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Gating System for a Piston

G. M. Rajendra Prasad A/14, K. H. B. Colony, Puttenahalli Yelahanka, Bangalore - 560 064. Email : Mobile : 094805 04635

space for authors photo

1. River Krishna originates in Maharashtra and enters Karnataka, crosses Almatti dam, Narayanpur dam, and then goes to Andhra Pradesh; crosses Sree Sailam dam and Nagarjunsagar dam, and meets the Sea.
Why? River Krishnas this flow is due to potential energy difference in the flowing water, caused by the ground gradient. Have you ever seen River Krishna water from sea flowing back to the origin of Krishna River? No, it does not happen, because it is against the positive potential energy gradient. Similarly, in a solidifying piston casting for heat transfer to take place in the correct direction, the hottest metal should be in the Feeder, and the coldest metal in the Skirt. This establishes a positive temperature gradient from Feeder to Skirt to get a sound Piston casting. I have seen many foundries, even today, adopting different gating systems without following this principle of heat transfer, and experiencing continuously high rejection. ********

3. In order to get a positive temperature gradient, Gate could be in any of the following patterns:


Same as in Fig. 3, but with little bit of turbulence at the bottom.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

To ensure that you get a sound casting Hot Spot should be taken as close to Groove Insert as possible.

2. First law of Newton states that any moving object continues

to move in the same direction till it is acted upon by an external force. In the mould cavity of a Piston casting, molten metal entering the cavity changes its direction of flow after hitting the core tool. In Fig. 1 upto point a, it is OK, but above a metal is getting pushed from the Gate portion, and as a result hot spot remains near the Gate. Cold metal goes to the Crown and the Feeder. So is the case in Fig. 2, despite the fact that you have your gate right upto the Groove Insert (GI). This is IDEAL.


Fig. 5

4. When the solidification time of a casting is 3 minutes and

above, pouring time is only 30 to 40 seconds. Since the die is in tilted position during pouring, time of flow of metal over GI (Groove Insert) remains the same. But the fear in c is that while fettling, if there is a vibration in the cutter, it could lead to de-bonding. If you are certain that there is no vibration while cutting the gate, you can go in for c. It gives sound casting. a and b are slightly inferior to c as the Hot Spot is just below the GI, whereas in c Hot Spot is at the Tip (i.e. top) of the Crown (an Ideal condition). This facilitates positive temperature gradient from Crown to Skirt (Please remember the flow of River Krishna!) Hot Spot is dictated by the last metal poured. By the time the cavity is full, some amount of molten metal would have solidified in the piston. Please ensure that Hot Spot is as close to Crown as possible to get a sound Piston casting. ********

Gating system highlighted in Fig. 2 is being followed by one leading Piston manufacturer in India. ********



5. So far we are looking at the temperature gradient only vertically. We need to look at the temperature gradient horizontally (i.e. circumferenetially) also.
That can be achieved by making the Piston oval, opposite to the gate. Casting section is as per the drawing, and at the gate it is slightly thicker. To combine a positive temperature gradient, both horizontally and vertically, make the casting oval and give a taper of 1 or 2 vertically at the gate (thicker at the crown). If one doesnt want to make the piston Oval, he can resort to this (Fig. 6) :
Top of the die

Case B

Least turbulence, but the hottest metal is at the bottom (Skirt), and the coldest metal is at the top (Crown). This does not give a sound casting as temperature gradient is negative. Case C

Bottom of the die

To explain this point, some time after you put on an electrical water heating boiler, you will find that the water at the top is warmer and water below is colder. This is because, warmer water is lighter in density, hence it comes to the top. Similarly, in this through & through hole, as the die gets heated upon pouring molten metal, air gets heated up and rises up, vacuum is created at the bottom, so cold air from atmosphere is sucked in. This ensures positive temperature gradient circumferentially. But care is to be taken to see that this hole is cleaned with rotary brush to ensure removal of any scaling formed. (Scale forms because of moisture in air.) Days are not far off when the entire die will be water-cooled to reduce the solidification time to get higher production. ********

Positive temperature gradient present below the gate, but gradient is negative above the gate as the cold metal gets pushed up from the gate. Case D


6. Concluding Remarks
(5 different cases indicating different gating systems) Case A Case E

Good for temperature gradient, but results in lot of turbulence, and this leads to inclusions.

The Best Result : There is no turbulence. Temperature gradient is positive right from the Bottom of the Piston to its Top. Gives the best castings.
(PTO for additional information about Modulus calculation)



Additional Information
The Concept of Modulus
200 mm H

170 dia 100 dia 100 H 5 mm 10 dia hole Mild Steel Mould

This concept is popular in ferrous foundries, but rarely practiced by non-ferrous foundrymen. This concept can be fruitfully adopted by Aluminium and other non-ferrous foundries. Modulus = (Volume / Surface Area) Volume indirectly represents the quantity of heat present. Surface Area indicates the area through which heat from the solidifying casting/riser can be lost (i.e. transferred) to the mould/core/die. In case of a solidifying steel casting (in a sand mould) Solidification Time = 2.1 (Modulus)2
Where solidification time is in minutes, and modulus in cm. 2.1 is a constant.

Fig. B

Sectioned Side View

From the above experiment the constants can be arrived at. Modulus of Feeder (or the casting portion which feeds the lower portion of the casting) is Mfeeder = 1.2 Mcasting (for steel casting solidifying in a sand mould). Ascertain the equivalent value of 1.2, for aluminium alloy in metallic mould. Assume that it is x Solidification Time = x (Modulus)2 x being the constant. 5 4

Value of the constant for Solidification of an aluminium casting in a sand mould can be found out. Solidification time of steel casting in sand mould (for a given diameter and height (Fig. A), works out to 5.4 minutes (theoretically), but the actual time is only 5 minutes because of radiation loss from the top of the feeder.



Sand Feeder
100 dia x 100 mm height solidification time : 5 minutes

Sand Feeder
100 dia x 100 mm height solidification time : 12 minutes

3 2 1

Fig. A
The following experiment was conducted to ascertain the solidification time of aluminium in a mild steel mould. Solidification Time = Constant (Volume/Surface Area)2 Al-12%Si-1%Ni-1%Cu-1%Mg alloy was put into three moulds. Molten alloy temperature was 780 C. Three experiments were conducted (Fig. B for die details) : 1. In the first experiment, the 10 mm dia hole was filled with sodium silicate sand (i.e. no external cooling). 2. In the second experiment compressed air was used to cool through 10 mm dia hole. 3. In the third experiment, water cooling was used through 10 mm dia hole. In order to get a sound casting M5 > M4 > M3 > M2 > M1 (in the Piston casting). If it is not so, it has to be achieved by (a) Increasing the section thickness of Piston on OD at the point of contact in question, or (b) Air or Water Cooling to achieve M5 > M4 > M3 > M2 > M1 There are so many other unknowns, such as Thermal Conductivity of alloy at 780 C Specific Heat of alloy at 780 C Thermal Conductivity and Specific Heat of the mould (its temperature is unlikely to go beyond 300 to 350 C).

Fig. C

Solidification Time (with different conditions)

Expt. No. 1. 2. 3. No Use of Die Coating 3.5 minutes 2.5 minutes 2.33 minutes Coating with Die Paint 5.0 minutes 3.25 minutes 3.15 minutes

A small R & D set up has to be established to take care of all these factors to get 100 % sound Piston castings.