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INDUSTRY news


Researchers Discover Sweet Approach to Sand Casting Based on a recent discovery by


researchers at Oregon State Univer- sity, Corvallis, Ore., the metalcasting industry may soon develop a sweet tooth. Experts in adhesion science in the OSU College of Forestry have discovered and applied for a patent on using sugar as a binder for metal- casting sand molds. “We were surprised that simple sugar could bind sand so strongly,” said Kaichang Li, an OSU professor of wood science and engineering. “Sugar and other carbohydrates are abundant, inexpensive, food-grade materials. T e binder systems we’ve developed should be much less expensive than existing sand binders and not have toxicity concerns.” An inaccurate reading of the


temperature in a baking oven helped lead to the discovery. Li and an OSU faculty research assistant, Jian Huang, identifi ed combinations of sugar, soy fl our and hydrolyzed starch, or sugar alone, that work eff ectively as a binder in sand molds for making various types of metal parts. Still in the discovery phase, this


technology is ready for more applied research and testing, they said, and the university is seeking investors and industrial partners to commer- cialize it. Private sector fi nancing of OSU research has increased 42% in the past two years, to $35 million, as part of its increasing emphasis on university/industry partnerships. Sand-based moldings comprise about 70% of all metal castings. The


sugar and other agricultural prod- ucts used for this purpose largely decompose into carbon dioxide and water. With the techniques devel- oped at OSU, the use of sugar as a binder would allow the creation of sand molds that gain strength rapidly and remain strong in high humidity environments, which is necessary for their effective use in industrial applications. 


Simple table sugar might be able to replace some of the chemicals used as binders in sand molds.


Jan/Feb 2013 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 13


Photo courtesy of Oregon State University


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