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Welding-cast-iron deals with classes known as Gray, Malleable and Nodular (or Ductile)
according to typical appearance of their microstructure, which affects their properties.

Cast irons are alloys of iron, carbon and silicon (may have over 2% carbon and 1-3%
silicon), and which may include specific amounts of other elements to achieve definite
characteristics.

Accepted ASTM Specifications on Cast Iron are listed hereafter:

ASTM A47/A47M-99(2004)
Standard Specification for Ferritic Malleable Iron Castings .

ASTM A48/A48M-03
Standard Specification for Gray Iron Castings

ASTM A74-06
Standard Specification for Cast Iron Soil Pipe and Fittings

ASTM A126-04
Standard Specification for Gray Iron Castings for Valves, Flanges, and Pipe Fittings .

ASTM A159-83(2006)
Standard Specification for Automotive Gray Iron Castings

ASTM A247-06
Standard Test Method for Evaluating the Microstructure of Graphite in Iron Castings .

ASTM A278/A278M-01(2006)
Standard Specification for Gray Iron Castings for Pressure-Containing Parts for
Temperatures Up to 650 degrees F (350 degrees C).

ASTM A319-71(2006)
Standard Specification for Gray Iron Castings for Elevated Temperatures for Non-
Pressure Containing Parts

ASTM A327-91(2006)
Standard Test Methods for Impact Testing of Cast Irons

ASTM A 339 - Discontinued

ASTM A395/A395M-99(2004)
Standard Specification for Ferritic Ductile Iron Pressure-Retaining Castings for Use at
Elevated Temperatures

A 396 - Discontinued
ASTM A436-84(2006)
Standard Specification for Austenitic Gray Iron Castings AS

ASTM A438 - Withdrawn

ASTM A439-83(2004)
Standard Specification for Austenitic Ductile Iron Castings

ASTM A476/A476M-00(2005)
Standard Specification for Ductile Iron Castings for Paper Mill Dryer Rolls.

ASTM A518/A518M-99(2003)
Standard Specification for Corrosion-Resistant High-Silicon Iron Castings .

ASTM A532/A532M-93a(2003)
Standard Specification for Abrasion-Resistant Cast Irons .

ASTM A536-84(2004)
Standard Specification for Ductile Iron Castings

ASTM A571/A571M-01(2006)
Standard Specification for Austenitic Ductile Iron Castings for Pressure-Containing Parts
Suitable for Low-Temperature Service

ASTM A602-94(2004)
Standard Specification for Automotive Malleable Iron Castings

ASTM A608/A608M-06
Standard Specification for Centrifugally Cast Iron-Chromium-Nickel High-Alloy Tubing for
Pressure Application at High Temperature .

ASTM A644-05
Standard Terminology Relating to Iron Castings .

ASTM A667/A667M-87(2003)
Standard Specification for Centrifugally Cast Dual Metal (Gray and White Cast Iron)
Cylinders

ASTM A748/A748M-87(2003)
Standard Specification for Statically Cast Chilled White Iron-Gray IronDual Metal Rolls for
Pressure Vessel Use .

ASTM A823-99(2003)
Standard Specification for Statically Cast Permanent Mold Gray Iron Castings .

ASTM A834-95(2001)
Standard Specification for Common Requirements for Iron Castings for General Industrial
Use .

ASTM A842-85(2004)
Standard Specification for Compacted Graphite Iron Castings .
ASTM A874/A874M-98(2004)
Standard Specification for Ferritic Ductile Iron Castings Suitable for Low-Temperature
Service .

ASTM A888-07a
Standard Specification for Hubless Cast Iron Soil Pipe and Fittings for Sanitary and Storm
Drain, Waste, and Vent Piping Applications.

ASTM A897/A897M-06
Standard Specification for Austempered Ductile Iron Castings.

ASTM A942-95(2001)
Standard Specification for Centrifugally Cast White Iron/Gray Iron Dual Metal Abrasion-
Resistant Roll Shells.

The properties sought for when selecting cast iron are usually economy, good castability
even in complex forms, damping of vibrations, resistance to heat checking or heat shock,
although strength may not be the primary consideration.

Common applications examples are housings, enclosures, machine frames and bases, pipe
fittings, clutch plates, brake drums, counterweights etc.

