Casting is a mechanical process whereby a molten metal or its alloy is poured into a mold and solidified. The object then gets the shape of the mold. Castings are manufactured in a single step from liquid metal without intermediate operations of mechanical working such as rolling or forging.
What is the primary casting process?
The liquefied metal is then cooled and hardened before being extracted from the mold in a solidified form. There are five steps in the casting process: patternmaking, molding, melting and pouring, shakeout, and heat treatment and inspection.
Metal casters can develop complex shapes in many sizes using various materials with unique properties that serve many different purposes. That’s why metal castings are vital to many key industries such as agriculture, healthcare, and mining. Without castings, these industries and their role in our everyday lives wouldn’t be the same.
“Agriculture is the world’s oldest industry; without it, society as we know it would not exist (avalon-castings.com, n.d.). Farmers grow the food that feeds the world. That’s why technology and equipment are critical to this industry. “Three challenges are common to agricultural machinery: harsh conditions, large loads, and an evolving technology that requires well-designed parts and precision production” (soucybelgen.com, 2014). In this industry, durability and productivity are critical qualities of modern farm equipment. That’s why cast iron and steel are essential in developing parts used in farming equipment.
Some examples of hard-working cast parts in this industry are:
Frames for agricultural vehicles,
Gear casings or housings.
These parts are critical elements in the structure and movement of agricultural vehicles. Creating the complex shapes necessary to make these fundamental parts and assemblies would be nearly impossible without castings.
That, in turn, would cause the output of the agriculture industry to be much lower than it is today. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, total agricultural output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2015 (Wang, Nehring, Mosheim, 2018). It’s fair to say that metal castings played a big part in that massive productivity leap.
“Military vehicles, gear, and firearms must function properly, often through millions of cycles and in some of the harshest, most extreme conditions on Earth” (avalon-castings.com, n.d.). Cast components allow firearms and vehicles to be used in extreme heat and humidity, desert climates, and extreme cold. Equipment can go extended periods without use and still achieve peak performance.
Some examples of cast components used in defense:
Joysticks for drone planes/UAVs
Gun triggers, hammers, and sights
Without castings, developing quality equipment, planes, tanks, and firearms would be much more costly and time-consuming, with less design precision. While defending our country, our brave troops rely on quality castings for their safety and that of our country.
Since the making of the first vehicle, castings and cars have had a strong relationship. In the late 1800s, when automobiles were invented, cars were much more straightforward. Today, some have more than 3,000 parts. Of those, some of the most critical components and assemblies are metal castings.
Additionally, die vehicle manufacturers employ aluminum, magnesium, and zinc castings to produce cleaner and safer vehicles that use less fuel and produce lower emission levels (diecasting.org, n.d.).
Not only does the casting industry help the auto industry get us where we need to go every day, but our industry is also helping make the world a better, safer and more sustainable place – one casting at a time.
From cast iron sinks and stoves to cast iron skillets, metal castings are all over your kitchen.
Using a cast-iron skillet allows an even distribution of heat, and if seasoned, provides excellent taste and prevents food from sticking. It also lasts a long time and is versatile and cost-effective.
The mining and casting industries are connected in multiple ways. The casting industry relies on mining to provide the metals we use in our processes. These metals are then used to develop the durable castings that the mining industry relies on to dig overburden and ore out of the ground, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – while enduring some of the harshest conditions on Earth.
For centuries, cast iron and steel have been heavily relied upon as sturdy, foundational and architectural materials in the construction industry. These are the castings you see and use every day, and without them, many components of our everyday lives would be much less durable and valuable.
Not only do castings help promote safety, but they also help promote health. The healthcare and medical industries rely on many cast components within their medical tools and devices to provide the best care possible to patients every day.
The metal casting industry is responsible for developing “parts for products such as pacemakers, patient monitoring systems and ultrasound systems” (diecasting.com, n.d.). Such parts are commonly made through the aluminum die casting process.
Within the paper industry, castings are critical to the machines used in paper mills. We use paper every day in the form of textbooks, notebooks, sketchbooks, tissue paper, wrapping paper, checks, bills, and receipts, to name a few.
Another essential industry impacted by castings is renewable energy.
The most important part of a windmill is the hub. The hub is the center point of the windmill where all the blades are joined. It also houses the complex technology that turns the blades and harnesses its energy. The hub must also be able to bear all the weight and movement of the blades.