You are on page 1of 20

Cost-Effective Casting Design

What Every Component Designer
Should Know
Viewing these six key factors as a system—while sketching geometries—provides a
workable methodology for
consistently good casting designs.
Michael A. Gwyn
Pelton Casteel, Inc., Milwaukee

Overall geometry should be explored—with structural, casting
and downstream manufacturing needs in mind—before
locking in to a solid model.
Structural design engineers who work successfully with castings commonly design in a narrow group of
casting types poured from familiar alloys (like the family of irons or the 300 series of aluminum) and
molded from familiar foundry processes (like green sand or nobake). Rules of thumb have been
developed over the years for common design situations.


Close inspection of these rules reveals that they sometimes recommend conflicting geometry. For
example, the use of gusseting instead of mass for stiffness might be labeled "recommended" in one set of
design rules and "poor" in another.
Further, when a design engineer leaves a familiar casting design realm for an unfamiliar one, unexpected
trouble may result. For example, let’s say we are moving from ductile iron to aluminum bronze while
staying in a familiar foundry process, nobake molding. No alarms are sounded among the "rules of
thumb," but there’s likely trouble in the usual "ductile iron-style" geometry. Good aluminum bronze
geometry is different than typical ductile iron geometry, and the molding process may need to supplement
the different geometry with heat transfer techniques. Not suspecting this, the design engineer’s new
casting design may suffer from "no-quotes," higher-than-expected prices and foundry requests for design
How are design engineers supposed to know that successfully casting geometry for aluminium bronze
should somehow be different? And if a design engineer did know that, what would be the proper course of
design action?
The answer lies in a better understanding of the relationship among geometry, various foundry alloys and
structure. As shown in Fig. 1, there are six parameters (based on physics) that underlie cost-effective
casting design.
Casting Properties
1. Fluid Life
2. Solidification Shrinkage Type
medium and large)


4. Pouring Temperature
Structural Properties
5. Section Modulus (stiffness of
casting geometry)
6. Modulus of Elasticity (stiffness
of alloy itself)
Fig. 1. When considered as a complete
system, these six parameters drive
cost-effective casting design.
All six, applied as a system, drive the geometry of casting design. Geometry is not only the result of
casting design but is also the most powerful weapon in creating successful casting design.
This six-faceted system is capable of optimizing geometry for castability, structure, downstream

1 influence important variables in designing. has the capability to increase stiffness and/or reduce stress—a capability that can be very important when applied to alloys with lower strength and stiffness.3 processing (machining and assembly) and process geometry (risering. 6). venting and heat transfer patterns) in the mold. subsequently milled. 2. respectively. Quickly sorting through possible casting and process geometries by marking up blueprints or by making engineering sketches is the way to find optimal "system" geometry. cosmetic appearance. producing and using metal castings. Section modulus. dimensional capability. These variables include: • • • • • • • casting method. solidification shrinkage. The six casting and structural characteristics in Fig. Fig. and it was welded from rectangular bar stock. can be combined with section modulus and section length to limit or allow deflection in a casting design. design of junctions between casting sections. 2a that was converted into carbon steel and gray iron casting designs. The fabrication is a guide block to constrain low velocity/low load sliding motion. internal integrity. surface integrity. design of casting sections." consider the simple steel fabrication in Fig. Figs. Applying the System Optimizing casting geometry using the six-parameter system is not difficult. an attribute of structural geometry. Casting geometry is the most powerful tool available to improve castability of the alloy and mechanical stiffness of the casting. The process geometry forms the casting geometry. solidification shrinkage type and amount. a carbon steel casting design featuring geometry that suits its four casting characteristics (2b). Fig. drilled and tapped. pouring temperature and slag/dross forming tendency. Modulus of elasticity. The geometries in 2b and 2c are considerably different as a consequence of differences among fluid life. An elegant result of good sketched brainstorming can be a solid model of the casting and its process geometry. and a gray iron casting featuring an entirely different geometry that is also still based on its four casting alloy characteristics (2c). . 2b and 2c. Both the designer and metalcaster possess a vital ally to streamline any casting design. an alloy’s inherent stiffness. To preview geometry’s ability to influence the four characteristics of "castability. Shown here is the original steel fabrication (2a). pouring temperature and tendency to form nonmetallic inclusions (See Junctions. gating. the basis of rapid prototyping and/or computerized testing. Carefully planned geometry can offset alloy problems in fluid life.

