The Use of Natural Ceramics Molding in Investment Casting

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1 The Use of Natural Ceramics Molding in Investment Casting Dina Mohamed Belal, Alamin A/Galil Mahmoud and Nazar M M. Hassan faculty of Engineering, University of Khartoum ABSTRACT Investment casting is one of the most important types of metal casting, it proved its suitability for casting hard/high melting point materials with intricate, irregular shapes that are expensive and difficult to machine. The cost of Investment casting is much higher than sand casting due to the extra costs required for pattern and shell preparation in addition to the cost of the importation of the wax and sand materials. High costs of investment casting could only be absorbed through mass production and the elimination of further machining. This paper examines the possibility of cost reduction in investment casting by finding an alternative local mold material which is capable of providing hard, high strength shell at low cost. Natural quartz stone powder is investigated to be used as an alternative expendable mould material. Results of the chemical analysis showed that the sample of quartz investigated is composed of 92.99% of pure silica. The use of the new suggested material proved its practicability and thermally stability through the casting process. In addition, the cost analysis of the use of quartz showed a cost savings of 89% and a significant reduction of the overall production lead time. Background: Investment mould casting is one of the most important types of metal casting. it proved its suitability for casting hard/high melting point materials with intricate, irregular shapes that are expensive and difficult to machine. When the cost of investment casting is compared to sand casting, investment casting is more expensive and this is due to added expenses for mold and pattern preparation. This type of casting needs an expendable mould of a strong shell of ceramic which is formed by covering a wax pattern by using special sand mixture and is baked at high temperatures. The shell is then dipped into a sand mold for usual casting. Investment casting is only implemented in Sudan in El Yarmouk manufacturing complex, where wax patterns are prepared in special pattern making machines. They are then dipped into a slurry liquid which basically consists of: Pure water, Ethyl alcohol 1 (C2H5OH), Ethyl silicate (C2H5O)4Si, Hydraulic acid and Marshlaite sand in a controlled environment of about 25 ºC and humidity of 65%. The wax pattern is then immersed into three types of sand for creating the ceramic shell around the pattern. The first layer is composed of very fine and pure sand brought from Bara province. The second and third layers are fine- medium and medium-coarse sand which are imported from Europe and Australia. The ceramic sand is applied several times, each time the coarseness of the sand is increased. Between each application, the ceramic layer must be dried for almost 2.5 hours before the application of the next layer. The ceramic shell is then placed into a kiln and fired in the steam oven. The shell is baked and hardened while wax model melt and is drained away from the shell at a temperature of 120 ºC and a hollow ceramic mould is left behind.

2 The ceramic shell is further heated at ºC in order to attain a rigid baked ceramic shell, the molten metal is to be poured into the ceramic shell immediately after its removal from the kiln. After the product is cooled down (usually after several hours) the shell is carefully broken away leaving the unfinished product [1]. The main objective of this study is to develop investment casting by replacing the ceramic shell material by a local cheaper material which will in turn lead to cost reductions. Quatrz Material: Crystalline silica is the most abundant single mineral on earth and it makes up to 12 % of the earth crust, it exists in several polymorphic forms. There is a variety of mineral forms in which silica occurs. The three structures of silica are Quartz, Tridymite and Cristobalite. Quartz is the largest single crystal found in nature, and so far is the most important and stable [2]. In Sudan, milky, massive quartz is widely spread. In Khartoum area, silica rich sediments that contain Kaolin and quartz are found west Omdurman and it proved itself of being very useful for ceramic and glass industries. It is also very common in Red Sea hills, The Nubian Desert, The Bayuda Desert and The Nuba Mountain [3]. In this study, quartz powder was investigated to be used as an alternative shell material and a sample of quartz stone was mined from the Sabaloka area in Northern Khartoum. Experimental Results: Quartz ceramic is combining a wide range of unique properties such as high heat resistance, low heat coefficient, high thermal conductivity and sufficient mechanical strength. And it had gained great acceptance in many areas of science [4]. A sample of the imported sand was tested in the sanitary lab, at the Civil Engineering Department at University of Khartoum, and the results were as follows: Sieve analysis showed that the particle size is ranging from (0.6-1mm) and the chemical analysis showed that it is composed of 99.9% of pure silica. In order to attain the desired size, Quartz stone was crushed in a stone crusher and milled in a ball miller for half an hour and sieved in order to attain the proper particle sizing. Table [2] shows the chemical and physical properties of quartz stone sample [5] : Material Percentage % SiO % Al2O3 0.85% CaO 0.58% MgO 0.27% K2O 1.29% Na2O 2.59% Fe2O3 0.45% Cu - ppm Zn-ppm Pb- ppm ND Mn-ppm Cr-ppm ND L.O.I % 0.4 Ni- ppm 48.4 P2O5, ZrO2, BaO, traces SnO2, HfO2 Figure [1] below shows particles of the imported sand on the left, and particles of the prepared quartz powder on the right: 2

