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CHINA FOUNDRY

Vol.9 No.2

High Cr white cast iron/carbon steel


bimetal liner by lost foam casting
with liquid-liquid composite process
*Xiao Xiaofeng 1, 2, Ye Shengping 1, Yin Weixin 3, Zhou Xiaoguang 1, and Xue Qiong 4
(1. State Key Laboratory of Material Processing and Die & Mould Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan
430074, China; 2. School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Wuhan Textile University, Wuhan 430073, China; 3. Wuhan ZhiKe
Abrasive-Resistant Material S&T Development Co., Ltd, Wuhan 430073, China; 4. College of Science, Wuhan University of Technology,
Wuhan 430079, China)

Abstract: Liners in wet ball mill for mineral processing industry must bear abrasive wear and corrosive wear,
and consequently, the service life of the liner made from traditional materials, such as Hadfield steel and alloyed
steels, is typically less than ten months. Bimetal liner, made from high Cr white cast iron and carbon steel, has
been successfully developed by using liquid-liquid composite lost foam casting process. The microstructure and
interface of the composite were analyzed using optical microscope, SEM, EDX and XRD. Micrographs indicate that
the boundary of bimetal combination regions is staggered like dogtooth, two liquid metals are not mixed, and the
interface presents excellent metallurgical bonding state. After heat treatment, the composite liner specimens have
shown excellent properties, including hardness > 61 HRC, fracture toughness k >16.5 Jcm-2 and bending strength
>1,600 MPa. Wear comparison was made between the bimetal composite liner and alloyed steel liner in an industrial
hematite ball mill of WISCO, and the results of eight-month test in wet grinding environment have proved that the
service life of the bimetal composite liner is three times as long as that of the alloyed steel liner.
Key words: bimetal liner; liquid-liquid composite process; lost foam casting; high Cr white cast iron
CLC numbers: TG249.5/252
Document code: A
Article ID: 1672-6421(2012)02-136-07

he liners in wet ball mill for mineral processing industry


encounter impact, wear and corrosion from the grinding
balls and the grinding medium during the grinding process,
resulting in various liner failures under the wear modes
including impact, abrasive and/or corrosive wear [1]. The service
life of liners made from traditional materials, such as Hadfield
steel and alloyed steels, is rather limited in these conditions.
High-Cr white cast iron (HCWCI), one of the most commercial
hard-facing alloys, has also been selected as ball mill liners
material. The presence of a high volume fraction of M7C3-type
hard carbides is the primary reason for the excellent corrosive
and abrasive wear resistance. However, the same carbides are
also responsible for the observed brittleness of the material,
often limiting its use to non-repetitive impact applications.
Therefore, fracture toughness is an important property of liners
made from HCWCI [2].
Since a large amount of carbides is required in the
microstructure to maximize the wear resistance, some
researchers have sought to improve the toughness through
modifications to the carbide structures [3,4]. But no matter how
*Xiao Xiaofeng
Male, born in 1979, Ph.D candidate and Lecturer. Research interests:
wear-resistant materials, lost foam casting, CAD/CAM/CAE.
E-mail: 18971600996@189.cn

Received: 2011-09-04;
136

Accepted: 2012-03-01

uniform is the carbide distribution and how fine is the carbide


size, the fracture toughness of singular HCWCI does not seem
to meet the requirement of impact wear condition in ball mill.
To overcome the problem, some researchers have paid so much
attention to the composites possessing superior properties
including high hardness, high corrosive wear resistance and
reasonable fracture toughness [5-7].
To solve these problems above mentioned, we conducted
the present study to produce a bimetal liner from HCWCI and
carbon steel composite based on lost foam casting (LFC) with
liquid-liquid composite process. LFC is a type of evaporative
pattern casting process that is similar to investment casting
except that foam is used for the pattern instead of wax. Plenty
of carbon generates and gathers around the cavity when foam
pattern is melted by molten metal. Enrichment of carbon is
disadvantageous for cast steel parts, but it is very suitable to
produce wear resistant parts because less metal matrix will
be oxidized and more hard carbides will be produced and
compounded. Moreover, LFC is also dimensionally accurate,
maintains an excellent surface finish, requires no draft, and
has no parting lines formed by flash, so metal parts made by
LFC could avoid subsequent processing or decrease machining
allowance. The purpose of present study is to explore a new
method for producing a composite liner with high wear
resistance, precise dimension and low consumption.

Research & Development

May 2012

1 Experimental details

percent of carbide M7C3, carbon and chromium, respectively.