Cast iron is much less weldable than low carbon steel because it contains much more
carbon and silicon, is brittle and tends to crack. A ductile material should be chosen as filler
metal: although specially formulated cast iron electrodes are available, fillers based on
nickel or bronze, although more expensive, are sometimes preferred for their increased
ductility.

One should know before Welding-cast-iron what are material and condition of the job at
hand. It is common practice to apply preheating to castings and to provide protected slow
cooling, with the purpose of reducing residual stresses and of avoiding cracking.

Preheating slows the cooling rate, permitting the formation of less brittle structures. It
also permits to the whole casting to contract together with the weld material, reducing
residual stresses.

Welding-cast-iron for repair may be prohibited in certain highly stressed areas of castings
where welding failure is not acceptable. Welding-cast-iron on surfaces to be machined is
permitted provided machinability is not impaired. However requirements are set by the
user who may or may not allow repairs in specific areas.

In any case edge or area preparation for Welding-cast-iron is most important: it should
ensure complete removal of defects and provide room for satisfactory filler metal
deposition with the minimum penetration allowed.

Arc Welding is widely used for Welding-cast-iron. The most popular manual process
employed is probably Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), with proper
procedures involving preheat and postheat. One commonly uses nickel based, nickel-
copper (Monel) or other bronze electrodes.
Nickel electrodes and Cast iron electrodes and rods are classified in the following:

ANSI/AWS A5.11/A5.11M:2005
Specification for Nickel and Nickel Alloy Welding Electrodes for Shielded
Metal Arc Welding.
ANSI/AWS A5.15-90 (R 2006)
Specification for Welding Electrodes and Rods for Cast Iron .

Tip!: it is advisable to follow recommendations as published by established suppliers, for


Welding-cast-iron. A few tests should always be conducted before selecting a definite
product for a repetitive job, in order to find the best solution for the given application under
the prevailing circumstances, including welder's skill.

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding can be used for Welding-cast-iron (gray iron). A higher
preheat is usually recommended. Filler materials in form of rods but of chemical
composition similar to those used for SMAW can be used. Also austenitic stainless streels
have been used with direct current, straight polarity (electrode negative). Preheat
temperature is usually higher. GTAW does not present any significant advantage vs. other
less expensive processes.

Gas Metal Arc Welding is better suited to Welding-cast-iron of Ductile and Malleable Iron
types than for Gray Iron. It is however used when productivity gains are important.

Manual Gas welding or more properly oxyacetylene welding, is performed regularly with
success for Welding-cast-iron in small castings.

The characteristics of the flame can be controlled to be neutral, carburizing or reducing,


as better adapted to the work on hand, but in any case the flame and its surrounding
atmosphere can effectively protect the workpiece and the tip of filler metal, if used, from
contamination from air.

For Welding-cast-iron the Oxyacetylene Process can be used, generally for repair or
modifications. One must use appropriate fluxes and suitable filler material like cast iron or
bronze, if the difference in color is not objectionable for the application.

This process is performed at lower temperatures but with higher heat input than arc
welding and is usually slower. It is used with preheat and postheat treatments, and may
develop less hard and brittle heat affected zone, which may be an advantage.

Oxyacetylene welding is generally applied for Welding-cast-iron Gray and Ductile. It is not
recommended for Malleable iron because it is likely to produce a wide heat affected zone
of hard and brittle white iron.

With proper filler metal, Braze-Welding can be performed instead of Welding-cast-


iron,with the advantage of using lower temperature copper based filler rods (bronzes) and a
proper flux. The main objection may be that the weld will stand out because of the different
color.
Unsuitable processes...

Welding-cast-iron is not suitable by Friction Welding, a solid state process with lower than
melting temperature, because cast iron contains graphite which interferes with heating and
because the material is not forgeable, which is a pre-condition for the process.

Also Resistance Welding Process is not applicable to Welding-cast-iron.

Repairing a crack in Cast Iron

The following Section summarizes the information needed to repair, by Welding-cast-iron, a


crack found in a Cast Iron body. It is the result of recurring requests on the part of our
readers who asked for detailed answers to their problems.

