Industrial foundries manufacture formidable products, mammoth components and intricate parts that go into service in the harshest applications. The thing is, we can’t just melt iron and fill a cavity. The cooled metal part would hold its form and even look tough enough to handle the stresses of its coming role, but this isn’t the way of steel and cast iron. True steel alloys and toughened cast iron products pass through a trial by fire, a heat treatment process that imbues the disorganized microcrystalline structure of each newly solidified metal part with important properties. Strength and ductility number among the most important of these thermally injected features, but there’s more.
Cast Iron Toughness
Quite a few cast iron products don’t require a heat treatment process, but, when added as part of the production work, the “grain” of the metal changes, and leading to unparalleled processing options. The addition of carbon to iron, for instance, alters the malleability of the metal and makes hard iron easier to work. Next, tempering and annealing work remove post-process stress from the material, which improves overall machinability and refines the metal until its mechanical properties match customer specifications. Steel and cast iron processing stages both subscribe to such grain-altering principles.
It’s next to impossible to pass a day without interacting with steel. Stainless steel cutlery fills our kitchen drawers. Carbon steel, another term used to describe cast iron, is hard but malleability is lost, resulting in brittleness and poor workability. The heat treatment process rules all of these attributes, balancing hardness or brittleness against ductility, malleability against weldability, and so on, right down the line to the surface finish. Indeed, we see the polished chromium-injected exterior of a stainless steel countertop used due to its impermeable surface finish, a look that’s as aesthetically desirable as it is easy to clean.
In Concluding Steel and Cast Iron Processing
Our manufacturing sector scours the globe for raw materials, for iron and carbon and other alloy-oriented elements, at which point it’s melted and formed as ingots. The ingots are again melted and this time poured into moulds, but the product isn’t ready for the market. Fire and water, oil and chemical baths enter the scene, pushing the metal to its limits, adding new elements to the mix so that alloys can be formed, and generally shaping the mechanical and surface properties of iron so that the metal has the inbuilt aptitude to properly fulfill its application.