|Title of Invention||
A METAL FLOW SYSTEM FOR MAGNESIUM PRESSURE CASTING AND A PROCESS FOR PRODUCING A CASTING MAGNESIUM ALLOY
|Abstract||This invention relates to a metal flow system for use in pressure casting of magnesium alloy in a semi-solid or thixotropic stage, using a pressure casting meachine having a supply of the alloy in a molten state and a mould or die which defines a die cavity, wherein the system has a die or mould tool means which defines at least one runner of the system into which molten magnesium alloy is able to be received for injection of alloy into the die cavity, the flow system is of a form providing for control of metal flow velocities therein whereby substantially all of the metal flowing throughout the die cavity is in a semi-solid state, and said form results from the system including at least one controlled expansion region in which region int he metal flow is able to spread laterally, with respect to its direction of injection, with a resultant reduction in its flow velocity relative to its velocity in teh runner, whereby the state of the alloy is changed from said molten state to said semi-solid state. This invention also relates to a process for producing a casting of a magnesium alloy.|
This invention relates to an improved metal flow system, for use in the production of pressure castings made from magnesium alloys in a molten or thixotropic state and suitable for use with existing macpines in various forms including hot and cold chamber die casting machines.
An understanding has developed throughout the international pressure casting industry that, because of the lower heat capacity of magnesium alloys compared to zinc and aluminium alloys, it is necessary, to use large runners and gates to prevent premature freezing of the molten magnesium alloy metal. Indeed, this is considered best practice by the Industry, although Interpretations vary considerably.
Within the Industry, there are many different design methods which are thought to provide satisfactory castings from magnesium alloys. However, the magnesium alloy pressure castings produced by these methods generally exhibit a greater degree of surface defects, when compared to zinc or aluminium pressure castings, although castings may be of servicable quality.
We have found that It Is possible to produce high quality pressure castings of magnesium alloys with use of the; present invention. The castings so produced are able to be of a quality comparable to that obtainable with castings of aluminium or zinc alloys. Moreover, we have found that casting quality is able to be enhanced by the use of metal flow systems having runners and gates which are small relative to current best practice. The metal flow systems of the invention enable a substantial improvement in the casting yield; that is, in the percentage ratio of casting weight to total shot weights. Thus, the weight of metal which needs to be recycled and reprocessed is able to be substantially reduced, with resultknt reduction In production costs.
The present invention enables!a method of calculating metal flow systems for the production of magnesium alloy castings which exhibit improved quality and with
significantly less metal in the feeding systems, with consequent reduction in cost compared to orior practices.
The present invention provides ojr uses, for the pressure casting of magnesium alloy in a molten or thixctrcpic stste >.vit!* a pressure citing mnrhinA having a mould or die which defines a die cavity, a metal flow sysiem which inciuu'eb a die ui muuiu too!
means which defines at least on4 runner from which molten magnesium alloy is able to
be injected Into the die cavity, in a first form of the invention., the metal flow system Is ••■■ of a form providing for control OT metal flow velocities within the flow system, whereby substantially all of the metal flowing throughout the die cavity is in a viscous or semisolid state.
The invention also provides a process for producing a casting of a magnesium alloy, wherein the magnesium alloy is cast in a molten or thlxotropic state, using a pressure casting machine having a moulc or die which defines a die cavity, and using a metal flow system which Includes a die or mould tool means which defines at least one runner of the system from which molten magnesium alloy is injected into the die cavity, and wherein the flow system is of a form whereby it provides for control of metal flow velocities therein whereby substantially all of the metal flowing throughout the die cavity is in a viscous or semi-solid state.
Our findings indicate that, with the attainment of a viscous or semi-solid state, filling of the die cavity proceeds progress iveiy by semi-solid fronts of metal moving away from a gate or other site of injection. This form of filling with magnesium alloy is a major departure from the highly cojnplex liquid peripheral fill, followed by back-filling, encountered with die casting of aluminium or zinc alloys and first described by Frommer in 1932 (see the reference text "Die Casting" by H. H. Doehler, published 1991 by McGraw-Hill Publishing, Inc.
In the first form of the invention^ the flow of magnesium alloy from the runner is via at least one controlled expansion! region of the metal flow system in which region the metal flow is able to spread laterally, with respect to its direction of injection, with a
v resultant reduction In its flow velojclty relative to its velocity in the runner. In a preferred arrangement, the controlled expansion region of the flow system comprises a gate through which the metal flows tram the runner to the die cavity. In that preferred arrangement, the gate and runner are such that an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the gate exceeds an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner, whereby the molten met&l has a velocity through the effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner (which exceeds its velocity through the gate. This is contrary to current recommended practice.
In that preferred arrangement abcording to the first form of the Invention, the cross-sectional area of flow through the gate preferably exceeds the effective cross-sectional
awe vf f!o»v tnrwMgh the run's." is ar. sxtsnt providing fv e T9*\o ** thnoo oroae in th«
range of about 2:1 to 4:1.
The effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner may prevail throughout the full longitudinal extent of the runner. However, the effective area may prevail over only part of that longitudinal extent. Thus, in the latter case, there may be a larger cross-sectional area of flow through the runner up-stream from the part of its longitudinal extent in which the effective cross-sectional area of flow prevails.
In an alternative arrangement according to the first form of the Invention, the controlled expansion region is defined at least in part by and within the cavity, by surfaces defining the cavity adjacent to the site a: which the metal enters the cavity. In this alternative arrangement, there may be an h gate at that site, through which metal flows from the runner to the cavity. In that c*ise, the gate need not define a controlled expansion region due to It having a larger effective cross-section than the runner, and the gate may simply comprise the outlet «nd of the runner at the cavity. However, the gate may define part of a controlled expansion region of which a further part is defined by and within the die cavity.