We deal primarily with Gray Cast Iron which represents the largest majority of general
purpose castings. Other types of cast iron include Nodular (or Ductile), and Malleable Cast
Iron, which were developed to provide more elaborated mechanical properties, suitable for
specific purposes.

Preparation

It is understood that for Welding-cast-iron a cracked item it should be stripped of any


accessories and parts assembled to it, and freed of any external loads.

Assuming that the crack is limited in size, and the part is not broken in two or more
separate pieces, one needs to drill a small stop hole (about 3 mm or 1/8") at each end of
the crack and its branches. To find the end one should grind the area with sandpaper and
look with a magnifying glass.

Then the crack has to be cleaned by mechanical means like milling or hand grinding with a
proper grinding wheel,to provide a V shape channel, with an opening of 60
degrees reaching the bottom of the crack, usually leaving a thin "land" to be completely
melted during Welding-cast-iron. In thin sections, backing may be required to get a full
penetration root pass. Thicker walls may need special shape channels.

Completes the preparation a thorough cleaning of the area, especially if the casting is
soaked with oil, grease, paintor other contaminants. A burnout should be done in a furnace
for 15 minutes at 480 0C (900 0F), followed by energetic brushing to remove residues.

Preheating

Reasons for preheating for Welding-cast-iron were already pointed out in this page.
Preheating should be performed in a furnace at 200 to 300 0C (400 to 600 0F) for at least
an hour. For a small casting torch heating may be acceptable.

Welding
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW or stick) with covered electrodes is the most applied
process. Filler metal available ranges from electrodes for cast iron (designated ECI) to
Nickel containing electrodes (ENi-CI,
ENiFe-CI [preferred for general purposes], ENiCu-A, ENiCu-B) and other types, including
bronzes.

The selection should be based essentially on experience, preferring the most economic
material that permits welding without producing other cracks. For one occasional repair it
is suggested that the Nickel electrodes be used, although more expensive, because they are
more ductile and as such capable of absorbing larger stresses without cracking.

The technique should concentrate in melting the minimum of base metal, by introducing
the least amount of heat, with the smallest electrode at the least current, with thin weld
beads. The weld is built up with additional beads (after slag removal) until finished, without
cooling down.

Post heating

The welded part should then be allowed to cool down slowly under covering of insulating
material or, preferably, be stress relieved immediately in a furnace at 600 to 650 0C (1100
to 1200 0F) for one hour and then furnace cooled.

Other processes

Oxyacetylene Welding is also possible, with the same preparation, but then, with proper
filler metal, Braze-Welding can be performed instead, as per above reference.

Filler Metal Selection for Cast Iron

Different filler metals electrodes and rods are available for welding and for braze-welding
Cast Iron. The selection as usual should be based on the material allowing for the least
possible total cost of the application (Material + preparation + welding + finishing) that
meets acceptable requirements of integrity and minimum properties.

Here we propose a few guidelines for selection. However also the adopted procedure has a
determining importance in the success of the operation. Maybe that a certain filler producing
cracks if welded without adequate preheating or with too high heat input, will provide
acceptable results with different parameters.

For Shielded Metal Arc Welding, the following should be considered: Cast Iron Electrodes
(ECI) must be used on preheated parts. Their use is usually limited to repairing small flaws.
Steel Electrodes (ESt) are made of low carbon wire, with special covering designed to permit
low amperage welding. Due to unavoidable dilution of carbon from cast iron, they develop a
hard structure unless preheated to a high temperature or post weld annealed.

Covered Nickel base electrodes are classified in the following: Pure Nickel (ENi-CI), Nickel-
Iron (ENiFe-CI) with 55% Ni and Nickel-Copper (ENiCu). Due to the important presence of
nickel in their composition they are relatively expensive. If phosphorus is high, nickel
electrode welding is more susceptible to cracking than nickel-iron which are also less
expensive.

Copper base electrodes are either alloyed with tin (ECuSn-A, ECuSn-C) or with aluminum
(ECuAl-A2). Their color match is poor and melt at lower temperature (providing effectively a
sort of braze-welding) than cast iron. Deposits do not harden by carbon pick-up, yield to
shrinkage stresses and are machinable. Copper-aluminum welds are stronger than copper-
tin, and can be used for hardfacing on cast iron.