and it can decrease significantly from the surface tension of oxide films. 2. For example. In the case of 356. when overexposed to oxygen. some molten steels at 3000F (1650C) have much shorter fluid life. Alloys are further classified based on their solidification type: directional. the fineness of cosmetic detail (like lettering and logos) and the accuracy with which the alloy fills the mold extremities. where metal arrives first. shrinkage can vary from low to high shrinkage volumes. 1. like 356 aluminum. Solidification Shrinkage There are three distinct stages of shrinkage as molten metals solidify: liquid shrinkage. liquid-to-solid shrinkage and patternmaker’s contraction. It is essential to understand that moderate or even poor fluid life does not limit the cost-effectiveness of design. more taper toward thin sections. 2. such as the minimum section thickness that can be cast reliably. It is not an important design consideration. changing as the alloy is delivered from a pouring ladle. metallurgical and surface tension factors. Fluid life affects the design characteristics of a casting. a molten alloy’s fluid life also depends on chemical. some aluminum alloys at 1200-1400F (650-750C) have excellent fluid life. finer detail in the bottom portion of the mold. However. fastest and generally hottest. Heat transfer reduces the metal’s temperature. Liquid shrinkage is the contraction of the liquid before solidification begins. etc. have been specifically designed metallurgically to enhance fluid life. and oxide films form on the metal front as this occurs. the high heat capacity of silicon atoms "revive" aluminum atoms as their fluid life begins to wane. Even an alloy with good fluidity. In other words. Fluidity decreases most rapidly with temperature loss. . The amount of solidification shrinkage varies greatly from alloy to alloy. may form a high surface tension oxide film that makes the fluidity die. into a gating system and finally into the mold or die cavity. Liquid-to-solid shrinkage is the shrinkage of the metal mass as it transforms from the liquid’s disconnected atoms and molecules into the structured building blocks of solid metal. Some alloys. Specific types of geometry can be chosen to control internal integrity when solidification amount or types are a problem. "rounding off" of the leading metal front as it flows. coarser detail in the upper portions of the mold where the metal is slower to arrive and more affected by oxide films and solidification "skin" formation.4 CASTING PROPERTIES 1. eutectic-type and equiaxed (see definitions in Table 1). the maximum length of a thin section. die casting chamber. As shown. The type of solidification shrinkage in a casting is just as important as the amount of shrinkage." Molten metal’s fluidity is a dynamic property. Knowing that an alloy has limited fluid life tells the designer that the part should feature: • • • • softer shapes and larger lettering. Fluid Life Fluid life more accurately defines the alloy’s liquid characteristics than does the traditional term "fluidity. The absolute value of temperature is not the test of fluidity at a given moment. Table 1 provides a guide to the liquid-to-solid shrinkage of common alloys.

but they also have the capability for excellent internal soundness when solidification patterns are designed properly. Cross sections of the plate and riser(s) show conceptually how solidification takes place. In each case.5 Figures 3-5 illustrate what is implied by the three solidification shrinkage types defined in Table 1. metallurgical reality is similar. . At the same time. but microscopic. solidification moves at a faster rate from the ends of the section(s) toward the source of feed metal (risers)—this is known as directional solidification. known as "progressive" solidification. Directional solidification moves faster from the ends of the sections because of the greater amount of surface area through which the solidifying metal can lose its heat. Figure 3 shows solidification on and perpendicular to the casting surfaces. The objective is for directional solidification to beat out progressive solidification before it can "close the door" to the source of the feed metal. As shown. a simple plate casting is shown with attached risering (a "riser" is a reservoir of liquid metal attached to a casting section to feed solidification shrinkage). directionally solidifying alloys require extensive risering and tapering.