The alternative arrangement, in which the metal flow system has a controlled expansion region, defined at least by and' within the die-cavity, is not suitable for all die cavity shapes. Also, attainment of sujch region is dependent upon the flow direction as the
metal enters the cavity relative jto adjacent surfaces of the cavity, fn general, the
surfaces need to allow expansion while controlling it, so as to function in the cavity in a manner' similar to a gate providing controlled expansion. As such, a controlled expansion region defined by the cavity can be regarded as a pseudo gate and, in general, a reference in the following to a gate is to be understood as covering both an actual gate and such pseudo gate. However, the die cavity surfaces which define a
pseudo gate, through which metal flows on entering the cavity, usually will not contain the flow on all sides, although substantial containment such as on three sfdes is preferred,
A controlled expansion region may be achieved by a sharp, step-wise increase in cross-section from the effective cross-section of the runner. However, it Is preferred that the controlled expansion region progressively increases in cross-section in the direction of metal flow therethrough. Thus, where the expansion region is defined by an actual gate, the gate preferably increases in cross-section to a maximum cross-section
where the gate communicatee with the die cavitv.
The invention is applicable to either hot-chamber or cold-chamber die casting. In each case, the invention enables very substantial cost savings in the production of castings of magnesium, as illustrated later herein, as it enables a substantial improvement in the casting yield. Hence the weight of runner/sprue metal which needs to be recycled and re-processed is substantially reduced, a matter of particular relevance In the casting of
i magnesium due to the care needed in re-processing,
The metal flow system provided by the invention, and used in a casting process according to the invention, usually is substantially provided by a die or mould part or tool which defines part of the die cavity. However, as with conventional pressure cavity
moulds and dies, it may be defined by co-operating parts or tools.
The system of the invention may be adapted for use in pressure casting with a given machine. At least where this is the case in the system and process of the invention, the velocity of molten metal through the runner is preferably about 150 m/s. Variation in
this velocity is possible, such asjwithin the range of about 140 to 165 m/s. However,
the velocity need not prevail through the full length of the runner, although this is preferred In at least some forms of the invention. Rather, it is sufficient if the velocity is attained over part of the length of the runner which has a lesser effective cross-section
than exists over other parts of the| length.
The velocity of the flow of moltenj metal through the controlled expansion region may be
about 25 to 50% less than the fl^w through the runner. In many instances, it is found that the metal velocity through the expansion region Is very close to two-thirds of that in the runner. Thus, with a runner Velocity of about 150 m/s, the expansion region velocity preferably is about 100 m/s.
In the foregoing, there is reference to an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the expansion region and through the runner, as distinct from the physical cross-sectional area of the expansion! region and runner. This distinction is important, as reflected by the initial experiments of the first series of experiments outlined later herein. Those Initial experiments were conducted with large runners and gates, in accordance with the prior art beist practice for casting magnesium alloys and similar to practice for casting aluminium and zinc alloys. The actual flow path in the runners in those initial experiments was through a cylindrical region much smaller in cross-sectional area than the designed physical cross-sectional area of the runners. The much smaller area of the flow region comprised a somewhat centralised core in which the molten metal flowed through the runners, and which was within a sleeve of at least partially solidified metal of substantial wall thickness. For a given runner cross-sectional area, the cross-sectional area of the flow region was larger when the die was hot.
i The relevance of the distinction) drawn between an effective flow cross-sectional area
through a runner, and the actual or designed cross-sectional area, is less pronounced
in a runner of the metal flow system of the invention than in the prior art best practice.
Indeed, in a limiting situation according to the invention, the distinction can be
substantially eliminated. That! is, in the limiting situation, the runner can have a
relatively small designed cross-sectional area which substantially defines the effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner. To facilitate attainment of this situation, an upstream part of the length oj the, runner of a hot-chamber system may be defined by a member formed of a suitable ceramic material which enables maintenance of temperature cycle inhibiting the solidification of metal on surfaces of the member which define the runner. Alternatively, such upstream part of the length of the runner of a hot-chamber, or for a cold-chamber, jsystem may be defined by a member adapted for the
circulation of a heat exchange fluid, or by the use of an electric heating device, to enable maintenance of such temperature cvcle.
The prior practices have necessitated large runner systems which, In general, have runners of larger cross-section than their gate, that is, the converse of that enabled by
the invention with respect to the [cross-sections of the runner and controlled expansion
region. As a consequence, they have resulted in a relatively large quantity of runner/sprue metal for a given [casting and, hence, high costs In recycling and reprocessing the runner/sprue m^tal. The prior practices generally have resulted in runner/sprue metal in excess of 50% of the weight of the casting and over 100% in some instances. That is, the quantity of runner/sprue metal can be greater than that of the casting.
in contrast to the prior art practices, the present invention enables the quantity of runner/sprue metal to be substantially reduced, such as to less than 30% of the casting weight for cold-chamber machines. In many Instances, particularly with hot-chamber machines, the Invention enables the quantity of runner/sprue metal to be well below this level, for example as low as about 5% or even as low as about 2%. This, of course, provides a significant practical benefit, since the cost of re-processing recycled metal is correspondingly reduced.
The present invention enables [the quantity of runner/sprue metal to be substantially reduced as a direct result of redaction in the designed cross-section of the runner, with
a further reduction being possible by reduction in runner length. The designed cross-section can be reduced so that it substantially corresponds to the effective cross-
section of flow through the runner, however, me enecuve cross'swuuuii ui uuw nacu prevail along only part of the length of the runner, such as along a minor part of the length. ' Also, the part of the length of the runner which is solidified in a casting operation Is able to be shortened substantially, to achieve a further reduction in the quantity of runner/sprue metal.
The present invention enables fhe attainment of important benefits beyond that of reducing re-processing costs. These include a significant improvement in the related
parameters of casting porosity arjd surface finish. Relative to die castings of aluminium
or zinc alloys, castings of magnesium produced by prior art practices usually have an
Inferior surface finish, frequently 'attributable to porosity at or near the casting surface. However, the present Invention enables casting porosity to be substantially reduced and also enables the attainment of a uniform surface finish of good quality.
