All Questions

In our production process of a casted part, there is always the problem that the molds are not filled correctly (incomplete casting) or that cold run errors occur. What can I do to find the cause of incomplete casting and remedy it?

Our global experts recommend:

For an accurate assessment and evaluation of the defect, it is important to know whether the production of the casting was previously possible or whether the defect occurs with a completely new casting. For example, has the casting material or the riser/ gating  system been changed?

In the first step, we recommend that you take a basic look at whether there is sufficient metal available in your process, whether the sprue and gating system used is correctly designed and whether an optimum casting height (metalostatic pressure) is used.

The temperature factor is also very important: too low a pouring temperature always leads to a cold run error. Therefore, take a closer look at the temperature curve of the casting metal (liquidus + solidus temperature), as well as the temperature measuring points for correct function. Does the desired temperature balance remain within the specified tolerances even in the event of malfunctions? Are there any devices in your process, e.g. chills, which influence the flowability and/or the solidification behavior of the metal? Are the temperatures in the furnace (holding or casting furnace) and the ladle correct?

If you have checked these points, you should pay attention to whether the defect always occurs at the same mold cavity (several castings of the same type in one casting cluster) or always at the same point on the casting. Check whether there are strong differences in wall thickness in the local vicinity, strong differences due to different cross-section geometries (neck downs) or whether there is a loss of melt due to poorly sealed core marks (backflow of core marks).

In general, good venting of the mold and the cores is very important! Air pipes should be used which lead to better mold ventilation and thus prevent air inclusions and poor mold filling due to excessive dynamic pressure.

If the problem still exists after checking all the above points, please contact our ASK-Tech Service.

Our global experts recommend:

You describe a so-called veining defect. This manifests itself in the form of thin, metallic excesses on castings, mostly in angles, corners and edges. Leaf veins are caused by the expansion of the quartz sand at a certain temperature gradient (573°C for quartz sand). The molding material tears open and the incoming metal fills the resulting gap and forms a rib-like base. This effect is intensified by the faster decomposition of the binder at higher casting temperatures. 

Too fine sand, too high a proportion of fines, leads to a high packing density, which can be the reason for veining. The basic molding material used in each case must be considered according to its specific behavior. Furthermore, insufficient thermal resistance, too high casting temperature and casting height as well as too long casting times favor the formation of veined leaves. An unfavorable gating system can be a cause for so-called hot spots (thermal centers), which favor the casting defect.

Your process can be optimized for a number of areas.

On the core side, the use of a multigrain sand with coarser grain size (screen distribution) or alternatively a less expanding sand (chrome ore or zircon sand) leads to veining prevention. Sand regenerates or sand with a feldspar content of 5-6% as well as molding sand additives with good thermal conductivity also have a positive influence. The compaction stress caused by the quartz transition is buffered by the lower softening temperatures of these special sands and additives.

On the mold side, the bentonite content can be increased to promote wet tensile strength. Furthermore, a fine quartz reduction improves the gas permeability. The reduction of the amount of new sand and/or the use of less moist molding materials helps to reduce the gas potential and thus the gas pressure in the mold.

In addition, the use of a coating can help. If a suitable structure is selected for ceramic fillers, the gas pressure resistance is enhanced. Increasing the layer thickness leads to improved insulating properties. If the coating can dry slowly, this prevents cracking in the dry coating layer.

We also recommend checking whether a suitable gating and feeding system is used which avoids local overheating of molds and core parts and thus a hot spot effect. Further improvement can also be achieved by shortening the casting time.

If the problem persists after checking all mentioned points, please contact our ASK-Tech Service.

Our global experst recommend:

It could be a penetration defect in your case.

This defect can occur in all sand molded castings (preferably green sand), regardless of the material. Penetrations occur particularly in places where the molded parts heat up strongly, such as on edges or ingate areas, in places where the molding material is weakly compacted and in thick-walled castings. The casting defect often affects entire casting sections and can be seen on the casting with the naked eye, as in your case.

