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PO BOX Q MAYBROOK, NEW YORK 12543-0316 (914) 427-2151 TELEFAX (914) 427-5185

DIECASTING DEFECTS: IDENTIFICATION - - CAUSES & CURES by Derek Cocks, Mgr. Customer Engineering Services

USING PROCESS CONTROL TO PREVENT DEFECTS: Prevention is always better than cure, therefore, process control techniques are important. Understanding the process variables is also the first step to both diagnosis and cure of defects. Set-up sheets: Have a set-up sheet available for each job - preferably covered in plastic and attached to the machine. If defects start to appear dont try to diagnose at this stage, check the machine settings against the set-up sheet. The Design of the set-up sheet is important and should follow the following basic rules:
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Keep it simple - one side of an 8 l/2 x 11 page. Group the information for setters, quality inspector, time study, etc. Use term which are understood in your plant. e.g., bottle pressure or line pressure or top pressure, etc. *A sample set-up sheet is attached.* p

Gauges: Ensure that all gauges are present, are working and can be easily read. A 2 inch diameter pressure gauge with a dirty dial twelve feet up on top of the accumulator cannot be read. Valves and switch positions should have marked scales so that they can be set without having to find a tape measure or count turns of valves.



Training: Dont assume that because the data is on the set-up sheet the personnel know how to set the values. Have training sessions between engineering and setters, to ensure:
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Both parties know which control is being referred to. You know where the controls and gauges are on the machine. You know how to adjust it, and what its particular quirks are. Improvements to both set-up cards and machine controls can be made. *A sample quiz sheet is attached.*

Measuring Equipment: Every setter should have a small portable pyrometer with an immersion probe (for metal temperature, etc.) and a surface contact thermocouple for measuring die temperature. One per shop is not enough. Serious consideration should be given to the purchase of shot monitoring equipment. It is expensive and requires skill to use, but the pay-back time is short. Tie bar load gauges should be fitted and working, if the machining has provision for them.

QUIZ SHEET: Identify each gauge or control and enter details from set-up sheet.




STEP 2: QUALITY CONTROL PROCEDURES TO SPECIFY AND IDENTIFY DEFECTS: All castings contain defects -- it is essential to specify what is acceptable and what is not. Good quality control procedures will give early warning of problems. Specifying Quality Levels: Do not try to diagnose the cause of the defect at this stage. Concentrate on saying: Where it is on the casting. (eg., surface near the gate) What it looks like. (eg., rough shiny marks) HOW bad it is - difficult to quantify. It is almost impossible to quantify any defect. The best you can do is to have a sample available of the worst acceptable condition. Use photographs or Xerox prints or computer stored pictures of Cut sections or reference radiographs may be useful for surfaces. internal defects. Do not specify weight or density - this is frequently misleading. Proof testing: If possible devise a simple proof test which mimics the service conditions, eg.: Break test using a torque wrench or weight. Pressure test for leakage. Polishing test for cosmetic surfaces, using polishing equipment, bright lights and a trained examiner. Metallurgical Examination: Radiography and machining tests require great technical skill and are more appropriate for defect diagnosis than as practical quality control techniques. At best they are subjective, since it is not easy to put a numerate value on the results. At worst they can be totally misleading, for instance a machined surface may show no defects in a very porous casting since the pores lie 0.002 inches below the machined face in that particular casting. A radiograph may show only slight "shadows" which are in fact very tight cracks which will seriously weaken the casting.


Process Control Parameters: The Quality department should preferably concentrate on checking process conditions and relating these to the type of defects found. Defects are related to the "primary process variables", ie. what happens in the die, which in turn are controlled by the process settings. Relationships are complex and care must be used but the following guide lines may prove useful.

Process Variable Metal analysis Metal temperature Cavity fill time Gate velocity during fill Die face temperature Lubricant-dilution quantity and spray pattern

Related Defects All All Cold shuts, dimensions Porosity, blisters, soldering, erosion Cold shuts, soldering, cracks, dimensions Porosity, blisters, soldering

Knowing the process variables is the first-stage of defect diagnosis. The following values should be measured (since equipment is not expensive): Metal analysis Metal temperature Die face temperature Lubricant - dilution and quantity

Cavity fill time Gate velocity Final metal pressure





BY MEASUREMENT: If shot monitoring equipment is available the average plunger speed during fill can be used to calculate gate velocity 'V' and cavity fill time 't' as shown below: Plunger speed during fill = 40 ips Plunger diameter = 3.0 in. diam. = 7.07 sq.in. Gate area = 0.02 x 10 in. = 0.20 sq.in. Casting weight = 1.25 lb. = 5.43 cu.in. Gate Velocity V = 40 x 7.07 0.2 5.43 7.07 x 40 = 1404 i.p.S. or 117 f.P.S.

Cavity fill time 't' =

= 0.0192 secs. or 19.2 millisecs.

BY PQ2 - NADCA "FLOW PREDICTOR": Use either manual or computer systems to predict values of 'V' and 't'. Machine performance data may either be measured as above or manufacturer's data. Accuracy is usually 10%.

Step 1 Graph the machine shot-end capability by putting two values on the graph supplied.

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Step 2 Choose a transparent resistance graph for the metal being cast.

Gate Area

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R a t e

Steps 3-6 Put the two together and take readings, then make three simple calculations. Note: This is analogous to putting the die on the machine.

