Metal casting simulation software is a critical tool for foundry engineers. By simulating the casting process, it helps identify and mitigate potential defects that can occur during manufacturing. It improves quality, reduces waste, and improves efficiency in the casting process.
In this article, we'll take a look at how casting simulation software works and some of its key benefits.
What is Metal Casting Simulation Software?
Although the physics and thermodynamics involved with metal casting are quite complex, metal casting simulation software models how molten metal will behave in a mold in real life. As molten metal is poured into a mold, the way the metal flows through the mold is critical to the quality of the finished casting.
As the metal solidifies from molten metal to solid, the density increases as the volume contracts. These complex interactions determine whether metallurgical defects will crop up in the casting or not. Without being able to model these complex interactions, the only way foundry engineers can improve casting quality is by tweaking the mold or parameters of the casting and trying again.
Repeating the process in real life is expensive and time-consuming. With metal casting simulation software, engineers make desired modifications to the cast part, the gating and feeding system, or the pouring parameters and repeat the casting without ever leaving their desks. Simulation software opens the door to increased metal casting quality, shorter cycle times, and less expensive processes.
Visualizing the Process
The power of metal casting simulation software is being able to see the casting process in a completely different light. Engineers can watch a simulation and visualize how the mold is filled and how the casting is solidified inside the mold.
Seeing a prediction of how the process will unfold allows engineers to make quick changes to every design element, both the part and the mold. Locations and sizes of risers, runners, gates, vents, and other details can be adjusted quickly with updated results in minutes.
Turbulent flow in a mold can be a problem for high-quality castings. When molten metal transitions into a turbulent flow, air can quickly become entrapped in the liquid metal. In addition to air entrapment, turbulence in the molten flow can also cause the formation of oxide bi-films. Either of these situations results in a lower quality casting and should be avoided. Simulation helps predict if these issues are likely to occur before any metal is poured.
How molten metal flows and how it solidifies have a significant impact on the finished casting's mechanical properties. Solidification and cooling induce stresses in the casting, which are released or redistributed during mold knockout. Residual stresses can weaken the part or lead to deformation.
Minimizing porosity also helps ensure that the part's tensile strength is maximized. With simulation, engineers can predict what heat treatments a finished part may need to ensure optimal mechanical performance.
Some parts may have the desired microstructure so that the part best performs in a given application. Hardness and grain size can be predicted during simulation to give engineers a better idea of how the finished casting will perform. With simulation, minor parts or mold changes can be made early to get the part's microstructure just right.
Important Parameters for Simulation
When using metal casting simulation software, knowing which parameters should be manipulated is essential. During casting simulations, some of the most critical parameters are:
- Initial temperature before pouring
- The choice of metal alloy
- Design of the gating system and runners
- Pouring flow rate
- Mold design
The Benefits of Simulation
Using metal casting simulation software, a design moves much faster to mass production skipping the prototyping phase. Expensive iterations of mold design are avoided by modeling the casting beforehand to tweak parameters.
Metal castings are more likely to be repeated without performing a simulation until the desired parameters are found, wasting time, money, and metal. The simulation also allows the quality of the finished casting to be significantly enhanced. With simulation, some of the specific benefits are:
- Predicting solidification behavior and time
- Predicting areas of porosity or crack formation
- Less re-smelting and scrap
- Predicting turbulent and laminar sections of flow in the liquid metal
- Tracking and mitigating potential inclusions
- Predicting residual stresses
- Estimating shrinkage
Metal casting simulation software is a valuable tool for increasing casting quality and saving time and money in the metal casting process. Simulations help to mitigate manufacturing defects and move faster to finished casting. Metal casting simulation software is a must-have in any foundry engineer's toolbox.
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