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Generation, Validation and Application of Knowledge Links in the Chain Called

Innovative Processing

Shigeki Yoshie, 2Genjiro Motoyasu, 2Atsumi Ohno, 3Hiroshi Soda and 3Alexander McLean

Osaka Fuji Corp., Amagasaki, Hyogo-ken, Japan.

Department of Mechanical Science, Chiba Institute of Technology, Narashino-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada.
Keywords: Casting, Heated mold, Continuous casting, Bismuth alloy, Cast wire

Throughout a long and distinguished career, the research activities
conducted by Professor Guthrie at the McGill Metals Processing
Centre have been characterized by a tri-partite concept involving
the Generation, Validation and Application of new knowledge. In
efforts to characterize and improve the performance of an existing
process, or in the quest to generate fundamental information as a
basis for the development of new manufacturing routes, this
knowledge triumvirate so elegantly demonstrated by Professor
Guthrie provides a strong foundation for progress within the
exciting field of innovative processing. In this paper the
development and implementation of new knowledge is illustrated
with reference to the Ohno Continuous Casting process, a heated
mold system that permits the generation of single crystal materials
or cast products with a unidirectionally solidified structure. In this
process, the mold is heated above the solidification temperature of
the alloy being cast and cooling occurs outside the mold.
Solidification thus takes place at the mold exit, significantly
reducing or eliminating friction between the cast product and the
mold wall. This casting configuration permits the generation of
net-shape or near-net-shape cast products with a high quality
surface and controlled solidification structure which in turn can
result in materials with significantly enhanced properties.

the glass mold wall and pushed their way to the hotter end of the
ampoule, while it was observed that crystals formed on the glass
wall grew in globular shapes and then separated away from the
wall to the hotter end due to the convection occurring within the

Figure 1. Macrostructure of Sn-5%Bi alloy, exhibiting columnar

and equiaxed crystals. The alloy was solidified by forced air
cooling from one end (2).

Generation of Knowledge
A New Clue for Cast Structure Control
One of the important factors that influence the quality of cast
products is the way heat is removed from liquid metals. Casting
processes involve heat removal in various ways: slow cooling,
rapid cooling, or directional cooling in which the liquid solidifies
into shapes with certain properties. During cooling, the formation
of grains of different size and length occur, influencing the
mechanical properties of the cast products. In the 1960s and 70s,
the solidification structure of cast products was extensively
studied and it was concluded that the equiaxed grains, observed in
the center region of the cast ingot, formed on the mold surface at
the initial stage of solidification and were carried by convection to
the center of the ingot rather than nucleated within the melt at a
late stage of solidification(1).These studies were further confirmed
by the direct in-situ observation of solidifying alloys in a glass
ampoule(2). Fig. 1 shows the Sn-5%Bi alloy solidified by cooling
one end of the ampoule. The casting consists of a columnar zone
at the cooled end and an equiaxed zone in the rest of the ingot. In
order to clarify how and when these crystals formed, the
solidification phenomena occurring at the cooling end were
directly observed using the microscope as shown in Fig. 2. As can
be seen in Fig. 2, many granular shaped crystals floated up along

Figure 2. Direct observation of solidifying alloy and crystal

separation from a glass wall (dark region), cooled by forced air(2).
Only in the later stages of solidification did the crystals on the
wall finally grow in dendrite form as shown in Fig. 3, resulting in
the columnar zone (Fig. 1).


Figure 3. Dendrite growth from the cooled wall in the later

stages of solidification (2).

Figure 4. Schematic illustration of seed pouring process (3).

Validation of Knowledge
Laboratory and Pilot Plant Studies
These fundamental studies on solidification structure described
above led to the inception of new casting systems. If the formation
of seed crystals is promoted using a cooling device during pouring
before the melt enters the mold, cast products of grain refined
structure will be the result. This led to a seed pouring or semisolid casting process as indicated in Fig. 4(3). The formation of
crystals can be halted by heating areas where the crystals would
generate. In this way cast products with fewer crystals will be the
result. This concept formed the basis of a heated mold continuous
casting technique known as Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC)(4).

Figure 5. Schematic diagram of Ohno Continuous Casting process

in contrast to the traditional continuous casting process (5).

The general concept of the OCC process, as illustrated

schematically in Fig. 5, is that molten metal is introduced
continuously into an externally heated mold and the temperature
of the mold is held just above the solidification temperature of the
metal to be cast, thus preventing the nucleation of crystals on the
mold surface. Heat is extracted from the cast product by means of
cooling water located near the mold exit, differentiating the
direction of heat flow in the OCC process from that in the
traditional process. The features of the OCC process include the
ability to produce:
- single crystal or unidirectionally cast products(3,4,6-8);
- net or near-net-shape cast products(5,9,10);
- a clean surface with no witness marks(11,12);
- cast rods with fewer cavities and porosity defects(12);
- cast rods with good workability(4,13,14).
Some examples of products are shown in Fig. 6.
Figure 6. Examples of products (a) as-cast aluminum wire 15 mm
in diameter, showing a high quality surface, (b) cast aluminum
plate, chemically etched to reveal the directional structure, (c) ascast Sn-57%Bi eutectic alloy tube 3.5 mm O.D. and 2 mm I.D.,
and (d) a foil of Sn-Bi eutectic alloy 0.1 mm in thickness, rolled
from a cast wire 2mm in diameter.
Fig. 7 shows the first OCC equipment built within the
solidification laboratory at Chiba Institute of Technology to test
the concept of heated mold continuous casting. Since then,
various OCC units were built and tested to confirm the concept.
Over the years from the late 1960s to the 1980s, many of the