Eutectic-type solidification is the most forgiving of the alloy shrinkage types.6 Fig. 3. 4. the most forgiving of the three. Risers are much smaller. Fig. as the avenue of liquid feed metal remains open through solidification. Such alloys typically have less solidification shrinkage volume. Eutectic-type alloys are less sensitive to shrinkage problems from abrupt geometry changes. The plate solidifies more uniformly all over and all at once. Extensive risering and tapering (bottom) allows for excellent internal casting soundness. similar to eutectic solidification. and in special cases can be eliminated by strategically placed gates. . The key feature with these alloys is the extended time that the metal feed avenue stays open. Risers may be much smaller with these alloys. Directional solidification on a plate casting is illustrated here. Figure 4 illustrates the eutectic-type alloy.

All three modes of heat transfer. leaving micropores of shrinkage around and behind the islands that grew in the middle of the pathway. 5. further-spaced risers. the least reciprocity is required. typically along the center plane of a casting section. 5. and results in larger. As illustrated at the bottom of Fig. the pathways freeze off. causing micropores to coalesce into larger pores across more of the casting cross section. and all three depend on geometry for transfer . Designs for equiaxed solidifying alloys are shown here. equiaxed solidification requires the most engineering foresight in the choice of geometry and may require supplemental heat transfer techniques in the mold process. 5). Shrinkage in these alloys tends to be widely distributed as micropores. there is a significant bilateral and reciprocal relationship between solidification shrinkage and geometry. The proper casting and process geometry (smaller risers and a thermally neutral shape) is illustrated at bottom. As illustrated in Fig. Most complex. the real mechanism behind the bilateral and reciprocal relationship between solidification shrinkage and geometry is heat transfer. 5) are counterproductive. eutectic-type solidification is tolerant of a wide variety of geometries. while capable of the worst shrinkage cavities. These islands of solidification interrupt the liquid pathway of directional solidification. In fact. In the middle lies directional solidification. While such a taper and large riser worked with directional solidification. using this approach here adds more heat to an area that needs to cool more uniformly. Gradually. coalesced shrinkage. conduction and convection are involved in solidification of castings. Most simply. Fig. it is the most capable of very high internal integrity when the geometry is properly designed.7 Alloys that exhibit equiaxed solidification respond the most dramatically to differences in geometry (Fig. but also equiaxially via "islands" in the middle of the liquid. microporosity is kept small and confined to a narrow mid-plane in the casting section by more "thermally neutral" geometry with smaller. thicker sections and tapering (shown at center of Fig. 3-5. Larger risers. Well-planned geometry in a directionally solidifying alloy can eliminate not only shrinkage but the need for any supplemental heat transfer techniques in the mold. The large riser design (second from bottom) illustrates how not to feed a section. radiation. The reason is that solidification occurs not only progressively from casting surfaces inward and directionally from high surface area extremities toward lower surface area sections.

