Lost-foam casting is a type of evaporative-pattern casting process that is similar to investment casting except foam is used for the pattern instead of wax. This process takes advantage of the low boiling point of foam to simplify the investment casting process by removing the need to melt the wax out of the mold.
This casting process is advantageous for very complex castings that would regularly require cores.
It is also dimensionally accurate, maintains an excellent surface finish, requires no draft, and has no parting lines so no flash is formed. The un-bonded sand of lost foam casting can be much simpler to maintain than green sand and resin bonded sand systems. Lost foam is generally more economical than investment casting because it involves fewer steps. Risers are not usually required due to the nature of the process; because the molten metal vaporizes the foam the first metal into the mold cools more quickly than the rest, which results in natural directional solidification. Foam is easy to manipulate, carve and glue, due to its unique properties. The flexibility of LFC often allows for consolidating the parts into one integral component; other forming processes would require the production of one or more parts to be assembled.
The two main disadvantages are that pattern costs can be high for low volume applications and the patterns are easily damaged or distorted due to their low strength. If a die is used to create the patterns there is a large initial cost.