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INTRODUCTION: Metal casting is a process in which molten metal or more commonly an alloy is poured into a mould or die that contains a cavity which represents the shape of the component or casting to be produced. In the case of a mould the cavity is produced by pattern which is a replica of the component required, whereas in the case of a die cavity replicating the shape of the component is made by machining. Internal or external features that can not be readily moulded are obtained by the use of cores. Moulds are generally made of sand and are expendable i.e. they are destroyed when the casting is removed. Dies are permanent and may be used to produce a large number of castings before they are unusable. Cores may be either expendable (made in sand) or permanent (metal cores). Patterns may also be permanent or expendable. Over the centuries several casting processes have been developed to meet the changing requirements from the industries. In the past few decades some of the processes like Low Pressure Die Casting, Investment Casting, Centrifugal Casting, Semisolid Metal Casting etc. have been developed to meet critical requirement of aerospace and automotive industries. CLASSIFICATION OF CASTING PROCESS: Casting processes can be broadly classified into three categories according to the nature of the pattern and / or mould (i.e. whether expendable or permanent). These three categories are outlined below: 1. PERMANENT PATTERN / EXPENDABLE MOULD PROCESSES 1.1 SAND CASTING PROCESSES 1.1.1 Green sand moulding process 1.1.2 Dry sand moulding process 1.1.3 CO2 / Silicate process 1.1.4 Shell moulding process
5 Cold set process 1.3 Low pressure die casting 3.1 SAND CASTING PROCESS 2.1 Investment casting process 18.104.22.168 Pressure die casting 3. size.6 Vacuum sealed moulding process 1.1. machining.1 Ceramic mould process 1.1 DIE CASTING PROCESSES 3.1.1. The reasons for the wide acceptance of casting process are: Intricate geometries (both external and internal) may be cast with relative ease which reduces a number of other operations.2 REFRACTORY AGGREGATE PROCESS 2.2 Plaster mould process 2.2 3.3 SQUEEZE CASTING CENTRIFUGAL CASTING Advantages of the Metal Casting Process: Metal casting competes against several alternative-manufacturing processes like forming. powder metallurgy etc.1. 2 .2. Each of these processes has its own merits and demerits but the flexibility of the metal casting process in terms casting shape. alloy range. in the production of shaped metal components. PERMANENT MOULD CASTING PROCESSES 3. weight range.2.2.1 Gravity die casting 3.1 Evaporative pattern casting process 2. and order quantity is unmatched.2 REFRACTORY AGGREGATE PROCESSES 1. design versatility. EXPENDABLE PATTERN / EXPENDABLE MOULD PROCESSES 2.1.
The initial dip coat. These are (i) casting processes using expendable patterns (ii) casting processes utilizing feed material in the semisolid condition. The dewaxed shells are fired to remove moisture. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Process. is allowed to set before the assembly is dipped in a secondary dip tank and stuccoed with coarser. Thixocasting. Injecting wax in metal dies produces wax patterns. At the same time it is possible to produce components with directional properties such as turbine blades by directional solidification in investment casting process. Range of sizes. the binder is gelled either by chemical means or by drying in air. After stuccoing. dry particles in a raining cabinet or fluidized bed. Castings have generally better isotropic properties. Casting process is highly suitable for mass production and economic viability is excellent. Hydrolyzed ethyl silicate is generally used as the binder in the slurry containing fine refractory powder. Evaporative Pattern Casting (EPC). Processes under the second category are: Rheocasting. Of the various casting processes only two processes which are of recent nature will be discussed in detail. Objects may be cast in a single piece which would otherwise require assembly of several pieces if made by other methods.Some of the alloys can only be cast due to their poor cold or hotworkability. Once the required shell thickness is achieved the wax pattern is removed by heating the mould. to burn off residual wax and other 3 . INVESTMENT CASTING PROCESS: Investment casting process is also known as the Lost Wax process. Other relatively newer processes under the first category are Full Mould (FM) Process. Replicasting Process which utilize expanded polystyrene as the pattern material. containing a fine refractory. and Thixomoulding Processes etc. ceramic coating is built up through successive stages of dipping and stuccoing. shapes and weights are possible in both small and large batches by proper selection of a casting process. Before dewaxing shells are dried for long time to attain sufficient green strength in the shell. The wax patterns are assembled with gating and feeding system. The process involves the use of an expendable wax pattern. Traditionally Investment Casting process uses expendable wax pattern. Over this wax assembly.
