FOUNDING (from Lat. fundere, to pour), the process of casting in metal, of making a reproduction of a given object by running molten metal into a mould taken in sand, loam or plaster from that object. To enable the founder to prepare a mould for the casting, he must receive a pattern similar to the casting required. Some few exceptions occur, to be noted presently, but the above statement is true of perhaps 98% of all castings produced. The construction of such patterns gives employment to a large number of highly skilled men, who can only acquire the necessary knowledge through an apprenticeship lasting from five to seven years. A knowledge of two trades at least is involved in the work of pattern construction - that of the craft itself and that of the moulder and founder. Patterns have to be constructed strongly. They are generally of wood, and they thus require skill in the use of woodworking tools and the making of timber joints, together with a knowledge of the behaviour of timber, etc. Some few patterns are made in iron, brass or white metal alloys. They have to be embedded in a matrix of sand by the founder, and being enclosed, they have to be withdrawn without inflicting any damage in the way of fracture in the sand. Since cast work involves shapes that are often very intricate, including projections and hollow spaces of all forms, it is obvious that the withdrawal of the patterns without entailing tearing up and fracture of the sand must involve many difficult problems that have to be as fully understood by the pattern-maker as by the moulder. It is from this point of view that the work of the pattern-maker should be approached in the first place. No closed mould can possibly be made without one or more joints, for if a pattern is wholly enclosed in a matrix of sand it cannot be withdrawn except by making a parting in the sand, and it is not difficult to conceive that the parting in the pattern might advantageously be made to coincide, either exactly or approximately, with that of the mould. Nor must obstacles exist to the free withdrawal of patterns. They must therefore not be wider or larger in the lower than in the upper parts; actually they are made a trifle smaller or "tapered." Nor may they have any lateral extensions into the lower sand, unless these can be made to withdraw separately from the main portion of the pattern. Finally, there are many internal spaces which cannot be formed by a pattern directly in the sand, but provision for which must be made by some means extraneous to the pattern, as by cores.
Fig. 1. Fig. 2.
A single example must illustrate the main principles which have just been stated. The object selected is a bracket which involves questions of joints, of cores, of pattern construction and of moulding. The casting, the pattern, and its mould are illustrated. Fig. 1 illustrates in plan the casting of a double bracket, the end elevation of which is seen in fig. 2; the pattern of which presents obvious difficulties in the way of withdrawal from a mould, supposing it were made just like its casting. But if it be made as in fig. 3, with the open spaces A, B, in fig. 2, occupied with core prints, and the pieces A, A in fig. 3 left loosely skewered on, everything will "deliver" freely. Moreover the pattern might be made solidly as shown in fig. 3, or else jointed and dowelled in the plane a-a, as in fig. 4, or along the upper faces of the prints b-b, fig. 3. The timber shadings in figs. 3 and 4 illustrate points in the most suitable arrangement of material. The prints are "boxed up." Fig. 4 shows a certain stage of the moulding, in which one half of the pattern has been "rammed" in sand, and turned over in the "bottom box," and the upper half is ready to be rammed in the "top box," with "runner pin" or "git stick" A, set in place. The lower loose piece has had its skewer removed during the ramming. Fig. 5 illustrates the mould completed and ready for pouring. The boxes have been parted, the pattern has been withdrawn, cores inserted in the impressions left by the prints, vents taken from the central body of cinders, the pouring basin made and the boxes cottered together.
