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Module 6 CAST IRON

Cast Iron
Basically alloy of iron and carbon Contains greater amount of carbon (from 2.11 to 6.67 %) as compared to steels (commercial manufactured cast iron has carbon % from 2.11 to 4.0) The ductility of cast iron is very low, and it cannot be rolled, drawn, or worked at room temperature. Most of the cast irons are not malleable at any temperature. However they melt readily and can be cast into complicated shapes which are usually machined to final dimensions. Since casting is the only suitable process applied to these alloys, they are known as cast irons. Although the common cast irons are brittle and have lower strength properties than most steels, they are cheap, can be cast more readily than steel, and have other useful properties. In addition, by proper alloying, good foundry control, and appropriate heat treatment, the properties of any type of cast iron may be varied over a wide range.

Exemplary products of cast iron

Low ductility (cannot be rolled, drawn or worked at room temperature) Highly brittle and low strength (as compared to steels) Highly non-malleable at any temperature (except malleable cast iron) Relatively low melting point Cheap and can be cast more easily than steels Good fluidity and castability (can be melt readily and can be cast into complicated components) Excellent machinability (cast components can be further machined easily to final dimensions)

High resistance compression, deformation and wear Proper alloying, good foundry control and appropriate heat treatment can be effectively used to vary its properties over a wide range

Pipes, plates, wagon wheels, bridges, columns, textile mills, chairs, tables, benches, gates, grills, railings, wall brackets, lamp posts, spiral staircase, garden furniture, manhole covers, etc Machines parts such as legs, beds, supports, flanges etc Automotive parts such as cylinder heads, cylinder blocks and gearbox cases

Cast iron may be classified based on its metallographic structure, which is based: Carbon content (combined or free state) Content of alloying elements and impurities Cooling rate during and after freezing Heat treatment process after casting

Types of Cast Iron (Classification)

White cast iron: (white fractured surface) all carbon content is in combined form as cementite Malleable cast iron: most or all the carbon content is in uncombined in form of irregular round particles known as temper carbon (obtained by heat treatment of white cast iron) Gray cast iron: (gray fractured surface) most or all the carbon content is in uncombined in form of graphite flakes Chilled cast iron: white cast iron surface layer is in combined with gray cast iron interior

Nodular cast iron (ductile cast iron): using special alloying elements, carbon is largely in uncombined state in form of compact spheroids (different from malleable cast iron, as it is obtained directly from solidification and round particles are more regular in shape) Alloy cast iron: properties or structure of any above types of cast iron are altered by addition of suitable alloying elements

White Cast Iron

Fractured surface appear white All carbon content is in combined form as cementite Essentially a hypoeutectic iron-carbon alloy Structure consists of dendrites (flake shape) of pearlite in large amount of white interdendritic network of cementite (metastable phase) Hard, wear resistance, extremely brittle and difficult to machine Limited engineering applications (bearing surfaces) and relatively low cost Utilized for high wear resistance, where ductility requirement is very minimal, e.g. liners of cement mixers, ball mills, certain drawing dies and extrusion nozzles Used primarily for manufacture of malleable cast iron


Microstructure of white cast iron at after etching


Malleable Cast Iron

Most or all carbon content is in uncombined in form of irregular round particles known as temper carbon Obtained by heat treatment of white cast iron at about 900 C Graphite separates out very slowly, which leads to formation of spheroidal particles of carbides due to surface tension Due to lower aspect ratio, spheroids are relatively short and far from one another Spheroids have blunt boundaries (opposed to flakes) leading to high stress concentration Properties are more like mild steel


Limitation in size of part that can be cast (rapid cooling of surface leads to formation of malleable cast iron shell with relatively slowly cooled-formed gray cast iron core Chilled Cast Iron) Higher strength & ductility (compared to gray cast iron) High machinability (due to presence of graphite nodules, which lubricate cutting tools) Applications like axle bearings, track wheels, automotive crankshafts, agriculture equipments, railroad equipments, expansion joints and railing castings on bridges, chain-hoist assemblies, pipe fittings, industrial casters


Microstructure of malleable cast iron with temper carbon


Gray Cast Iron

Fractured surface appear gray Most or all carbon content is in uncombined in form of graphite flakes Most widely used cast material based on weight Common engineering alloy because of its relatively low cost Mostly hypoeutectic iron-carbon alloys (2.5 4.0 % carbon) Good machinability due to graphite lubricating cut and break-up chips Good galling and wear resistance properties due to presence of graphite flakes Excellent damping capacity (absorbs energy) Experiences less solidification shrinkage as compared to other cast irons