Mostly. or by steam moulding of the pre-expanded polystyrene beads in aluminum alloy moulding dies. and to preheat the mould to the temperature suitable for pouring. Generally. non-ferrous and superalloy castings. the process is expensive and extended lead times are required to produce casting. Thin sections of 1. EVAPORATIVE PATTERN CASTING PROCESS: Evaporative pattern casting (EPC) is a sand casting process that uses an unbounded sand mold with an expendable polystyrene pattern placed inside of the mold. Pattern pieces. to sinter the ceramic. or by trade names like Full mould and Replicast. The process is suitable for various ferrous. 1. vacuum is applied to the mould prior to. the evaporative foam process.. This process is somewhat similar to investment casting in that an expendable material can be used to form relatively intricate patterns in a surrounding mold material. Unlike investment casting. Various stages of investment casting process are schematically shown in Fig. although some other polymeric materials have also been successfully used.foam process.organic materials present in the slurry. Coated pattern assembly (cluster) is positioned in mould boxes and loose sand is compacted around the pattern through vibration of the sand. Castings with very good surface finish (1-3µm) can be cast with good dimensional accuracy. the lost. runners and feeders are assembled with the aid of adhesives and this assembly is given a refractory wash. evaporative pattern casting (EPC) involves a polystyrene foam pattern that vaporizes during the pouring of molten metal into a surrounding mold of unbounded sand. Patterns can be manufactured either by cutting the EPS block using heated nichrome wire and subsequently finishing the pattern with cutting. however. grinding etc. The evaporative pattern casting (EPC) process is known to Foundrymen by various names such as expanded polystyrene (EPS) moulding process. Molten metal poured into the mould vaporizes the pattern and takes the shape of the pattern. and during 4 . However. castings produced by this method are small and weigh only few grammes to kilogrammes. In these processes expanded polystyrene is predominantly used as the pattern material.5 mm are possible to cast with very good reproduction of fine details. gates.
2 shows steps involved in making a casting using EPS pattern. Fig. The main advantage of the process lies in the fact that there are no parting lines. This made it possible to feed the thixotropic slurry to a pressure die casting machine and make the sound castings.pouring to assist the extraction of gases generated during pattern degradation and improve mould rigidity. casting weight can be reduced and machining is minimized due to absence of taper in the pattern. After the casting has solidified it can be easily removed from the loose sand and sand can be recycled directly since no binder is present in the sand. There is greater flexibility in designing the casting. CASTING PROCESSES UTILIZING SEMISOLID FEED MATERIAL: Conventionally all the casting processes employ molten metal for pouring into mould or die. no cores and no sand binders are used. These are: Lower die erosion and increased die life Lower gas absorption related defects Lower inclusion defects due to less turbulence. the resulting slurry shows thixotropic behaviour. It was not possible to feed semisolid material until the work of Flemings and his coworkers at MIT to produce thixotropic alloy slurries in semisolid condition. It was found that if the alloy is continuously stirred while cooling from completely molten to semisolid state. Due to this behaviour material behaves like fluids while under shear but behaves like solid when shear force is removed. 5 . Disadvantages of the process are: Patterns can get easily damaged Patterns undergo shrinkage Carbon-pick in low carbon steel castings Quality of the casting is determined by the quality of the pattern Sand may collapse during pouring. Process can be readily automated and expensive sand conditioning plant is not required. The process has many advantages due to lower temperatures involved with casting.
The shearing zone also has temperature gradient with reservoir end above liquidus and exit port at a temperature within semisolid range. Due to the use of electromagnets stirring is indirect and has no direct contact with stirrer. In the former case impellers of various designs can be used to impart shearing. Some of the methods are: Mechanical stirring of the solidifying alloy: In this method the solidifying alloy is stirred mechanically either in batch mode or continuous casting mode. Technique for continuous slurry making is shown in Fig. Grain refining by chemical or ultrasonic vibrations: These methods involve use of grain refiners / high power ultrasonic vibrations to achieve fine grain structure which helps in globularisation process. The molten alloy from the reservoir passes through a narrow zone between cylindrical rotor and an annular gap and undergoes shear action. MHD stirring technique has reached the commercial stage. The batch furnace should have accurate control over temperature and cooling rate to achieve desired microstructure. Of the various techniques. Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) stirring of the alloy in a batch or continuous casting process: These methods involve electromagnetic stirring of the alloy in place of mechanical stirring. Over the years several methods have evolved to obtain globular microstructure in the semisolid alloy. This slurry has globular solid dispersed in the liquid matrix. Fig.Made possible to use heat treatable Al-alloys for pressure die casting Increased productivity due to less heat to be dissipated during solidification Reduced shrinkage porosity The important aspect the process is the production of semisolid slurry with thixotropic characteristic. Generally. 4. 3 compares conventionally cast Al-alloy dendritic microstructure with globular microstructure of the alloy slurry showing thixotropic behaviour. This results in less contamination of the slurry and process is better suited for automation and having controlled atmosphere in the furnace. 6 .
