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Casting methods Metal casting process begins by creating a mold, which is the ‘reverse’ shape of the part we need. The mold is made from a refractory material, for example, sand. The metal is heated in an oven until it melts, and the molten metal is poured into the mould cavity. The liquid takes the shape of cavity, which is the shape of the part. It is cooled until it solidifies. Finally, the solidified metal part is removed from the mould. A large number of metal components in designs we use every day are made by casting. The reasons for this include: (a) Casting can produce very complex geometry parts with internal cavities and hollow sections. (b) It can be used to make small (few hundred grams) to very large size parts (thousands of kilograms) (c) It is economical, with very little wastage: the extra metal in each casting is re-melted and re-used (d) Cast metal is isotropic – it has the same physical/mechanical properties along any direction. Common examples: door handles, locks, the outer casing or housing for motors, pumps, etc., wheels of many cars. Casting is also heavily used in the toy industry to make parts, e.g. toy cars, planes, and so on.
Table 1 summarizes different types of castings, their advantages, disadvantages and examples
the top half is called the cope. however. The geometry of the cavity is created by the use of a wooden shape. • The liquid flows into the gap between the two parts. clay and some water). The region where any runner joins with the cavity is called the gate. called the mold cavity. called the pattern.Sand casting Figure 1. and flows down the sprue. the top of the funnel is the pouring cup. Typical sand molds have the following parts (see Figure 2) • The mold is made of two parts. and bottom part is the drag. . • The runners are the horizontal hollow channels that connect the bottom of the sprue to the mould cavity. The shape of the patterns is (almost) identical to the shape of the part we need to make. Work flow in typical sand-casting foundries Sand casting uses natural or synthetic sand (lake sand) which is mostly a refractory material called silica (SiO2). The sand grains must be small enough so that it can be packed densely. the grains must be large enough to allow gasses formed during the metal pouring to escape through the pores. Larger sized molds use green sand (mixture of sand. and excess metal poured is cut-off and re-used also. Sand can be reused. the pipe-shaped neck of the funnel is the sprue – the liquid metal is poured into the pouring cup. • A funnel shaped cavity.
as the metal solidifies inside the cavity. and the extra metal from the risers flows back down to avoid holes in the cast part. or other cavities in their shape that are not directly accessible from either piece of the mold. The mold is assembled by placing the core into the cavity of the drag. Such interior surfaces are generated by inserts called cores. • Cores: Many cast parts have interior holes (hollow parts). Schematic showing steps of the sand casting process Some extra cavities are made connecting to the top surface of the mold. Excess metal poured into the mould flows into these cavities. called risers. Cores are made by baking sand with some binder so that they can retain their shape when handled. • Vents are narrow holes connecting the cavity to the atmosphere to allow gasses and the air in the cavity to escape. They act as reservoirs.Figure 2. and then placing the . it shrinks.
After the casting is done. risers and vents must be cut off. and locking the mold. The outer part of the outline of this cross section is called the parting line. the sand is shaken off. The chaplets will be embedded inside the final part.cope on top. it must be cleaned using air-jet or sand blasting (g) Finally.. you should taper the surfaces in the original part design. risers etc. the inner surfaces are made by the core . you will get a cross-section of the part. If the design is such that there is insufficient support to hold the core in position. If you know that your part will be made by casting. it is important to incline the vertical surfaces of the part geometry. .you need to allow for the shrinkage of the casting after the metal solidifies (c) If you intersect the plane formed by the mating surfaces of the drag and cope with the cast part. then metal supports called chaplets are used. and the core is pulled away and usually broken off. Taper in design (e) The core is held in position by supporting geometry called core prints (see figure below). Important considerations for casting: (a) How do we make the pattern? Usually craftsmen will carve the part shape by hand and machines to the exact size. (b) Why is the pattern not exactly identical to the part shape? . the extra metal near the gate.you only need to make the outer surfaces with the pattern. pouring cup and sprue. and critical surfaces are machined to achieve proper surface finish and tolerance. The design of the mold is done by first determining the parting line (why ?) (d) In order to avoid damaging the surface of the mould when removing the pattern and the woodpieces for the vents. (f) After the casting is obtained. Figure 3. This (slight) inclination is called a taper.
