What is Mold Cavity ?
The mold cavity of a casting does not reflect the exact dimensions of the finished part due to a number of reasons. These modifications to the mold cavity are known as allowances and account for patternmaker's shrinkage, draft, machining, and distortion. In non-expendable processes, these allowances are imparted directly into the permanent mold, but in expendable mold processes they are imparted into the patterns, which later form the mold cavity. Note that for non-expendable molds an allowance is required for the dimensional change of the mold due to heating to operating temperatures.
For surfaces of the casting that are perpendicular to the parting line of the mold a draft must be included. This is so that the casting can be released in non-expendable processes or the pattern can be released from the mold without destroying the mold in expendable processes. The required draft angle depends on the size and shape of the feature, the depth of the mold cavity, how the part or pattern is being removed from the mold, the pattern or part material, the mold material, and the process type. Usually the draft is not less than 1%.
The machining allowance varies drastically from one process to another. Sand castings generally have a rough surface finish, therefore need a greater machining allowance, whereas die casting has a very fine surface finish, which may not need any machining tolerance. Also, the draft may provide enough of a machining allowance to begin with.
The distortion allowance is only necessary for certain geometries. For instance, U-shaped castings will tend to distort with the legs splaying outward, because the base of the shape can contract while the legs are constrained by the mold. This can be overcome by designing the mold cavity to slope the leg inward to begin with. Also, long horizontal sections tend to sag in the middle if ribs are not incorporated, so a distortion allowance may be required.
Cores may be used in expendable mold processes to produce internal features. The core can be of metal but it is usually done in sand.