A common factor In reducing the quantity of runner/sprue metal, reducing porosity and improving surface finish is believed to be the attainment of the molten metal flow
velocities enabled by the invention. With such velocities, It is believed that, apart from a region of the die cavity adjacent }o the controlled expansion region, metal flow in the die cavity is due to the molten metal jbeing in a viscous state. Thus the flow In the die is as of a semi-solid front fill with tile percentage solids In the flowing metal remaining
relatively constant during filling bf the cavity. That is, filling of the cavity appears to
proceed by semi-solid fronts moving away from the controlled expansion region, In contrast to the highly complex peripheral fill and back-filling encountered with casting of aluminium or zinc alloys.
i The invention as detailed herein is based on a range of experiments. A first series of
the experiments were aimed at providing a better understanding of the mechanism of
flow and solidification of magnesium alloys. Specifically the experiments sought to
establish whether Improvements! to surface finish and porosity levels could be achieved
by changing and/or controlling the physical parameters for specific castings
Some of the initial experiments pf that first series used the "short shot" technique to gain understanding of the flow patterns. These experiments resulted in the identification of two flow regime^ within the cavity which always produced an area of poor finish between them. The flow pattern was unlike any seen in zinc or aluminium pressure castings. Examination of the microstructure showed that:
• the flow in the runner was through a cylindrical region much smaller in cross-section
than the designed physical runner cross-section. This was also noted in sections of
the casting in which the flow was uni-directional.
• the percentage solids in the magnesium alloy castings (as demonstrated by dendrites with large dendrite .arm spacing) was approximately 50%.
• the microstructure of the magnesium alloy castings near the gate was different from that observed from 50mm to 300mm from the gate.
The results of these initial experiments seem to suggest inai m« meiai nau Romany
solidified in the runner and thpn behaved as a semi-solid within the cavity, with attendant viscous behaviour. The first metal travelling along the runner (the front) appeared to have entered the cavity in a liquid state and hence this could explain the different mlcrostructures obtained and the substantially common position across the
casting of the transition between! these different flow conditions.
In later experiments of the first series, changes to the style of runners and gating within the traditional gating philosophy resulted in marginally Improved castings, whereas large changes were expected ir^ accordance with that philosophy. However, the area and position of poor surface finish remained substantially unchanged. A radical change to a single taper tangential runner produced an extremely good result when considering the quality of the casting, but the product to runner/sprue ratio was not acceptable. The general level of understanding qf the flow behaviour at this stage was extremely limited. However, what was apparent is that magnesium alloys behave significantly differently to zinc and aluminium alloys.
A second series of experiment? was carried out with a number of different dies and casting machines to try to establish if the difference in behaviour was due to thixotropy.
. The experiments covered variou^ casting sizes ranging from 15 grams to 15 kg and were carried out on both hot anfi cold chamber machines. In one of the experiment
with a very long casting (approximately 2m) which comprised a series of open ended boxes, the casting was fed along! the long edge in a cold chamber machine. Two large runners from the sprue fed long seml-tapered runners. It was our contention that if the metal was in a thixotropic state in the cavity then it should be possible, due to viscous heating, to fill the casting from one end. To prove this, a section of a previously cast runner was replaced in the die, thus effectively blocking off the metal entry to that half of the cavity. Therefore any metal in the cavity adjacent to the blocked off runner must have entered from the unblocked side, producing flow distances in excess of 1 metre. The flow path in the cavity was extremely complex and exhibited many changes in direction. However, with no change In maching settings, the one sided feeding system produced a casting, the quality oF which was superior at its extremes to those produced with complete runners. The sign flcant change noted was an increase in metal velocity.
Additional experiments of a third series were conducted with a casting 280 x 25 x 1 mm made in a small hot chamber machine and fed with a long thin runner and extremely thin gates of 0.15 mm deep, [these experiments showed that the gate was badly blocked along much of its lengtri resulting in poor quality castings. The runner, which was 220 mm long in one direction, was reduced to an effective length of 100 mm by welding a plug 10 mm long into the runner. The resultant casting was totally filled and metal flowed from the cavity into the unblocked portion of the runner through the 0.15 gate. This demonstrated tha^ the alloy was in an extremely low viscosity state throughout cavity fill. Similar castings in zinc or aluminium alloys would not exhibit this characteristic. It should be note'd that the machine exerted a pressure of only 14 MPa on the metal.
Examination of magnesium castings proaucea oy the best practice use of long thin gates invariably show that large sections of the gate in fact are not working.
Further experiments of a fourth series were carried out in a range of castings sizes, but all exhibited that the quality impjroves when gates and runners are reduced in size and
metal velocity increases. Examination of runner cross-sections, ranging from 1 x 1mm to 50 x 50mm, from a number of castings produced on both hot and cold chamber machines, revealed in each cas^ a central circular region. This characteristic did not appear to be influenced by the orjiginal cross-sectional profile. The presumption for this condition is that it defines the region where metal flow occurs during cavity fill and is assumed to be the effective flow cross-section. Because this region Is smaller in cross-sectional area than the runner channel as originally cut in the die, metal flow achieves a significantly higher velocity. Calculations, using measured metal flow rates, result in values for runner velocities which cluster around 150 m/sec, with gate velocities being approximately 2/3 that of the runner velocity. Similar regions can be found in castings where there Is uni-directional flow.
A fifth series of experiments involved producing a long thick casting through progressively smaller gate sections. The original gated length was reduced from 120mm to 8mm and the castings remained of acceptable quality, Micro examination of the castings showed that the fill ng was consistent with a semi-solid front fill, and the percentage solids during fill remaining constant throughout the part. Porosity was minimal.