Steps 7-6 Fill in readings on the worksheet table and compare values. This gives fill conditions for a range of gate areas and is analogous lo carrying out several die trials.
GATE AREA (A) 0.100 0.150 I - - - - - 0.200 I - - - - - 0.260 I - - - - - 0.300 I - - - - - 0.350 I - - - - - 0.400 I - - - - - 0.450 0.500 SQ. IN. PLUNGER DIAMETER = 3.00 IN. HYDRAULIC PRESSURE = 1200 PSI SHOT SPEED CONTRO L = 100 % FILL TIME (T) MS GATE VELOCITY (V) FPS 37.3 121 25.3 120 ----------------------------------117 19.3 ----I ---------------114 ------------------15.9 ----I --------------------------------111 13.6 ----I ---------------- 107 ----------------12.0 ----I ---------------- 104 ---------------10.9 ----I ----------------100 ---------------10.1 ----I 9.4 96


Process Control "Windows": Usually there is a range of values, within which good castings are Often several process variables are related, thus a produced. "control window" can he specified. The attached graph shows the relationship between minimum die face temperature and maximum cavity fill time for various wall thicknesses.






80 70 60 50 40 30 20

I 240 280 320 360

I 400

I 440

I 480

I 620

I 660



STEP 3: EXTERNAL DEFECTS -- DIAGNOSIS AND CURE: Diagnosis requires care and skill. An incorrect diagnosis is worse than none at all, since you may easily make matters worse. Defects do not normally appear separately, but several are present together, often in the same area of the casting. You will need:

Bright lights - good fluorescent lights plus an adjustable spot lamp. A magnifying lens or binocular microscope. Polishing buff or steel wool. Photo copier or camera. Sharp knife.

Make a Careful Examination: Examine all the evidence carefully step-by-step, take your time and be thorough. Obtain details of all the process variables in Step #2. out calculations and predictions as necessary. Carry

Carefully examine several castings using every technique available - eg., hand lens or microscope before and after polishing. Cut open blisters with a craft knife. Use photocopy machine to record flat surface details. Record relationship of defect position to gates, overflows, fill pattern, etc. Above all take time. A diagnosis made in less than 30 minutes is likely to be incorrect. The following table is a useful guide, but exceptions are common.


Appearance Cold Shut Position All Over Causes Fill time too long Die temperature too low Cures Improve fill conditions Increase die temperature

Splash & Spatter at end of

Fill time and die temperture marginal Poor control over first metal in

Improve fill time and/or die temperature Improve feed design and fill pattern

at "windows"

Excessive swirl vortex still present at time of solidification Fill time and die temperature marginal

Improve fill time and/or die temperature Improve fill pattern Flash over cut-outs


Dies separating during filling Check die lock Check tool support


Trapped air or die lube Gases not well distributed

Increase gate velocity Reduce lubrication Improve venting Increase freeze time


Appearance Sink Marks
Sink mark


Causes Liquid/solid contraction Lack of feed to local thick sections

Cures Improve design to eliminate Achieve optimum fill conditions


Optimize tool temperature extraction rate of tool halves

Shrinkage due to local hot Fine cold shuts Gas porosity

Treat as shown in appropriate

Zinc dissolves iron of die High temperature Oxide bloom removed from die surface

Remove cause Take off at least 0.002" from surface Oxidize die

Drag Marks

Under cuts shrinking on to

Increase draft Reduce "freeze" Eliminate

Oxide coat lost and soldering

EASTERN ALLOYS, INC. STEP 4: INTERNAL DEFECTS (POROSITY) DIAGNOSIS AND CURE: There are many types of internal defects, some more dangerous or unacceptable than others, depending on the application. The position and type of defect is often more important than the Quantitative assessment is difficult and usually quantity. subjective. As with surface defects, it is usual to find several defects in association, for instance gas trapped in the inflowing molten metal will usually migrate to the areas where shrinkage contraction occurs as the metal solidifies. Removing the gas will change the form of the defect (probably from spherical to inter-dendritic), but probably not affect the position and quantity. You will need:

Saw, hammer vise File, emery paper (or preferably) polishing equipment Bright lights - adjustable spot lamp Magnifying lens or binocular microscope Sharp scriber or needle

Optional extras:

Crack detecting equipment (eg., dye penetrant spray cans) X-ray equipment Lathe or milling machine to cut consecutive sections


Make surface examination first - use crack detection where Look for external evidence which indicates appropriate. internal defects. eg., Sink marks may indicate internal shrinkage porosity. Examine process data for indications of defects likely to be Calculate fill time, gate velocity, etc. present, Examine internal structure by any appropriate means: X-ray will show most of the internal structure, but needs a skilled technician to interpret the results. Sawn or machined sections will show internal. structure at the section chosen. Be careful that defects are not burred over. Half-sawn and broken sections are preferred since it avoids burring.

The following table is a useful guide, but exceptions are common.

DIAGNOSING INTERNAL DEFECTS Appearance Spherical shiny Position Uniformly dispersed Causes
(Hydrogen) Aluminum only

Cures . Degas metal . Increase metal pressure

Gased metal

Spherical dull

Corners . Gate

. Lubricant . Air . Water vapor . Use correct gate velocity

. Reduce plunger and die lube (Zn .06 oz/lb) (Al .1 oz/lb) diluted lube . Reduce runner volume . Look for cracked tool . Use correct gate velocity . Reduce f ill time . Increase die and metal temperature . Improve circulation within the die . Use lower metal temperatures . Design out thick sections . Use high final pressure . Design out


Close to surface

. Cold shuts folded in . Trapped air, etc.

Irregular rough

Centers of section

. Shrinkage porosity . Thick sect ions . Hot spots . High temperatures . Shrinkage sections . Low metal and


Center line and thick

Cracks noncontinuous)

Sharp corners

Shrinkage plus stress

. Reduce die close time . Eliminate hang ups . Blend corners . Add buttresses