Chapter 5

Conventional ingot and continuous casting
The previously discussed methods are used to manufacture a steel of a desired quality and composition. The refined molten steel must be cast into some useful shape for subsequent treatments and forming operations. In the conventional production of wrought steel products, the steel is cast into a large tapered cast iron vessel to form an ingot. The ingot is subsequently rolled into slabs or billets, which may be used for the production of standard product forms such as plate, sheet, pipe, rod, and wire. Alternatively, slabs or billets can be cast directly during the primary casting operation in process called continuous casting. Indeed, the development of economical continuous casting processes over the last 20 years has had a tremendous impact on the steel industry, as indicated in Table 5.1. While ingot casting and continuous casting both involve the solidification of the steel, the issues that affect the properties of the steel in the ingot and continuous processes are quite different. These will be discussed in this section.

Table 5.1. A 10-year summary of raw steel production by type and casting method. Per Cent of Total
(thou. tons)

Year 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992

Total 99,321 112,242 107,395 108,752 108,561 105,309 104,930 100,579 97,877 92,949

Carbon 91.4 90.5 89.9 89.2 88.4 88.9 88.3 89.0 88.7 88.7

Alloy 6.6 7.4 7.9 8.7 9.4 9.1 9.5 9.0 9.3 9.2

Stainless 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.0 2.2 2.0 2.2 2.0 2.0 2.1

BOP 52.6 53.0 53.8 54.9 56.2 57.4 59.6 60.7 60.6 62.0

Electric 47.4 47.0 46.2 45.1 43.8 42.6 40.4 39.3 39.4 38.0

Total by Casting Method Cont. Steel for Ingots Cast Casting 2,799 4,044 4,389 4,840 5,689 7,141 9,272 10,527 14,014 19,207 96,502 108,175 102,983 103,883 102,834 98,131 95,626 90,026 83,839 73,718 20 23 23 29 38 37 32 26 24 24

however. free from voids. stresses may be accommodated by the separation of the ingot from the mold wall. .Conventional ingots After the final ladle treatments are made and the chemistry of the steel is satisfactory. Fig. fluid flow. Alternatively. preventing this type of surface cracking. may be used to promote uniform thick skin formation. where the temperature of the ingot is controlled to promote homogenization of the steel.1 Conventional ingots being poured. Typical ingot solidification times are shown in Fig 5. the ingot would cool uniformly. As the skin thickens. will become oxidized and will not be readily fused. the geometry of the ingot and the thermal properties of the steel promote an inward freezing process that is very slow. gives ride to various chemical segregation phenomena that generate defect structures in the ingot and ultimately affect the downstream properties or process ability. where it begins to cool and solidify.5. forming an air gap which significantly slows the subsequent cooling. and the solubility of the various dissolved species. However. 5. may also form in the interior of the ingot. the center of the ingot typically is still molten when the ingot mold is removed or stripped from the ingot. After stripping. Similar cracks and fissures. the structure that develops during the solidification of an ingot is primarily controlled by heat transfer. Cracks that are open to the surface. corrugated. As in any other metal-casting process. Fig.2 Freezing time profiles for a typical steel ingot. permitting the flow of molten metal. however. a chill zone or skin is formed as the steel begins to solidify on the surface of the iron mold. Ideally. Immediately upon pouring. they are generally welded shut during hot rolling and are inconsequential. or fluted ingot molds. resulting in a chemically homogenous equiaxed structure. which increase the ingot surface area. If these are not open to the surface. cracks.2. The steel is poured or teemed (see Fig. In fact. the ladle is tapped from the bottom by lifting the internal stopper-rod. Cambered.1) into the ingot molds. solidification shrinkage may result in cracking of the skin. Times given in minutes. and nonmetallic inclusions. ingots are places in a furnace called a soaking pit.5. The nonuniform cooling that occurs in an ingot coupled with the many dissolved impurities and gasses. These defects give rise to undesirable seams in the final rolled product.