In order that the invention may more reaany De unaersxooa rererence now is directed to the accompanying drawings, in vyhich:
Figure 1 Is a sectional view showing part of a die casting system for the production of door handles of magnesium alloy, according to the present invention;
Figure 2 is a view of the system jaken from the right hand side of Figure 1;
Figure 3 corresponds to Figure 1, but illustrates a prior art arrangement;
Figure 4 is a schematic representation of a cast door handle with attached runner/sprue metal;
Figure 5 is a schematic representation of an experimental metal flow system;
Figures 6 and 7 illustrate further Arrangements suitable for use in the present invention;
Figure 8A schematically illustrates the filling of a die cavity during casting of zinc or aluminium alloy, as traditionally ujnderstood;
Figure 8B schematically illustrates the filling of a die cavity during casting of magnesium alloy in use of the present inventipn;
Figures 9A to 9C Illustrate the cross-sectional configuration of typical runners, showing schematically for each the cross-section of its effective flow channel;
Figure 10 is a plan view of a di^h cast from magnesium alloy in accordance with the invention;
Figure 11 Is a sectional view of the dish of Figure 10 and a die tool, taken on line XI-XI of Figure 10;
Figures 12 to 14 illustrate respective experimental metal flow systems;
Figure 15 is a sectional view of a die casting die suitable for a hot-chamber machine, for use in the present invention; and
Figure 16 is similar to Figure 15, but illustrates a modified, larger casting able to be made with the die of Figure 15, tjising a cold-chamber machine.
In the system 10 of Figures 1 and 2, there is shown a die 12 which defines a number of radially disposed cavities 14 (of which only one is shown) in each of which a respective door handle, somewhat of the form shown in Figure 4, is able to be cast. Die 12 has a fixed part 16 and a movable part 17 and is shown in its closed condition, but its parts
16,17 are able to separate on parting line P. A plug 20 incorporated in die part 17 has
is of narrow elongate form having a larger cross-section than the part of the length of the runner 20 defined between pl^ig 20 and bush 22.
. in use with the arrangement of Figures 1 and 2, heat energy extraction for solidification of runner/sprue metal is by conduction to parts 16, 17 of die 12, via plug 20 and bush 22. The relatively short length and small cross-section of runners 26 is such that circulation of coolant to achieve solidification may not be necessary. However, despite the relatively short length of runner 26 and, hence, the proximity of sleeve 24 to cavity 14, solidification of metal in bore! 24a is able to be prevented by the insulating effect of the ceramic of which sfeeve 24 -is made. The overall arrangement of Figures 1 and 2 is such that in the casting of magnesium alloy handles having a weight of about 30 gm, the length and cross-section of each runner 26 is such that the quantity of runner/sprue metal (for two simultaneously cast handles) is able to be reduced to about 3 gm.
Figure 3 corresponds generally to Figure 1, but shows detail of an arrangement in accordance with prior art practice. In Figure 3, components corresponding to those of Figures 1 and 2 have the same reference numeral plus 100.
In the arrangement of Figure 3, plug 120 has a frusto-conical sprue pin 120a which, with parts 116, 117 of die 120 closed, projects into tapered bore 122a of bush 122. Plug 120 has grooves 121 formed therein which, with bush 122, define runners 126. Plug 120 also has a duct 40 formed therein for the circulation of coolant, such as water, while bush has a peripheral groove 42 formed therearound, with groove 42 covered by a sleeve 44 to define a further djjct 46 for circulation of coolant.
As will be appreciated, a nozzlej(not shown), similar to nozzle 30 of Figure 1, is used to enable molten magnesium alloy to be Injected through bore 122a, along runners 126, and into die cavity 114 via gffe 128. On completion of filling, coolant is circulated through ducts 40, 46, to solidify runner/sprue metal through to the minimum cross-section of bore 124a, between!the tapered portion receiving pin 120a and the flared outer end for receiving the nozz e of a die-casting system.
With the prior art arrangement of! Figure 3, runners 126 are not only longer, but also of larger cross-section. As indicated, this is to avoid a perceived risk of premature freezing of low heat capacity magnesium alloy. In case of that arrangement in the casting of door handles of a fornp and weight the same as that of the handles referred to in respect of Figures 1 and 2, the weight of runner/sprue metal is about 30gm. That is, 10 times the quantity of metal needing to be recycled with the arrangement of Figures 1 and 2 is encountered with the arrangement of Figure 3.
Figure 4 shows schematically a jmagnesium allow door handle casting 60 as released from its die cavity and still haVing attached thereto its runner/sprue metal 62, The runner/sprue metal 62 is common to two castings 60, but only one of the latter is shown, while the full extent of ruriner metal for the casting other is not shown.
The runner of the metal flow system, as originally formed, had a designed cross-section having an area of 50mm2 and cjorresponding in external profile to the form shown in Figure 9C and described later herein. As is evident from Figure 9C, the designed cross-section of the runner Is that of a regular trapezium, with such cross-section existing throughout the length of the runner.
A sixth experiment was aimed drt illustrating the effect of viscous flow on the distance magnesium alloy would travel during casting. For this there was created a metal flow system S as shown in Figure 5, consisting of a channel C providing a metal flow path ending in a standard tensile ba* impression B. The channel C had a nominal cross-section of 4x4 mm and a length of 1230 mm.
Casting trials were carried out with the system S of Figure 5, on a 250 tonne cold chamber die casting machine. The trials were conducted under normal operating conditions for the machine, while the die temperature was only about 120°C. As will be appreciated from Figure 5, the path of channel C is of a tortuous nature, creating high resistance to flow. Despite this, flow along the full 1230 mm length of the channel C was achieved, enabling filling of the bar impression B to commence. The flow length of 1230 mm is considered not to :>e a limit. However, it is contrasted with an observed
flow length maximum of about 700 mm designed in accordance with conventional practice and resulting in a runner cross-section very much larger than 4x4 mm .
A seventh series of experiments was carried out, with door handle castings 60 of Figure 4, to determine the minimum size of runners and gates able to produce saleable castings. The experimental set up consisted of:
• 80 tonne Freeh Hot Chamber Machine with a melting furnace connected to the holding furnace via a siphon pipe. This meant a consistent metal temperature.