and can be associated with either high or low pouring temperature alloys. In most commercial applications. The best defense against nonmetallic inclusions is to inhibit their formation through good melting. it assumes final dimensions that must be predicted by the pattern. Slag/Dross Formation Among foundrymen. 3. 3. like titanium. Achieving dimensions that are "just like the blueprint" require the foundry’s pattern. This contraction changes the dimensions of the casting from those of liquid in the mold to those dictated by the alloy’s rate of contraction. The unpredictable nature of patternmaker’s contraction makes tooling adjustments inevitable. Tooling design and construction must compensate for it. Except for special thin designs. Slag typically refers to high-temperature fluxing of refractory linings of furnaces/ladles and oxidation products from alloying. pouring and gating practices. When pouring temperature approaches a mold material refractory limit. Unless a specific application is exceedingly critical. Simply stated. . which can be used with alloys that have good fluid life.8 efficiency. a few small rounded inclusions will not affect casting structure significantly. round-shaped nonmetallic inclusions trapped in the casting. all alloys that have pouring temperatures above 2150F (1180C) are beyond the refractory capability of metal molds. Pouring Temperature Even though molds must withstand extremely high temperatures of liquid metals. which also include "X" and "Y" designs. Metal molds. ladling. a highly recommended practice for critical dimensions and tolerances is to build the patterns/dies/coreboxes with extra material on critical surfaces so that the dimensions can be fine-tuned by removing small amounts of tooling stock after capability castings have been made and measured. Dross typically refers to oxidation or reoxidation products in liquid metal from reaction with air during melting or pouring.or diemaker. such as those used in diecasting and permanent molding. there are not many choices of materials with refractory characteristics. as the solid casting shrinks away from the mold walls. Figure 6 illustrates both "L" and "T" junctions among the four junction types. Design of Junctions A junction is a region in which different section shapes come together within an overall casting geometry. interestingly. the terms slag and dross have slightly different meanings. Convection and conduction. are very important in casting solidification. 4. Ceramic filters. nonmetallic inclusions are only a problem if they are encountered during machining or appear in a functional as-cast cosmetic surface. junctions are the intersection of two or more casting sections. It’s also important to recognize the difference between heat and temperature. temperature is the measure of heat concentration. Lower temperature alloys also can pose problems if heat is too concentrated in a small area—better geometry choices allow heat to disperse into the mold. This variability of contraction is another important casting design consideration. the heat transfer patterns of the casting geometry become important.and/or diemaker to be included. and it is critical to dimensional accuracy. Sand and ceramic materials with refractory limits of 3000-3300F (1650-1820C) are the most common mold materials. and transfer rates are highly affected by geometry. For example. So. Patternmaker’s Contraction is the contraction that occurs after the metal has completely solidified and is cooling to ambient temperature. have advanced the foundry’s ability to eliminate nonmetallics. have temperature limitations. Some molten metal alloys generate more slag/dross than others and are more prone to contain small. Vacuum melting and pouring are applied in extremely dross-prone alloys.

2. dimpling and feeding. while alloy 3 requires considerable adjustment of junction geometry. Figure 6 illustrates that there are major differences in allowable junction geometry. the gray iron junctions (2c) are similar to type 1 above. The casting geometry at left shows "L" and "T" junctions. Alloy 1 allows abrupt section changes and tight geometry. This premium A356 aluminum casting for a critical structural application on a minivan saved 14 lb over its stamped steel weldment predecessor and offered nine additional mounting locations. Figure 7 illustrates a very high form of the foregoing principles in a critical automotive application.9 Fig. Designing junctions is the first step to finding castable geometry via the six-faceted system for casting design. In reviewing Fig. and steel (2b) are similar to type 3. Junction geometry is important to alloys with considerable shrinkage and/or pouring temperature. 7. 6. The permanent mold process features additional geometry and heat transfer techniques to augment the casting’s geometry for structural integrity. Close inspection shows extra geometry at junctions and surfaces where heat transfer must be enhanced for high structural integrity. . such as radiusing. spacing. depending on alloy shrinkage amount and pouring temperature. Fig. The illustrations at right show the consequences of junction design and geometry increasingly difficult combinations of shrinkage amount and/or temperature.

In other words. GD&T encourages the manufacturer to be creative in complying with the drawing’s dimensional specifications because the issue is compliance with tolerance. as defined by ANSI Y14. like castings. the engineers who design machining fixtures for castings are not consulted by either the design engineer or the foundry engineer as a new casting geometry is being developed. which opens up consideration of lower cost manufacturing methods. rather than a recipe for manufacture. feature-by-feature. There is nothing more significant in successful CNC and transfer line machining of castings than the religious application of these datum fixture and targeting principles. These surfaces and lines will be irregularities on the casting geometry and will cause problems if they contact fixturing targets. based on how the casting is actually used. often reducing costs compared to other modes of manufacture.10 Considerations of Secondary Operations in Design System-wide thinking also must include the secondary operations. as well as finish machining costs. in order of function priority. Drawings and Dimensions The tool that has had the most dramatic positive impact on the manufacture of parts that reliably fit together is geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T). minimizes the use of the "title block" tolerances and maximizes the application of tolerances specific to the requirement of the feature and its function. It is best to define the casting dimensional datums as the significant installation surfaces. heat treating. Frequently. GD&T often results in broader tolerances in some features. When compared to traditional (coordinate) methods. One aspect that affects geometry is the use of fixturing to hold the casting during machining. GD&T specifies the tolerances required feature-by-feature in a way that does not specify or suggest how the feature should be manufactured. is a contract for inspection.5M—1994. Note the use of installation surfaces as datums and the use of geometric zones of tolerance. welding and joining. not necessarily compliance with a manufacturing method. GD&T: • • • considers tolerances. Figure 8 illustrates GD&T principles applied to a design made as a casting. painting and plating. By forcing the designer to consider tolerances feature-by-feature. If the casting geometry has been based on the four casting characteristics of the alloy. Failure to do so can be a significant oversight that adds machining costs. . This allows casting processes to be applied more creatively. then the designer knows the likely surfaces for riser contacts and may have some idea of likely parting lines and core match lines. Targets for machining fixtures should be consistent with these datum principles. such as machining.