Popular specifications are as follows:

AWS A5.11 - NICKEL AND NICKEL ALLOY WELDING ELECTRODES FOR SHIELDED METAL
ARC WELDING, SPECIFICATION FOR
AWS A5.11/A5.11M - SPECIFICATION FOR NICKEL AND NICKEL ALLOY WELDING
ELECTRODES FOR SHIELDED METAL ARC WELDING

Cast iron electrodes and rods are given in:

AWS A5.15 - SPECIFICATION FOR WELDING ELECTRODES AND RODS FOR CAST IRON

Specifications represent experience of different groups, and a wide agreement reached


among them. Specifications are therefore a frame of reference, not a rigid constraint unless
called for in a binding document.

When looking for a proper filler metal electrode for welding Cast Iron, one should remember
that manufacturers experiment even out of Specification limits.

Therefore they may come up with non conventional solutions which may be exactly
appropriate for a particular problem. Their claims may be overly optimistic, but they cannot
be dismissed without trying.

Readers are urged to try new products not yet standardized if their problem looks them
difficult. First ask (describe your problem) then try (with somewhat different procedures),
finally decide.

Welding of Ductile Cast iron

Ductile Iron, although less ductile than wrought steel, is however much more ductile than
other types of Cast Iron. This quality, very important for certain applications, is achieved by
careful additions of manganese and tiny amounts of magnesium or cerium in the melt.

The result, upon solidification and cooling of the castings, is that it produces graphite
agglomerations of spherical shape, called nodules, instead of the common graphite flakes
present in gray iron.

Each nodule is surrounded by a zone of ferrite (carbon-free iron) with the balance of the
metal matrix usually in the form of ferrite or pearlite.
Graphite, an essential constituent, is the stable form of pure carbon in cast iron. Graphite
flakes act like cracks in the gray cast iron matrix and as such contribute to the damping
properties of that material.

Graphite spheroids, on the contrary, act as crack arresters, giving to the ductile irons
remarkably improved mechanical properties.

Nodular or ductile irons are available with pearlite, ferrite or pearlite-ferrite matrixes which
offer a good combination of strength and toughness, greater ductility, excellent wear
resistance and fatigue strength properties.

The mechanical properties of ductile iron as determined by tensile test, beam test, ring
bending test, and bursting test, including modulus of elasticity, tensile elongation and
impact strength are many times those of gray cast iron.

Welding is commonly used on cast items to salvage castings by removing defects, to


repair worn or damaged parts, or to fabricate parts from two or more separate
components.

Successful application of Welding-ductile-iron requires understanding of the base metal


metallurgy of ductile iron, of the welding influence of fusion processes on microstructure and
on the effects of heat treatment.

Furthermore the absence of welding defects must be assured, the deployment of sufficient
mechanical properties must be achieved and the machinability of the welded portions must
not be impaired.

Fusion welding of cast irons starts with intricate base metal phase morphology, involves
melting or transformation of the phases present and the re-solidification of this melt.

Three distinct regions are formed by Welding-ductile-iron, namely the fusion zone,
the partially melted zone, and the heat affected zone (HAZ). Unless cared for properly,
the welds are prone to cracking in all the three regions.

Within the fusion zone, the molten casting and the deposited filler metal can mix freely
affecting the dilution extent. Some of the carbon will enter into the weld pool to the effect
that mechanical properties may suffer when dilution by the casting is excessive.

As with any base material, the success of Welding-ductile-iron depends on suitable


equipment, correct procedures, skilled and qualified welders, and effective quality control
procedures.

When Welding-ductile-iron one should remember that the fusion zone will not resolidify as
ductile iron because the graphite will precipitate as vermicular or quasi-nodular.

That is why ductility and impact resistance will be drastically reduced, and some carbides
are likely to form, particularly in the pearlitic grade.

Furthermore the Heat Affected Zone will produce martensite, hard and brittle, especially in
the pearlitic grade, that must be heat treated as explained down this page to restore some
ductility. Ductile iron is more susceptible to welding stresses, and more likely to crack while
welding or during cooling.

Therefore, highly stressed ductile iron castings or portions thereof should never be
welded. It is recommended not to perform welds if their section is more than 20% of the
metal thickness.

