You are on page 1of 3


Zircon is zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4). It is highly refractory and possesses excellent foundry
characteristics (Ref 2). Its primary advantages are a very low thermal expansion, high thermal
conductivity and bulk density (which gives it a chilling rate about four times that of quartz), and very low
reactivity with molten metal. Zircon requires less binder than other sands because its grains are rounded.
The very high dimensional and thermal stabilities exhibited by zircon are the reasons it is widely used in
steel foundries and investment foundries making high-temperature alloy components.
Olivine minerals (so called because of their characteristic green color) are a solid solution of forsterite
(Mg2SiO4) and fayalite (Fe2SiO4). Their physical properties vary with their chemical compositions;
therefore, the composition of the olivine used must be specified to control the reproducibility of the sand
mixture. Care must be taken to calcine the olivine sand before use to decompose the serpentine content,
which contains water (Ref 4).
The specific heat of olivine is similar to that of silica (Ref 5), but its thermal expansion is far less.
Therefore, olivine is used for steel casting to control mold dimensions. Olivine is somewhat less durable
than silica (Ref 1), and it is an angular sand.
Carbonaceous Additions. Carbon is added to the mold to provide a reducing atmosphere and a gas
film during pouring that protects against oxidation of the metal and reduces burn-in. Carbon can be added
in the form of seacoal (finely ground bituminous coal), asphalt, gilsonite (a naturally occurring
asphaltite), or proprietary petroleum products. Seacoal changes to coke at high temperatures expanding
three times as it does so; this action fills voids at the mold/metal interface. Too much carbon in the mold
gives smoke, fumes, and gas defects, and the use of asphalt products must be controlled closely because
their overuse waterproofs the sand.
The addition of carbonaceous materials will give improved surface finish to castings. Best results are
achieved with such materials as seacoal and pitch, which volatilize and deposit a pyrolytic (lustrous)
carbon layer on sand at the casting surface (Ref 7).
Cellulose is added to control sand expansion and to broaden the allowable water content range. It is
usually added in the form of wood flour, or ground cereal husks or nut shells. Cellulose reduces hot
compressive strength and provides good collapsibility, thus improving shakeout. At high temperatures, it
forms soot (an amorphous form of carbon), which deposits at the mold/metal interface and resists wetting
by metal or slags. It also improves the flowability of the sand during molding. Excessive amounts
generate smoke and fumes and can cause gas defects. In addition, if present when the clay content drops
too low, defects such as cuts, washes, and mold inclusions will occur in the castings.
Cereals, which include corn flour, dextrine, and other starches, are adhesive when wetted and therefore
act as a binder. They stiffen the sand and improve its ability to draw deep pockets. However, use of
cereals makes shakeout more difficult, and excessive quantities make the sand tough and can cause the
sand to form balls in the muller. Because cereals are volatile, they can cause gas defects in castings if used

Bonds Formed in Molding

Silica-Base Bonds

Clay-Water Bonds. There is an ideal water content at which all of the water is polarized and

active in the bonding process (because the water added to activate the clay bond is called temper
water, this is known as the temper point). Above this water content, some of the water will exist
as liquid water, which is not involved in bonding. Below this value, there is insufficient water to
develop the bond fully. At the temper point, the green strength of the sand is at its maximum, and
additions of water beyond this point decrease the strength of the sand/clay/water mixture.


Colloidal silica bonds are used in investment casting. Colloidal silica particles are about 4 to


40 nm in diameter and form a sol in water.

Ethyl Silicate. An alternate silica bond can be produced from hydrolyzed ethyl silicates. These
are precipitation bonds,

[n Si(OH)4] [SiO(OH)2n + nH2O]

The precipitated silicate bond is a gel that comes out of suspension by a change in binder ion
concentration. Hydrolyzed ethyl silicate is manufactured by the reaction of silicon tetrachloride
with ethyl alcohol.
4. Sodium Silicate Bonds. The sodium silicate process is another method of forming a bond
made up of a silicate polymer. In this case, carbon dioxide is used to precipitate sodium from
what is essentially silicic acid containing large quantities of colloidal sodium. The reaction is:
Na2O 2SiO2 + CO2 .Na2CO3 + 2SiO2
Continued gassing gives:
Na2O 2SiO2 + 2CO2 + H2O .2Na2HCO3 + 2SiO2
This shows that continued gassing dehydrates the amorphous silica gel and increases the strength
of the mold.
Sodium silicate molds are widely used for large cores and castings where there is a premium on
mold hardness and dimensional control. The bond breaks down easily at high temperatures and
therefore facilitates shakeout. The silicatebonded sand, after pouring and shakeout, can be
reclaimed by mechanical means, and up to 60% of the reclaimed sand can be reused. Wet
reclamation of silicate sand systems is also possible.

Phosphoric Acid Bonds:

Phosphoric acid bonds are used in both ferrous and nonferrous precision casting to produce monolithic
molds. They are a reaction-type bond with the general form:

[MO + H3PO4 M(HPO4) + H2O]

where M is an oxide frit or mixture of frits. The pH must be controlled carefully and kept acidic (Ref 4).
The powdered metal oxide hardener is dry blended with the sand, and the liquefied phosphoric acid is
then incorporated. The coated sand is compacted into core or pattern boxes and allowed to harden
chemically before removal.

Resin Binder Processes

Classification of Resin Binder Processes
No-bake binder systems
Heat-cured binder systems
Cold box binder systems
In the no-bake and cold box processes, the binder is cured at room temperature; in the shell molding, hot
box, and oven bake processes, heat cures are applied. Selection of the process and type of binder depends
on the size and number of cores or molds required, production rates, and equipment.

No-Bake Processes
A no-bake process is based on the ambient-temperature cure of two or more binder components after they
are combined on sand. Curing of the binder system begins immediately after all components are
combined. For a period of time after initial mixing, the sand mix is workable and flowable to allow the
filling of the core/mold pattern. After an additional time period, the sand mix cures to the point where it
can be removed from the box. The time difference between filling and stripping of the box can range from
a few minutes to several hours, depending on the binder system used, curing agent and amount, sand type,
and sand temperature.

Shell Process

In the shell process, also referred to as the Croning process, the sand grains are coated with phenolic
novolac resins and hexamethylenetetramine. In warm coating, dissolved or liquid resins are used, but in
hot coating, solid novolac resins are used. The coated, dry, free-flowing sand is compressed and cured in a
heated mold at 150 to 280 C (300 to 535 F) for 10 to 30 s. Sands prepared by warm coating cure fast
and exhibit excellent

Hot Box and Warm Box Processes

In the hot box and warm box processes, the binder-sand mixture is wet. A liquid thermosetting binder and
a latent acid catalyst are mixed with dry sand and blown into a heated core box. The curing temperature
depends on the process. Upon heating, the catalyst releases acid, which induces rapid cure; therefore, the
core can be removed within 10 to 30 s. After the cores are removed from the pattern, the cure is complete
as a result of the exothermic chemical reaction and the heat absorbed by the core. Although many hot box
cores require post curing in an oven to complete the cure, warm box cures require no post bake oven