Possible causes for such a defect could be excessive moisture in the green sand ("free" water), an excessively high or unevenly compacted mold, excessive casting speed or insufficient removal of the mold gases from the mold cavity. We therefore recommend checking four different areas and optimizing them if necessary.

The first area is the molding material: Special care should be taken to use thermally stable bentonite with a high montmorillonite content, which leads to a reduction of inert fines share as well as the water requirement. A positive effect can also be achieved by reducing the dust recirculation. Furthermore, attention should be paid here to the degree of pre-treatment, regeneration of the green sand. It is possible to pre-humidify the reclaimed sand, accelerate the water absorption of the bentonite or possibly extend the mixing times. The use of finer core sand or finer new sand as circulation sand, in which the sand grain size is reduced, can help to avoid the defect described by you. Please note, however, that the AFS number of sand must never be less than 60; it is helpful to check the gas permeability of the molding sand mixture. Another possibility for improvement is the use of materials with lower coke but higher lustrous carbon formation.

Secondly, you should check especially at the molding line whether the compaction is absolutely uniform and as low as possible. You should also check the hardness of the mold and reduce the compaction pressure if necessary. For all this, the molding line should guarantee even sand filling into the molding boxes.

Thirdly, with the molds and cores used, a coating of the parts or an increase in the layer thickness with endangered contours of the molds and/or cores could be an effective measure.

Finally, you can influence the gating and casting technique by checking whether the distances between the patterns are too small. Increase the distances and avoid hot spots.

You can also try to provide the mold with air pipes for degassing. To avoid water condensation during wet casting, endangered mold parts can be sprayed with a water-resistant release agent. The mold filling can be optimized by changing the gating system by reducing the casting speed.

If the problem persists after checking all the above points, please contact our ASK-Tech Service.

Our global experts recommend:

The casting defect you describe, bubbles, mainly occurs as a result of a poor degassing process in the core or mould and is more common in lamellar graphite iron castings (GJL) than in spheroidal graphite iron castings (GJS). Cavities with round, smooth walls then usually occur over large areas. The reason for the rounded or elongated bubbles are gases enclosed by the solidifying metal on the surface of the casting, often associated with slag or oxides. Such defects usually occur in the upper box of a mould, in poorly vented pockets and/or undercuts.

We recommend that you check the causes of gas formation separately. 

Cores

The release of core gases can promote the formation of bubbles. Binder reduction or the use of gas shock retardant binders can be advantageous.
Note: the lower the binder content, the lower the gas potential.

Depending on the speed at which the mould is filled with the casting metal, the gas permeability of the moulding material coatings (coating) must be taken into account. In general: fast mould filling = low gas permeability, slow mold filling = high gas permeability.

Always ensure that the cores are well dried after the coating process!

When storing cores, care should be taken to ensure a dry environment (low relative humidity) so that moisture cannot be absorbed. Warm cores or cores stored hot tend to absorb more moisture!

Insufficient core ventilation also plays a major role. When using coatings, please ensure that the core marks are free of coating materials. In some cases it is advisable to subsequently drill core vent holes or connect core vent holes using ceramic inserts.

Molds

When producing molds, especially on automatic green sand molding machines, the compacting of the molding material must not be too high. A too low gas permeability of the molding material (sand-binder mixture) or a too high gas release, e.g. from the lustrous carbon binder used in bentonite-bonded molding material (green sand / wet casting), lead to an increased gas risk.

If sand that is too moist and/or too warm is used in the production of the mold, this can cause the mold to "boil" and thus lead to an increased steam pressure in the mold. You can also improve degassing from the mould side by reducing the fine dust content, using coarser sand grains, reducing carbon carrier content or using slow-reacting lustrous carbon formers, and using bentonite with a high montmorillonite content (high specific binding capacity) and high thermal stability. A continuous control of the molding material preparation is absolutely necessary. A reduction in compaction force and the resulting reduction in mold hardness also yields results; the molding sand should be uniformly compacted.