Cleaning and Heat Treating—Many casting dimensions are touched by downstream processing. 8. and tolerances are stacked as the mold is assembled. Patternmaker’s Contraction—The uncertainty of patternmaker’s contraction is why foundrymen normally recommend producing first article and production process verification castings (sometimes called "sample" or "capability" castings) to establish what the dimensions really will be before going into production.) has the greatest single influence on tolerance capability. the dimension contracted more or less than was expected. shell. investment. Shown here is an example of what a GD&T drawing should look like.017 in. cores. of draw (about 0. Many castings are heat-treated. . chills. At the least. of offset per in. In other words.) than others.5 mm/30 mm). loose pieces. How a given molding process is mechanized and the sophistication of its pattern or die equipment can refine or coarsen its base tolerance capability. Just as some molding processes have more mold components (mold halves.11 Fig. The following six parameters control the tolerance capability of castings. Draft—It is common for casting designs to ignore the certainty of draft. Mold Degrees of Freedom—This parameter is least understood. complete with datum definitions and geometric tolerance zones. draft can quickly use up all of a tolerance zone and more. These two parameters have been defined statistically in tolerance tables for some alloy families. not because it varies too much. etc. most castings are touched by abrasive cutting wheels and grinding—even precision castings. hence more tolerance. including mold draft. More mold components mean more degrees of freedom. Each mold component has its own tolerances. but because its average value is too far from nominal. Factors that Control Casting Tolerances How a cast feature is formed in a mold has a significant effect on the feature’s tolerance capability. Good design for tolerance capability minimizes degrees of freedom in the mold for features with critical dimensions. they are: Molding Process—The type of molding process (such as green sand. draft on wax and/or styrofoam patterns made from dies. etc. Since 1° of draft angle generates 0. which can affect straightness and flatness. Casting Weight and Longest Dimension—Logically. and core draft. A common consequence of patternmaker’s contraction uncertainty is a casting dimension that is out of tolerance. some casting designs require more mold components. heavier castings with longer overall dimensions require more tolerance. In order of preference.

The standard for "optimal" casting geometry is high. geometry directly controls stiffness and stress in a structure. from its influence on castability. computer generated solid models and rapid prototypes are greatly enhancing the designer’s ability to visualize structural shapes. Solid models are readily applicable to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of stress. and solid models can be tweaked in shape via the software so geometry can be optimized for allowable. suspension components (in automobiles. Figure 9 depicts a meshed solid model and a stress analysis via the mesh elements. etc. a geometry can be chosen that offsets the metallurgical nature of the more difficult-to-cast alloys. fluid power components. Knowing how to choose this "proactive" geometry is the key to consistently good casting designs—in any foundry alloy—that are economical to produce. When designing a component structurally. but the possibilities for geometry are limitless. 9. In other words. the most significant choice in the designer’s structural arsenal is geometry. a design engineer is generally interested in safely controlling forces through choice of allowable stress and deflection. it was stated that: 1) castability affects geometry but 2) well-chosen geometry affects castability. FEA enables the engineer to quickly evaluate stress levels in the design. Examples are turbine blades in jet engines. uniform stress. machine and assemble into a final product. airframe components. castings find their way into the most sophisticated applications because they can be so efficient in shape. cosmetic appearances and downstream fixturing. the geometry of gating/risering. properties and cost. While the casting properties section was the foundry engineering spectrum of geometry for the benefit of design engineers. The casting processes are limitless in their combined ability to allow variations in shape. As we will see. Find ways of exploring geometry quickly. Not many years ago. Now. engine blocks. extensive brainstorming of geometry is highly recommended. structural form. Improved efficiency in solid modeling software has led to an interesting design dilemma. The high-stress areas (red) could be reduced with a geometry change. Geometry found between these two spectrums offers boundless opportunity for castings. In fact. before committing to a print or solid model. This technology often leads to casting designs. The mesh (l) shows the size of the finite elements that are used for the FEA stress analysis (right). most casting designs are used to statically or dynamically control forces. such as engineering sketching. the structural properties section is the design engineering spectrum of geometry for the benefit of foundry engineers.12 When considering the breadth and depth of geometry’s importance in casting design. efficient structural geometry was limited by the designer’s ability to visualize in 3-D. Fig. . STRUCTURAL PROPERTIES In the preceding section. trucks and railroad cars). Structural Geometry Because castings can easily apply shape to structural requirements. Although choice of material affects allowable stress and defection.

