Ask the Metals Experts

FROM THE DESK OF THE METALS EXPERTS

Welcome to the MetalTek Blog.

As your Metals Partner, it is our goal to educate you on various casting processes. Feel free to browse around to learn more but if you have questions or need to submit an RFQ, please contact us. MetalTek International. Because You Demand More Than Metal.

History of Metal Casting

Posted by Dave Olsen on 10/16/18 1:56 PM

Today, metal casting is a complex and intricate process which requires exact chemistry and flawless execution. While current methods may be relatively new when compared to the history of human civilization, the first casting of metals can actually be traced all the way back to around 4000 BC. In those times, gold was the first metal to be cast because of its malleability, and back then, metal from tools and decoration was reused because of the complications of obtaining pure ore. However, a copper frog is the oldest existing casting currently known; it is estimated that it was made in 3200 BC in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Bronze then became the metal of choice to cast with because its rigidity compared to gold, and it was melted and cast into various tools and weapons by way of permanent stone molds. The process of casting made its way to Egypt by 2800 BC, and effectively performing this process was tremendously influential on their gain of power during the Bronze Age. Around 1300 BC, the Shang Dynasty in China were the first to utilize sand casting when melting metals. Then around 500 BC, the Zhou Dynasty introduced cast iron to the world, but it was used mostly for farmers. Cast iron did not become a military tool or decoration until the Qin Dynasty almost 300 years later. 

Fast forward almost 1000 years, religion played a major role in advancing and innovating foundry technology during that time. Extraordinary evolution came from the construction of cathedrals and churches, melting and mold-making processes advanced rapidly to keep up with the demand of the dominant Catholic church. This also marked the boundary of the period between casting for the purpose of art and viewing casting as a technology with unknown potential. It was not too long after the advancements of bell casting that, ironically, a monk in Ghent (present-day Belgium) was the first to cast a cannon in 1313 with the same technology. Over 150 years after the first cast cannon, Vannoccio Biringuccio, also known as the father of the foundry industry, recorded the first written account of casting and foundry practices. His work, De Le Pirotechnia, was separated into 10 sections that covered many subjects including minerals, assaying, smelting, alloys, casting, as well as alchemy; it is one of the oldest technical documents still around from the Renaissance era.

Read More

Topics: Casting Process, History, Centrifugal Casting, Sand Casting, Investment Casting, Continuous Casting, Lost Wax Casting

What Makes A Good Conversion To A Metal Casting?

Posted by Dave Olsen on 10/15/18 3:40 PM

There are often alternative ways to manufacture any given component.  Sometimes the first way chosen to manufacture a component is not the best way.  There may be a number of reasons for that.  Perhaps one has an expertise or bias for machining, or welding, or forging, or casting, or assembly.  Components may end up being produced in a way that is familiar and functionally adequate, but less than optimal in terms of performance, cost, or quality.

There may come a time in any product’s life when it makes sense to investigate alternative methods of manufacture.  Such evaluation would be to convert a hog-out, forging, or multi-piece weldment to a single piece casting.  

What makes a good conversion?
Among the factors to consider when deciding if a design is a candidate for a conversion to a casting are cost, quality, and performance.

Read More

Topics: Conversion, Sand Casting, Investment Casting, Continuous Casting, Centrifugal Casting

MetalTek International Glossary of Metal Casting Terms

Posted by Dave Olsen on 10/9/18 3:01 PM

If you Google “Casting Terminology”, you get over 7.6 million results.  Some of the results will show you a never-ending list of terms so here is a reduced list of select terms that you should be familiar with as a current or potential user of metal castings.  To see a complete list of terms on our website, visit us here.
Glossary terms and definitions provided courtesy of the Steel Founders' Society of America.

Aging: A change in properties of metals and alloys which occurs slowly at room temperature and will proceed rapidly at higher temperatures. The change in properties is often, but not always, due to a phase change (precipitation), but never involves a change in chemical composition of the metal or alloy.

Annealing: Heating to and holding at a suitable temperature, followed by cooling at a suitable rate to lower the hardness or alter other mechanical or physical properties.

Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD): A secondary refining process in which argon, oxygen and nitrogen are injected into a molten bath of steel. The AOD process improves metal cleanliness and thus gives superior mechanical properties.

Read More

Topics: Centrifugal Casting, Casting Process, Sand Casting, Investment Casting, Continuous Casting

Casting Processes: When To Use Which Method

Posted by Dave Olsen on 7/17/18 10:10 AM

 

There is more than one way to bake a cake. Ingredients, temperature, bake time, and how many you are serving dictate your approach. Making brownies for the third grade class is not the same as baking an elaborate wedding cake for 350 degrees.  The same is true when it comes to selecting a right metal casting process to manufacture any component.  Which process offers the best all-in cost, considering requirements for features, material, quality, and quantity?  

The list of methods to produce metal parts is long, and includes machining/hogouts, forging, fabrication, and more. In this article, we will just discuss various casting processes you might select to make an important component.

Read More

Topics: Centrifugal Casting, Investment Casting, Continuous Casting, Sand Casting, Process Selection

What to Look For When Choosing a Casting Supplier

Posted by Dave Olsen on 2/5/18 2:05 PM

The process of choosing the right metal casting supplier should not be the same as choosing your supplier for bolts, manufacturing equipment, or office supplies. While some may treat metal castings as a commodity, they are far from it and the process for selecting the right supplier for a specific application requires careful consideration.

Supplier qualification is the most important part in the purchasing process. Traditionally, a purchaser’s primary responsibility was to find qualified and responsive suppliers. In some cases, purchasers assumed that any supplier willing to contractually meet the purchase requirement was qualified. However, using low cost and unqualified suppliers can cause quality issues, and wasted time and money in the long run.

To help you through the process, here are some things to consider when choosing the right metal casting supplier.  

Read More

Topics: Casting Process, Lost Wax Casting, Sand Casting, Continuous Casting, Investment Casting, Centrifugal Casting

MetalTek International
Download Our Alloy Guide 
Download Our Where Used Guide 

Follow Us