When checking gating and casting techniques, it is important to ensure sufficient mold ventilation (air whistles). Improvements can be achieved by increasing the casting height and extending casting times.

Melt

Make sure that the melt is sufficiently degassed, in particular the specific boiling temperature and the holding time (standing of the Fe-melt) must be observed. Use clean materials, e.g. stainless steels and broken cast iron, to reduce the oxides directly at the beginning of melting activities. When melting, the temperature range in which the melt absorbs more gas must be passed through quickly.

If the problem still persists after checking all the above points, please contact our ASK-Tech Service.

Our global experts recommend:

Problems in the core shooting process are caused by many factors. First of all, the suitability of the selected core shooting machine for the used corebox should be examined. A sufficient shot volume of the machine is important in relation to the tooling (core box volume). The shooting head must offer a sufficiently large shooting range. Check whether the shooting head offers a sufficient volume to fill the core box (wormholes) even if the shooting tube or core shooter size is not selected properly. Here guide plates, spare pieces or sand labyrinths in the shooting head could be helpful for an optimized filling of the core box.

Furthermore, all pressurized components, seals and valves of the core shooter, including the nozzle seals, should also be tested.

In a further step, the shot cross-sections should be examined, e.g. whether the sum of the shot cross-sections is sufficient to fill the core box in the planned time and / or whether the shots are in a position favorable for filling (e.g. core marks).

The same applies to the venting cross-sections: Check whether the sum of the ventilation cross-sections corresponds to ~50% of the sum of the shot cross-sections. Vents should be in a favorable position in the corebox for filling. The type and dimensioning of the vents including the exhaust air pipes behind them must be suitable to ensure sufficient air removal during the shot. With the cold-gas-curing PU-Cold Box system, the necessary flushing with the catalyst gas must also be ensured. The uniform curing is the main focus here.

If the problem still persists after checking all the above points, please contact our Technical Service Department.

I want to use a reticulated ceramic foam filter when pouring my metal, but I am casting thin-wall parts and need to get the metal in the mold as fast as possible. What can I do to maximize flow rate through the filter?

Our US experts recommend:

There are several parameters of both the metal and the filter that control and effect flow rate of molten metal through a ceramic filter. First, concerning the specific metal alloy, the metal’s fluidity, cleanliness, temperature, and metal head height over the filter, all play a role in the flow rate. 
Regarding the filter, the manufacturer has the ability to adjust parameters when sizing the filter for your application. Metal flow rate through the filter is a function of the filter diameter 
(round) or length and width (rectangular), filter thickness, as well as filter pore size. 
To maximize flow rate, you would want to use the largest di-ameter, most open pore size, and thinnest filter that the manu-facturer recommends and that would physically fit into your mold space or pouring cup.  These same parameters also affect filtration efficiency and must be balanced with what you are trying to achieve. 
ASK Chemicals has been manufacturing reticulated ceramic foam filters for over 30 years and offers the technical support to recommend the best filter choice for the specific applica-tion, along with the manufacturing expertise to provide a consistent product with every order.

So, consult with your ASK Chemicals contact for the best overall recommendation.

Our US experts recommend:

Of course using a high-efficiency release agent can prolong the period of time between necessary cleaning for core or mold tooling, but a quick and easy way to extend machine uptime is to use a fast and efficient metal cleaner to remove residual binder and sand build-up on a pattern or mold and/or tool faces. These are newly formulated metal cleaners that not only will ensure that the tooling is clean, to provide the ideal surface to produce a core or mold, they also help keep vents clear and open. Tooling and vents that are free of debris will decrease system downtime, thereby increasing the productivity of the operation.  Keep in mind that metal cleaners are solvents formulated to dissolve binders:  Always check the compatibility of the metal cleaner with the tooling material and any seals or plastic that may be in contact with it. There are “environmentally friendly” or “green” metal cleaners offered by various developers, and used by some foundries, but these products typically do not work as completely and efficiently as the more ad-vanced formulations. If handled properly, ASK’s metal cleaners are the most efficient and economical to use.  