Every single detail now briefly noted in connexion with this bracket is applied and modified in an almost infinite number of ways to suit the ever varying character of foundry work. Yet this process does not touch some of the great subdivisions of moulding and casting. There is a large volume of large and heavy work for which complete patterns and core boxes are never made, because of the great expense that would be involved in the pattern construction. There are also some cases in which the methods adopted would not permit of the use of patterns, as in that group of work in which the sand or loam is "swept" to the form required for the moulds and cores by means of striking boards, loam boards, core boards or strickles. In these classes of moulding the loose green sands and core sands are not much used; instead, loam - a wet and plastic sand mixture - is employed, supported against bricks (loam moulds) or against core bars and plates, and hay ropes (loam cores). All heavy marine engine cylinders are thus made by sweeping, and all massive cores for engine cylinders and large pipes, besides much large circular and cylindrical work, as foundation cylinders, soap pans, lead pans, mortar pans, large propeller blades, etc. In these cases the edge of the striking board is a counterpart of the profile of the work swept up. Joints also have to be made in such moulds, not of course in order to provide for the removal of a pattern, but for the exposure of the separate parts in course of construction, and for closing them up, or putting them together in their due relations. These joints also are swept by the boards, generally cut to produce suitable "checks," or "registers" to ensure that they accurately fit together. Fig. 6, showing a portion of a swept-up mould, illustrates the general arrangement. A plate, A, carries a quantity of bricks, B, which are embedded in loam, and break joint. To a striking bar, C, supported in a step, a striking board or sweeping board, D, is bolted, and is swept round against plastic loam, which is afterwards dried. The check on the board at A corresponds with a similar check on the board which strikes the interior of the pan, and by which top and bottom portions of the mould are registered together. This is indicated in dotted outline. Its mould also is swept on bricks, and turned over into place, and the metal is poured into the space b, b, between the two moulds. There is also a large group of swept-up work which is not symmetrical about a centre of rotation. Then the movements of the sweeping boards are controlled by the edges of "core plates," or of "core irons" (fig. 7). Bend pipes, and the volute casings of centrifugal pumps and pipes, afford examples of this kind. In fig. 7, A is the core iron, held down by weights, and B the "strickle," sweeping up the half bend C, two such halves pasted together completing the core.
Core-making is a special department of foundry work, often involving as much detail as the construction and moulding of patterns. Two perfectly plain boxes are shown in figs. 8 and 9, in both of which provision exists for removing the box parts from the core after the latter has been rammed. Core boxes are jointed and tapered, and often have loose pieces within them, and also prints, into the impressions of which other cores are inserted.
Machine-moulding. - There is a development of modern methods of founding which is effecting radical changes in some departments of foundry practice, namely, moulding by machines. The advantages of this method are manifold, and its limitations are being lessened continually. There are two broad departments between which machine-moulding is divided. One, of less importance, is that of toothed wheels; the other is that of general work, except of a very massive character.
Fig. 8. Fig. 9.
Gear-wheel moulding machines are essentially a special adaptation of the mechanism of the dividing engine, by means of which, instead of using a complete pattern of a toothed wheel, two or three pattern teeth are used, and the machine takes charge of the correct pitching or division of the teeth moulded therefrom, leaving to the moulder the work only of turning the handle of the division plate, and ramming the sand around the pattern teeth. The result is accurate pitching, and the use of two or three teeth instead of a full pattern, together with any core boxes and striking boards that are necessary for the arms.
The other department of machine moulding includes nearly every conceivable class of work of small and medium dimensions. There are some dozens of distinct types of machines in use, for no one type is suitable for all classes of moulds, while some are designed specially for one or two kinds only.
The fundamental principles of operation are briefly these: The pattern parts constitute, by their method of attachment to a plate or table A (fig. 10), an integral portion of the machine, so that they must partake of certain movements which are imparted to it. Often patterns mounted, as in fig. 10, are moulded by hand, without any aid from a machine, by methods of "plate-moulding." The delivery of the pattern from the sand is invariably accomplished by a perpendicular movement of a portion of the machine (fig. 11), withdrawing either the pattern from the mould or the mould from the pattern. The important point is that the perpendicular movement, being under the coercion of the vertical guides provided in the hand machines, or the hydraulic ram in fig. 11, is free from the unsteadiness which is incidental to withdrawal by the hands of the moulder; and if the machine performed nothing more than this it would justify its existence. Little or no taper is required in the pattern, and the moulds are more nearly uniform in dimensions than hand-made moulds. But there are other advantages. In machine-moulding the joint faces for parting moulds are produced by the faces of the plates on which the pattern is mounted (figs. 10 and 11), instead of by the hands and trowel of the moulder. When the joint face is of irregular outline, as it often is, this item alone saves a good deal of time, which again is multiplied by the number of moulds repeated, often amounting to thousands. Further, provision is generally made on machine plates for the ingates and runners (fig. 10) through which the metal enters the mould, the preparation of which in hand work occupies a considerable amount of time. Another great advantage applies especially to the case of deep moulds. These give much trouble in hand-moulding in consequence of the liability of the sand to become torn up during the withdrawal of the pattern. But in machine-moulding such patterns are encircled by a plate, termed a "stripping plate," which is pierced to allow the patterns to pass through, and which, being maintained firmly on the sand during the lifting of the pattern, prevents it from becoming torn up. This is not merely a matter of convenience, but is a necessity in numerous instances. The most familiar example is that of the teeth of gear wheels, in which even a very slight amount of taper interferes with accurate engagement, and this is representative of many other portions of mechanism. These stripping plates are of metal, but in order to save the cost of filing them in iron or steel, many are cheaply made by casting a white metal alloy round the actual pattern itself in the first place, the white metal being enclosed and retained in a plain iron frame which forms the body of the plate. Lastly, many machines, but not the majority, include provision for mechanically ramming the sand around the pattern by power instead of by hand. This is really the least valuable feature of a moulding machine, because it is not applicable to any but rather shallow moulds. It is commonly used for these, but the consistence and homogeneity of a mass of sand round a pattern having deep perpendicular sides can only be ensured by careful hand ramming.
