The Art of Iron Casting

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The Art of Iron Casting

Metal casting has been around for many years: a method to make objects by pouring the molten metal into a mold. As the metal cools, it hardens into the desired form. This method is often preferred because it is cheaper and easier compared to using machinery to carve out a piece of solid metal.

There are different types of iron casting that can be used, depending on the size of the run, the complexity of the project, and the specific type of metal being used.

History of Iron Casting

Historians have suggested that iron casting dates far back in history, with the earliest discovered cast component dating to 3200 BCE. Even though iron was discovered before this time, civilizations didn’t know how to use casting – to melt and pour iron into molds. Instead, they hammered or pounded the metal to form the weapons and tools they were creating.

Examples of some of the earliest iron casting are in China, at the Zhongyue Temple in Dengferg: 4 statues located outside of the temple.

Starting around 645 BCE, iron casting began to evolve. Chinese metal experts started using sand molding. Then, around the 1st century BCE, blast furnaces were discovered. This process used hot combustion air to melt the iron. This method eventually made its way to Europe in the 1100s.

Advances in Iron Casting Technology

Today, iron casting is common and easily accessible. Now, computational models can be used to manage the properties and microstructure of cast iron.

The austempering process was developed in 1972, which is a process that moves the metal through a sequence:

  • Carburizing
  • Preheating
  • Washing
  • Tempering
  • Cooling

The benefit of this process is that it reduces the price and increases productivity, making it a competitive solution compared to conventional heat treatments. It can be used commercially for mass production.

In the 1990s, automatic ladle pouring systems came online. These ladles can hold up to 5,500 lbs. They are automated to pour into mold lines that are continuously moving, and can also accommodate different grades of iron that are being poured. One notable drawback to these automated ladles is that they don’t have heated vessels, which means that the iron must be poured within 5 – 6 minutes to ensure optimal temperature.

Innovative Technology for Iron Casting

The Art of Iron Casting

Today, technology continues to innovate the iron casting industry. In 2014, a robot was launched that can withstand the harsh heat conditions in the furnace. This robot is capable of performing many different activities, such as sample measurement and automatic temperature maintenance. The main benefit of using robot technology is that it improves both the efficiency and safety of iron casting.

The latest focus in the industry is to develop iron-making technologies that help to reduce CO2 emissions. Breakthroughs are already occurring, and it will be interesting to see how the industry continues to evolve in the coming years.

Written by Becki Andrus

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