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PERMEABILITY:

WHAT, HOW AND WHY


A Panel‘s Perspective

Craig Lanham – 3M Thad Nykiel – Bescast


Nip Singh – S&A Consulting Taylor Thornhill – O’Fallon Casting

Moderated by
Julie Markee - Key Process Innovations
WHAT IS PERMEABILITY?

“The state or quality of a material or membrane that causes


it to allow liquids or gases to pass through it.”
Dictionary.com

For Investment Casting,


• Shell permeability is a measurement of a shell’s ability to
allow fluids to pass through the material
• It is generally understood that shell permeability affects
mold dewaxability and mold fill during casting

JM
WHY DO WE MEASURE PERMEABILITY ?

• Troubleshooting Tool
• Comparison between shell systems
• Comparison between waxes

JM
HOW DO WE MEASURE PERMEABILITY?

Two common methods:


• Ping-pong ball – hot permeability
• Burst pipes – green or hot permeability

JM
HOW DO WE MEASURE PERMEABILITY?

Both methods yield similar results, right?


Wrong!!

“Permeability is not a property of the fluid or of the


medium individually, but is affected by the interaction of
the two.” Casey Wolfe, R&R

JM
MEET THE PANEL
Craig Lanham – Retired from 3M after 38 years in the
investment casting industry
Thad Nykiel – A 38 year veteran of the investment casting
industry currently serving as Process Engineering Manager
at Bescast
Nip Singh – Been in the industry for over 40 years and is
passionate about reducing variability in the process
Taylor Thornhill – Metallurgical Engineer with O’Fallon
Castings. Two time recipient of the ICI National Intern
Scholarship

JM
A LITTLE HISTORY

• A list of resources/references compiled from 1979 to


date on the subject of both green and fired/hot shell
permeability
• For me, the importance of green permeability began
in 2013
• Used green permeability to resolve a shell cracking
problem
• Findings were so significant that it is now a process
control tool used on a weekly basis

CL
BESC AST, INC .

• Bescast was founded in 1945


• A world leader in precision casting specializing in
cast air foil configurations with a heavy emphasis on
gas turbine engine and compressor components for
aerospace and other precision applications
• Located in Willoughby, OH

TN
BESCAST PERMEABILITY TEST STATION

PVC Pipe not Pipe after shelling


wax coated and cut to size

TN
2015 MONTHLY DEWAX CRACK (%)

A lot of patching due to mold cracking TN


GREEN PIPE PERMEABILITY

1000

900
886
819
800
697
Permeability (x10-12)

700

600

500

400

300

200 156 147


100
8 20
0

Differences in Permeability with Shell Modifications TN


Permeability (x10-12 cm2)

100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
900

0
5/26 #1 795
#2 783
#3 610
#4 689

6/7 #1 610
#2 734
#3 749
#4 723

6/14 #1 518
#2 546
#3 531
#4 507

6/21 #1 430
#2 506
#3 471
#4 425

7/20 #1 460
#2 437
#3 419
#4 474

415

Variation in Permeability by Week


8/7 #1 370
#2
#3 422
#4 403
2017 GREEN PIPE PERMEABILITY

8/26 #1 670
#2 636
#3 565
#4 629
TN
DEWAX CRACK IMPROVEMENT

Improvement in Dewax Cracking from 2015 to 2017 TN


BESC AST PERMEABILITY FACTORS

• Slurry refractory particle size (Prime & Backup) greatly influences


/ changes permeability
• The smaller the particle size the lower the shell permeability
• Method of applying stucco (rainfall sander vs. fluidized bed)
• Rainfall sanding lowers permeability significantly vs. fluidized bed sanding
• Slurry mixing procedures impact permeability
• Longer mixing and / or more shear lowers permeability
• Slurry turnover rate affects permeability
• Lower turnover rates reduce shell permeability
• Use of wetting agents and / or antifoam affects permeability
• Wetting agents and antifoams reduce shell permeability

CL
CASE STUDY #1

• Client changed backup slurry composition


• Molds started cracking
• Client added 3 extra coats
• Started metallurgical issues
• Green permeability showed large difference
• Modified the backup slurry composition to compensate for loss of green permeability
• Back to original number of coats

NS
CASE STUDY #2
• Client changed manual dipping to Robot dipping
• Shell started cracking with the same number of dips
• Client added many coats and others “band aids”
• Green permeability showed real issue was sanding method change
• Introduced a FB system in for sanding
• Back to almost original condition and no need for extensive FAI

NS
CASE STUDY #3

• Change is shell layer system to fill out narrow slot of blades


• Three extra prime coat configuration was added
• Massive shell cracking
• Green permeability showed large difference
• Changed prime coat PSD and some other criterion to achieve both objectives
• No need for extra coats or other band aids

NS
A Study of Hot Shell Permeability:
Identifying Sources of Variation
Taylor Thornhill
O’Fallon Castings
O’FALLON OVERVIEW

• Variations in Casting Quality

• A Look Beyond the Foundry

• Investigation of Mold Properties


• Identifying Permeability Variations, and Isolating Critical
Contributors

TT
RAISING THE FLAG

Despite the efforts taken toward process control, we were seeing day-to-day
variations in casting quality using digital x-ray.

TT
THERE MUST BE VARIATION IN OUR PROCESS...

