The Metal Casting Process
A pattern is a replica of the exterior of the casting. Patterns are typically made of wood, metal, plastic, or plaster. Patternmaking is incredibly important for industrial part-making, where precise calculations are needed to make pieces fit and work together.
If a casting is hollow, an additional piece of sand or metal (called a core) shapes the internal form to make it hollow. Cores are typically strong yet collapsible so they can be easily removed from the finished casting.
To visualize the metal casting process so far, imagine yourself walking on the beach toward the ocean. Look at a footprint you leave behind in the wet sand. Your foot would be the core, and the impression left in the sand is a mold of your foot. Molding is a multistep process that will form a cast around the pattern using molding sand. In casting, a mold is contained in a frame called a flask. Green sand, or molding sand, is packed into the flask around the pattern. This is known as metal sand casting. Once the sand is packed tight, the pattern can be removed and the cast will remain. Alternatively, a two-piece, non-destructible metal mold can be created so that the mold can be used repeatedly to cast identical parts for industrial applications.
Melting and Pouring Molten Metal
After metal is melted, it is poured into the cavity of the mold and left to solidify. Once solidified, the shakeout process begins: the molds undergo vibration to remove sand from the casting. In industrial applications, equipment like our Two-Mass Shakeouts keeps production output high because of its efficient and smooth performance. Removed sand is typically collected, cooled, and reclaimed to be used once more in future castings. The VIBRA-DRUM Sand Casting Conditioner improves this process of sand separation from castings by removing and cooling sand and castings and evaporating moisture, while alleviating the casting damage that is common during this point of the process. The end results are a clean cast and sand ready for the reclamation process.
In this final step, the cast metal object is removed from the mold and then fettled. During the fettling, the object is cleaned of any molding material, and rough edges are removed.
Modern Day Castings
Today, nearly every mechanical device we use, from automobiles to washing machines are manufactured using metal parts that were created using the casting process. The difference between today cast metal products and those that were manufactured even 100 years ago is the precision and tolerances that can be achieved through the computerized automated design process, and modern methods for producing the detailed cores and molds. Modern-day metal casting represents innovation at work.
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