• DieMac shot monltorina system which gave plunger displacement, velocity and pressure.
• Two thermocouples in the fixed half of the die, both 7mm from the impression surface and 10mm and 80mm from the gate into the casting cavity.
• Chart recorder to display the temperatures with time.
• Contact thermocouples for suiface measurement of temperature
• Infra red digital temperature sensors
• Fully equipped tool room for alterations to the die and preparation of inserts
The following experiments ot the seventn series were carried out all with a gate velocity of about 100 m/s:
1) Feeding In the end of the! casting 60 with a 2x1 mm gate gave resultant castings which were of reasonable quality but not saleable. The sprue and runner section were of the same approximate weight as the casting (50% yield).
2) Feeding in the end of the casting with a 7x2mm gate gave castings which were of high quality and saleable. Soldering was observed in one area and this was overcome by the addition of a cooling fountain In the area which had the effect of reducing the die temperature. Sectioning the runner revealed a cylindrical flow pattern (described herein with reference to Figure 9C) which represented a real runner velocity in the order of 150 m/s. If then the effective diameter of the runner was reduced to approximately 3mm (this being the observed diameter of the cylindrical section) the insertion of a physical port of 3mm diameter should have no effect on the quality of the casting. Hence a part of a runner was taken to provide a segment 64 and a hole 64a of 3mm diameter was drilled through it
so as to produce a 3mm diameter flow channel. The segment 64 was inserted in Jhe runner, adjacent to the gate, so that its hole 64a formed a part of the length of the runner along which it had a reduced cross-section in which the effective flow of metal had a cross|-sectional area of not more than about 7.1mm2. Also within this experiment a (lumber of short shots were produced by reducing the amount of metal into the cavity. The short shots from insufficient metal appeared to comprise a skin section which may be due to metal impingement. This, due the high gate velocity of 100 m/s could result from either a liquid or semi-solid
A normai runner wab uaeu, but with a segment S4, having a 3rr.m dicrr.oisr hole 64a, inserted in the runner feeding a 7x2mm gate. The casting was of relatively nlyii quality with low porosity as determined from sectioning. Some of the surface marks in the area furthest from the gate suggested that the flow might have been disturbed to a relatively small extent. This was carried out for 6 shots with normal production between each one to maintain die temperature. It was believed that the sharp lentry and exit to the 3mm diameter hole could have contributed to the defects. The pressure required to push the metal through the runner and gate was approximately 20% higher than normal production.
In a further experiment, a longer runner piece of length A and with a 3x3mm channel cut into one sidei was inserted to a 7x2mm gate. The runner piece had a transverse cross-section as shown at 66, with the channel depicted at 66a. The inlet and exit sections of the runner piece were relieved so as to produce less resistance to the fow. The casting quality was extremely good and of saleable quality. The pressure required to drive the metal through the runner and into the cavity increased by approximately 30% over normal. One runner of a casting produced using the runner insert was sectioned and it appeared that the metal had flowed through the section with minimal solidification along the walls of its channel. Thp velocity through the runner was calculated at 150 m/s and in the gate of 100 mfs.
5) In another experiment, a full runner and sprue of length B and with a 3x3mm channel was used to feecji a 7x2mm gate, with total length of flow of 120mm through the 3x3mm sectiojn. Due to the reduced volume of metal in the sprue area the water cooling td the sprue post was removed. The casting was of exceptional quality. The quality of this casting was considered to be superior to any other previously made. The surface defects noted in experiment 3 of this series were not present In this case. The pressure required to fill the cavity was 30% higher than normal. The feed system was 6% of the casting weight (94% yield).
It appears that the molten metal entering the runner solidifies rapidly on the runner surfaces so that a channel is formed. If the metal in this central region is semi-solid then a rapid increase in viscosity will occur for solid percentages of greater than about 50%. If the velocity is kept high then viscous heating occurs, counteracting further loss of heat to the die walls. Thus tlfie metal could flow for long distances. In each of the
runners observed throughout 'this work, with no machine setting changes, the equivalent runner left gave a metal velocity in the order of 150 m/s. By inserting a runner section into the die, the velocity in the runner was set at 150 m/s from the start. The casting should have been of at least equivalent quality as that produced under "normal" conditions. The improved quality observed may have been due to the rapid reaching of an equilibrium condition of runner velocity 150 m/s and gate velocity of 100 m/s. This reduction in velocity! Pnor t0 reaching the cavity can be used so that the velocity reduces from the runner, through the gate and into the cavity.
The best runner design previously was one that had continuously increasing velocity along the flow path so that no entrapment of air could occur at the fragmenting metal front. The runner velocity was i no more than 50% of the gate velocity in most of the runner. However the work detailed herein shows that a high runner velocity can be employed with a corresponding Improvement in casting quality.
The further respective arrangenent of each of Figures 6 and 7 generally will be understood from a consideration of Figures 1 and 2, and components corresponding to those of Figures 1 and 2 have tpe same reference numerals plus 200 in the case of Figure 6 and 300 in the case of Figure 7.
The arrangement of Figure 5 differs from that of Figures 1 and 2 in that bore 224a of ceramic sleeve 224 varies in diameter to facilitate clear separation of withdrawn molten metal from solidified runner/spruu metal. Thus, over a major part of its length from its outer end, bore 224a has a large diameter In which the correspondingly large volume of molten metal is able to be kept liquid. Bore 224 then is stepped down to a minimum diameter, for a short length, aid then through to its inner end it increases to an intermediate diameter. Where the extraction of heat energy for solidification of runner/sprue metal is such as to cause some solidification into bore 224a, the arrangement of Figure 6 effectively limits the extent of this. That is, solidification is unable to proceed beyond the short minimum diameter section, at least in the short time available In a casting cycle, due to the heat energy content the volume of metal in the large outer end portion of bore 224a.