Carefully chosen structural geometry. As noted. 1 is not necessarily a trivial exercise. higher-than-expected casting prices. The result can be optimal casting geometry. A practical solution to this problem is to concurrently engineer geometry considering structural. Section Modulus. solid models are not. The idea is to explore overall geometry before locking in to a solid model too quickly. Engineering sketches or mark-ups are easy and quick to change—even dramatically—in the concurrent brainstorming process. structural geometry is easy to develop. its foundational parameter. many geometries may be equally acceptable. optimum geometry for allowable. cars and trucks. Fabricated designs. Fabrications are made from building blocks of wrought shapes. great variety exists among metals in their allowable stress and deflection." The result can be no-quotes. uniform stress may not be acceptable geometry for castability. which is a function of shape and difficult to compute. For ductile iron. contains the same parameter. A solid model should be the elegant result. At this point. however. there is great variety in the four metallurgical characteristics that govern alloy castability. Premium A356 aluminum has good castability. The "other way" for the foundry engineer is the manual calculation of gating. has resulted in extremely weight-effective A356 structural components for aircraft. simple way to compute or estimate Section Modulus (more specifically. an ideal casting shape for all six of the casting design factors in Fig. torsional stress and deflection are relatively simple. relatively simple mathematical techniques used long before the advent of solid models. it is better to first find geometry that assists castability. Therefore. rectangular bars. Martensitic high-alloy steel has fair-to-poor castability. Interestingly. When a foundry engineer quotes a design that considered structural geometry only. but rather weak resistance to stress and low tolerance for deflection. but a coincidental castable shape is more difficult to design. The equivalent of FEA for the design engineer’s structural analysis is computerized "mold filling" and "solidification analysis" for the foundry engineer. . Each. but can have amazing resistance to stress and can tolerate very large deflections without structural harm. To take full advantage of engineering sketching/print marking as a way to brainstorm geometry.13 However. angles. a quick. Section Modulus Playing with sketches before building a solid model means that we have to find another way to evaluate stress and deflection. As the design engineer well knows. not the knee-jerk start. foundry and downstream manufacturing needs. we must be able to quickly evaluate stress and deflection at important cross-sections in the sketches. the difficulty in computing Area Moment of Inertia for casting shapes is one of the hidden reasons for the design and use of fabrications. the basis for both is a solid model. the classic formulas for bending stress. 5. For alloys that have good castability. choosing geometry for allowable stress and deflection is the best place to start. and moderately resilient against deflection. This "other way" is the essence of efficient structural evaluation of geometry in casting design. like I-beams. which are simple and constant over their length. combined with solidification enhancements in the molding process. these are established. These shapes. the geometry adjustments for castability may be more substantial than the solid model software can "tweak. Consequently.) This "other way" for the design engineer is not so simple. The Objective Our objective is to explore geometry possibilities. requests for geometry changes are likely. or starting over with a new solid model. Not all alloys are like ductile iron. The most efficient technique is to make engineering sketches or marked sections and/or views on blueprints. however. Therefore. channels and tubes. and then modify it for allowable stress and deflection. For alloys with less than the best castability. (See references. which is both highly castable and relatively resistant to stress. solidification patterns and riser sizes. Therefore. have Area Moments of Inertia that are easy to calculate or are available in handbooks. looking for an ideal shape that is both castable in the chosen foundry alloy and allowable in stress and deflection for that alloy. Area Moment of Inertia) is needed so that we can move from sketch to improved sketch in our casting geometry brainstorming. Similarly. stress and deflection calculations are relatively easy.

