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Identifying Casting Defects


A faulty casting has arrived at your facilitys door. Youre not exactly sure whats wrong
with it, but from what youve heard, youre pretty sure its porosity.
You call your metalcaster. You tell the quality control manager youve got porosity. She
wants to know more.



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AFS Corporate Members
Design Line
Introduction to Gray Cast Iron

Youre stumped.
What you have on your hands is a cavity-type defect. While many kinds of these defects
exist, most buyers and designers of castings know them only as porosity. If you could
just give the quality control manager a more specific defect name, shed know its root
cause and therefore how to fix it.

Gray Iron Book and Chart Set

Ductile Iron Microstructures Rating

Below are descriptions of defect types and their correct terminology.

1. Upon machining, small, narrow cavities appear on your casting faces.

Dispersed ShrinkageCharacteristic of
cast iron, these cavities are most often
perpendicular to the casting surface,
with depths as great as 0.8 in. (2 cm).
The casting defect is most commonly
caused in iron components by low
carbon content or high nitrogen
content in the melt.
2. Several castings in your shipment are
showing thin bits of metal at the
parting line.
Dispersed Shrinkage
Defect: FlashProjections at the
parting line occur when clearance between the top and bottom of the metalcasting
mold halves is great enough to allow metal to enter and solidify. The metalcaster must
take more care in pattern, mold and coremaking to eliminate flash or remove it in the
cleaning room after pouring.
3. One of your iron castings fractures and reveals smooth, slightly curved facets on the
fracture face.
Defect: Conchoidal or Rock Candy FractureThis defect is characterized by
separation along the grain boundaries of primary crystallization. The resulting
configuration is often compared to the appearance of rock candy. The defect is caused
in steel castings by elevated aluminum and nitrogen levels.
4. Your casting has smooth-walled, rounded cavities of various sizes clumped together
in one area.

Blowholes/PinholesThe interior
walls of blowholes and pinholes can be
shiny, more or less oxidized or, in the

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layer of graphite. The defects can

appear in any region of a casting. They
are caused when gas is trapped in the
metal during solidification.

5. Your iron casting has folded, shiny films in its walls.

Defect: Lustrous CarbonThese folded or wrinkled films are distinctly outlined and
found within the walls of iron castings, causing a linear discontinuity in the structure.
Generally, they are seen only upon fracturing a casting. The defects form when
materials from mold or core additives and binders volatize, decompose and become
entrained in the melt.
6. Upon x-ray, you observe a cavity in
the middle of your casting.
Defect: Axial ShrinkageAll metal
shrinks as it solidifies. Axial (or
centerline) shrinkage, most often
plate-like in shape, occurs when the
metal at the center of the casting takes
longer to freeze than the metal
surrounding it. The defect is partly a
function of the section thickness
designed into the casting, but it also
can be influenced by the metalcasters
pouring temperature, alloy purity, riser
use and pouring speed.

Lustrous Carbon
7. A protrusion of metal is sticking out
of a 90-degree corner of one of your
Defect: Fillet VeinThese types of
metallic projections can divide an
interior casting angle in half. This
defect can occur when too much
binder in the sand causes a crevice to
form in a mold or core during mold
preparation or casting. The metalcaster
will reduce or modify its binder usage
to alleviate the defect.

