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Technical Information 4 Inoculation Practices

Inoculants are generally added to cast irons at one or more of three stages during the casting procedure; 1) To the pouring ladle during filling. 2) To the stream of metal as it enters the mould. 3) Using an insert placed strategically in the mould runner system. Factors influencing the choice of inoculating method are; 4 The time from filling the ladle to pouring the last casting, commonly known as the fade time. 4 Metal temperature. 4 Ability to add the inoculant at a particular point in the process. 4 Suitability of the casting system to late stream inoculation. Inoculation to the Ladle Due to the unavoidable lengths of time involved in handling ladles, it is necessary to add relatively large amounts of inoculant to offset the fading losses which occur. Addition rates vary from 0.2% for the majority of grey irons to 0.75% for the most critical ductile irons. Inoculant alloys should be selected according to ladle size and be dust free thus avoiding losses due to oxidation or thermal air currents. Generally, ladles up to 300 kgs can use a 0.53 mm grading, and for ladle sizes above this a 1-6 mm material is recommended. In order to obtain the highest efficiency from the inoculant, simple addition rules should be followed: a) Add the inoculant to the stream of metal entering the ladle, not as an addition prior to filling. b) Trickle the inoculant into the metal stream as the ladle is between 25% and 75% full. This ensures good mixing and solution. c) Ensure that the metal is slag free before tapping into the ladle. Inoculant trapped within the slag is wasted. d) When several transfers of metal between ladles are involved, add the inoculant during the last transfer before pouring to minimise fade. NOTE; Inoculant should never be added to the bottom of the ladle prior to tapping, particularly if the ladle is red hot or if there is a small amount of metal remaining from a previous cast.

Elkem ASA, Silicon Division

Postal address: P.O.Box 5211 Majorstua N-0303 Oslo Norway Office address: Hoffsveien 65 B Oslo Telephone: 47 22 45 01 00 Telefax 47 22 45 01 52 Revision No. 2 14.03.1997

When inoculating ductile irons, it is essential to add inoculant only when the magnesium reaction is finished. Adding inoculant with the nodularising agent or during the reaction will significantly reduce the effectiveness of the inoculant and may result in increased carbides in the castings. In cases where it is necessary to add nodulariser and inoculant in the same ladle, the tap should be halted when about 2/3 of the iron has been poured onto the nodulariser, wait until the reaction has finished and then add the inoculant to the stream of remaining metal as described above.

Inoculation in the Casting Stream Late metal stream inoculation, addition of inoculant to the stream of metal entering the mould, virtually eliminates fade. As such, the addition rates are greatly reduced compared to conventional ladle treatment, 0.02-0.05% for grey irons, 0.05-0.2% for ductile being common. The inoculant has to be specially graded in 0.2-0.7 mm normally to ensure rapid solution in the iron and good flowability through the application machine. Specialist application machines are commercially available, however many foundries have designed and built screw feed mechanisms to give consistent addition rates during pouring. Late stream inoculation is most easily applied to static pouring stations or ladle transporters, application to a moving ladle is not readily achieved.

Inoculation in the Mould Use of an insert made from pressed or cast inoculant can be used as insurance, rarely is this type of treatment used as the primary source of inoculation. Different size and composition tablets are available and prove particularly valuable when the fade time is long, acting as a secondary inoculation, or when late metal stream treatment is not possible. The possibility of human error in failing to add the tablet to a mould does necessitate a high degree of post casting inspection, usually in the few cases where tablets are used as the only inoculant.

Reference should also be made to Elkem Technical Information Sheets; No 2, Inoculation of Cast Irons. No 5, Inoculation Mechanisms. No 6, Fading of Inoculation.