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FOAM CASTING THE CASE FOR


STEEL LOST


Although steel is not currently widely produced with lost foam casting, the method offers many potential benefi ts and recent work has shown its viability.


S MARK DEBRUIN AND SARAH JORDAN, SKULD LLC, TIPP CITY, OHIO


teel is a widely used material in most industrial appli- cations despite the increasing use of nonferrous alloys, composites and polymers. Although the lost foam casting method can produce steel parts, the process has not yet been adopted in the industry. However, lost foam could provide signifi cant benefi ts for the production of steel castings. Some manufacturers have adopted lost foam technology for the casting of gray and ductile irons


to take advantage of improved as-cast dimensional tolerances that in some cases are equal to investment casting. Tolerances of 0.005 in. (0.127 mm) for the fi rst inch (25.4 mm) and 0.003 in. (0.0762 mm) per 1 in. (25.4 mm) thereafter are expected for castings produced from molded foams. Tolerances up to 0.002 in. (0.051 mm) per 1 in. (25.4 mm) are possible from CNC machined foams, which are used for small batches, replacement parts, or prototypes. Other benefi ts of lost foam casting include part consolidation, which allows


for the elimination of fasteners, welding and other joining technologies and an improved capability for casting channels and other complex shapes. T e elimina- tion of processes allows for a leaner supply chain with reduced shipping and less inventory. With proper system design, castings produced via lost foam creates signifi cant opportunities for cost savings. In order to cast steel via the lost foam process, a number of technical in-


novations were necessary. The primary developments over the past few years that have enabled steel to be cast using lost foam are in the coating and foam pattern material. A thorough understanding of gating, fluidized bed, fluid flow, steel metallurgy and heat transfer phenomena is also necessary in order to obtain quality castings.


Fig. 2. Shown is SAE 1060 steel micro- structure cast via lost foam with 10% Nital etchant at 400X.


Nov/Dec 2016 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 41


Fig. 1. Shown is SAE 1060 steel micro- structure cast via lost foam with 10% Nital etchant at 200X.


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