Axial Shrinkage

8. All your casting dimensions are

incorrect in the same proportion.
Defect: Improper Shrinkage AllowanceAll casting alloys shrink as they solidify, but
each does so at a different rate. This defect can occur when the patternmaker uses a
shrink rule (constant) that differs from the actual shrinkage of the alloy used. The
pattern will have to be remade to account for this defect.
9. Your casting is essentially complete except for more or less rounded edges and
Defect: MisrunThis defect can occur with the use of any casting alloy, but in the case
of iron, the surface is generally shiny and easily cleaned. The problem can come about
due to a lack of alloy fluidity, slow mold filling, inadequate venting of the mold and (in
permanent molding) low temperatures.
10. Your casting has a partial separation in one of its walls.
Defect: Cold ShutCold shuts vary in depth and can extend either partially or all the
way through a casting section. This defect may be accompanied by rounded casting
edges (also common to misruns, detailed in question 9). Cold shuts generally occur on
wide casting surfaces in thin, difficult-to-fill sections, or where two streams of metal
converge in the mold during filling.
11. Your casting has been stored for some time, and when you pull it out for assembly,
you notice it has bent out of specification.
Defect: Warped CastingDistortion due to warpage can occur over time in a casting
that partially or completely liberates residual stresses. Common practice in iron casting
is normalizing heat treatment to remove residual stress. In aluminum casting, a
straightening between quench and aging might be required.
12. Your iron casting has branched grooves of various lengths with smooth bottoms and
Defect: BuckleOccurring in all ferrous alloys and sometimes in copper-base castings,
the defect is caused by the expansion of silica sand. The defect distinguishes itself from
a scab (see question 18) in that it does not allow penetration of the metal into the
adjacent cavity below.
13. Very small grooves (less than 0.5 in.) on the surface of your casting are almost
covered by a folded edge.
Defect: Rat TailThis shallow defect occurs in ferrous and nonferrous green sand

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casting. Rat tails may be accompanied by other projection-like defects. Metalcasters
can alleviate this defect by altering their sand mixture.
14. Your iron casting has spherical particles coated with oxide inside it. The particles
are the same chemical composition as the base metal.
Defect: Cold Shot (Shot Metal)Not to be confused with a cold shut, this defect occurs
when small droplets of metal fall into a metalcasting mold, solidify and fail to remelt
when the remaining metal is introduced to the mold. The defect is caused primarily by
faulty pouring practices, but it also can be influenced by misplaced runners and risers.
Metalcasters can stop the defect from occurring by improving pouring conditions and
protecting the mold openings against metal splashing.
15. Small, gray-green, superficial cavities in the form of droplets or shallow spots
appear on your iron castings.
Defect: Slag InclusionsA reaction between the mold and ferrous metals can cause the
formation of a low-melting slag, which can adhere to the casting surface. When the
inclusions are dislodged during shot-blasting, a rounded cavity is left behind. The defect
is especially common in steels with high chromium contents. The metalcaster will
reduce pouring temperatures and cool the castings in a reducing atmosphere to correct
the problem.
16. Irregular projections crop up on one side of a vertical casting surface near the
parting line.
Defect: Ramoff/RamawayThis defect is characterized by a thickening of the casting in
the vicinity of the parting line or an increase in dimension of a surface parallel to the
parting line. It is caused by improper mold creation (ramming), which has in turn caused
the sand to separate from certain vertical walls of the pattern.
17. Plate-like metallic projections with rough surfaces jut up parallel to the casting
Defect: Kish Graphite InclusionsThis ferrous casting defect appears as coarse (not
smooth) porosity, filled with graphite. It generally becomes visible upon casting
machining. The defect is caused by an excessive carbon equivalent in the melt, slow
cooling or great differences in section thickness. A redesign on the part of the casting
end-user may be in order to address this defect.
18. Your iron casting shows local accumulations of coarse graphite. The graphite has
moved into the shrinkage cavities.

Expansion Scab

Expansion ScabAnother defect

caused by the expansion of molding or
core sand, expansion scabs can occur in
ferrous or copper-based castings. The
thin metallic projections with sharp
edges are generally parallel to the
surface of the casting and have very
rough surfaces. They are usually
attached to the casting at only a few
points and are otherwise loose.

19. Waves of fold markings without discontinuities appear on your casting.

Defect: Seams or ScarsThis defect, which generally occurs on horizontal or convex
surfaces of thin castings, distinguishes itself from a rat tail in that the two edges of each
individual groove are at the same level. The defect may appear in conjunction with kish
graphite (detailed in question 18). Sand is not the cause of this defect. Rather, it is
20. Lines of extra metal that look like veins
appear on your casting surface.
Defect: VeiningThis defect occurs when cracks
appear on a sand mold due to sand contraction,
which is caused by heat. The metalcaster must
regulate its sand composition and heating to
keep veining from occurring.

Seams or Scars

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