Casting is a manufacturing process by which a molten material such as metal or plastic is introduced into a mold, allowed to solidify within the mold, and then ejected or broken out to make a fabricated part. Casting is used for making parts of complex shape that would be difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods, such as cutting from solid material. Casting may be used to form hot, liquid metals or meltable plastics (called thermoplastics), or various materials that cold set after mixing of components such as certain plastic resins such as epoxy, water setting materials such as concrete or plaster, and materials that become liquid or paste when moist such as clay, which when dry enough to be rigid is removed from the mold, further dried, and fired in a kiln. Substitution is always a factor in deciding whether other techniques should be used instead of casting. Alternatives include parts that can be stamped out on a punch press or deep-drawn, forged, items that can be manufactured by extrusion or by cold-bending, and parts that can be made from highly active metals. The casting process is subdivided into two distinct subgroups: expendable and nonexpendable mold casting:
1 - Expendable mold casting
Expendable mold casting is a generic classification that includes sand, plastic, shell, and investment (lost-wax technique) moldings. This method of mold casting involves the use of temporary, nonreusable molds.
Sand casting requires a lead time of days for production at high output rates (1-20 pieces/hr-mold), and is unsurpassed for large-part production. Green (moist) sand has almost no part weight limit, whereas dry sand has a practical part mass limit of 23002700 kg. Minimum part weight ranges from 0.075-0.1 kg. The sand is bonded together using clays (as in green sand) or chemical binders, or polymerized oils. Sand in most operations can be recycled many times and requires little additional input. Preparation of the sand mold is fast and requires a pattern which can "stamp" out the casting template. Typically, sand casting is used for processing low-temperature metals, such as iron, copper, aluminium, magnesium, and nickel alloys. Sand casting can also be used for high temp metals where other means would be unpractical. It is by far the oldest and best understood of all techniques. Consequently, automation may easily be adapted to the production process, somewhat less easily to the design and preparation of forms. These forms must satisfy exacting standards as they are the heart of the sand casting process - creating the most obvious necessity for human control.
with the skilled working of multiple colors resulting in simulated staining patterns as is often found in natural marble or travertine. normal plaster cannot easily be recast. often in ways that give the appearance of metal or stone.either using single use waste molds. lacking in transparency. rather than plaster. The automatic functions easily are handed over to robots. fountains. multiple use piece molds. washstand tops and shower stalls. Shell mold walling varies from 3-10 mm thick. after which an output of 5-50 pieces/hr-mold is attainable. The form is removed after the plaster sets. Plaster compound is actually composed of 70-80% gypsum and 20-30% strengthener and water. or molds made of flexible material such as latex rubber (which is in turn supported by an exterior mold). By casting concrete. Plaster casting is normally used for nonferrous metals such as aluminium-. zinc-. or copper-based alloys. When casting plaster or concrete the finished product is.
Shell molding is also similar to sand molding except that a mixture of sand and 3-6% resin holds the grains together.5 kg as a normal limit.ii)
Plaster casting (of metals)
Plaster casting is similar to sand molding except that plaster is substituted for sand. Prior to mold preparation the pattern is sprayed with a thin film of parting compound to prevent the mold from sticking to the pattern.
Casting of plaster. and so is usually painted. The later is a common means of making attractive washstands.
. the first layers cast may contain colored sand so as to give an appearance of stone. yet the higher-precision pattern designs required demand even higher levels of direct human assistance. often with multiple colors worked in. unlike marble. it is possible to create sculptures. A simulation of high quality marble may be made using certain chemically set plastic resins (for example epoxy or polyester) with powdered stone added for coloration. Aluminium and magnesium products average about 13. Set-up and production of shell mold patterns takes weeks. after which a production rate of 1-10 units/hr-mold is achieved with items as massive as 45 kg and as small as 30 g with very high surface resolution and fine tolerances. It cannot be used to cast ferrous material because sulfur in gypsum slowly reacts with iron. the form takes less than a week to prepare. or seating for outdoor use. Once used and cracked away. Plaster casting represents a step up in sophistication and requires skill. but it is possible to cast items in the 45-90 kg range. Alternatively. Generally. as can other chemical setting materials such as concrete or plastic resin . The unit is shaken so plaster fills the small cavities around the pattern. concrete. or plastic resin
Plaster itself may be cast. relatively unattractive. depending on the forming time of the resin.
removing investment 7.3–2. 1–1000 pieces/hour-mold can be produced in the mass range 2.