The arrangement of Figure 7 achieves a similar benefit to that of Figure 6, with separation of solidified and still rholten metal occurring at the minimum diameter of bore 324a of ceramic sleeve 324. However, it is preferred because of the overall simplified form. As shown, plug 320, bus;h 322 and sleeve 324 have parallel end faces which, with die 312 closed, abut on parting line P. Compared to Figure 3, there can be a considerable saving of remelt m =>tal of up to about 95%.
Each of Figures 8A and 8B illustrates schematically the pattern of die cavity filling, with zinc or aluminium alloy in the ckse of Figure 8A and with magnesium alloy and use of the present invention in the casp of Figure 8B. The systems shown depict a respective
die 70a and 70b having parts 7^2a, 74a and 72b, 74b which define a mould cavity 76a and 76b and are separable on Darting plane P. Molten alloy is able to be injected Into the respective cavity 76a, 76b, in each case, through a metal flow system which includes a runner 78a, 78b, ancj an Ingate 80a, 80b.
In the case of Figure 8A, runner 78a is of large cross-sectional area relative to the volume of cavity 76a, and molten alloy is injected from runner 78a through a gate 80a of smaller cross-section. The flow of alloy, depicted by the shaded area, is in accordance with the traditional filling pattern recognised for casting of zinc and aluminium alloys. That is, a strenm 82 of alloy is injected through cavity 76a to a region of the cavity remote from gate £0a, with a peripheral flow 84 of alloy then back-filling the cavity. Despite this complex peripheral fill and back-filling, quality castings can be produced with zinc and aluminium alloys. However, as Indicated above, such complex filling produces lees than optimum quality castings of magnesium alloys.
In the case of Figure 8B, runner 78b is of a small cross-sectional area relative to the volume of cavity 76b. Molten magnesium alloy is injected from runner 78b through a gate 80b of larger cross-section. The cross-section of gate 80b, in addition to being larger than that of runner 78b, also may be larger than that of gate 80a of Figure 8A for a given die cavity volume. The flow of magnesium alloy, again depicted by the shaded are, Is in a viscous or semi-sold state. In that state, the flow builds up a body 86 of alloy which Increases in volume away from gate 80b, to generate a semi-solid front 88 which moves away from gate 80b to remote regions of cavity 76b.
In the experiments according to the invention detailed herein, a range of casting forms and sizes was Involved. As indicated, the experiments were with both hot-and cold-chamber machines. In each case, die cavity filling appeared to have proceeded substantially as described with reference to Figure 8B. However, a small initial quantity of the magnesium alloy, in at least some of the castings, appeared to have entered the cavity in a more liquid state ;han a semi-solid state. That Initial quantity, where indicated, was evident from a skin section adjacent to the gate of somewhat different micro8tructure (but otherwise of good quality) to the remainder of the casting.
The flow described with refererce to Figure 8B is achieved where an alloy flow rate is at about 140 to 165 m/s, preferably about 150 m/s, in the runner and 25 to 50% less, such as about two-thirds of the runner flow rate, through the gate. As indicated, this is
ichieved in a cylindrical core region through the runner, such as niustratea in figures iA to 9C. Each of these Figurejs shows the cross-section of respective runners 90a, 10b and 90c Solidification of alljoy in the runner on completion of a casting operation,
ind cutting of the runner to ptfovide such cross-section, shows a respective such jylindrical core region 92a, 92b and 92c. These regions represent for each runner an sffective flow channel to which ajloy flow has been constrained substantially throughout lie cavity filling In a casting operation. This constraint comes into being after a short >eriod of initial flow, during which at least partially solidified alloy 94a, 94b and 94c, as lepicted by shading, builds up on surfaces defining the cross-sectional profile of the tinner.
The cylindrical form a flow regions 92a, 92b and 92c is found to be of well-defined circular cross-section, regardless of the profile of the runner in which, it is produced. =igures 9A to 9C show typical kinner profiles in which regions 92a, 92b and 92c of circular cross-section have been achieved. It is evident from these profiles that the ;ross-sectional area of the designed profile of the runner can be reduced without significant impact on the cross-sectional area of regions 92a, 92b and 92c, but with reduction of the quantity of resultant runner/sprue metal. That quantity is able to be further reduced with benefit, as detailed herein, by reduction in the designed length of the runner. The following details illustrate the extent to which such reductions can be achieved.
i Magnesium alloy castings of 1.6kg weight, In the form of a 450 mm high, 400mm wide
open frame structure, with wall thickness varying from 2 to 20 mm and having very
deep sections, were produced en a cold chamber machine. Using a traditional form of
runner/biscuit, the quantity of runner/sprue metal was 1.1kg such that the casting
represented a yield of 60% in terms of the percentage of metal consumed In the casting
operation. That is, about 40% of the metal consumed need to be recycled. With a
runner/biscuit according to the invention, the quantity of runner/sprue metal was 0.36kg,
giving a yield of 82% and a reduction of about 67% in the quantity of alloy needing to
of a dish D of servicable quality! would be extremely difficult. However, as indicated
i above, the system 410 is modified.
The modification is to reduce the nominal cross-section of runners 414 to 3x3 mm. This modification is partially in accord! with the present invention, in terms of runner cross-section. However, it does not accord with the invention since the runner cross-section exceeds that for each gate 418. [The system 410 of Figure 12, despite the modification, did not produce satisfactory castings.
In a second arrangement of the, Eighth series, a system 420 as in Figure 13 was used. System 420 of Figure 13 differs1 from system 410 of Figure 12, in that only a single
entry, chisel gate 428 was provided. As shown, gate 428 was disposed at abuui. 45" to its runner 424, adjacent the extijeme end of.the runner 424 and cavity edge 426, but directed towards the adjacent ejnd edge of the cavity. The gate 428 had a nominal cross-section of 1.5 x 4 mm, such that it also was less than the 3x3 mm nominal cross-section of its runner 428 (and of jhe other, blind runner 428).