10. once again. are heavy and nonuniform in stress compared to a casting well-designed for the same purpose. bending and torsion). Quick Method for Estimating Area Moment of Inertia from Sketches Although there are five kinds of stress (tension.14 however. (If more than one type of stress is involved in the same section. the interesting ones for complex structures are bending and torsion. the larger of the stresses to be combined are usually from bending or torsion. shear.) . compression. the Principle of Superposition allows the individual stress types to be analyzed separately and then added together. and their equations are shown in Fig.

The design engineer’s sense of load magnitudes and component size/shape—Engineers routinely use this sense to sketch sized shapes that are in the ballpark of the final design. whether it be from an engineering isometric sketch or from a marked-up view on a blueprint. The three significant parameters in deflection are length (L). The principles are: 1. the relationships apply to a cross-section of the geometry. One is intuitive and the other two are from the mathematics of engineering mechanics. meaning that increased Area Moment of Inertia reduces stress and deflection. we can readily estimate stresses in our brainstormed sketches as well as estimate whether deflection will increase or decrease. If we can find a way to quickly estimate Area Moment of Inertia. Note that Area Moment of Inertia is in the denominator in each relationship. Simply.15 Fig. while increasing E or I decreases deflection. Section Modulus is similar to a "stiffness index" because it considers not only magnitude of Area Moment of Inertia. In all three cases. If maximum section depth increases faster than Area Moment of Inertia. Area Moment of Inertia (I) and Modulus of Elasticity (E). increasing L increases deflection. Foundry . but also maximum section depth. This "index" termed Section Modulus accounts for that potential problem. a geometry change can actually increase maximum tensile stress. 11. It is easy to draw a scale cross-section. The estimation method recommended is based on three principles. Maximum tensile stress in bending is often most critical in structural design. rather than reduce it. Section Modulus is defined as the Area Moment of Inertia divided by the maximum distance from the center of bending (centroid) to the outermost edge of the casting cross-section.

The position and shape of the two rectangles in Fig. the relationship expressed between "depth of section" (Y) and "change in cross-sectional area" (dA) is very simple. they become effective concurrent engineering partners in their customers’ casting designs. the Parallel Axis Theorem can be applied to simple building blocks in the cross-section to estimate Area Moment of Inertia quantitatively. 12. 2. 12)—Although the calculus for an interesting casting cross-section can be very difficult." and when they do. stiffness increases dramatically. 12) is an even more dramatic illustration. 3. but the qualitative impact of Y2dA on stiffness and stress is unmistakable. . When dA increases rapidly away from the center. The equation for Area Moment of Inertia (Fig. Calculations weren’t made in either case. Fig. A numerical value for Area Moment of Inertia is required to calculate the stress level in the sketched cross-section. 12 (top) clearly demonstrates this simple yet powerful relationship.16 engineers can learn this "sense. Area Moment of Inertia—Once the engineering sense of structural size and Y2dA have been applied qualitatively to a sketched cross-section. The change in shape of the inside of the tube (at bottom of the Fig. Illustrated is the simple relationship between depth of section (Y) and change in cross section (dA).

17 The Parallel Axis Theorem is illustrated in Fig. The centroid can be calculated. 13. but it is easier and quicker to use a "paper doll" of the cross-section and simply find its balance point. 13 (see Appendix for example equation). 6. This relationship enables the quick estimation of Area Moment of Inertia via building blocks. Modulus of Elasticity . The building blocks must be referenced to the centroid. Fig.