Approximate 34wt.% of M7C3 carbide was designed to meet
the requirement of service condition in ball mill. Tang et
al [9] thought that the C content of 3wt.% was the optimized
value for achieving high wear resistance, so the C content in
present study was designed as 3wt.%; and the Cr content can
be computed out by Eq.(1). Finally, the designed chemical
composition of HCWCI is shown in Table 1, and the chemical
composition of carbon steel is also given in the table.

1.1 Experimental materials


Table 1 shows the designed chemical composition of HCWCI
which was quantized by F. Maratrays expression [8] as
follows:
wt(M7C3) = 12.33 wt(C) + 0.55 wt(Cr) -15.2

(1)

In Eq.(1) wt(M 7C 3), wt(C) and wt(Cr) represent weight

Table 1: Chemical compositions of HCWCI and carbon steel (wt.%)



HCWCI
Carbon steel

Si

Mn

Cr

Mo

2.9-3.1

<0.8

0.8-1.1

<0.04

<0.04

21-23

0.4-0.6

0.4-0.6

0.18-0.25 0.6-0.9 0.9-1.2

<0.035

<0.035

1.2 Process of liquid-liquid composite lost


foam casting
First, the pattern was made using polystyrene foam. Due to
simple main profile of liner, it could be cut from a solid block
of foam by using a hot-wire foam cutter. Runner system, risers
and other patches were hot glued to the pattern. The whole
foam pattern is shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Foam pattern of composite liner

(a)(a)

Runner
Runnersystem
system

Vacuum
Vacuum

(c)

Flask
Flask

(b) (b)

Next, the foam pattern was coated with ceramic investment,


also known as refractory coating, via dipping and brushing.
This coating creates a barrier between the smooth foam
surface and the coarse sand surface. Secondly controlling
permeability was conducted, which allows gas created by the
vaporized foam pattern to escape through the coating and into
the sand. Controlling permeability is a crucial step to avoid
sand erosion, so molten metal does not penetrate or cause sand
erosion during pouring.
After the coating dries, the foam pattern was placed into a
flask and backed up with un-bonded quartz sand. The sand
was then compacted using a vibrating table, and a vacuum
system was also used to increase sand compaction. Once
compacted, the mold, shown in Fig. 2(a), was ready to be
poured. The pouring process in liquid-liquid composite casting
is very critical and uneasily controlled as compared to that
in conventional casting. As shown in Fig. 2(b), the present
approach is to finish pouring molten HCWCI quantitatively;
then, the molten carbon steel is poured into cavity timely as
shown in Fig. 2(c).

Molten
Cr Cr
white
cast cast
iron
Moltenhigh
high
white

iron

Vacuum
Vacuum

Molten carbon steel


Carbon steel
HCWCI
Foam

Vacuum

Ni
0.4-0.6

Quartz sand

Fig. 2: Schematic representation


of LFC process (a) step 1:
sand fill and compaction;
(b) step 2: HCWCI pouring
and (c) step 3: carbon
steel pouring

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CHINA FOUNDRY

Vol.9 No.2
(a)

Through the above


process, the castings
of the composite
liners have been
successfully made,
as shown in Fig. 3(a)
and Fig. 3(b). The
rough dimension of
the liner is 90 mm
400 mm 900 mm .

(b)

HCWCI layer

HCWCI layer

Carbon steel layer


Carbon steel layer

Fig. 3: Bimetal composite liner castings: (a) for 3.6 m ball mill and (b) for 5 m ball mill

1.3 Heat treatment


The composite liners were heat-treated at 1,223 K for 120
min to destabilize austenite and then air cooled to room
temperature. The purpose of the heat treatment was to obtain
martensite matrix in order to enhance wear resistance of the
composite.

1.4 Experimental summary


Bimetal composite liners with precisely controlled chemical
compositions have been prepared. The specimens, cut from
the composite liner by E. D. M. Wire, were polished to a 1 m
diamond finish and chemically etched in a freshly prepared
solution which contains 50 mL FeCl3, 20 mL HCl and 20 mL
ethanol. This solution attacks preferentially the matrix leaving

carbides relatively unaffected, which provides good contrast


between carbides and matrix [10]. Microstructure of the HCWCI
sample was characterized using optical microscope, XRD and
SEM.
Comprehensive mechanical properties of specimens,
including hardness, toughness and bending strength, have
been studied. The dimensions of specimens for toughness test
and bending strength test were 10 mm 10 mm 55 mm and
20 mm 30 mm 170 mm, respectively. Moreover, wear
resistance was compared between liners made from bimetal
composite and alloyed steel in industrial hematite ball mill
of Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corporation (WISCO)
according to the schematic diagram in Fig. 4.