Presence of silicon promotes good corrosion resistance and increases fluidity during casting. Generally considered easy to weld Low tensile strength and ductility (compared to modern alloys) High thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity Used for housings where tensile strength is non-critical, e.g. cylinder blocks, pump housings, valve bodies, electrical boxes and decorative castings, cast iron cookware and disc brake rotors, flywheels, gears, machine-tool bases


Presence of flake graphite (500X) Microstructure of gray cast iron


Chilled Cast Iron

White cast iron surface layer combined with gray cast iron interior (white cast iron surface is hard and abrasion resistance, where as gray cast iron core is soft) Obtained by rapidly cooling of thick castings of gray cast iron using metal chillers Intermediate region between outer surface and core is known as mottled cast iron In mottled cast iron, part of carbon is in free-state (in form of graphite) and part is in bound state (in form of carbides) Depth of chilled layer depend upon alloying element (manganese, phosphorus, nickel, copper, molybdenum, chromium)


Mottled iron is used for production of items operating under conditions of dry friction (brake shoes) and wear-resistant parts, such as roller, paper-making and flour-milling shafts. Chilled cast iron finds applications likes sheet, corn milling, sugar rolls, tilt hammer anvils and bits, plowshares, brasses, bushes, cartwheel boxes, serrated cones and cups for grinding mills, railway and tramway wheels and crossings, artillery shot and bolts, stonebreaker jaws, circular cutters


Microstructure of mottled cast iron (250X)


Nodular Cast Iron

Also known as ductile iron or spheroidal graphite iron Obtained using special alloying elements Carbon is largely in uncombined state in form of compact tiny spheroids or balls Different from malleable cast iron, as it is obtained directly from solidification and round particles are more regular in shape (in case of malleable cast iron, spheroids are more irregular) Characterized by spheroidal or nearly spheroidal graphite inclusions, which are produced by inoculation of liquid cast iron with magnesium, cerium, yttrium, calcium Excellent mechanical properties comparable with those of carbon steels Characterized by high ductility


Good casting properties, high flowability, low linear shrinkage and good machinability High strength and toughness (compared to gray cast iron) Used to replace cast and hammered steel parts, such as crankshafts of engines and compressors, as well as, items made of malleable iron or ordinary gray iron Used for applications like gears, camshafts, crankshafts, cylinder heads, electrical fittings, switch boxes, motor frames, hoist drums, flywheels, drive pulleys, elevator buckets, mill rolls, furnace doors, table rolls, tractor and implement parts, bearings, wrenches, levers, clamp frames, chuck bodies and shaping dies


Nodular graphite (1000X) Microstructure of nodular cast iron


Alloy Cast Iron

Cast iron, whose properties (structure) altered by addition of suitable alloying elements like nickel, chromium, copper, aluminum, titanium, tungsten, vanadium and molybdenum Alloying is done to improve its strength and operational characteristics or to impart special properties, e.g. non-magnetism, high-temperature strength and resistance to wear, heat and corrosion Major alloying elements are chromium, nickel, silicon and aluminum, whereas minor alloying elements are copper, molybdenum and vanadium


Classification of alloy cast iron

1. According to the content of major alloying elements Chromium cast iron Nickel cast iron Aluminum cast iron Silicon cast iron 2. According to content of alloying element Low-alloy cast irons (alloying elements less than 2.5 %) Medium-alloy cast irons (with 2.5 to 10 % alloying elements) High-alloy cast irons (with more than 10 % alloying elements)


Examples of alloying (with major applications)

Alloyed with 5 to 7 % silicon (Silals) increases heat-resistance Alloyed with 12 to 18 % silicon (Ferrosilides) exhibit high corrosion resistance in solutions of salts, acids (except hydrochloric acid) and alkalies (when alloyed additional with molybdenum, exhibit high resistance to hydrochloric acid also) Alloyed with 19 to 25 % aluminum (Chugal or aluminum cast iron) exhibit highest heat resistance in air and sulfur-containing media Alloyed up to 2.5 % chromium and up to 6 % nickel (Nikhard cast irons) increases wear resistance Austenitic nickel cast irons alloyed with manganese, copper and chromium (Ni-resist alloys) are used as corrosion-resistant and hightemperature strong materials


Comparison of Types of Cast Iron

Nominal Composition [% weight] Yield Strength [ksi (0.2% offset)] Tensile Strength [ksi] Elongation [% (in 2 inches)] Hardness [Brinell scale]

Types of Cast Irons

Gray Cast Iron C 3.4, Si 1.8, Mn 0.5 --25 0.5 180 White Cast Iron C 3.4, Si 0.7, Mn 0.6 --25 0 450 Malleable Iron C 2.5, Si 1.0, Mn 0.55 33 52 12 130 Nodular Iron C 3.4, P 0.1, Mn 0.4, Ni 1.0, Mg 0.06 53-108 70-135 5-18 170-310