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Paolo Baicchi, Luca Collini and Gianni Nicoletto

Dept. of Industrial Engineering, University of Parma
Parco Area delle Scienze 181/A, 43100 Parma, Italy

Introduction. Gray cast iron is traditionally used in many industries because it is characterized by flexibility of use,
excellent castability, low cost, wide range of achievable mechanical properties [1]. The Italian company Casappa SpA
that produces gear pumps for the hydraulic power industry gave the motivation of this study. The company extensively
uses pearlitic gray cast iron to manufacture pump bodies of complex three-dimensional shape that are subjected to
dynamic service loading conditions. Product reliability requirements have motivated the development of efficient
fatigue design methods for gray cast iron. Since the company obtains cast parts from different foundries with material
specified to norm, i.e. EN-GJL-300 [2], this contribution discusses the influence of foundry practice on the mechanical
properties of gray cast iron using specimens extracted from cast parts produced by three different foundries.

Materials and Methods. Re, and elongation to rupture A% were statistically

Three different foundries provided cast parts of the
same geometry and made of EN-GJL300. The Fatigue testing. A rotating-bending fatigue testing
chemical composition of the materials provided by the machine was used to determine the fatigue curves of
three foundries is given in Tab. 1. They are all the three gray cast irons. The cyclic loading frequency
hypoeutectic since the carbon equivalent (CE) value is was 50 Hz and the load ratio R = -1. The specimens
< 4.3% [1]. Extensive microstructural characterization had a smooth hourglass geometry with minimum
using both standard and non-conventional diameter of 6 mm. The test program adopted a standard
metallographic techniques was also developed to procedure for fatigue curve and fatigue limit
identify microstructure-dependence on the foundry determination at the 50% probability of survival using
practice [3]. Uniformity of the microstructure in the a limited number of specimens [5]. Tests were
cast parts was metallographically investigates at interrupted if failure did not occur within 107 cycles. In
selected positions near the surface as well as at mid this case the test was denominated run-out and used for
section [4]. Specimens for tensile testing and fatigue fatigue limit σw determination according to a reduced
testing had to be extracted from relatively thick staircase method [5].
sections (30 - 50 mm) of the cast parts.
Results and discussion.
Table 1
Foundry C Si Mn P S Cr Mo The tensile response of the EN-GJL300 cast iron is
A 3.29 1.52 0.79 0.055 0.03 0.15 0.005 initially presented in terms of the normal distributions
B 3.2 1.92 0.64 0.031 0.068 0.29 0.006 of the ultimate strength Rm and of the stress at 0.2% strain
C 3.15 1.98 0.85 0.086 0.086 0.086 0.012
Rp,0.2% for each foundry, see Fig. 1.
Foundry Ni Cu Sn Ti V Al Pb
The average data of all mechanical properties are
A 0.029 1.34 0.009 0.013 0.011 0.002 0.003
B 0.039 0.07 0.11 0.017 0.005 0.004 0.002
presented in Tab. 2. The intrinsic material-dependent
C 0.068 1.1 0.018 0.012 0.014 0.005 0.002 variability under static loading for the three EN-GJL300
cast irons is shown in Fig. 1. There is also a significant
Tensile testing. The tensile testing was performed on influence of the foundry practice on the actual material
smooth, cylindrical (6-mm-dia.; 25-mm-gage-length) performance with the average Rm and Rp.0.2% data
specimens in a servo-hydraulic material testing system decreasing going from A to C.
(MTS 810). To obtain information of the intrinsic The fatigue response of the three EN-GJL 300 cast
material variability for each foundry, multiple tensile irons is presented in Fig. 2. The expected large scatter
tests were performed. The main parameters obtained in the fatigue data is due to the complex material
from a stress-strain curve, such as Young’s modulus of microstructure [1].
elasticity E, ultimate strength Rm, stress at 0.2% strain
The shape can be typically complex and elongated
with a potentially damaging effect because volume
contraction upon cooling can result also in cavity
formation. PE content was quantified by digital image
analysis and the values reported in Tab. 2, [4]. These
data correlate with the chemical composition of Tab. 1.
Slow cooling rates promote graphite formation and
eutectic growth in a cellular manner. The eutectic cell
(EC) size varies with cooling rate and influences
mechanical properties, [6]. The EC size of the present
cast irons was investigated using color etching [3,4]
and the respective average cell diameters are given in
Tab. 2. A correlation among structural parameters and
mechanical properties in EN-GJL300 cast iron is sought
using data of Tab. 2: i) if PE is assumed to have a
damaging effect, then PE content (increasing from A to
C) correlates with the tensile strength (decreasing from A
Figure 1 to C); ii) if an analogy between EC size of cast iron and
grain size in wrought steel is assumed, then EC size
Interestingly, the fatigue curves and the fatigue (decreasing from A to C) correlates with the fatigue limit.
limit rank the three cast irons in a different way than So it appears that these microstructural features could be
the static strength. The cast iron from foundry C shows significant for casting qualification.
the best performance and a significantly higher fatigue
limit (i.e. σw = 63 MPa) than the other two cast irons from Conclusions.
foundries A and B (σw ~ 40 MPa).
The microstructure and the mechanical behavior of
Table 2 the EN-GJL300 gray cast iron were investigated using
EC specimens extracted from cast parts produced by three
PE E Rm Re A% σW
size different foundries. The following main conclusions
D GPa MPa are drawn:
% MPa % MPa
mm • The static tensile and the fatigue responses varied
A 3.9 0.944 110 273 238 0.68 39.7 from foundry to foundry and showed a significant
B 3.7 0.842 116 253 208 0.8 40.5 scatter.
• The fatigue tests ranked the gray cast irons from the
C 8.2 0.631 109 230 200 0.58 62.8 three foundries in the opposite way than the static
tensile tests.
The microstructural investigation [4] demonstrated • An explanation of the foundry-to-foundry
that the graphite distribution and the matrix were quite dependence of mechanical response of EN-GJL300
similar and uniform in the cast parts of each foundry. was sought via metallographic investigation. A first
Therefore, other microstructural parameters, such as correlation between microstructural parameters and
phosphidic eutectic content and eutectic cell size, were mechanical properties used EC size and PE content.
determined and correlated to the mechanical properties.
Phosphide eutectic (PE), or steatite [1], is the last
material to solidify inside the interdendritic cavities.
[1] Davis J. R., Cast Irons / Metallurgy and Properties of Ductile
Irons. ASM specialty handbook, ASM International, 1996
[2] European Standard EN 1561, Gray cast iron classification 1997
[3] Skočovský, P. – Matejka, M., Mikroštruktúra liatin. Fompex,
Trenčín, 1994
[4] Majerová, V., Konečná, R., Nicoletto, G., Štruktúrna analýza
odliatkov zo sivej liatiny, SEMDOK 2005, Sulov, SK.
[5] Bokuvka O., Nicoletto G., Kunz L., Palcek, P., Chalupova, M., Low
and high frequency fatigue testing, CETRA, University of Žilina, SK,
[6] VELDE, C.: (December 4, 1999), The Solidification of Gray Cast

The authors acknowledge partial financial support
by Casappa SpA (monitor: ing. M. Guidetti). This
study is in the frame of the Joint IT/SK S-T
Cooperation Program Project NT/8.
Figure 2