Grinding ball
Mineral particles
Composite liner
Alloy steel liner

Fig. 4: Schematic representation of movement of grinding balls in a ball mill

2 Results and discussion


2.1 Microstructures of HCWCI and carbon
steel
The different specimens were obtained respectively from the
HCWCI layer and the carbon steel layer of the composite liner,
as shown in Fig. 3, and their chemical compositions are shown
in Table 1. It can be seen from Fig. 5(a) and Fig. 5(b) that the
typical as-cast microstructure of HCWCI layer is hypoeutectic,
consisting of eutectic carbides in a mainly austenitic matrix,
while the typical as-cast microstructure of carbon steel layer is
hypoeutectoid, being composed of ferrite and pearlite.
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Ca r bid es a nd ma t r ix of t he HCWCI la ye r a nd t he
microstructure of the carbon steel layer were investigated
by means of SEM-EDS. Relevant elements shown in Fig. 6
have been detected, and their weight percentages are given
quantitively in Table 2. The results prove that the above
microstuctural analysis is reasonable and accurate.
After the destabilization heat treatment, the secondary
carbide precipitation promoted the change of the microstructure
from an austenitic matrix (Fig. 5a) to a mainly martensitic one
(Fig. 7a) with some retained austenite. In addition, the newly
formed matrix was reinforced with secondary carbides of the
type M7C3 (Fig. 7b). In studies on high-Cr white cast irons with

Research & Development

May 2012
(a)

(b)
Carbide
Ferrite

Austenite
Pearlite

50 m

200 m

Fig. 5: Optical photograph of composite microstructure in as cast: (a) HCWCI layer and (b) carbon steel layer
(b)

(a)

(c)

Fig. 6: SEM-EDS analysis: (a) carbide of HCWCI layer, (b) matrix of HCWCI layer and (c) carbon steel layer

Table 2: EDS analysis of composite



Element

Point in Fig. 6(a)

Point in Fig. 6(b)

Point in Fig. 6(c)

wt.%

at.%

wt.%

at.%

wt.%

at.%

10.20

33.50

8.96

31.02

7.54

26.37

2.07

5.42

Si

0.46

0.68

0.27

0.40

Cr

57.60

43.70

15.32

12.25

0.70

0.57

Mn

1.32

1.01

Fe

31.44

22.21

75.26

56.05

88.09

66.22

(a)

similar chromium contents and destabilization temperatures


of 1,223 K, other authors also reported this kind of secondary
carbides [11, 12].
Moreover, the microstructure of the composite has been
characterized by XRD. Two X-ray patterns for the as-cast and
the as-heat treated irons are shown in Fig. 8. For the as-cast
condition, only the austenite and the eutectic carbide peaks
were detected; while for the heat treated iron, the intensity
of the peaks of austenite diminished and that the peaks of
martensite increased. This has proved the microstructural
change observed from micrographs in Fig. 5(a) and Fig. 7.
(b)

Martensite

Carbide

Carbide
Martensite

50 m

Fig. 7: Microstructures of HCWCI layer after heat treatment: (a) optical photograph and (b) SEM photograph

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800

Vol.9 No.2

(a)

500

As-cast

700

Austenite
Austensite
M7 C 3

(b)

Heat treated

400

600
500

300

400
200

300
200

100

100
0

0
30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

2 q ()

2 q ()

Fig. 8: XRD traces indicating phases present in HCWCI microstructure: (a) as cast and (b) after heat treatment

2.2 Composite interface


The specimens with composite interface shown in Fig. 9 were
obtained from composite liner shown in Fig. 3(a), which was
produced using liquid-liquid composite LFC. According to
the micrograph shown in Fig. 9(a), the boundary of bimetal
combination regions was staggered like dogtooth, and the
two liquid metals were not mixed. It can also be noticed from
Fig. 9(b) that a transition region between HCWCI and carbon
steel of about 0.1 mm in thickness has been formed, and the
interface presents excellent metallurgical bonding state.
At higher temperatures above the melting point of HCWCI
when carbon steel was poured, both Cr and C elements were
gradually dissolved into the molten steel. In consequence, an

over-saturated solution was closely around composite interface


with temperature drop, which tends to make the precipitation
on them through diffusion. According to the principles of
crystallization kinetics, small and fine compound carbides
shown in Fig. 9(b) can nucleate and crystallize in the transition
region between the HCWCI layer and the carbon steel layer.
Porosities have also been identified in Fig. 9(b), which was
caused by the following reasons: the fine grains reduce the
sand permeability, which can not match up to the velocity
of generated gases from the EPS pyrolisis [12]. So the high
temperature and the velocity of carbon steel pouring,
combined with lower escape velocity of gases, must induce
heat concentration and generate porosities in the region.
(b)
(b)

