A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminium and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronze, brass, steel, magnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed.
In metalworking, casting involves pouring liquid metal into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowing it to cool and solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process. Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.
Melting is performed in a furnace. Virgin material, external scrap, internal scrap, and alloying elements are used to charge the furnace. Virgin material refers to commercially pure forms of the primary metal used to form a particular alloy. Alloying elements are either pure forms of an alloying element, like electrolytic nickel, or alloys of limited composition, such as ferroalloys or master alloys. External scrap is material from other forming processes such as punching, forging, or machining. Internal scrap consists of gates, risers, defective castings, and other extraneous metal oddments produced within the facility.
The process includes melting the charge, refining the melt, adjusting the melt chemistry and tapping into a transport vessel. Refining is done to remove deleterious gases and elements from the molten metal to avoid casting defects. Material is added during the melting process to bring the final chemistry within a specific range specified by industry and/or internal standards. Certain fluxes may be used to separate the metal from slag and/or dross and degassers are used to remove dissolved gas from metals that readily dissolve certain gasses. During the tap, final chemistry adjustments are made.
Several specialised furnaces are used to heat the metal. Furnaces are refractory-lined vessels that contain the material to be melted and provide the energy to melt it. Modern furnace types include electric arc furnaces (EAF), induction furnaces, cupolas, reverberatory, and crucible furnaces. Furnace choice is dependent on the alloy system quantities produced. For ferrous materials EAFs, cupolas, and induction furnaces are commonly used. Reverberatory and crucible furnaces are common for producing aluminium, bronze, and brass castings.
Furnace design is a complex process, and the design can be optimized based on multiple factors. Furnaces in foundries can be any size, ranging from small ones used to melt precious metals to furnaces weighing several tons, designed to melt hundreds of pounds of scrap at one time. They are designed according to the type of metals that are to be melted. Furnaces must also be designed based on the fuel being used to produce the desired temperature. For low temperature melting point alloys, such as zinc or tin, melting furnaces may reach around 500 °C (932 °F). Electricity, propane, or natural gas are usually used to achieve these temperatures. For high melting point alloys such as steel or nickel-based alloys, the furnace must be designed for temperatures over 1,600 °C (2,910 °F). The fuel used to reach these high temperatures can be electricity (as employed in electric arc furnaces) or coke. The majority of foundries specialize in a particular metal and have furnaces dedicated to these metals. For example, an iron foundry (for cast iron) may use a cupola, induction furnace, or EAF, while a steel foundry will use an EAF or induction furnace. Bronze or brass foundries use crucible furnaces or induction furnaces. Most aluminium foundries use either electric resistance or gas heated crucible furnaces or reverberatory furnaces.http://www.pump-casting.com/