If gate 424 of system 410 were to proviae airecuonai flow of magnesium alloy, as In normal practice, system 410 woijild prove to be quite unsatisfactory. That is, metal flow
from gate 428 would proceed al^ng the adjacent end to the far side of the cavity, along
the far side to the other end, along the other end to the near side having edge 426, and along the near side towards gat$ 428. However, poor filling of the central region of the die cavity would be achieved, resulting in an unsatisfactory casting. However, system 420 was found to produce betjer castings of dish D than system 410 of Figure 12,
although the casting was not of £ervicable quality.
In a third arrangement of the eighth series, a system 420a as In Figure 14 was used. System 420a differs from system 420 of Figure 13 only in that chisel gate 428a is at 90° to its runner 424a and therefore parallel to the adjacent end edge of the cavity. As in system 420, gate 428a had a nominal cross-section of 1.5x4 mm. such that it was less than the 3x3 mm nominal cross-section of its runner 428a (and of the other, blind
runner 428a), The system 420a of Figure 14 provided a superior castings dearly of servicable quality.
The evidence of the flow patterns obtained in each of the eighth series of experiments is that magnesium alloy flow in the cavity is not directable. That is, the pattern of die cavity filling is quite unlike thajt described with reference to Figure 8A but, where possibie, the now is as desuibejj with reference to Figure SB. In the cass of the trial illustrated in Figure 12, satisfactory flow was not able to be achieved, due to the absence of a suitable controlled expansion region. In the case of the trial illustrated in Figure 13, and even more clearly so with that illustrated in Figure 14, such a region was
present. However, in each easel the region was defined in the die cavity, rather than by gate 428 of Figure 13 or gate 428a of Figure 14, with the region bounded on three sides by the top and bottom surfaces of the die cavity and the adjacent end edge surface of the cavity. Also, In the case of Figure 13, the effectiveness of the expansion
In the systems of Figure 13 and Figure 14, neither gate 428 nor gate 428a in fact is a gate as required by the present invention, in that it does not preside a -contoUed expansion region. Indeed, reative to runner 428 or runner 424a, respectively, it constricts flow and such region as is obtained is beyond each of gate 428 and gate 42Ca. in terms cf the present inf/srsttoR, it therefore is mor« epnrnnrtot« tn regard gates 428 and 428a as a terminal end portion of runner 424 and runner 424a, respectively, feeding directly to a controlled! expansion region and there effectively being no gate present.
Returning to Figure 11, there jis Illustrated therein the basis for a ninth experiment which, like the eighth experiment, was directed to producing dishes D cast from magnesium aiioy. Figure i i iiiij»Lreu» a metal flow system 430 in acccrdsncc with the invention. In system 430, a final part of the magnesium alloy flow path is shown, with this Including a runner 434 of circular cross-section having a diameter of 3 mm, which
communicates with the die cavity, through tool i, via a gate portion 438. r-rom runner 434, gate 438 increases in diameter in the flow direction and has a diameter of 5 mm at its outlet end at the die cavity.
As with the eighth experiment, the dish D made with the arrangement of Figure 11 was cast in a cold chamber machine. The system 430 is a radical departure from the prior art pressure casting techniques ror metals, and would not be used under current best practice. Despite this, system 430 produced high quality dishes D of magnesium alloy in successive casting trial cycles, indicating its substantial potential for high speed repetitive casting on a commercial scale.
As with the ninth experiment, a tenth experiment was directed to the production of a magnesium alloy casting by direct feeding through a pin gate. In this case, as shown in Figure 15, a large casting 440 With broad flat areas 440a and a difficult box shaped area 440b with cross-ribs 440c
Satisfactory castings as in Figure i5 were produced. However, diieuiionality was not
indicated a number of discrete 'continuous front fill patterns, according with previous experiments and similar to thosi found in plastic moulding. There were extended flow lengths, which accorded very well with observations on experiment six. The flow through the complex shape of boss 440d also showed similarity to plastics moulding, in direct contrast to that of pressure diecasting.
In the tenth experiment there was, no flashing of the die, despite the large and complex form of the casting made. This and other observations point to the fact that the magnesium alloy being cast did not behave as a classical liquid. A further outcome of the tenth experiment is that it was apparent that the pressure in the die cavity was considerably less than predicted for the magnesium alloy in its molten state, i.e. liquid. Even at full machine injection pressure the casting, at 390cm2 projected area, did not flash despite the nominal bursting force (assuming a liquid) being greater than the stated locking force of this Freeh machine.
The tenth experiment, in particular, highlights a runner practical benefit obtainable with the present Invention. The absence of flashing indicates that the nominal bursting force, i.e. that which is to be expscted for a liquid, Is very much higher than the actual force prevailing with casting maghesium alloy in accordance with the present Invention. As a consequence, larger castings than expected may be able to be produced on a given machine.
The flow distance and the quality of the casting obtainable with the invention appear to be relatively independent of the c ie temperature. However, there can be regions of the die in the hot chamber casting where care must be taken in both heating and cooling. In both the direct feed of the ninth and tenth experiments and the edge fed runner of the eighth experiment, the molten metal must solidify at a position that enables that part to be removed from the die but also allow the molten metal to flow back into the gooseneck. As with normal high pressure die casting the use of a cooling medium and a heating medium must be app led to the entry to the die to effect the result. The method used will depend on the make and size of machine as well as the complexity and size of the die.
Finally, it is to be understood that various alterations, modifications and/or additions may be introduced into the constructions and arrangements of parts previously described without departing from the spirit or ambit of the invention.
1. A metal flow system for use in pressure casting of magnesium ailoy in a molten or thixotropic state, using a pressure casting machine having a mould or die which defines a die cavity, wherein thi system includes a die or mould tool means which defines at least one runner of the system from which molten magnesium alloy is able to be injected into the die cavity, and wherein the flow system Is of a form providing for control of metal flow velocities therein whereby substantially all of the metal flowing throughout the die cavity is in a vjscous or semi-solid state.