. the wax must be removed. Items up to 45 kg and as light as 30 g are possible for unit production. The sprue contains the fill cup where the molten metal will be poured into the assembly. After the shell is created to the specifications desired. usually weeks. cleaning and trimming. the shells must be heated in a furnace so they do not break during the casting process. 3. curing shell and baking it 6. After a variable lead time. This is where the name "lost-wax process" comes from. pouring mold 11. this is normally achieved using an autoclave. or mold.7 kg. Polystyrene foam is also used in investment casting—see lost-foam casting. The process starts by creating an injection die to the desired specifications.There are a dozen different stages in shell mold processing that include: 1. depending on the shell thickness desired. 2. This process will be repeated until the desired shell is created.
Investment casting (lost-wax process) yields a finely detailed and accurate product. usually to between 505-550 K inverting the pattern (the sand is at one end of a box and the pattern at the other. however. inserting cores 8. This leaves an impression of the desired castings. The sand-resin mix can be recycled by burning off the resin at high temperatures. 4. The patterns are attached to a central wax sprue. The wax assembly is now dipped multiple times in a ceramic slurry. assembling mold 10. This die will be used to inject wax to create the patterns needed for investment casting. which will be filled with metal. initially preparing a metal-matched plate mixing resin and sand heating pattern. removing casting 12. A layer of fine sand (usually zircon) is added on top of each ceramic layer. Before being cast. creating an assembly. and the box is inverted for a time determined by the desired thickness of the mill) 5. repeating for other half 9. but mechanical properties are not good since the process involves slow cooling.
although alternate methods can be used. sub-contracted. Cast parts from a permanent mold generally show 20% increase in tensile strength and 30% increase in elongation as compared to the products of sand casting. and the central sprue cavity and fill cup. more finishing work can be done on-site. seed crystals. but they are still attached to the sprue assembly. Depending on the investment casting facility and specifications. Investment casting is often used in the aerospace and power generation industries to produce single crystal turbine blade. Grinding operations are perfomed to remove the gate. The individual parts are removed by cold-break (dipping in liquid nitrogen and breaking the parts off with hammer and chisel) or with large cutoff saws.
Permanent mold casting
Permanent mold casting (typically for non-ferrous metals) requires a set-up time on the order of weeks to prepare a steel tool.1 kg. What remains are the cast metal parts. and continuous casting. This technique includes at least four different methods: permanent.
. A combination of slow cooling rates. which exhibit superior creep resistance to equiaxed castings. up to 135 kg for many nonferrous metal parts) and a lower limit of about 0. Permanent molds have a life which varies depending on maintenance of after which they require refinishing or replacement. The individual parts will be removed after the mold cools and the shell is removed. Investment casting yields exceedingly fine quality products made of all types of metals.. and improve surface finish. especially those which cannot be cast in metal or plaster molds and those which are difficult to machine or work.Nonexpendable mold casting
Nonexpendable mold casting differs from expendable processes in that the mold need not be reformed after each production cycle. Most investment castings need some degree of post casting machining to remove the sprue and runners.Next. It has special applications in fabricating very high-temperature metals such as alloy steels or stainless steels. after which production rates of 5-50 pieces/hrmold are achieved with an upper mass limit of 9 kg per iron alloy item (cf. Parts are also inspected to make sure they were cast properly. or not done at all. and if not are either fixed or scrapped. The shell is generally removed with water-blasting. The metal fills each part on the assembly. the desired metal is poured into the hot ceramic shell. die. Steel cavities are coated with refractory wash of acetylene soot before processing to allow easy removal of the workpiece and promote longer tool life. and an elaborate sprue and runner system referred to as a "pigtail" are used to produce single crystal castings. centrifugal.
and copper-based alloys. rather are alloys which have better physical characteristics. toy cars. These are usually not pure metals. must be produced much more economically than parts primarily machined (multicavity die casting moulds operating at high speed are much more productive than machine tools or even stamping presses). aluminium-. die casting is probably far more economical.2 mm). Typically it is around 100 MPa (1000 bar). permanent mold casting is used in forming iron-.The only necessary input is the coating applied regularly. The lubricant both helps control the temperature of the die and it also assists in the removal of the casting. the mould is sprayed with lubricant and closed. Dies range in complexity to produce any non-ferrous metal parts (that need not be as strong. hard or heat-resistant as steel) from sink faucets to engine blocks (including hardware. The process is highly automated. Common metals used in die casting include zinc and aluminum. In fact. must have a very smooth surface that can be bright plated without prior polishing and buffing. The moulds are called dies. Plastic parts are practical (particularly now that plating of plastics has become possible) if hardness is not required and if parts can be redesigned to have the necessary strength. Typically. The high pressure assures a casting as precise and as smooth as the mold. the process lends itself to making any metal part that:
• • • •
must be precise (dimensions plus or minus as little as 50 µm--over short distances). a single die casting may have all the features of a complex assembly.
a) Process There are four major steps in the die casting process. This level of versatility has placed die castings among the highest volume products made in the metalworking industry. First. has very thin sections (like sheet metal--as little as 1. Molten metal is then injected into the die under high pressure. must be very flexible in design. component parts of machinery. etc). magnesium-. injection-molded plastic parts have replaced some die castings because they are usually cheaper (and lighter--important especially for automotive parts since the fuel-economy standards). Once the cavity
. In recent years.