3 The same powder of Quartz was used for the second and third layers, and after baking the shell should good strength, permeability and thermal stability. Fig [2] shows the quartz shell after baking. Figure [1] shows the pictures of the two investigated powders, source [1]. Physical properties Relative Permittivity Dielectric Number ε r : 4.69 parallel to a- εr: 5.06 parallel to c- Behavior in Magnetic Fields diamagnetic Specific Weight gr/cm 3 Melting Point 1705 C Boiling Point 2477 C Thermal Expansion 7.68*10-6 C -1 Coefficient ThermalConductivi ty [λ] = Wm -1 K -1 Specific heat λ = parallel to c- λ = 6.70 parallel to a- 670 J/Kg.C Fig [2] shows the strong ceramic shell which made up of natural quartz The shell was then dipped into a sand mould and the casting process was accomplished. After casting, the shell was destroyed and the final product was chemically treated in an acid bath which is followed by heating under high temperature. Then it is hand applied and baked into the sculpture to create long lasting luster as shown in fig [3]. Casting and cost analysis results [4] : Quartz was used in metal casting as an alternative local material and the results were as follows: 3

4 investment casting. In addition the same Fig [3] shows the final product after breaking out the shell, and the same product after cleaning and finishing. tolerance in/ in Surface finish Very good Visual inspection Showed no outer casting defects and deformations 5.Conclusion: Investment casting is one of the most important types of metal casting for producing intricate parts of high melting point material. The cost of Investment casting is much higher than sand casting due to extra expenses required for pattern and shell preparation in addition to the cost of the raw materials. High costs of investment casting are only verified by mass production and the elimination of further machining. The main aim of this study is to reduce the process costs by finding an alternative local shell material. The chemical analysis of the local material (natural quartz) showed a 92.99% pure silica. After its usage for forming the ceramic layers it formed a rigid shell which was thermally stable till the end of the casting process. The result of cost analysis showed a cost reduction by 89% can be attained if the local material is used in Item Cost per tone Imported sand cost 2000 SG/ ton, $833 per tone, including purchasing and transportation costs Lead time for 3 weeks to 2 month ordering Coating layers 2 different sizes of the sand are required for the second and the third layers Local quartz cost 220 SG/ ton, $91.6 per ton ( including extracting, crushing, milling and sieve analysis costs) Lead time for 3 days preparing the powder Coating layers One powder with different sizes is vital for the second and third layers Cost reduction 89% percentage powder of the local quartz powder with different sizes proved its practicability to be used for the second, third and fourth layers. And that in addition to the reduction of the lead time by days for ordering the silica sand. It is recommended to use the local quartz material as a reliable alternative in order to attain cost reductions, reduce time consumption and save hard currency References: 1- Salman Tawfig Hamza, Mussab Omer Ali, Khalid Suliman Mohd, " Improvement of Investment Casting in the Sudan", final year 4

5 project for a Bahoular degree in mechanical engineering department, The University Of Khartoum, supervised by, Dina M. Belal, Dr el Jack B. El Jack, (2007). 2-William F Smith, Javad Hashemi, Foundations Of Material Science And Engineering, fourth edition, McGraw Hill, (2006). 3- Adli Abdel Mageed, Sudan Industrial Minerals and Rocks, Centre of Strategic Studies Khartoum, Sudan, (1998), www. Sudan.embassy.co.uk\unfobookgeograph.php, geolocial studies. 4- Richard A. Flinn, Paul k. Trojan, Engineering Materials And their Applications, third edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, U.S.A, (1986). 5- Ministry Of Energy and Mining, The Geological Research Authority Of Sudan, chemical engineering laboratory. 5

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