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Published by joyhjones
This paper gives an overview of the casting process in a very simple manner. No equations no tough explanations...it's easy
This paper gives an overview of the casting process in a very simple manner. No equations no tough explanations...it's easy

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Published by: joyhjones on Sep 26, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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© 2004 Prof. B. Ravi, IIT Bombay
1. Metal Casting - Overview
In this chapter, we will briefly review the history of metal casting, followed by major casting processes, important cast metals and their applications, worldwide production andtypes of foundries. We will finally touch upon key steps in developing a new casting andhow computers can help reduce the time involved.
1.1 An Ancient Art 
Casting is a 6000-year young process. It has been mentioned in several
workssuch as
derived from
containing the principles of realizingall kinds of man-made structures, in turn derived from
, one of the four  principal
. The original authors are said to be
, the ‘chief engineers’ of gods and demons, respectively. The
mentions equipment used incasting, such as
 gharma aranmaya
(crucible) and
(blower).The major application was in creating the idols used for worship; and very strict ruleswere laid down to achieve perfection in terms of 
(expression). In particular,
dhyana slokas
defined the spiritual quality of eachdeity and the
described the form. Other products included lamps, doors,frames, cooking and agricultural implements.Earliest castings include the 11 cm high bronze dancing girl found at Mohen-jo-daro(dated about 3000 BC). The remains of the Harappan civilization contain kilns for smelting copper ingots, casting tools, stone moulds, cast ornaments, figurines and other items of copper, gold, silver and lead. Iron has been mentioned in
, and iron pillars, arrows, hooks, nails, bowls and daggers dated 2000 BC or earlier have been foundin Delhi, Roopar, Nashik and other places. Large scale state-owned mints and jewelryunits, and processes of metal extraction and alloying have been mentioned in Kautilya’s
(about 500 BC). Later 
texts talk about assessing and achievingmetal purity. The
 Ras Ratnakar 
written by Nagarjuna in 50 BC mentions the distillationof Zinc, proved through recent excavations in Zawar, Rajasthan.The Iron Pillar of Delhi, standing 23 feet, weighing 6 tonnes and containing 99.72% ironwithout any signs of rust, is a remarkable example of metallurgical science in 5
centuryAD. The first cast crucible steel was also produced around this period. The
statues of Chola dynasty (9
century) stand testimony to the fine practice of intricate castings in mediaeval India. Most of these were made in
 pancha dhatu
(copper,zinc, tin, gold and silver) using the
madhuchista vidhana
(lost wax)
process.Outside India, the oldest casting in existence is a copper frog dated 3200 BC discoveredin Mesopotamia. One of the first cast iron objects, a 270 kg tripod, was cast by Chinese in600 BC. A colossal statue of the Great Buddha in tin lead bronze was completed in 1252AD at Kamakura in Japan. The casting technology was transferred from India and Middle
 East to Europe through Portugese explorers in 14
century, where it blossomed as a fineart. Vannocio Biringuccio, head of Papal Foundry in Rome (around 1500 AD) isconsidered as the father of foundry industry in the West. He has been quoted as saying:“The art of casting… is closely related to sculpture, … it is highly esteemed… it is a profitable and skillful art and in large part delightful.” Indeed, the bronze sculpturesrepresent the craftsman’s artistry as well as the capability of the casting process.The ancient art is preserved to this date in places such as Swamimalai in Tamil Nadu,where over 200 units are engaged in bronze art casting. The process starts withsculpturing the wax models by
(artisans), claimed to hail from the clan of 
. A mixture of bees wax,
vriksa rasa
(natural resin from trees) and a littlecooking oil is heated and poured into sheets, to facilitate cutting and adding to themodels. Each model is unique. In some cases, when multiple (ten or more) orders for thesame model are placed, then a cement/plaster mould is made for making a rough shape of the wax models. The carving of each wax model takes 1-4 weeks depending on the sizeand intricacy. The rules laid down in
 shilpa shastras
are strictly followed for making the wax models (Fig. 1.1).
 Fig. 1.1 Ancient lost wax casting method: wax model sculpting, clay covering,wire clasped mould for dewaxing, as-cast Ganesha, and finishing 
 After carving, the wax model is carefully pasted over and covered with natural clayobtained from river banks, after wetting with water. For hollow castings, cores are used,
 made of sand plus charcoal, sesame oil, cow dung and natural (tree) resin. The clay-covered models are placed in the sun to dry for 3-4 weeks. After this, the clay moulds aretied with metal wire (to prevent expansion and breakage during wax removal). For this purpose, cow dung cakes are used as fuel, and the liquid wax comes out from a holecreated for this purpose. For making decorative castings, an alloy of copper (84%), zinc(14%) and tin (2%) is used (
). If the sculpture is to be used for worship, thensmall amounts of gold and silver are also added (making it a
 pancha dhatu
). The metal ismelted in a crucible furnace using wood charcoal and coal as fuel. Hand-operated bellowsare used to blow air into the burning furnace. The mould is preheated to the metaltemperature before pouring. After cooling, the mould is broken to reveal the casting. Thegates and risers are removed, followed by the painstaking job of chiseling, filing,finishing and polishing. This takes 4-10 weeks depending on the idol size and details. Thelarge labour component reflects in the final cost, which can be 4-8 times the materialcost. Very large idols (weighing several tones) can also be made by this process, thoughmelting and pouring can be a problem because of small crucible size.
1.2 Major Casting Processes
Today, there are a large number of industrial casting processes (see Fig. 1.2). These can be classified based on the mould material, method of producing the mould and the pressure on molten metal during filling (gravity, centrifugal force, vacuum, low pressure,high pressure). Permanent or metal moulds are used in gravity and pressure die casting processes, suitable for producing a large number of components. In expendable mould processes (sand, shell and investment), a new mould is required for every casting or a bunch of castings with a common gating and feeding system produced in the samemould. Expendable moulds can be made using either permanent pattern or expendable pattern. Permanent pattern can be made from wood, metal or plastic. In expendable pattern processes (also called investment processes), each pattern produces only onecasting. Such patterns are made of wax,expandablepolystyrene (EPS) or other polymer materials. The four most popular processes are briefly described below, followed by acomparison of their capabilities (Table 1.3). The first two employ dispensable moulds,whereas the last two employ permanent moulds.
Sand Casting:
In this process, sand mixed with binders and water is compacted aroundwood or metal pattern halves to produce a mould. The mould is removed from the pattern, assembled with cores, if necessary, and metal is poured into the resultant cavities.After cooling, moulds are broken to remove the castings. This process is suitable for awide range of metals (both ferrous and non-ferrous), sizes and shape complexity.
Investment Casting:
Wax is injected into a metal mould to make patterns, which areconnected to a common sprue to form a tree. The tree is repeatedly dipped in ceramicslurry and dried, followed by heating to remove the wax. The ceramic shell is preheated,filled with molten metal and broken after cooling to get the castings. This is suitable for castings in any metal with small and intricate shape and thin walls.

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