Cleaners break down cold-box resins in less than 15 minutes, as compared to older formulations that may soften the resin but never truly break it down.

Spraying or brushing the metal cleaner directly on the built up areas and then allowing it to soak for at least 15 minutes is the most effective way to clean metal pat-terns.  Then, the softened films can be removed easily. This can all be accom-plished without removing the tooling from the core machine, saving addi-tional down time.  Small parts can be immersed or soaked in the cleaner. Ideally all excess cleaner should be re-moved prior to re-com-missioning the tooling into the manufacturing process. Personal protective equipment is essential for workers handling or applying the metal cleaners as most are corrosive and can cause irritation if mishandled. Operators should wear chemical resistant gloves and goggles.  A face shield also may be recommended.  In order to know for sure, it is critical that Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) should be read carefully and understood fully before using metal cleaners.   

So, consult with your ASK Chemicals contact for the best overall recommendation.

We currently have two processes, for gray and ductile iron casting. Our smaller, high-volume castings are poured on an automatic molding line (green sand, vertically parted) with an automatic pour-ing unit (stopper rod.)  Here, we inoculate in-stream with good results, however we occasionally struggle with carbides on some ductile iron products.  
For our larger castings we use no-bake (PEP SET™) molding on a medium-sized loop line.  Once made, these molds are moved to the pouring floor for hand pouring. For these no-bake castings the microstruc-ture and mechanical properties are highly unpredict-able and result in high scrap rates. Can you suggest a more reliable inoculation practice for these floor-molded castings?

Our US experts recommend:

The improved metallurgical quality of the casting poured in your green-sand operation can be directly attributed to the late (in-stream) inoculation practice. Adding a late inoculation step to the larger, hand-poured molds could improve the metallurgical quality of these castings.  However, using in-stream inoculation might not be practical, so other methods will need to be considered.
In recent years, increasing demands for improved mechanical properties and the challenges encountered by foundries trying to inoculate electric furnace iron have established a need for potent inoculation that is introduced just before the casting cavity is filled, i.e. late inoculation.  
On your automatic molding line you have satisfied these de-manding specifications by adopting late inoculation in the form of in-stream inoculation.  In-stream inoculation is well suited to applications that involve pouring the casting in the same location each and every time.  However, due to the need for specialized equipment, employing in-stream inoculation for hand-poured castings is not so easy.
Moving the ladle from mold to mold on the pouring floor is a challenge in any case. Now consider moving equipment along with the ladle, and it is clear that this can be a very time consuming and cumbersome process. Well, perhaps you could have a mem-ber of the pouring crew add a carefully metered, precise addition of sized material to the iron stream, during mold filling. That would be a solid solution except for the drawbacks: labor costs, safety concerns, and the likelihood that the feed-rate of the inoculant will be inconsistent are a few of the disadvantages of this practice. 
So, let’s consider a more practical method for late inoculation of hand poured castings: using solid, cast ferrosilicon inserts in the mold (or pouring basin.) This technique is widely accepted as a viable method for late inoculation of hand poured castings. In fact, it is commonly used for all types of molding and pouring op-erations.  Using solid cast inserts for your late inoculation of gray and ductile iron would provide these benefits:

  •  No fade. The inoculant goes into solution as close to solidification as possible.
  •  Proper addition rates.  Solid cast inserts are produced in more than 15 different sizes, so providing the proper addition rate (0.1 – 0.2%) for your mold is not a problem.
  •  Uniform inoculation. The insert dissolves continuously during pouring, providing even, uniform inoculation.
  •  No slag generation. The inoculant goes into solution in the absence of atmosphere, resulting in very clean inoculation. 
  •  Potent inoculation effect.  These inserts are engineered to provide maximum effect for gray and ductile iron.