students trained in solidification at Chiba Institute of Technology

entered the Osaka Fuji Corporation thus establishing an important
linkage between academia and industry. With this relationship in
place, Mr. I. Oshima, President of Osaka Fuji Corp., established
the OCC Research Centre, housing several pilot-scale facilities to
evaluate the feasibility of the OCC Process for manufacturing
industrial products. At the same time, several laboratory-scale
units were built by the Company for Chiba Institute of
Technology and the University of Toronto, which enabled strong
University-Industry collaborative programs to be conducted based
on investigations of the fundamental aspects of the process as well
as the practical implications.

Figure 7. First experimental OCC equipment built at Chiba

Institute of Technology and pilot-scale horizontal OCC facility
built by the Osaka Fuji Corporation and located at Ortech

orientation, some of the wires were remarkably soft and ductile

and were easily wound into a coil. Bismuth cleaves along the
(111) plane and wires in which the cleavage plane lies closer to
the wire axis exhibit remarkable ductility(6).
Cast bismuth alloy wires
Solder and thermal fuse alloys containing a high amount of
bismuth can also be made into small diameter wires by the OCC
process. Good microstructural control of cast products is essential
for these alloys in order to achieve uniform chemical composition.
With the controlled cast microstructure, mechanical properties can
be enhanced significantly. Fig. 9 (a to c) shows examples of
microstructures of the Bi-In-Sn, 77C-eutectic alloy solidified by
slow cooling in the furnace, slow directional growth, and fast
cooling by suctioning the melt into a small glass tube, 2 mm i.d.
As expected, different microstructures were produced, depending
on the solidification method. For example, the microstructure of
Fig. 9(a), which was furnace cooled, exhibited a gravity-induced,
highly segregated structure, containing massive primary bismuth
in a block form (white), mottled tin dendrites (dark), and Bi-Sn
eutectic cells with complex patterns (white) in a BiIn-Sn eutectic
matrix (gray) (18). The microstructure in Fig. 9(b), which grew
unidirectionally, shows a clear double binary eutectic structure in
which the Bi-Sn eutectic cells (indicated by arrow) segregated
along the BiIn-Sn dendrite cells. Fig. 9(c) also exhibited a nonuniform microstructure containing massive bismuth blocks (white
phase) despite the fact that the sample was solidified quickly by
suctioning the melt into a small glass tube. Since bismuth is
brittle, these massive bismuth blocks observed in Fig. 9 (a) and (c)
easily fracture under strain, causing a catastrophic failure of the
materials. A lamellar structure of the BiIn phase, shown in Fig.
9(b), also readily fractures along the spine and arm or across the
arm of the BiIn dendrite cell, causing trans-granular cracking (19).
Examples of cracks due to strain in these phases are shown in Fig.

Figure 8. Cut-out view of horizontal OCC unit

Application of Knowledge
Development of Alloy Wires
Cast bismuth wires
Small diameter, bismuth alloy wires are required for applications
such as thermal fuses and solders. However, since bismuth is
brittle, friable, and expands upon solidification(15), it is difficult to
produce bismuth and high-bismuth bearing alloy wires 1-3 mm in
diameter by traditional continuous casting or even by extrusion.
With the OCC process, external heat is applied to the mold,
crystal nucleation on the mold surface is prevented, and as shown
in Fig. 5, the wire solidifies at the mold exit. For the casting of
fine wires, the solidification front is actually located outside the
mold (9,16,17). As a result, problems associated with friction
between the mold and wire surface, and the expansion of bismuth
during freezing, are all eliminated. This permits the casting of
small bismuth wires. In fact, single crystal bismuth wires 0.5-2
mm in diameter have been cast and, depending on the crystal

Figure 9. Various microstructures of the Bi-In-Sn, 77C-eutectic

alloy: (a) solidified within the furnace at a cooling rate of 1C/min
showing gravity-induced segregation of bismuth phases (white),
(b) solidified unidirectionally at a speed of approximately
2mm/min showing the segregation of complex bismuth structures
(white) along the grain boundaries of the BiIn-Sn eutectic and (c)
solidified by suctioning the melt into a glass tube, showing nonuniform structure (18).


