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Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2013) 67:797810

DOI 10.1007/s00170-012-4523-3

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Optimal gating system design for investment casting


of sterling silver by computer-assisted simulation
N. Thammachot & P. Dulyapraphant & E. L. J. Bohez

Received: 14 November 2009 / Accepted: 18 September 2012 / Published online: 29 September 2012
# Springer-Verlag London 2012

Abstract The first requirement of all casting processes is Keywords Computer simulation . Gating system .
complete filling without any defects after solidification. Investment casting . Jewelry casting . Sterling silver
However, casting defects often occur in casting process-
es, especially incomplete filling. The causes of incom-
plete filling are related to poor gating system, incorrect Abreviations and symbols
pouring, and molding temperature. A suitable shape and A1 Area of the sprue entrance
dimension of gating system will increase the melt flow A2 Area at any other location in the sprue
while it is feeding into mold cavity by eliminating Z1 Level of the pouring basin above the sprue entrance
excessive pouring and molding temperature. The objec- Z2 Distance from top of the pouring basin to the loca-
tive of this study is to develop a new design of gating tion of A2
system for eliminating incomplete filling. The new Q Volume flow rate
shape and dimension of pouring cup, main sprue, and A Cross-sectional area of the stream
sprue base are proposed and investigated. The compu- V Velocity of fluid flow
tational flow model is solved with the aid of computer T Dissipation function
simulation. The targets of an optimum solution are L Latent heat
increasing the efficiency of metal flow and reducing fs Fraction solid
turbulence. The experiments are conducted to validate Density
the simulation data. The results of this study will aid in Thermal conductivity
the elimination of casting defects and increase the cp Specific heat capacity
productivity. Dynamics viscosity
f VOF function
VOF Volume of fluid

N. Thammachot (*) : E. L. J. Bohez


School of Engineering and Technology, Design and Manufacturing 1 Introduction
Engineering, Asian Institute of Technology,
GPO Box 4, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
e-mail: st102869@ait.ac.th Incomplete filling is one of the most important problems in
the casting of jewelry products using the investment casting
E. L. J. Bohez process. The percentage of casting defect in casting process
e-mail: bohez@ait.ac.th
of a typical jewelry company is shown in Fig. 1 (case study
URL: www.ait.ac.th
conduced by the first author). The highest percentage of
P. Dulyapraphant casting defects is incomplete filling (cold shut and misrun)
National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), which is 53.36 % from the grand total of 100 %. The total
114, Paholyothin Rd., Klong 1,
number of products in year 20062008 was about
Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
e-mail: pongsakd@mtec.or.th 11,275,000 pieces. The causes of incomplete filling include
URL: www.mtec.or.th pouring and molding temperature, velocity of melt flow into
798 Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2013) 67:797810

molten metal, specifically the velocity of molten metal into


the ingate, and flow characteristic of molten metal through
the main sprue.
An understanding of the effects of the shape and size of
the gating components will help in the design of an effective
gating system, resulting in suitable flow behavior inside the
mold cavity. The requirements of suitable flow behavior for
investment casting are:
1. The starting times of feeding into ingates at all levels
must be as close as possible to prevent heat loss.
2. Filling as quickly as possible to prevent heat loss. The
flow velocity at all levels should be the same.
3. The fluctuation of flow velocity in the steady state
Fig. 1 Types and percentage of casting defects of a typical jewelry should be as small as possible for eliminating turbulent
company in year 20062008 flow.
According to the above, the objective of this study is to
the mold cavity, and back pressure in the mold cavity
determine a new design principle for the components of the
(venting problem).
gating system. The new shape and dimensions of the gating
In jewelry casting, incomplete filling always occurs at the
system will be developed and computed by modeling and
upper level ingates on the main sprue. The reason might be
computer simulation. The optimum solution is the increase
from the decrease in temperature of molten metal while it is
of metal flow efficiency and the reduction of turbulence.
feeding into the mold cavity. This occurs because the flow
Experiments will be conducted to validate the simulation
of molten metal is fed into that position later when com-
data. The results of this study aid in eliminating casting
pared with the other lower levels. The next reason is that the
defects, reducing incomplete filling, and increasing the pro-
pressure head of the upper level ingates is lower than that of
ductivity of jewelry making.
the lower level one. The low-pressure head affects the
velocity of molten metal at the upper level ingates more
than at the lower levels. Therefore, increasing the length of
2 Literature review
the main sprue is the trend for reducing casting defects.
The gating system in jewelry casting includes: pouring
There are many researchers trying to improve and de-
cup, main sprue, sprue base, and ingate as shown in Fig. 2.
sign new shapes of gating system. Fuoco and Correa [1]
The gating system directly influences the flow behavior of
present new concepts of gating system design based on
thin and wide cross-section (slim) gates of the alumi-
num gravity castings. The concept of a slim gate is the
tapered or slim sprue feeding into a slim runner and
ingate. This design maximizes the effect of frictional
forces to reduce metal flow velocity. The slim gate
was successfully tested in practical applications. Chan
et al. [2] studied the effect of sprue design on the
roughness and porosity of titanium castings in dental
castings. The study measured the effects of the number
of main sprues and their position. They concluded that
the double-sprue design is more effective than the single
main sprue design in decreasing internal porosity, and
makes the surface of titanium crown casting smoother.
An example in the jewelry, Solidum [3] studied the
efficiency of hollow tree casting instead of the conven-
tional gating system. This hollow tree casting increased
surface area to allow more wax pieces to be attached,
and this in turn can lead to a reduction in the number
of flasks for the same output of castings. Grice and Cart
Fig. 2 Components of traditional gating system [4] used the helical tree sprue instead of the traditional