since the mold is destroyed during the process. Parts that are typically made by investment casting include those with complex geometry such as turbine blades or firearm components. However. The pattern is surrounded. parts with complex geometries and intricate details can be created. stainless steel. which includes parts for the automotive. aircraft. Investment casting is often referred to as "lost-wax casting" because the wax pattern is melted out of the mold after it has been formed. bronze alloys. High temperature applications are also common. cast iron. Design components of a mold showing chaplets Investment casting (lost wax process) Investment casting is one of the oldest manufacturing processes. magnesium alloys.a disposable piece in the shape of the desired part. dating back thousands of years. Investment casting can make use of most metals. and military industries. Lox-wax processes are one-to-one (one pattern creates one part). and tool steel. . which increases production time and costs relative to other casting processes. The mold is formed by using a wax pattern . This process is beneficial for casting metals with high melting temperatures that cannot be molded in plaster or metal.Figure 4. into ceramic slurry that hardens into the mold. or "invested". most commonly using aluminium alloys. in which molten metal is poured into an expendable ceramic mold.
Heat treatment is also sometimes used to harden the final part. The shell is then placed into an oven and the wax is melted out leaving a hollow ceramic shell that acts as a one-piece mold.This "pattern tree" is dipped into a slurry of fine ceramic particles. 5. and then dried to form a ceramic shell around the patterns and gating system. molten metal.Investment casting requires the use of a metal die. This process is repeated until the shell is thick enough to withstand the molten metal it will encounter. Finishing . and risers). coated with more coarse particles. The ceramic mold is typically broken using water jets. the molten metal is allowed to cool and solidify into the shape of the final casting. 6. Once removed. filling the mold cavity. 4. cutting. wax. or grinding. Casting removal . Pattern creation . Mold creation . hence the name "lost wax" casting. . Cooling .The mold is preheated in a furnace to approximately 1000°C (1832°F) and the molten metal is poured from a ladle into the gating system of the mold. and any machines needed for sandblasting. ceramic slurry. the parts are separated from the gating system by either sawing or cold breaking (using liquid nitrogen).After the mold has been filled. The process steps include the following: 1. thickness of the mold. Pouring is typically achieved manually under the force of gravity. runners. Cooling time depends on the thickness of the part. but several other methods exist. the mold can be broken and the casting removed. to form a tree-like assembly. The gating system forms the channels through which the molten metal will flow to the mold cavity. Several of these patterns are attached to a central wax gating system (sprue. 2.After the molten metal has cooled.The wax patterns are typically injection molded into a metal die and are formed as one piece. finishing operations such as grinding or sandblasting are used to smooth the part at the gates. but other methods such as vacuum or pressure are sometimes used. and the material used. 3. Cores may be used to form any internal features on the pattern. Pouring . furnace.Often times.
armament parts. lock parts.Investment Casting Advantages: Can form complex shapes and fine details Many material options High strength parts Very good surface finish and accuracy Little need for secondary machining Disadvantages: Time-consuming process High labour cost High tooling cost Long lead time possible Applications: Turbine blades. pipe fittings. jewellery . hand-tools.
Mold assembly . Permanent mold casting is typically used for high-volume production of small. . such as aluminium alloys. Mold opening . 2. As in sand casting. molten metal is poured into a mold which is clamped shut until the material cools and solidifies into the desired part shape. In this step. uses a metal mold (die) that is typically made from steel or cast iron and can be reused for several thousand cycles. and wheels. Such cores are typically made from iron or steel. sand casting uses an expendable mold which is destroyed after each cycle. Non-ferrous metals are typically used in this process. Because the molten metal is poured into the die and not forcibly injected. but expendable sand cores are sometimes used. However. simple metal parts with uniform wall thickness. and copper alloys. irons and steels can also be cast using graphite molds. magnesium alloys. permanent mold casting is often referred to as gravity die casting.The mold consists of at least two parts .The molten metal is allowed to cool and solidify in the mold.The molten metal is poured at a slow rate from a ladle into the mold through a sprue at the top of the mold. the two mold halves are opened and the casting is removed. However. The metal flows through a runner system and enters the mold cavity. pipe fittings. 4. Mold preparation . impellers. Permanent mold casting. the mold is pre-heated to around 300-500°F (150-260°C) to allow better metal flow and reduce defects.First.After the metal has solidified.Permanent Mold Casting Permanent mold casting is a metal casting process that shares similarities to both sand casting and die casting. a ceramic coating is applied to the mold cavity surfaces to facilitate part removal and increase the mold lifetime. Cooling . Then. 3. Common permanent mold parts include gears and gear housings. Pouring .the two mold halves and any cores used to form complex features. the cores are inserted and the mold halves are clamped together. like die casting. 5. The permanent mold casting process consists of the following steps: 1. and other automotive and aircraft components such as pistons.