So, if you’re looking for a more reliable inoculation practice that will improve the metallurgical quality of castings, reduce variability, and save money by reducing scrap, consider late inoculation with solid cast inserts.  GERMALLOY™ is recommended for ductile iron castings; OPTIGRAN™ is the choice for gray iron castings. Metallurgy experts at ASK Chemicals can provide recommenda-tions for the proper sizing and application of mold inoculation for no-bake and green-sand operations.

So, consult with your ASK Chemicals contact for the best overall recommendation.

Inorganic binder technologies gain an increasing attention, not only in the European foundry industry. Does the global role-out of inorganic binder technologies determine the end for conventional shell sand processes?

Our US experts recommend:

A provocative question, I must admit, and the answer to this question is diversified in respect to the casting application. Of course, new technologies always threaten the existence of conventional technologies as far as they add performance value to the respective process itself. In case of aluminum casting applications, particularly in high productive segments such as the manufacture of aluminum engine blocks and cylinder heads in permanent mold casting, more and more foundries are converting from organic to inorganic binder systems – and there are several reasons for this trend.

Odorless core production, no harmful emissions during casting, less maintenance of machinery and tools, and the resulting higher productivity are well known economic and ecological benefits of the INOTECTM technology. Technological benefits rely on the faster solidification of the aluminum melt. Reduced die mold temperatures and the consumption of energy from the aluminum melt by water evaporation result in improved mechanic properties of the castings, e.g. reduced dendritic arm spacing.

The inorganic binder technology INOTECTM is described as a two component binder system including a liquid INOTECTM binder and a solid inorganic additive – the so-called INOTECTM Promotor. Shell sand is a phenolic resin coated sand with addition rates of 2,5 to 3,5% (based on sand). In terms of core manufacturing, both binder systems are cured in a hot core box. INOTECTM requires significantly lower core box temperatures (150 – 210 °C vs. 250 °C for shell sand) but also implies the necessity of hot-air purging that is missing in the shell sand process. Strength values (both hot and cold) of INOTECTM-bound cores are high enough for automatized handling. Care should be taken in regard of the brittleness which is typically higher than that of shell sand cores. Additionally, inorganic-bound cores have – by nature – a high affinity to water. Thus substantial technical adjustments (storage facilities with proper storing conditions to avoid exposure to high humidity) and continuous product development to improve humidity resistance are countermeasures.

A major disadvantage of shell sand cores are volatile emissions during core manufacturing as well as odor and smoke formation in the casting production process as a results of the thermal decomposition of the phenolic resin. As a consequence, condensate or tar build up reduce die mold lifetimes and imply continuous maintenance operations. Additionally measures, e.g. ventilation and air treatment systems, are mandatory. Higher risks for gas inclusions and casting defects are possible as shown by the difference in gas formation potential. The amount of condensate for INOTECTM is related to the amount of released water that contribute to the binding properties of the silicate gel structure during core manufacturing, storage and utilization.

 

        Binder system

  INOTECTM      Shell sand

Gas volume [ml]

       40

324

Condensate [mg]

      139

397

Comparison of gas and condensate formation between shell sand and INOTECTM. Measurement was done using a COGAS apparatus in liquid aluminum.

Dimensional casting accuracy as a result of improved thermal stability is comparable for both binder systems. The INOTECTM tooling kit approach even enables tailor-made core property adjustments in respect to thermal strain and core geometry. Core collapse or shake-out processes for inorganic-bound cores require mechanic impact via hammering and vibrating systems. Continuous product development and process discipline enable reliable core collapse properties even of complex cores on serial production scale procedures.

In comparison to shell sand cores, the INOTECTM technology shows equal or even superior process properties during core manufacturing and aluminum casting production, if technical measures, process knowledge and process discipline are established.

So, consult with your ASK Chemicals contact for the best overall recommendation.