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Buyer’s Guide

TO PURCHASING RAW AND MACHINED CAST PRODUCTS

Prepared by
The Eagle Group, Inc.
Muskegon, MI

www.eaglegroupmanufactureres.com
Table of Contents

• Introduction.....................................................3
• Knowing Your Product....................................4
• Choosing a Material.......................................5
• Choosing a Casting Process........................12
• Choosing a Supplier......................................21

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Introduction

The oldest known casting is estimated to have been poured


5000 years ago. Since then, the metal casting industry has had
a long and proud history of innovation and diversification.

Over the years, methods of casting became more refined and


specialized. Today, metal casting and machining are staples
in global manufacturing.

Whether you’re bringing a new product to market, or just


looking for ways to save money on products currently in
production, it’s in your best interest to find manufacturing
facilities with a thorough understanding of both casting and
machining processes.

This guide is designed to help you decide which material,


casting process, and foundry will best help you reach your
goals and minimize costs.

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Knowing Your Product

FUNCTIONALITY
It is very important, when purchasing castings, to have an
understanding of how your part works. Knowing the critical
requirements of the part will help you make the right decisions
when choosing how to manufacture a part.

FLEXIBILITY IN TOLERANCES
Knowing where designs can change, and more importantly
where they can’t, will help you best design your product for
manufacturability. Deciding on the appropriate processes
will improve quality, and/or reduce cost of both the casting
and post-process machining.

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Choosing a Material

IMPORTANT MATERIAL QUALITIES

○○ Resistance to Corrosion
○○ Tensile strength
○○ Yield strength
○○ Machinability
○○ Hardness
○ ○ Finishing costs

In the following pages, we offer an overview of common


materials used in casting and machining. These materials
include:

○○ Gray Iron
○○ White Iron
○○ Ductile Iron
○○ Stainless Steel
○○ Carbon Steel
○○ Copper-Based Alloy
○○ Nickel-Based Alloy
○○ Aluminum Alloy

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GRAY IRON
Depending on the class of gray iron,
different levels of machinability and
strength can be achieved. Softer, more
machinable gray iron can have tensile
strengths as low as 20,000 psi. Tougher, Gray Iron V8 Engine Block

less machinable iron can have tensile strengths triple that.

WHITE IRON
White Iron is known for its excellent wear resistance. Some
white irons have high levels of chromium or other alloys for
increased performance of high-temperature service, or for
corrosion resistance.

Two different types of abrasion


resistant cast white iron.

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DUCTILE IRON
Ductile iron also ranges in strength, and has a higher level of
tensile strength than gray iron. This wide range of strengths
allows ductile iron to serve a wide variety of markets.

Top: a comparison of cast gray and ductile iron. Bottom: a ductile iron cast pipefitting.

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STAINLESS STEEL
Stainless steel is the classification
of steel that contains a chromium
content of 10.5% or higher. It’s best
known for its corrosion resistance,
but also provides a high level of toughness. Higher levels
of corrosion resistance can be reached
using higher levels of chromium and
molybdenum. Drawbacks to stainless steel
include its lower level of machinability and
medium tensile strength. These properties
make stainless steel a great option for parts in oxidizing or
corrosive environments.

CARBON STEEL
Carbon steel has virtually no alloying
elements. As a result, carbon steel offers
a very high level of machinability and weldability, while
maintaining a high level of toughness.

Top: graph of the relationship between corrosion and chromium content.


Middle: a cast stainless steel boat propeller.
Bottom: a carbon steel cast part used for heavy lifting applications.

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ALLOY STEEL
Alloy steel is created by adding elements to
carbon steel. These elements can include:
manganese, nickel, molybdenum, silicon,
vanadium, chromium, boron and titanium. An alloy steel cast
product ready for
Generally speaking, alloy steels have improved assembly.

tensile strength, hardness and wear resistance, but sacrifice


some weldability and toughness.

COPPER-BASED ALLOY
Copper-based alloys, in general, have a
high level of corrosion resistance which
can make these metals a great choice
for long-term cost efficiency. Apart from
that, the properties are dependent on
A bronze cast part used
in the oil and gas industry
what other elements are in the end
combination. One of the most popular copper-based alloys
is brass, which is a made up of copper and zinc as well as
bronze–which is itself an alloy, generally made up of copper
and tin and/or lead.

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NICKEL-BASED ALLOY
Nickel-based alloys have excellent
corrosion resistance. Nickel is often coupled
with copper, chromium, zinc, iron, and
manganese to achieve different properties.
The right combinations can have the tensile A nickel cast part used
to dampen shock in
strength of carbon steel with good ductility piping applications.

and wear resistance. Alloys containing high levels of nickel


are often used in chemical handling equipment.