2. A system according to claim 1, wherein the system includes at least one controlled expansion region of the system in which region in the metal flow is able to spread laterally, with respect to its direction of injection, with a resultant reduction in its flow velocity relative to Its velocity in the runner.
3. A system according to | claim 2, wherein the controlled expansion region comprises at least one gate through which the metal is able to flow from the runner to the die cavity.
4. A system according to claim 3, wherein the gate and runner are such that an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the gate exceeds an effective cross-sectional area of flow through |he runner whereby the molten metal has a velocity through the effective cross-secthbnal area of flow through the runner which exceeds its velocity through the gate.
5. A system according to claim 4, wherein the cross-sectional area of flow through the gate preferably exceeds the effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner to an extent providing for a ratio of those areas in the range of about 2:1 to 4:1.
6. A system according to claim 2, wherein the controlled expansion region is defined at least in part by and within the die cavity, by surfaces defining the cavity adjacent a site at which metal eriters the cavity. •
7. A system according to claim 6, wherein there is a gate at the site, with the gate
providing an outlet end of the runner without defining part of the controlled expansion
8. A system according to claim 6, wherein there is a gate at a site, with the gate
defining part of the controlled expansion region.
9. A system according to any one of claims 2 to 8, wherein provision of the
controlled expansion region Is achieved by a step-wise increase in cross-section from
the effective cross-section of the runner.
10. A system according to any one of claims 2 to 8, wherein the controlled expansion region progressively increases in cross-section in the direction of metal flow therethrough.
11. A system according to anV one of claims 1 to 10, wherein the system is adapted for use in pressure casting with a given machine with which it is operable to achieve a velocity of molten metal through |he runner with the range of about 140 m/s to 165 m/s.
12. A system according to claim 11, wherein the velocity in said range is about 150 m/s.
13. A system according to claim 11 or claim 12, as appended to any one of claims 2 to 10, wherein the system is operable to achieve a velocity of flow of molten metal through the controlled expansion region which is about 25% to 50% less than the velocity of flow through the runner.
14. A system according to claim 13, wherein the velocity through the controlled expansion region is about two-thirds of the velocity through the runner.
15. A system according to ary one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the runner has a designed cross-sectional area which substantially defines the effective cross-sectional area of flow therethrough.
16. A system according to any one of claims 1 to 15, wherein said system is operable to achieve filling of the die cavity by moving semi-solid fronts of metal.
17. A process for producing a casting of a magnesium alloy, wherein the magnesium alloy is cast in a molten or thixotropic state, using a pressure casting machine having a mould or die which defines a die cavity, and using a metal flow system which includes a
die or mould tool means which defines at least one runner of the system from which molten magnesium alloy is Injected into the die cavity, and wherein the flow system is of a form whereby it provides for control of metal flow velocities therein whereby substantially all of the metal flowing throughout the die cavity is in a viscous or semisolid state.
18. A process according to claim 17, wherein the system is provided with at least one controlled expansion regior whereby metal flow spreads laterally in said region, with respect to its direction of injection, with a resultant reduction in its flow velocity relative to its velocity in the runner.
19. A process according to claim 18, wherein the controlled expansion region as provided as at least one gate through which the metal is able to flow from the runner to the die cavity.
20. A system according to claim 19, wherein the gate and runner are formed such that an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the gate exceeds an effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner whereby the molten metal has a velocity through the effective cross-sect!anai area of flow through the runner which exceeds its velocity through the gate.
21. A process according to claim 20, wherein the cross-sectionai area or now
through the gate exceeds the effective cross-sectional area of flow through the runner
to an extent resulting from ratio oll those areas in the range of about 2:1 to 4:1.
22. A process according to claim 18, wherein the controlled expansion region is
defined at least in part by and within the die cavity, by surfaces defining the cavity
adjacent a site at which metal enters the cavity.
23. A process according to claim 22, wherein there a gate is provided at the site, with the gate providing an outlet4nd of the runner without defining part of the controlled expansion region.
24. A process according to claim 22, wherein there a gate is provided at a site, with the gate defining part of the controlled expansion region.
25. A process according to any one of claims 18 to 24, wherein provision of the controlled expansion region is achieved by a step-wise increase in cross-section from the effective cross-section of the runner, whereby there is a step-wise reduction of metal flow velocity in said region.
26. A process according to any one of claims 18 to 24, wherein the controlled expansion region progressively increases in cross-section in the direction of metal flow
therethrough, whereby there is a progressive reduction in metal flow velocity In said region.
27. A process according to any one of claims 17 to 26, wherein the system is operable to achieve a velocity formolten metal through the runner with the range of about 140 m/s to 165 m/s.
28. A process according to claim 27, wherein the velocity in said range is about 150
29. A process according to claim 27 or claim 28, as appended to any one of claims 17 to 26, wherein the system is bperable to achieve a velocity of flow of molten metal through the controlled expansion region which is about 25% to 50% less than the velocity of flow through the runner.
30. A process according to claim 29. wherein the velocity through the controlled expansion region is about two-thrds of the velocity through the runner.
31. A process according to any one of claims 17 to 29, wherein the runner has a designed cross-sectional area which substantially defines the effective cross-sectional area of flow therethrough.
32. A process according to any one of claims 17 to 31, wherein filling of the die cavity is achieved by moving fror ts of semi-solid metal.
33. A metal flow system for use in pressure casting of magnesium alloy, substantially as herein described, with reference to the accompanying drawings.
34. A process for producing a casting of a megnesium alloy, substantially as herein described, with reference to the accompanying drawings .|
|Indian Patent Application Number||2700/MAS/1998|
|PG Journal Number||26/2007|
|Date of Filing||30-Nov-1998|
|Name of Patentee||COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION|
|Applicant Address||LIMESTONE AVENUE, CAMPBELL,AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY 2612.|
|PCT International Classification Number||B22D21/04|
|PCT International Application Number||N/A|
|PCT International Filing date|