(a)
(a)
HCWCI layer

Small
carbide

Carbon steel layer

HCWCI layer

Carbon steel layer

Porosity

50 m

Fig. 9: Microstructure of composite interface after heat treatment: (a) optical photograph and (b) SEM photograph

Furthermore, the distributions of relevant elements around


the composite interface were analyzed using SEM-EDX.
According to the EDX analysis result shown in Fig. 10, the
thicknesses of diffusion layers of Cr and C elements are about
0.1 mm and 0.2 mm, respectively.
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2.3 Hardness, toughness and bending strength


Comprehensive mechanical properties are shown in Table 3
and Table 4. It can be noticed that the fracture toughness of
specimens has been improved significantly and can meet the
requirement of the impact wear in ball mill applications.

Research & Development

May 2012

Table 3: Results of fracture toughness test

C
O
Si
V

Specimen
No.

Sectional
dimension

10 mm 10 mm

18.8

10 mm 10 mm

20.2

10 mm 10 mm

16.9

a k (Jcm-2)

Table 4: Results of bending strength and hardness test

Cr
Mn


Specimen

No.

dimension

Sectional

Bending

Fe

20 mm 30 mm

1,610

61.8

20 mm 30 mm

1,745

62.3

20 mm 30 mm

1,683

61.2

Hardness

strength (MPa)

(HRC)

Fig.10: SEM-EDX analysis of relevant elements in composite


interface

2.4 Corrosive and abrasive wear resistance

service with full loads, all liners were disassembled from


the ball mill. As shown in Fig. 11(b), the liners made from
the alloyed steel were no longer serviceable because their
minimum wall thickness was only about 10 mm. Their
working surfaces have been seriously worn, deformed and
fully oxidized. However, working surfaces of the composite
liners still kept their original profile with uniform decrease in
thickness, and silvery white proved that the composite liners
have been oxidized only a little because of high chromium
content.
The weight losses of the composite liner and the alloyed
steel liner are listed in Table 5. It can be proved that the service
life of the bimetal composite liner is three times as long as that

Wear resistant comparison between liners made from bimetal


composite and alloyed steel has been made in an industrial
hematite ball mill at WISCO. The dimension standard of the
ball mill is 3.6 m 6 m, and its full productivity is 160 tons
per hour.
As shown in Fig. 4, the composite liners and the alloyed
steel liners were assembled and arranged separately by each
other in the ball mill during the present research. After having
served in the wet grinding environment for five months, it
could be obviously noticed from Fig. 11(a) that the bimetal
liners made from the composite are more wear resistant than
the ones made from the alloyed steel. After eight months of
(a)

(b)

Composite liners

Composite liners
Alloy steel liners

Alloy steel liners

Fig. 11: Wear resistant comparison between liners made from bimetal composite and alloyed steel in industrial hematite
ball mill of WISCO: liners served and disassembled from ball mill for five months (a) and for eight months (b)
Table 5: Weight loss in wet grinding environment
Liner number


Composite

170

133

37

170

138

32

Original weight (kg)

Present weight (kg)

Weight loss (kg)

Material
type

Alloyed

185

82

103

steel

185

81

104

Wear resistant factor


3
1

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CHINA FOUNDRY
of the alloyed steel liner. Wear resistant difference between
the composite liner and the alloyed steel liner results from
their chemical composition and microstructure, which can be
explained as follows: Microstructure of the alloyed steel after
heat treatment is normally composed of singular martensite,
while the HCWCI layer of the composite after heat treatment
consists of eutectic carbides(M7C3) in a mostly martensitic
matrix.

3 Conclusions
(1) Bimetal composite liner made from HCWCI and carbon
steel has been successfully developed and produced by liquidliquid composite LFC. The composite possesses superior
properties, including high hardness, high corrosive wear
resistance and reasonable fracture toughness.
(2) The obtained micrographs indicate that the boundary
of bimetal combination regions is staggered like dogtooth,
two liquid metals are not mixed, and the interface presents
excellent metallurgical bonding state.
(3) After heat treatment, the composite liner specimens
have shown excellent properties, including hardness > 61
HRC, fracture toughness k >16.5 Jcm-2 and bending strength
>1,600 MPa.
(4) Wear resistant comparison has been made between liners
made from the bimetal composite and the alloyed steel in an
industrial hematite ball mill at WISCO. The result shows that
the service life of the bimetal composite liner is three times as
long as that of the alloyed steel liner.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant No.
50805109, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities under grant No. 2011-1a-023.

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