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Compensating casting pattern before casting

One of the problems that occur when casting all metals is that the melted volume of the metal being
poured into the mould increases in density and decreases in volume as the temperature of the metal
drops. The volume decrease in aluminium is about 5 7 %, which means that of the 100% poured,
only 97% comes out. Risers are used to compensate for shrinkage from melted stage to the exact
stage where the melt has solidified, but from the solidus point and lower it is not possible;
measurements continue to shrink. To compensate for this you add material with a certain
percentage on all measurements. The percentage is normally set as a general value for the whole
casting. For example 1.3% is chosen for aluminium (according to the table aluminium alloys can be
between 0.5 and 1.8 %). This results in all measurements being compensated with 1.3 %, which in
most cases will give measurements with either too much or too little being added. Experienced
methoding engineers are aware of this and can therefore guess where compensation will be
incorrect. However, guessing is often incorrect and as a result so is the pattern. This leads to
discarded castings and costs in both money and time to adjust the pattern. Much can be gained by
predicting how the part will contract.
Simulating changes in the mould
Modern casting simulation packages often add stress calculation to mould filling simulation and
solidification simulation. Stress calculation uses temperature differences and material data to
calculate the following:
1. Residual stresses in the casting
2. Risk for hot or cold cracks
3. Shrinkage/mould changes in casting part
4. Residual stresses in the mould
5. Risk for cracks in the mould, a factor that directly influences tool life
Program developers have been deliberating how to make this technology more widespread and
more practical in usage.
As usual, the simplest solutions are the best. Below is an example showing calculated measurements
in an aluminium part. Two coordinate points can be marked by clicking on the calculation pattern.
The following can be measured between these two points:
a) Nominal distance, i.e. pattern measurements
b) Distance in contracted condition when volume shrinkage, solidification shrinkage and cooling
shrinkage have reached room temperature
c) Difference between a) and b) in millimeters
d) Shrinkage in percent, which corresponds to the measurement additions made by tool
manufacturers and pattern manufacturers
The biggest difference between simulating and guessing is that simulating shows which areas show
discrepancies, as well as their extent. Simulation programs can be calibrated to display correct
absolute measurements.

Example:

The picture shows the contracted and deformed part when it has cooled down to 20 degrees.
Facts about the simulation:
Aluminium alloy: EN AC-44100
Casting temperature: 750 C
Mould material: Silica sand
Casting dimensions: L x W x H = 600 x 300 x 120 mm
Casting weight: 3500 gram
Total number of calculation elements: 1.24 million, of which 99 000 are elements of the
metal
Simulated only with solidification, without mould filling simulation
Total simulation time 28 minutes of which stress calculation took 7 minutes
Simulation package used: NovaFlow & Solid CV 4.4


Picture shows residual stresses in the part after casting.

Stresses can be changed and resolved using heat treatment. As a result,the detail can change shape
again. Some heat treatment steps can also be simulated.


The picture above shows a measurement menu from the software package that was used. These
values can be saved as a text file.
As you can see, shrinkage varies from 1.0 to 1.3 %. Variations can be even greater, among others
depending on hardness of the mould material. In some cases the part gets stuck in the mould and
cannot shrink, resulting in zero shrinkage. Other cases can result in increased measurements, i.e. the
part will expand in that particular place.
Future developments
Future developments should make it possible to calculate how a part contracts and then invert the
pattern to make a 3D model that can be created as it should be, with correct mesurements for the
part, i.e. compensated for shrinkage, distorsion and other mould changes. This 3D part could then be
used to manufacture the pattern. This should be achievable within the next two-year period.

Hkan Fransson