Figure 10. Cracks (indicated by arrows) (a) in massive bismuth

block and (b) within BiIn-Sn eutectic cell of the Bi-In-Sn alloy
Fig. 11 shows an example of a cast Bi-In-Sn eutectic wire 2.4 mm
in diameter produced by the OCC process at a speed of 79
mm/min(6). The microstructure of continuously cast wires is
significantly different from those noted above. With the OCC
process, free growing crystals in the liquid ahead of the
solidification front do not exist owing to the externally heated
mold. This eliminates the possibility of gravity related
segregation. In addition, cast products quickly solidify by means
of the cooling water located near the mold exit, resulting in a fine
uniform microstructure compared to those of slowly cooled cast
products(17). In the wire produced by the OCC process, the
defects noted above are essentially eliminated. Bismuth exists as a
small, discrete phase dispersed uniformly throughout the cross
sectional area, and the BiIn dendrite cells, clearly visible in the
microstructure of Fig 9(b), no longer exist. These differences in
microstructure are reflected in differences in ductility. For
example, as shown in Fig. 12, among the specimens strained in
tension at an initial strain rate of 6.67x 10-3/s, the furnace-cooled
eutectics fractured in brittle mode, while the OCC wires exhibited
considerable ductility (19,20).


Figure 12. Differences in ductility of the Bi-In-Sn eutectic alloy

specimens produced by (a) furnace cooling and (b) the OCC
process. The initial strain rate was 6.67x10-3/s (20).
The uniform solidification structure exhibited in the Bi-In-Sn
eutectic alloy wires generated by the OCC process as shown in
Fig. 11 also applies to the microstructures of the Sn-30%Zn and
the Sn-57%Bi alloys of hyper-eutectic and eutectic compositions
respectively. The degree of uniformity in microstructure strongly
influences the fracture behavior of cast wires(21). A significant
workability was reported for the Sn-30%Zn alloy wires generated
by the OCC process(22). Based on these results, a new
manufacturing route using the OCC process for the production of
fine solder and thermal-fuse wire materials was implemented.
Near-net shape Sn-57%Bi eutectic alloy wires approximately 2
mm in diameter (Fig. 13) were produced with a fine
unidirectionally solidified structure (Fig. 14). This product has
enhanced ductility, permitting extended deformation processing
and cannot be produced through traditional casting routes. The
high-quality surface condition of cast wires may also play a
significant role during deformation in addition to elongated
crystals growing along the casting direction (22, 23). These cast
wires were further processed to generate finer wires of various
diameters (Fig. 15). Micro flux-cored solder wires were also
produced by casting Sn-57%Bi eutectic alloy tubes using the OCC
process. An example of the product is shown in Fig. 16.


Figure 11. Cast wire 2.4 mm in diameter and microstructure

(longitudinal cross section) of Bi-In-Sn, 77C-eutectic wire
produced by the OCC process at 79 mm/min. showing the discrete
bismuth phase (white) dispersed in the BiIn matrix (18).

Figure 13. Cast Sn-57%Bi eutectic wires 2 mm in diameter

produced at a speed of approximately 300-350 mm/min.


Figure 14. Microstructure of a cast Sn-Bi eutectic wire, exhibiting

unidirectional structure.

aspects and practical implications of their discipline and who are

fully equipped with the essential attributes and communicative
skills that will enable them to apply their knowledge, with
wisdom and integrity, within this most challenging and satisfying
field of activity, the science and technology of innovative
processing. In all of our efforts aimed at innovative processing, an
activity that encompasses generation, validation and application of
collaborations and the training of people, let us resolve to emulate
the highest standards of achievement and professionalism so well
exemplified by our distinguished colleague and honoured friend,
Professor Rod Guthrie.

Based on the findings from studies carried out on the
solidification structures and the origin of equi-axed crystals in cast
products, a novel processing system, known as Ohno Continuous
Casting (OCC), has been developed with the aid of collaborative
projects between academia and industry. Using a heated mold
concept, fundamental and practical studies have been undertaken
within the laboratory, validated in pilot plant trials and
implemented in production operations. These collaborative efforts
have led to new processing routes for the generation of net or
near-net shape products such as, small diameter rods, tubes, wires
and cored materials suitable for niche markets that include micro
solder and thermal fuse wire applications.
Figure 15. Final Sn-57%Bi solder wire products 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7
mm in diameter drawn from cast wires 2 mm in diameter.

The financial support provided by the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council of Canada is gratefully


Figure 16. Cross-section of flux-cored, Sn-Bi eutectic solder wire

0.8 mm in diameter.

Closing Comment
Throughout his long and distinguished career at McGill
University, the activities of Professor Rod Guthrie have provided
firm foundations for progress within the field of metallurgical
processing. His pronounced influence for good on the careers of
young scientists and engineers, many of whom now occupy
leading positions within academia and industry, has been
outstanding. In the final analysis, the pre-eminent aim of
collaborative activities between our educational institutions and
industrial organizations, must be to ensure the availability of men
and women with a sound understanding of the fundamental

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