ALUMINUM ALLOY
Aluminum alloy, a popular choice in die casting, is a very
castable alloy. Other great qualities of aluminum are its high
level of machinability, which can reduce costs, and its high
level of corrosion resistance, which allows aluminum to have
a wide range of applications.

Left: an aluminum casting of


a propeller that was poured
minutes prior

Right: a picture of the finished


piece.

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Material Comparison Chart

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Choosing a Casting Process

Having a rough idea of a part’s function and the optimal


material that should be used can help point you in the right
direction when choosing a casting process.

TYPES OF CASTING PROCESSES


There are many different methods that have been developed
to cast metal over the years. Each method used in today’s
market has both advantages and disadvantages, and each
is optimal for parts with different demands. Some of the most
popular casting methods are:

○ ○ Investment casting
○ ○ Shell mold casting
○ ○ Green sand casting
○ ○ Pressure die casting
○ ○ Gravity die casting
○ ○ No-bake/ air-set casting

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POINTS TO CONSIDER

○ ○ Dimensional tolerances
○ ○ Cost at high volume
○ ○ Cost at low volume
○ ○ Thinnest castable sections
○ ○ Surface finish
○ ○ Ease of design change
○ ○ Alloy limitations

When dealing with parts that require machining, it is important


to evaluate both the casting and machining together. This
is because the machining required–either for the part to
function, or for aesthetic reasons–can sometimes account for
a large portion of the part’s costs. For example, a higher-cost
but more precise casting process may decrease the overall
cost of the finished product by reducing the amount of post-
process machining required. This is why it’s in the buyer’s best
interest to work with a facility that can help determine the
best combination of casting and machining.

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INVESTMENT CASTING
The investment casting
process involves assembling
wax patterns into “trees,”
which are then coated with
multiple layers of a ceramic-based slurry. When the slurry
dries, the wax is melted out. Molds are then fired, both to
burn out any remaining pattern material and to raise their
temperature before pouring. Once molds are preheated,
molten metal is poured in and left to harden into castings.
This process is capable of producing excellent accuracy that
can reduce or even eliminate the need for machining.

Top: wax patterns assembled on tree.

Bottom left: wax after it has been dipped and dried. After wax is melted out the molds are
ready to be filled with molten metal.

Bottom right: mold after molten metal has been poured and is solidifying.

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SHELL MOLD CASTING
The shell molding process involves the heat curing of resin-
bonded silica sand on a pattern. This creates two halves
of a mold that are glued and/or clamped together before
being filled. Shell molding is best suited for medium volume
production because of higher tooling costs.

Top: molten metal being poured into mold.

Bottom left: sand mold after resin bonding.

Bottom right: sand being cured into corebox.

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GREEN SAND CASTING
Green sand is the use of moist silica sand and a bonding
agent, such as clay. The mixture is compressed around a
pattern to create half of a mold, then it is placed in supports
with its corresponding other half. As in shell molding, the
cavity inside is what shapes the casting. Material and tooling
costs of this method are relatively low, but design complexity
and dimensional accuracy are also lower compared to other
methods.

Left: half of a green sand mold after having the pattern impressed on it.

Right: two halves of the mold together with a metal flask to support them being filled.

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PRESSURE DIE CASTING
Pressure die casting is a method often used to produce large
volumes of zinc, aluminum and magnesium parts. This process
can be used to produce intricate shapes. Molten metal is
injected into a reusable die at pressures of 5,000 psi or more.
Pressure die casting achieves its best results with smaller
castings, and a good design is vital.

Left: example of high pressure dies.

Right: diagram of press


with die fixed in press.

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GRAVITY DIE CASTING
This method of producing castings involves pouring molten
metal into a reusable die. The permanent mold process
produces consistent surface finishes and a higher level of
dimensional accuracy than sand casting, which can lead
to lower machining costs. Generally, gravity molding is used
over shell molding with light alloy components.

Right: what a die used in the gravity permanent


mold process might look like.

Above: The die is fixed in place, pre-heated and molten aluminum


is poured into the top.

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NO-BAKE / AIR-SET CASTING
To produce molds using the no-bake process, patterns are
covered with sand mixed with both a catalyst and a binder. The
chemical reaction hardens the sand after only a few minutes.
While green sand is more commonly used, a better surface
finish can be maintained through the no-bake process.

Cored no bake mold and resulting component.