14. heat treatment can affect the height of the elastic slope. consider the family of steels in Fig. However." The final two factors are from engineering mechanics and are Modulus of Elasticity and Section Modulus. but it can raise the yield point. . The first four factors describe the alloy’s "castability." This is the stress level at which plastic deformation begins and the metal is permanently affected. heat treatment can considerably raise the point at which an alloy steel yields. alloy families vary considerably in stiffness. This is very important because the height at which the elastic slope begins to curve is called the metal’s "yield stress. Although the steel is no stiffer at higher stress levels. Summary Figure 15 and the Appendix illustrate a hypothetical casting design using the recommended six factors behind good geometry selection. Stresses should be designed below this level so that deflections in the casting under load do not damage it. The steepness of the elastic slope is the Modulus of Elasticity. 14. it can withstand the additional stress without damage. Heat treatment doesn’t change the slope. but the magnitude of heat treatment effect on yield stress is considerably less than that for steels. As shown. an aspect of Area Moment of Inertia. One subtlety about Modulus of Elasticity is that it is not affected by heat treatment. The same is true for heat-treatable aluminum alloys.18 Fig. For example.

the casting could be made in a horizontally-parted sand mold with the center cylindrical section pointed down. Area Moment of Inertia can be estimated with simple building blocks and minimal calculation. bolt holes and hollowed center of the cylinder. Shown here is a preliminary engineering sketch of a structural casting designed to control torsion and bending forces. which is already close to optimal geometry. Finally. as ductile iron. The author wishes to thank the following for their contributions to this work: Mark Armstrong. for alloys that are highly castable like ductile iron. Two risers would feed solidification shrinkage in the center section from the tab sides of the four hole plate. it is convenient to focus first on geometry for structure and let the alloy’s friendly foundry characteristics adapt to the structural needs. . A second core would form the top side of the I-beam feature and the corresponding bottom side of the four-hole plate. Any remaining stress problems could be easily solved by tweaking the solid model. The appendix on page 21 illustrates the main point: This casting design is nothing more than an engineering sketch with a sense of size and proportion. Duriron Co. the solid model could be modified to add risers and a gating system so that computer analysis of solidification and mold filling could verify the geometry chosen for castability. Using the "quick method" of sketching crosssectional areas. 15. stress can be easily calculated for the chosen cross-section. Briefly. As a ductile iron casting design (see castability characteristics in Table 1). Detailed structural evaluation could then be done via FEA.. A third riser would follow the side of the second core and feed the cylindrical end of the I-beam section. based on at least two or three sketched iterations of combined structural and castable geometry. As noted previously. Once a value is known. One core would form the "tongue and groove" tabs. Completion of this design as a ductile iron casting is described in the appendix.19 Fig. A relative measure for deflection can be easily calculated as well. the following example is intended to illustrate structural geometry more than geometry for castability. Final design would be a solid model.

Jay Janowak. Leo Baran. Heine. .. Raymond Monroe." AFS Transactions. Inc. "Design Method for Tapered Riser Feeding of Ductile Irons. Heine. "Comparing the Functioning of Risers to Their Behavior Predicted by Computer Programs. p. p. AFS Transactions 1968. and Jack Wright. 481 • M. "Cost-Effective Casting Design. 87. Mark Morel. vol 90.W. Gwyn. vol." Steel Founders’ Society of America • R. Heine and R. 373." AFS Transactions 1982. p.A. Malcolm Blair. Grede Foundries. CMI International. 65 • R. Roberts. Electric Steel Castings Co. References "Basic Principles of Gating & Risering. Steel Founders’ Society of America." Developed at U. Fred Schleg. Jr. John Jorstad.20 William F. Tom Prucha.R. 147 • "AFS Risering System—Riser Sizer.W.W. R. consultant. Steel Founders’ Society of America. of Wisconsin-Madison. vol 1985 p.. CMI International. formerly of the American Foundrymen’s Society.. Univ. Baker. formerly of the American Foundrymen’s Society. Heine." AFS • R.W." AFS’ Cast Metals Institute • "Risering Steel Castings (1973)." AFS Transactions 1979. Loper.A.W.-Madison • C. Richard Heine. "Risering Principles Applied to Ductile Iron Castings Made in Green Sand. Morel Industries.