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casting 101 C


Bentonite Clay’s Role in Green Sand Systems AMERICAN FOUNDRY SOCIETY TECHNICAL DEPARTMENT


sand is a mixture of sand or aggre- gate, clay and water. In a green sand system, the clay and water combine to form a clay bridge that binds sand grains to one another. T is bond- ing mechanism is a hydrated system that requires water, energy, time and technical expertise. Two types of bentonite clay are


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typically used: calcium bentonite and sodium bentonite. Sodium Bentonite (also known


as Western Bentonite): Western bentonite is known for its ability to absorb and hold large amounts of water and for the resulting qualities of its high swell (bigger increase in volume) and high viscosity. It is good for green sand mixtures requiring high dry strength and hot strength, such as for iron and steel casting. It is more diffi cult to mull and help the clay to attach to the sand grains, so more mull energy is required. T is sodium-based clay is capable


of swelling approximately 15 times its dry volume. In molding sand, it helps molding maintain its dimensional ac- curacy and provides a greater dry/hot strength.


Calcium Bentonite (aka Southern Bentonite): T e calcium ion concen- tration in this variety creates a lower swell green sand system with low vis- cosity, lower water absorption and the resulting quicker water loss. It is gen- erally considered to be easier to mull and provides higher green strengths but lower dry and hot strengths. Calcium bentonite swells only twice


its unwetted volume, though it pro- vides greater compression strength and permeability. Primarily used in nonfer- rous castings, its lower hot retaining strength helps in shakeout. T ese bentonite clays often are used


in mixtures of the two at defi ned ra- tios, to maximize the benefi ts of each.


Bentonite clay’s differing properties can have a major impact on a fi nal casting. Jul/Aug 2016 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 47


ore than 60% of castings are made using the green sand molding process, but what is that? Green


Other materials can be added to


improve certain properties. Preblends: Preblends are clays that


are blended with other sand additives so they become an easy additive to the existing sand system during mix- ing. Typical preblends can be custom blended to include cellulose, cereals, sea coals and other additives in addition to the sodium and/or calcium bentonite. New clay technologies have also


created more options in the use of clay bonding, such as activated and modi- fi ed clays that behave with diff erent characteristics than their natural ten- dencies. Clays are treated and perform diff erently, so sodium bentonite can achieve some of the benefi cial calcium bentonite properties and vice versa. Reclaimed and Rejuvenated


Clays: New technologies allow met- alcasting facilities to recycle the clays


often lost through ventilation as fi ne participates are pulled out in sand mix- ing and transport ventilation systems. T e ability to recover “wasted” clays re- duces costs and improves sustainability eff orts in sand metalcasting operations. Typically, the baghouse dust (with bentonite fi nes) is mixed into a slurry (either off -site or at the metalcasting facility) and added back into the sand system at the muller. Carbon: T e use of special carbon-


treated clays can reduce the overall quantity of carbon additives (such as sea coal) into the green sand system and help lower overall volatile carbon, reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Chemically Treated Clay: Ben-


tonite can be treated with various chemicals to provide better fl owability and enhanced mulling. 


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