If several machining operations would be required or assembly of several parts would be required (to make a finished part).
Die casting is the process of forcing molten metal under high pressure into the cavities of steel moulds.
making the mold cavities out of the finest "hot work" alloy steel available. Cold chamber systems transfer molten metal from the furnace to a shot cylinder. and aluminium parts are roughly 4. respectively. Maximum mass limits for magnesium. Third. The die must fulfill four primary purposes. This is despite. Before the cycle can be started the die must be installed in the die casting machine (set up) and brought to operating temperature. Also there is usually some unplanned-for thin scrap called flash. A shot occurs every time the die is filled with metal. This set-up requires 1-2 hours after which a cycle can take anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the size of the casting. Shots are different from castings because there can be multiple cavities in a die.000 shots during its lifetime with lifetime being heavily influenced by the melting temperature of the metal or alloy being used. yielding multiple castings per shot. This includes. for example. and 45 kg. the result of molds not fitting together tightly. the die is opened and the casting is ejected. in all cases. a die must be able to eject the solidified casting. Finally. b) Equipment In a hot chamber machine the metal is pumped into the die directly from a furnace of molten metal. 18 kg.is filled then the pressure is maintained until the casting has become solid (though this period is usually made short as possible by water cooling the mold). The metal is then pushed through from the cylinder into the die. A typical die set will last 500. Because die sets open and shut along a parting line of the casting.5 kg. Aluminum and its alloys typically shorten die life due to the high temperature of the liquid metal resulting in deterioration of the steel mold cavities. Equally important as high-pressure injection is high-speed injection--required so the entire cavity fills before any part of the casting solidifies. it is remelted) that consists of the metal that has hardened in the channels leading into and out of the cavities. is not sold cheaply. Molds for die casting zinc last almost indefinitely due to the lower temperature of the zinc. runners and overflows. zinc. Finally.
. unlike in the case of scrap from machining. In this way. it must hold molten metal in the shape of the final casting. design features such as undercuts cannot be cast without the addition of movable slides in the die set. the die is designed to remove heat from the casting. Also the shot consists not only of the individual castings but also the "scrap" (which. discontinuities (spoiling the finish and even weakening the casting) are avoided even if the design requires difficult-to-fill very thin sections. Molds for die casting brass are the shortest-lived of all. First. The die must also provide a path for the molten metal to reach the casting cavity. the sprue. Otherwise these features must be added (more expensively) by secondary machining operations.
Small art pieces such as jewelry are often cast by this method using the lost wax process. water-cooled copper mould. Semi. Or plating or painting. Most common is tapping a hole (to receive a screw). which case grinding may be necessary to smooth the gate mark where molten metal entered or left the cavity. An older method is separating by hand or by sawing. all under high pressure and as rapidly as possible. in the case of zinc up to several hundred times an hour. Finally. as the forces enable the rather viscous liquid metals to flow through very small passages and into fine details such as leaves and petals. this is often done using a trim die in a power press or hydraulic press.5 kg. Typical sizes range from 100 to 4. also applied to jewelry casting. They are hot chamber machines for zinc and lower melting-point metals. Separation must follow. Often there is a secondary operation to separate the castings from the scrap.Die casting machines are rated by how much clamping force they can apply.and pressure-independent since it creates its own force feed using a temporary sand mold held in a spinning chamber at up to 90 g (900 m/s²).
Continuous casting is a refinement of the casting process for the continuous. Lead time varies with the application. The largest machines are as big as a car. Along with size there are two main categories that die casting machines fall into. Or cold chamber machines for aluminum and higher melting-point metals. the centrifugal casting of railway wheels was an early application of the method developed by German industrial company Krupp and this capability enabled the rapid growth of the enterprise.000 tons. (However the very smallest zinc machines may cycle thousands of time an hour. which allows a 'skin' of solid
. This effect is similar to the benefits from vacuum casting. highvolume production of metal sections with a constant cross-section.and true-centrifugal processing permit 30-50 pieces/hr-mold to be produced. Most die casters perform other secondary operations to produce features not readily castable.) Sometimes means are provided to automatically remove the shot and re-cycle the machine. with a practical limit for batch processing of approximately 9000 kg total mass with a typical per-item limit of 2.3-4. a less laborintensive method is to tumble shots if gates are thin and easily broken. Molten metal is poured into an open-ended. Or the surface may be improved. Industrially.