Standard Welding-ductile-iron Procedure

Preheating should be done preferably in a temperature-controlled furnace at 290 0C


(550 0F) by raising gradually the heat from room temperature to avoid temperature
gradients and internal stresses. Holding at temperature should last for at least one hour per
inch (25 mm) of thickness but not more than six (6) hours.

The effect of preheating is to reduce the cooling rate after Welding-ductile-iron. This will
effectively avoid or reduce the formation of martensite, the hard phase prone to cracking
under stress.

The interpass temperature should be preferably 320 0C (600 0F) but in any case not more
than 370 0C (700 0F).

The shielded metal arc welding process (SMAW) is commonly used for Welding-ductile-iron.

Direct Current with positive electrode, (reverse polarity DCRP) is required for the
electrodes recommended. The voltage and amperage settings should be based on
recommendations of the electrode manufacturer.

Nickel containing electrodes are preferred because nickel does not form carbides and
has low carbon solubility. Therefore carbon is rejected as graphite from the melt upon
cooling. Shrinkage stresses and cracking are reduced.

AWS ENiFe-CI and ENiFe-CI-A have about the same content (50%) of nickel and iron.
Their strength, higher than that of high nickel electrodes, is suitable for Welding-ductile-
iron even for thick sections.

Upon dilution with the base metal, the composition of the weld metal approaches 30% Ni
and 70% Fe which has the lowest thermal expansion of all nickel-iron alloys, contributing
to the reduction of shrinkage stresses.

For Welding-ductile-iron of the high strength grades the nickel-iron-manganese


electrodes, designated ENiFeMn-CI, can be used. These are suitable also for wear resistance
applications and for surfacing or buildup of worn out parts.

To avoid absorption of humidity, the electrodes must be stored in a warm, dry oven after
the cans are opened. The weld bead should be of stringer type.

If previous weld deposit is present, the arc should be struck on existing beads. Careful
attention should be applied to remove slag from the weld deposit between each pass by
chipping, peening and wire brushing.

Post Weld Heat Treatment (PWHT).


To restore the ductility of welded joints in ductile irons, to levels near those of the original
casting, heating to 480 0C (900 0F) and slow air cooling are sufficient for moderate stress
relief and softening.

Treatments designed to dissolve any carbides that have formed in the welded region
provide greater properties improvements.

A treatment which transforms to ferrite the structure of the heat affected zone matrix
would be suitable for a ductile iron with a ferritic matrix.

For obtaining ferrite and pearlite on cooling from austenite, as required for a stronger
ductile iron with a matrix containing pearlite, the following treatment could be used, to
transform any martensite, produced after cooling from Welding-ductile-iron, back to
austenite.

Heat to 900 0C (1650 0F) at less than 55 0C (100 0F) per hour and hold for 25 minutes per
centimeter (or one hour per inch) of thickness. Furnace cool to 260 0C (500 0F), again at the
same hourly rate, then cool to room temperature in still air.

If a softer ferrite matrix is needed, it can be achieved as follows: Heat to 840-900 0C


(1550-1650 0F), at less than 55 0C (100 0F) per hour and hold at this temperature for 25
minutes per centimeter (or one hour per inch) of thickness.

Furnace cool to 675 0C (1240 0F) (at less than 55 0C (100 0F) per hour) and hold for 5-6
hours, then furnace cool to 2600C (500 0F) (at less than 55 0C (100 0F) per hour) before
cooling to room temperature in still air.

Alternatively, to perform tempering of the normalized structure obtained above, when the
temperature of the casting is below 320 0C (600 0F), it may be placed into a tempering
furnace, held at 320 0C (600 0F) for 25 minutes per centimeter (or one hour per inch) of
thickness for six hours maximum, and heated slowly to 650 0C (1200 0F). Hold at that
temperature for 25 minutes per centimeter (or one hour per inch) of thickness for six (6)
hours maximum and cool in still air.

The reasons why the heating and cooling rates are restricted is to minimize the
development of thermal stresses in the castings.

The necessary skills for Welding-ductile-iron must be developed by dedicating sufficient


training and exercise toward building the necessary expertise and by performing
inspection and tests on welded castings.