Due to the low superheat the resulting microstructure is usually fine and non-dendritic.these methods are used in conjunction with MHD stirring or Liquidus casting processes (described below) and not all alone. technologies utilizing semisolid slurry to form the component are: o Rheocasting: In this process the slurry is directly fed to shot sleeve of a pressure die casting machine and injected into the die cavity. Later these billets are cut into solid slugs Some of the and reheated to the semisolid temperature. 7 . 4. When slug is sheared by the plunger the material behaves like fluid and fills the die cavity. In this process. Reheated slug is used in the shot sleeve of the pressure die casting machine. Some of the processes using this concept are New Rheocasting (NRC). Thixoforging: The process is similar to Thixocasting till slug reheating. Liquidus Casting: Controlled cooling of the alloy near liquidus temperature. The semi-solid slurry can be used in different ways to form the component. Some of the above methods are schematically shown in Fig. This material when reheated. material is cold worked to introduce a high dislocation density and subsequently heated to semisolid temperature to produce globular structure. o Thixoforming: In these processes slurry is first cast into billets which can be stored and later used by reheating to the semisolid state. Strain Induced and Melt Activated (SIMA) technique: Whereas all the processes described above utilize liquid or semi-solid material as the starting material to produce the thixotropic material. SIMA process uses solid starting material. Rotating Copper Rod and Twin Screw Extruder Process. results in globular microstructure. Thixocasting: In this process the slurry is first cast in the form of billets. Reheated slug is used to form component using closed die in a forging press. Cooling slope.
defence and aerospace sectors. The thixotropic slurry produced at the end of the screw is fed to the die cavity through a nozzle to form the component. major difference being in the feed material. o Rheomoulding: The process is similar to Thixomoulding. In this process liquid metal is used as the feed material. The third process described is special in the sense that it utilizes 8 . This appears feasible when we make use of thixotropic nature of the alloy slurry to retain the shape during direct deposition on a moving platform. thus producing globular structure. The chips are heated to the semisolid temperature while being continuously sheared in a screw feeder type machine and subsequently fed to the die cavity through a nozzle. Current and future trends will be towards utilizing rapid prototyping (RP) concepts to produce these expendable patterns. Casting approach where designers will be able to make last minute changes due to RP route of expendable pattern will be in demand.o Thixomoulding: The process is specifically designed for producing near net shape components from magnesium alloy chips. Liquid metal cools down gradually while being stirred by the screw (either single or twin). A process has already been patented in USA which utilizes thixotropic alloy slurry to make the component by depositing the slurry in sequential layer manner. SUMMARY: A brief account of three casting processes has been presented. The process combines the advantages of handling alloy slurry with the freeform fabrication technology. The ultimate in the component manufacturing will be achieved when castings will be directly deposited in RP manner. Two processes rely on the expendable nature of the pattern to make casting using molten alloy as the feed material. FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS: Casting processes based on the expendable pattern (such as EPS or wax) are currently exploited for automotive.
47(2). Clegg. P. 4. 2002. 1994. 957 . Beeley.C. ASM. 5. Fan.189. D. Kirkwood. 173 . Flemings. Z. M. 6. 39(5). Oxford. Oxford.. REFERENCES: 1. Pergamon Press. 9th Edition.981.. 3. Future trends stressing the need for adapting RP concepts to make expendable patterns or directly make the cast components are suggested.85. 1991. 9 . Rev. 2001. Foundry Technology. Mat. Precision Casting Processes. ibid. 2. 22 (1991). Metals Handbook. 15. 1988.semisolid alloy slurry as feed material in a die cavity.H. Int. A.G. Butterworth Heinemann. Met Trans A. vol. 49 .
hitchiner. 1: (a) EPS pattern e encapsulated in ceramic sh hell.h ng .a b c Fig. (Ref: www.com m) . 2 D Different steps involve in invest ed tment castin process. (b) Ceram shell after removal of the pattern an mic r t nd (c) Al-allo casting obta oy ained by pouring Al in the ceramic shel e ll Fig.
0 sh howing.de . (R Refs: www.rwth-aache en.a b 200 µm 0 Optical micrograp Fig. (b) alloy is specially processed t s to obtain globular mic crostructure e.wpi. (a dendrit a) tic microstr ructure whe alloy is slowly coo en oled from liquid to a semisolid temperatur l re and subs sequently c chill cast from that tem mperature.edu) ) . SIMA MHD M (Co ont.) Che emical Grain Refining MHD (Batch) Mechanical S Stirring Deformation Annealing Liquid Rot tating Copper R Rod Fig. 4: Schematic diagram showing so c s ome of meth hods used t produce Al-alloys w to with globu microst ular tructure. www w. 3: phs from Al-alloy A356.