Max. Depth

.040″ -.080″ 2 x width

.081″ -.200″ 3 x width

.201 ” -.400″ 4 x width

.401 ” + 6 x width

Blind slots may be cast up to 1.5 x width. Corner radii blending from the part surface to the slot are necessary.

Wall Thickness- Corner Radii

Minimum wall thickness and corner radii are very dependent upon part configuration and size. Small investment castings may in some cases have walls cast to .030″ thickness. Corner radii may be cast to .005″ R. Alloy selection will play a significant role here.

Surface Texture

Cast surfaces of investment castings are typically in the range of a 125 RMS texture. Larger castings may exhibit a slightly rougher finish. If this is important for part function, be sure to make these needs known. Secondary smoothing operations can be used to improve surface texture.

Gate Witness

Each part is gated into one or more heavy sections. Normally a .010″ to .025″ high gate witness left on the part will allow best manufacturing economy. Advise if this is objectionable. Gates can be removed flush to the adjacent surface or ground to a specific dimension. Often this results in a higher manufacturing cost.


Normally, large fillet and corner radii reduce stress in the part and improve appearance. Design with the largest fillet radii that are practical. Allow outside corner radii where possible. Sometimes outside corners must be tooled sharp, but this is avoided whenever possible.

Letters, Numbers, Logos

Normally, raised letters or numbers in protective depressed pads are most economical to manufacture. Specify exact text and figure dimensions. Logos can be investment cast to almost any design.

Metallurgical and Visual Ouality Requirements Well defined material, heat treatment and visual standards should be agreed upon between the customer and Niagara Investment Castings Limited.

Special Requirements

The information contained in this guide is intended to be a good starting point for designers of investment castings. Many parts have special requirements that fall outside these guidelines or are not discussed. For more specific requirements please consult with qualified Niagara Investment Castings technical personnel who are available to offer advice and assistance regarding these needs.