ingot casting practices that promote uniform cooling enhance the extent of the more desirable equiaxed structure. if the rimming is suppressed too early. Accordingly. A low thermal gradient gives rise to a thick two-phase layer containing columnar dendrites. therefore. The most important process is the reaction of oxygen. gas bubbles are swept upward along the mold surfaces toward the top of the ingot. a metal cap is placed over the ingot. let’s consider a steel that undergoes on ladle deoxidation processing. The rising bubbles of evolved gas result in a boiling or rimming action characterized by an upward flow near the mold walls. Thus. solidification of the skin ensues rapidly and a large amount of oxygen is immediately released near the mold surface. The columnar structure is not desirable in a steel ingot. This flow serves to clean the steel in the outer regions of the ingot and facilitates the escape of a large portion of the evolved gas. An exaggerated columnar zone. Consider now a process identical to the one described above. As the thickness of the mushy zone increases. the thermal gradient continues to decrease until dendrite fragmentation and nucleation ahead of the columnar front give rise to an equiaxed zone in the center of the ingot. The most important factors controlling the “columnar to equiaxed transition” during dendritic solidification are the thermal gradient and the speed at which the columnar front is advancing. The control of these structures is accomplished through melt deoxidation and casting practices. known as the mushy zone. It should be noted that there is a continuum of intermediate ingot structures between rimmed and capped steels.Many of the defects observed in an ingot are due to the growth morphologies and related segregation patterns that arise during solidification. in the form of FeO. but slows quickly as the mold-metal air gap is formed. with carbon in the steel. Short-range inhomogeneity or microsegregation is due to the partitioning behavior of dissolved species. the equaixed structure gives way to inward columnar growth due to the selection of preferentially oriented grains. with one modification. the likelihood of dendrite fragmentation increases. but also by a thinner rimmed zone. Furthermore. A negative side effect of such violent flow in the mold is that macrosegregation may be significant. Chemical inhomogeneity may be significant in an ingot. may lead to cracking during subsequent rolling operations. ultimately resulting in the appearance of seams. has a thickness roughly equal to the freezing range of the steel. Undercooling increases with growth velocity so that a faster growing columnar front is at a lower temperature than a slower growing front. The speed of the dendritic front is important because it is related to the dendrite tip undercooling. and four standard classifications have been established. this partitioning behavior results in the liberation of gases. As the growth proceeds further. Upon solidification. while long range nonuniformity or macrosegregation is typically due to the convective flow patterns in the molten steel. This capping process inhibits the release of gas at the metal surface and suppresses the upward flow of the rimming action. The solubility of gases in the molten steel generally decreases with decreasing temperature. the solubility in the solid may be much lower than the solubility in the liquid. The ingot skin is a chill zone of fine randomly oriented equiaxed grains. is characterized by excellent surface properties and significant chemical inhomogeneity. The growth rate of this equiaxed zone is initially high. based on the degree of oxygen removal. After the ingot is poured and the rimming action begins. As the skin thickens to 10-15mm. This layer. depending on the amount originally present in the steel. blowholes may be generated along the ingot surfaces. When poured into the ingot mold. termed ingotism. where fragments can grow and where new nuclei may form. If the rimming action is sufficiently severe. More importantly. A rimmed steel. facilitating a desired balance between chemical . divided by the thermal gradient. there is a greater volume of undercooled liquid ahead of the primary structure. Accordingly. a capped steel is characterized by significantly less macrosegregation than that exhibited by a rimmed steel. and various defect structures may be generated. favoring the onset of equiaxed growth. The two processes should be considered in combination. Leading to a discussing of the specific classifications. Carbon monoxide gas is evolved.

Currently. Therefore. If the steel is deoxidized sufficiently. The molten metal must first be delivered to the casting strand. The capping process is a method for mechanical suppression of the deleterious effects of dissolved oxygen. In this section. In general. killing the rimming action. Typical ingot structures are shown in Fig.% are killed.Killed Capped Rimmed Fig. Coupled with the general trend away from the large integrated steel mill toward the smaller specialized minimill. the process has led to improvements in both yield and quality.30% carbon.3 The effect of oxygen content and control on typical ingot structure.15 and 0. This is done by pouring from the ladle into the vessel known as a tundish. homogeneity and surface properties. 5. This is generally done with silicon additions of ferrosilicon.5. the development of the continuous casting process has significantly changed the way that a large portion of today’s steel is produced. the pipe observed in a killed ingot is not present. In practice. water-cooled copper molds. over 50% of the world’s steel is produced with continuous casting processes. the evolution of gas is completely suppressed. or strand. 5. Because no gas bubbles are formed in the melt. the features of the process that affect the metallurgical quality of the steel are briefly discussed. The resulting ingot is relatively uniform in structure and the prevention of the boil results in substantially decreased macrosegregation. A shroud .15-0.30 wt. Killed steels are typically used when the essential quality is structural soundness. The principal components of a continuous casting line. solidification shrinkage is accommodated at the upper surface by the formation of a large shrinkage cavity or pipe. capping is most effective for steels between 0. high silicon pig iron.3. or silico-manganese. are shown in Fig. Semikilled steels are only partially deoxidized and typically contain 0.30% carbon. Continuous Casting The continuous casting process was developed so that the product form produced could be directly rolled on a finishing mill. Some gas evolution is observed and internal blowholes are formed to an extent that accommodates much or all of the total solidification shrinkage. The distinguishing characteristic of a continuous casting process is that the mold is open on both ends so that the solidified metal can be drawn out while the molten metal is being poured in the opposite end. In addition. which controls the flow and distributes the steel to one or more open-ended. where solidification begins. all steels with a carbon content higher than 0.4. thus bypassing the ingot casting and slabbing operations. A chemical alternative to theses methods involves removal of the oxygen from the molten steel prior to casting. The primary tasks that must be accomplished by the strand are similar to those of ingot casting. while rimming is best applied to steels with lower carbon content.

it is cut to the desired length using a torch or shear mounted on a sliding frame.5. 5. PBC=progressive bending with curved mold. where all of these components were simply aligned in an upright configuration. V=vertical. using direct water spray. The distance from the mold to the location of complete freezing is known as the metallurgical length. Sticking of the steel to the mold surface is prevented by mold oscillation. H=horizontal. complete freezing of the molten core is achieved through secondary cooling. Fig. Fig. Upon contact with the mold. 5. as the cast slab moves beyond the secondary cooling zone. These modifications permitted installation of continuous casting strands in existing plants. several different configurations were developed. an outer skin or shell is immediately formed. Early continuous casting strands were of the vertical design. After exiting the mold. CAS=circular arc with straight mold. as shown in Fig. 5.4 (right) A schematic of a continuous casting strand showing the major components.5 (below) Principal types of continuous casting. To reduce the overall height and the required tundish elevation. . VPB=vertical with progressive bending. Finally. VB=vertical with bending. CAC=circular arc with curved mold.protects the steel from oxidation during the transfer.