The highest economies of machine-moulding are obtained when (1) several small patterns are mounted and moulded at once on a single plate (fig. 10); (2) when top and bottom parts of a mould are produced on different machines, carrying each its moiety of the pattern; (3) when the machine and pattern details are simplified so much that the labour of trained moulders is displaced by that of unskilled attendants who are taught in a month or two the few simple operations required. That is the direction in which repetitive casting is now rapidly tending.
In fig. 11 A is the plate, which in its essentials corresponds with the plate A in fig. 10, but which in the machine is made to swivel so as to bring each half of the pattern B, B in turn uppermost for ramming in the box parts C, C. The ramming is done by hand, the final squeeze being imparted against the presser D by the action of the hydraulic ram E pushing the plate, mould and box up against D. The plate being then lowered, and turned over, the further descent of the ram withdraws the bottom box from the pattern, which is the stage seen in the illustration. Then the half mould is run away on the carriage F, provided with wheels to run on rails.
Though casting in iron, steel, the bronzes, aluminium, etc., is carried on by different men in distinct shops, yet the foregoing principles and methods apply to all alike. Work is done in green, i.e. moist sand, in dry sand (the moulds being dried before being used), and in plastic loam (which is subsequently dried). Hand and machine moulding are practised in each, the last-named excepted. The differences in working are those due to the various characteristics of the different metals and alloys, which involve differences in the sand mixtures used, in the dimensions of the pouring channels, of the temperature at which the metal or alloy must be poured, of the fluxing and cleansing of the metal, and other details of a practical character. Hence the practice which is suitable for one department must be modified in others. Many castings in steel would inevitably fracture if poured into moulds prepared for iron, many iron castings would fracture if poured into moulds suitable for brass, and neither brass nor steel would fill a mould having ingates proportioned suitably for iron.
A special kind of casting is that into "chill moulds," adopted in a considerable number of iron castings, such as the railway wheels in the United States, ordinary tramway wheels, the rolls of iron and steel rolling mills, the bores of cast wheel hubs, etc. The chill ranges in depth from in. to 1 in., and is produced by pouring a special mixture of mottled, or strong, iron against a cold iron surface, the parts of the casting which are not required to be chilled being surrounded by an ordinary mould of sand. The purpose of chill-casting is to produce a surface hardness in the metal.
The shrinkage of metal is a fact which has to be taken account of by the pattern-maker and moulder. A pattern and mould are made larger than the size of the casting required by the exact amount that the metal will shrink in cooling from the molten to the cold state. This amount varies from 1/8 in. in 15 in., in thin iron castings, to 1/8 in. in 12 in. in heavy ones. It ranges from 3/16 in. to 5/16 in. per foot in steel, brass and aluminium. Its variable amount has to be borne in mind in making light and heavy-castings, and castings with or without cores, for massive cores retard shrinkage. It is also a fruitful cause of fracture in badly proportioned castings, particularly of those in steel. Brass is less liable to suffer in this respect than iron, and iron much less than steel.
(J. G. H.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)