Development of water-based core technology for light alloys

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis describes, in a manufacturing context, the development of new waterbased core technology for light alloys. Cores used for steel casting are made from fused silica and are removed using hot sodium hydroxide under refluxing (pressurising hot acids). However, aluminium and other light alloys are attacked by sodium hydroxide. Currently there is no good core system for aluminium and other light alloys. It is therefore desirable to find an alternative material/leaching agent combination for casting aluminium and other light alloys. The recent research review has shown that ceramic cores are mostly made by fused silica with different additives. The previous research has suggested using fused silica (different mesh size) as filling material and using magnesium oxide to control the slurry working life of core mixes. Calcium silicate assists core leaching in dilute acid. The plaster (calcium sulphate) in the form of proprietary plasters (Crystcal R, Fine Casting Plaster) is used to create bond and gives strength to the core. Lithium carbonate acts has an accelerator, improving the strengthening effect of the plaster in the cores. The binder (Ludox® AM) and water act (as added materials) to bind the composition Core compositions were made with different core trials to produce a core, which records suitable strength and quick leaching properties for light alloys. Core trials were individually mixed and poured into a wooden core box. Cores were pre-dried for twenty-four hours. Cores were fired to different temperatures for two hours, followed by two hours cooling. The cores were subjected to computerised three-point bend test to record the Modulus of rupture (MOR). The plain strain fracture toughness and Weibull parameters were calculated. The Weibull parameter was plotted using Minitab analysis software. Using the cores, gravity die casting process were carried out. The subsequent castings was dipped in diluted nitric, citric and acetic acid to leach out the core. Using different core compositions, core trials were mixed, poured, dried, tested and leached. The high amount of plaster in core trials records high MOR when cores were fired between 200°- 400° C and the opposite result when fired between 600°- 800° C. The different grade of plasters(CRP,FCP) do not influence the strength. One percent of magnesium oxide gives a very short working life. High amount of binder(Ludox® AM) in core produce strong cores. Workable MOR results can be obtained depending on composition allowing manual handling or a waxing process. The fracture toughness is typical of a brittle material, with matching Weibull parameters. The casting process suggests that the new materials are sufficiently refractory. The cores are leached out using diluted nitric, acetic and citric acid at rates compatible with commercial manufacture. This methodology has successfully produced a core using fused silica with plaster and magnesium oxide for aluminium and possibly for light alloys. Different core trials can be used depending on the specific industrial application relating to strength and removal with acid attacking the metal. Further work is needed to fine tune optimum leaching conditions.
Date of Award27 Feb 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorPaul Shelton (Supervisor) & Brian Robson (Supervisor)

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