Melt Quality
Mold
Properties
Degassing/ Metal
Filtration Chemistry

TT
We believed to have extensive shell knowledge and
reproducibility…

 Hybrid shell binder system 2% 32% 66%


 Colloidal Silica Prime Coat
 Ethyl Silicate Intermediate
Coats
 Colloidal Silica Backup Coats
 Process Control
 Robots for dipping and
stuccoing application (rainfall).
 Tight viscosity ranges.
 Temperature/Humidity
monitored and controlled. … so where is the variation?
 Minimum dry times controlled
with a serialized conveyor line.
TT
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS

• A shell analysis revealed that our permeability was half


of what we expected from previous testing.
• After several iterations of testing with the Ping-Pong
Ball Method, we found that the greatest influence on
our results was:
• The shell-building procedure! – Principally slurry soak time in colloidal silica slurry.

Controlled and recorded Uncontrolled and


unrecorded
Number of Layers Soak Time in Slurry
Mold Thickness Maximum Dry Time
Composition of Layers
Viscosity
Minimum Dry Time
TT
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
• In two separate trials, permeability values decreased by 35% and
32% with these testing considerations that deviated from our
standard test procedure:
• Colloidal silica layers were to be completely dry before successive dips
were applied.
• Standard sample dry time of 2 hrs was extended to 7 hrs.
• Dips were to have sufficient soak time to saturate the samples.
• Standard sample dip time of 5 seconds was increased to 25+
seconds.

Dipping/drying of our ethyl silicate layers were held constant: 5


seconds/2 hrs.
• In the work outlined here, the mechanism of binder soak-back
was identified as a critical factor affecting permeability. TT
FINAL COMMENTS

JM
RESOURCES / REFERENCES – PRIMARY

• Ferg, Brian J., 1979, “Influence of Mold and Wax on Dewaxabilty”, Investment
Casting Institute, 27th Annual Meeting.
• Lang, W., Learmonth, D., McCallum, R., 1988, “Hot Permeability of Shell
Moulds: Its Measurement and Place in Process Technology”, Investment
Casting Institute, 36th Annual Meeting.
• Hendricks, Michael J., Engelhardt, Donald R., 1990, “Ceramic Shell
Permeability”, Investment Casting Institute, 38th Annual Meeting
• Roberts, William O., Watson, Lewis D., 1998, “A Green Permeability Test”,
Investment Casting Institute, 46th Technical Conference & Expo.
• Snow, Jerry D., Scott, David H., Snyder, Bill S., 2002, “Permeable Prime Coats:
Effect On Dewax Shell Cracking”, Investment Casting Institute, 50th Technical
Conference & Expo.
• Snyder, Bill S., Scott, David H., Snow, Jerry D., 2003, “A New Combination
Shell Strength and Permeability Test”, Investment Casting Institute, 51st
Technical Conference & Expo.
RESOURCES / REFERENCES – PRIMARY

• Jones, S., Yuan, C., Jolly, M. R., 2003, “Fluid Bed and Rain Fall Sanded Shells – An
Investigation into Fundamental Structural and Mechanical Property
Differences”, Investment Casting Institute, 51st Technical Conference & Expo.
• Branscomb, Tom, 2004, “A New Method of Measuring Green and Fired
Permeability of Investment Casting Shells”, Investment Casting Institute, 52nd
Technical Conference & Equipment Expo.
• Wolfe, Casey M., Dickerson, Kay L., Hendricks, Michael J., 2009, “A New Look
at Shell Permeability and the Factors That Impact It”, Investment Casting
Institute, 56th Technical Conference & Expo.
RESOURCES / REFERENCES - ANCILLARY

• Halsey, G. Ph. D., 1970, “Some Factors Influencing The Dewaxing Of


Ceramic Shell Moulds”, The British Investment Casters’ Technical
Association, 10th Annual Conference.
• Roberts, William O., 1990, “Prewetting Effects On Shell Strength and
Structure”, Investment Casting Institute, 38th Annual Technical Meeting.
• Jackson, James D., 1993, “Ceramic Shell Problems”, Cast Metals
Institute – Analysis and Reduction of Casting Defects Conference,
Cranford, New Jersey.
• Snow, Jerry D., 1998, “What Happens During Autoclave Dewaxing”,
Investment Casting Institute, 46th Technical Conference & Expo.
• Investment Casting Institute, 2005, “7.23 Shell Permeability – Ping-Pong
Ball Method; 7.24 Shell Permeability – Plate Method; 7.25 Shell
Permeability – Tube Method”, pages 80 – 85, Investment Casting
Institute Ceramics Testing Guidebook.
RESOURCES / REFERENCES - ANCILLARY

• Whitehouse, C., Snyder, B., 2007, “Slurry Mixing Methods and their Effect
upon Slurry Viscosity, Particle Size and Shell Properties”, Investment Casting
Institute, 55th Technical Conference & Expo.
• Whitehouse, Chris and Dahlin, Barry, 2008, “Effects of Wax Viscosity and Shell
Permeability on Shell Cracking”, Investment Casting Institute, 56th Technical
Conference & Expo.
• Oles, Mark, 2009, “A Statistical Approach to Improving Dewax Performance”,
Investment Casting Institute, 57th Technical Conference & Expo.
• Kline, D.M., Lekakh, S.N., Richards, V.L., 2010, “Improving Investment Casting
Mold Permeability Using Graphite Particles”, American Foundry Society,
Schaumburg, IL.