This excess material is now cut away. Permanent Mold Casting Advantages: Can form complex shapes Good mechanical properties Many material options Low porosity Low labour cost Scrap can be recycled Disadvantages: High tooling cost Long lead time possible Applications: Gears.6. wheels. housings.During cooling. engine components . Trimming . the metal in the runner system and sprue solidify attached to the casting.
Pressure Die Casting Conventional die casting (CDC) is a net-shape manufacturing process using a permanent metal die that produces components ranging in weight from a few ounces to nearly 25 kg quickly and economically. Graphical illustration of a hot-chamber die casting machine. such as lead or zinc alloys. Hot-chamber die casting A schematic of a hot-chamber die casting machine is shown in the following figure A significant portion of the metal injection system is immersed in the molten metal at all times. Hot-chamber machines are rapid in operation with cycle times varying from less than 1 sec for small components weighing less than a few grams to 30 sec for castings of several kilograms. including aluminium alloys. . die casting is not used to produce large products. lead. including aluminium. such as a car door frame or transmission housing. cause rapid degradation of the metal injection system. past studies. and brass. Dies are normally filled between 5 and 40 msec. as molten metal needs to travel only a very short distance for each cycle. Traditionally. This helps keep cycle times to a minimum. zinc. however. magnesium. have shown that very large products. can be produced using die casting technologies. Hotchamber die casting is traditionally used for low melting point metals. Higher melting point metals. Two basic conventional die casting processes exist: the hot chamber process and the cold-chamber process. These descriptions stem from the design of the metal injection systems utilized. Conventional die cast components can be produced in a wide range of alloy systems.
the die cavity and plunger tip normally are sprayed with an oil or lubricant. . This increases die material life and reduces the adhesion of the solidified component. the metal injection system is only in contact with the molten metal for a short period of time. To provide further protection. Graphical illustration of a hot-chamber die casting machine. An illustration of a cold-chamber die casting machine is presented in the following figure. Liquid metal is ladled (or metered by some other method) into the shot sleeve for each cycle. Unlike the hot-chamber machine.Die casting hot chamber machine overview Cold-chamber die casting Cold-chamber die casting machines are typically used to conventionally die cast components using brass and aluminium alloys.
Initially. High pressures are maintained on the alloy during solidification. which is then immediately pushed (b) through a runner system (c) into a die cavity (d) under high pressure. .Die casting cold chamber machine overview All die casting processes follow a similar production cycle. the die opens (e) and the component is ejected (ƒ). Following figure is an illustration of the cycle using the cold-chamber die casting process as a model. Casting cycle for cold-chamber die casting. liquid metal is metered into an injection system (a). After complete solidification.
1. pinholes and shrinkage cavities. Cold shut is an interface in casting that lacks complete fusion because of meeting of two streams of liquid metal from different gates. flash or massive projections such as swells and rough surfaces. including blowholes. cracking and tearing can occur. appliance housing Casting Defects Various defects can develop in manufacturing process depending on factors such as materials. . others can have major adverse effects on the structural integrity of the parts made. 2. High tooling and equipment cost. cold or hot tearing and cold shuts. Cavities: consisting of rounded or rough internal or exposed cavities. Long lead time. laps scars. The international committee for foundry technical associations has developed a standardised nomenclature consisting of seven basic categories of casting defects. While some defects may affect only the appearance of parts.Advantages: Can produce large parts Can form complex shapes High strength parts Very good surface finish and accuracy High production rate Low labour cost Scrap can be recycled Disadvantages: Trimming is required. Discontinuities: such as cracks. 3. Applications: Engine components. 4. pump components. adhering sand layers and oxide scale. If solidifying metal is constrained from shrinking freely. Defective surfaces: such as surface folds. Limited die life. part design and processing techniques. Metallic projections: consisting of fins.
5. pattern mounting error. solidification and molding. they are regarded as harmful because they act as stress raisers and reduce the strength of the casting. deformed pattern or warped casting. Incorrect dimensions or shape: owing to factors such as improper shrinkage allowances. Incomplete casting: such as misruns (due to premature solidification). 7. Inclusions: which form during melting. insufficient volume of liquid metal poured and runout (due to loss of metal from mold after poring). Incomplete castings can result from molten metal being at too low a temperature or from pouring the metal too slowly. Particles as small as 30µm can be filtered during processing molten metal. 6. Inclusions may form during melting when molten metal reacts with the environment (usually oxygen) or with the crucible or mold material. Chemical reactions among components in the molten metal may produce inclusions which decrease the strength of the casting. irregular contraction. . Generally nonmetallic.
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