Technical Information 12
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Effects of Minor and Trace Elements in Cast Iron
Small quantities of many elements can occur in cast irons and have a marked influence on thestructure and properties of the castings. Some are present as deliberate additions while othersarise from trace impurities in the raw materials. Several of these elements have beneficial effects,particularly in grey irons, while others are very damaging and must be avoided as far as possible.The following table lists the common sources of these elements, the levels at which they are likelyto occur and their principle effects. The use of some of these elements (e.g. chromium) as majoralloying elements is not included in the table.
ElementCommon SourcesNormalLevels (%)Effects in Cast Irons
AluminiumAlAl-killed steel scrap,inoculants, ferro-alloys, lightalloy components, additionsof aluminium.Up to0.03Promotes hydrogen pinholes in light sectionsabove about 0.005 %Al. Neutralizes nitrogen.Promotes dross formation. Detrimental to nodulargraphite above approx. 0.08%. May be neutralizedby cerium. Strong graphite stabilizer.AntimonySbSteel scrap, vitreousenamel scrap, bearingshells, deliberate additionsUp to0.02Strong pearlite and carbide promoter.Inhibits nodularity in absence of rare earth’s.ArsenicAsPig iron, steel scrap.Up to0.05Strong pearlite and carbide promoter.Improves nodular graphite shape.BariumBaBarium containinginoculants.Up to0.003Improves graphite nucleation and reduces fading.Reduces chilling tendency and promotes graphiteBismuthBiDeliberate additions, mouldcoatings containing Bi.Rarelyabove0.01Promotes chill and undesirable graphite forms.Increases nodule number in ductile ironscontaining rare earth’s (cerium). Excessive nodulecounts may cause shrinkage problems.BoronBVitreous enamel scrap,deliberate additions as FeB.Up to0.01Above 5 ppm promotes ferrite. Above 10 ppm pro-motes carbides particularly in ductile irons. 20 ppmimproves annealing of malleable irons.CalciumCaFerro-alloys, nodularizers,inoculants.Up to0.01Improves spheroidization of graphite nodules.Improves graphite nucleation.Reduces chilling tendency and promotes graphite.CeriumCeMost magnesium alloys oradded as mishmetall orother rare earth sources.Up to0.02Normally not used in grey irons.Suppresses deleterious elements in ductile irons.Improves spheroidization of graphite. Carbidestabilizing due to segregation.ChromiumCrAlloy steel, chromium plate,some pig irons, ferro-chromium.Up to0.3Promotes chill and pearlite. Increases strength.Form carbide segregates in ductile irons above0.05%.CobaltCoTool steelUp to0.02No significant effects in cast irons.CopperCuCopper wire, copper-basedalloys, steel scrap,deliberate additions of Cu.Up to0.5Promotes pearlite. Improves strength.Impairs ferritization in ductile irons.No harmful effects.HydrogenHDamp refractories, mouldmaterials and humidadditions.Produces sub-surface pinholes. Has a mild chill-promoting action. Promotes "inverse chill" whenthere is insufficient manganese present toneutralize sulphur. Promotes coarse graphite.