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Gordon Tonkin

March 15, 2010

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The purpose of this technical description is to inform the average consumer
how many of their everyday metal products are created using a sand casting
process. These consumers will be interested in how these products they use
every day are actually made, and through this description they will gain a
new appreciation for the actual work that goes into making the products.

Most people don¶t know how their car engine blocks, door handles, gears,
pulleys, and many other things used every day are actually created. These
items are made by a process called sand casting, which is the most highly
used and cheapest casting process in industry today. Sand casting is a
manufacturing technique that uses a sand and clay mixture to create a mold
for molten metal to be poured into. It is able to produce parts with
complicated geometries as well as small and very large parts (ranging from
ounces to tons). Sand casting can be used to cast different metals including
iron steel, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, and many more. For
these reasons it is the most versatile casting process that exists.

Figure 1 shows an engine block made by sand casting. It is a very

complicated and large, but the sand casting process can create geometries
such as this.


The sand casting process is one of the most important and time tested
manufacturing processes that exists today, and the process itself is relatively
simple and quick. This process can be easily automated, to increase
production and decrease cost even more, but has been done manually for
decades. There exists no other process that can create such intricate
geometries in small to huge products so fast and so inexpensively.


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For the purposes of this description the green sand casting process will be
used. Although there are different types of sand casting, the green sand
casting process is the most widely used. All of sand casting processes consist
of the same steps, except for the ingredients that go into the sand itself. The
green sand casting process consists of six main steps

„c Mold Making
„c ?lamping
„c àouring
„c ?ooling
„c emoval
„c Machining to reach final product

Each of these steps must be completed for every single casting created.

Figure 2 shows an overview of the process that will be described in detail


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The mold used in the process is expendable, meaning that each casting
requires a new mold to be made. The mold itself is made of green sand,
which is very fine sand mixed with water and clay. The resulting mixture
is not actually green, but a dark grey color. A certain proportion of each
ingredient is used depending on what cast is being produced. This sand
mold is made in the following steps:

„c The green sand is poured into two halves of a metal fixture that
holds the sand.
ac The top half is called a cope and the bottom half is called a
ac The geometry of the casting is created by a wood or metal
pattern which is the same as the geometry of the casting
ac The pattern is inserted in boththe cope and drag.
„c 6hen poured into the metal mold patterns the green sand is spread
around and packed in as tight as possible.
ac The sand is poured and packed into the cope and drag.
ëc The packing can be done by hand or by a machine.
ac 9nce packed the green sand is firm enough to hold the
molten metal that will later be poured in.
„c 9nce the green sand is packed, the patterns are removed.

6hen there are parts that have hollow geometry inside of them it is
necessary to use something called a core (see figure 1). ?ores are made by
baking the sand with some type of binder or resin to hold it together. The
core is inserted in between the cope and the drag before they are put
together, and stays there when the metal is poured. As can be seen in
figure 3, the core there forms a hole on the inside of the part.

isers are another thing that is included in the mold. 6hen the metal poured
into the mold begins to solidify, it shrinks. 6hen this shrinkage occurs the
riser serves as a reservoir of extra metal to make up for the shrinkage.
6ithout risers the final solidified part will be deformed and unusable.

Also, the sprue is a funnel shaped hole in the top of the mold. 9n the top of
the sprue is the pouring cup, which is where the molten metal is poured into.

Typically, the sprue has to be cleared of sand with a tool to allow easy flow
of the metal.

The runners serve as the channels that the molten metal flows down that
connect the sprue to the actual mold cavity.

The parting line is the line between the drag and cope. Unfortunately this
creates a small noticeable line in the finished casting exactly half way
through it. This line can be machined off when the metal solidifies, however.

9nce the two molds are packed they must be clamped together, to prepare
it for the molten metal to be poured in. Before this happens, the green sand
mold is lubricated to facilitate the removal of the final casting, and any cores
are inserted. It is very important that the clamping remains tight to prevent
any of the green sand being lost and ruining the casting.

Figure 3 shows the mold as it looks after clamping has been finished, and
the metal is ready to be poured in.




gext, the molten metal is ready to be poured into the sprue and through the
runner into the casting cavity. The metal is maintained at a certain
temperature in a furnace before it is poured into a ladle to then be poured
into the mold itself. The pouring could be done manually, or by an
automated process. The time it takes to fill the mold must be short so that
the metal does not solidify at all before pouring is completed.


9nce the pouring is finished, the metal begins to cool. The cooling time is
established based on the characteristics of the casting. During the cooling
process is when most of the defects occur in the casting. This is why a riser
is needed, as stated above, to reduce shrinkage.


After the metal is cooled and the final shape is formed, it is ready to be
removed from the mold. This is done very easily by taking off the cope and
drag and simply breaking apart the packed green sand around the casting.
This can also be done manually or automatically by machine.



6hen the casting is removed and cooled completely, it almost always needs
further machining to become ready to be used. The risers and runners must
be removed and the connectors of the risers and runners must be ground
down. The parting line must be ground down, and the surfaces may need to
be finished to decrease the roughness.

Everywhere from everyday household items to huge machines rely on the
green sand casting process to create its important components in a fast and
cost effective manner. This process is a time proven way to create metal
parts for a wide variety of uses. The same techniques have been used for
decades with little change, except automation is no being used more widely.
There has been little change because the process is already relatively very
cheap and fast, and can create a very wide variety of geometries and sizes

of metal parts. go doubt, in the future many of the products used in daily
life and in industry will continue to be made by the sand casting process.

¬alpakjian, Serope, and Steven . Schmid. O  
. Harlow: àrentice Hall, 2006. àrint.

"Sand ?asting: Introduction."


 . 6eb. 17 Mar. 2010.


"Sand ?asting àrocess, Defects, Design." O   

6eb. 17 Mar. 2010. <>.

Figure 1:

"Engine Block ?asting."            

!   " # . 6eb. 17 Mar. 2010.

Figure 2:

¬alpakjian, Serope, and Steven . Schmid. O  

. Harlow: àrentice Hall, 2006. àrint.

Figure 3:

"Sand ?asting àrocess, Defects, Design." O   

6eb. 17 Mar. 2010. <>.