Centrifugal casting is both gravity. A die casting machine automatically opens and closes the mold and injects the liquid metal. for example. polishing and buffing.
After solidification. The cooling rate is largely controlled by the molding media used for making the mold. with the largest tonnage poured being steel. the cooling down begins. Generally speaking.
. as it is now called. quality. along with the obvious advantages inherent in a continuous forming process. For example. is withdrawn from the mould and passed into a chamber of rollers and water sprays. the strand may undergo an initial hot rolling process before being cut. This happens because the heat within the molten metal flows into the relatively cooler parts of the mold. while a mold made entirely of steel would transfer the heat very fast. and properties. or to a stockpile. To improve the quality of a casting and engineer how it is made.Cooling rate
The rate at which a casting cools affects its microstructure. Where heat should be removed quickly. gradually solidifying the strand from the outside in. the rollers support the thin skin of the strand while the sprays remove heat from the strand.
3 .25 m wide by 230 mm thick). predetermined lengths of the strand are cut off by either mechanical shears or travelling oxyacetylene torches and transferred to further forming processes. Sometimes. Fins may also be designed on a casting to extract heat.metal to form over the still-liquid centre. Continuous casting provides better quality product as it allows finer control over the casting process. When the molten metal is poured into the mold. Molding materials transfer heat from the casting into the mold at different rates. Both methods may be used at local spots in a mold where the heat will be extracted quickly. the engineer will plan the mold to include special heat sinks to the mold. an area of the casting which is cooled quickly will have a fine grain structure and an area which cools slowly will have a coarse grain structure. Where heat should be removed slowly. if proper planning is not done the result can be gas porosities and shrink porosities within the casting. copper and aluminium are continuously cast. However. Metals such as steel. This cooling down ends with (solidification) where the liquid metal turns to solid metal. Cast sizes can range from strip (a few millimetres thick by about five metres wide) to billets (90 to 160 mm square) to slabs (1. some molds made of plaster may transfer heat very slowly. A riser is an additional larger cast piece which will cool more slowly than the place where is it attached to the casting. which are later removed in the cleaning (also called fettling) procees. At its basic level a foundry may pour a casting without regard to controlling how the casting cools down and the metal freezes within the mold. The strand. a riser or some padding may be added to a casting. called chills. the foundry engineer studies the geometry of the part and plans how the heat removal should be controlled.
Sometimes. For example a 1/100 ruler would add 1mm to 100mm if measured by a "standard ruler" (hence being called a 1/100 contraction ruler). iron. In the riser itself there will be a cavity showing where the metal was fed.4 . but also as the temperature of the solid material drops. a chill may be made of copper. aluminum. graphite. by cutting away from the casting which will be shipped to the customer.
Shrinkage after solidification can be dealt with by using an oversized pattern designed for the relevant alloy. Thus if silica sand is used for molding. the existing part would be measured using a standard ruler. the mould is larger also. Thus the liquid metal in the riser will flow into the solidifying casting and feed it until the casting is completely solid. zircon sand. weakening it. A pattern made to match an existing part would be made as follows: First. depending on the material to be cast.mostly as it solidifies. Pattern makers use special "contraction rulers" (also called "shrink rules") to make the patterns used by the foundry to make castings to the design size required. then when constructing the pattern. Compensation for this natural phenomenon must be considered in two ways. Risers provide additional material to the casting as it solidifies. if measured by a standard ruler. They are often necessary to produce parts which are free of internal shrinkage voids. The riser (sometimes called a "feeder") is designed to solidify later than the part of the casting to which it is attached. These rulers are mainly referred to by their actual changes to the size. ensuring that the casting would contract to the correct size. All castings solidify with progressive solidification but in some designs a chill is used to control the rate and sequence of solidification of the casting. Thus.6% oversize. metal is less dense as a liquid than a solid. Risers add cost because some of their material must be removed. and so a casting shrinks as it cools -. to promote directional shrinkage. Using such a ruler during pattern making will ensure an oversize pattern. and when the molten metal solidifies it will shrink and the casting will be the size required by the design. These rulers are 1 .
The shrinkage caused by solidification can leave cavities in a casting. A chill is any material which will conduct heat away from the casting more rapidly that the material used for molding. chills must be used in the mold.
. the pattern maker would use a contraction ruler. chromite or any other material with the ability to remove heat faster locally from the casting.Shrinkage
Like nearly all materials.