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PROCESS COMPARISON

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Choosing a Supplier

INDUSTRY STANDARD
It is important to understand what the “standard” is when
working in any industry, so you can better judge whether
suppliers’ efforts are sub par or surpassing expectations. Many
of the specifics are dependent on individual circumstances,
but there are also universal standards that all buyers should
be aware of.

The following pages offer a few key points to help you evaluate
prospective suppliers.

EXPERIENCE
When reviewing foundries, an important factor that should
be considered is how much experience they have. You
should consider: A) holistic experience in the industry; and
B) experience producing high-quality components with the
process and material you are interested in utilizing. Foundries
that are veterans in the right specialization are much more
likely to achieve success and maintain stability throughout a
production run.

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SERVICE
The foundry is working for you, not the other way around. Buying
from a foundry or any supplier with poor customer service
guarantees that you will have to put in more work following
up and chasing down answers than you would otherwise. A
foundry that helps you solve problems rather than creating
them should be a priority when choosing a foundry.

QUALITY
The importance of quality cannot be stressed enough. If the
previous castings produced by the foundry are of poor quality,
then none of the other factors matter. Inadequate attention
to quality can cause losses for your organization as well as for
the foundry, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to strive for the
best quality possible. Avoiding these complications should be
top of mind when considering suppliers.

SAFETY & ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY


Finding a foundry that is conscious of health and safety, as
well as environmental regulations, is important in more ways
than one. Not only does it convey a high level of business
ethics, but it also helps to assure that your foundry won’t
experience an abrupt interruption, leaving you in a scramble
to get your components. Knowing the violations to look for
when choosing a foundry can help you decide which one is
going to be the most reliable.

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APPLES TO APPLES
When considering two separate foundries, it’s important to
consider the differences in the processes and services they
provide. It’s always important to think about the additional
steps that may be necessary to get the component to a
usable state. When having work quoted, it’s possible that
different prospective suppliers will quote to different extents
of completion. Beyond basic casting, finishing processes can
include:
• Machining
• Heat treating
• Coating/Painting
• Shipping costs

PRICE
The pricing standard differs greatly from alloy to alloy and
process to process. This makes it important to consider multiple
materials and methods in order to find the lowest overall price
for your desired service.

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CONCLUSION
Deciding on the who, what and how of producing cast parts
is a complex process, with many factors to consider. How a
buyer, and the buyer’s organization, weighs these different
factors will determine their best fit.

SOURCES

Images

http://www.castingquality.com/casting-products/pipe-fittings-casting/ductile-iron-
pipe-fittings-2.html
http://www.iron-foundry.com/gray-cast-iron-and-ductile-iron.html
http://www.travispattern.com/Green_ Sand_ Castings.php
http://www.reliablecastings.com/sand-castings_ 15.html
http://www.mdkltd.net/en/urundetay/39/ALUMINIUM-HIGH-PRESSURE-DIE-CASTING-
DIES
http://www.nonferrogieterij.nl/highpressure_ engels.htm
http://www.accurateparts.us/die-casting/
http://www.gwfoundry.com/Castings/SandCasting.aspx
http://thdick.co.uk/index.php/grades/wear_ and_ abrasion_ resistant_ cast_ irons
http://www.splicd.com/wholesale/pz6b4f59b-cz5dc8f77-304-stainless-steel-
propeller-casting-hy-mh-020.html
http://www.totalmateria.com/page.aspx?ID=CheckArticle&site=kts&NM=232
http://www.citycratemotors.com/parts/24502572-DRCE-2-Bare-Block-Gray-
Iron/682/

Information

http://www.metal-technologies.com/docs/default-source/education/
historyofmetalcasting.pdf?sfvrsn=8
http://www.inventix.com/zinc-die-casting/zinc-comparison.php http://www.afsinc.
org/about/content.cfm?ItemNumber=6890

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About The Eagle Group

From concept to completion, The Eagle Group’s diverse


capabilities offer solutions for multiple casting needs. Our
lean manufacturing process ensures timely production and
delivery. The synergies that all Eagle Group companies share
assure that your casting and machining requirements are
met with the best process for your application. Magma 3D
Model Simulation assures that we are producing the very best
casting for your needs. We are also involved in the growing
3D printed molds market.

CONTACT US
The Eagle Group
5142 Evanston Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49442
231-788-2351

All text, images and other media contained in this document are the sole
property of The Eagle Group, unless otherwise noted. Do not reproduce or
distribute this material without prior written consent of The Eagle Group.

© 2017 The Eagle Group

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