Cast iron is an alloy of the metals like carbon and iron, where the presence of carbon is more than 2%. The application of cast iron can be found in diversified genres due to its sustainability and low melting temperature. Apart from iron and carbon, silicon is also a prime component of this alloy. Presence of carbon and silicon ranges between 1.8% to 4% and 1% to 3% of the weight respectively. When the similar iron alloy contains a lesser amount of carbon (0.8%), steel is produced.
Origin of Cast Iron
The Chinese were the first to initiate the journey of the revolutionary alloy, back in the 6th Century B.C. Later, European countries started the production sporadically in the 14th century. It took a few years for the alloy to get an entry to England in 1500s. However, James River from Virginia introduced the iron works in America in 1619.
By that time, wrought iron was also famous for its usability and productivity. However, cast iron gained an immense popularity between the time frame of 18th and 19th century. It didn’t demand the involvement of hammer in the production process and also didn’t need any refinement. This made the alloy available in exchange for a depreciated price, which contributed to its popularity. It was also the most prominent structural metal due to the strength of bearing an immense load.
1770 marked the implementation of cast iron for the structural purposes. With the advent of 20th century, the application of cast iron subsided and got replaced with steel. However, the application of cast iron can still be found in various skyscrapers and a few renowned buildings. Apart from the constructional needs, cast iron is also used in various industries. In 1717, cast iron was used in making kettles and pots, which was more cost-efficient than the other options available in the market.
Types of Cast Iron
The ferrous alloy can be segregated into a few types, which are as follows:
- White Cast Iron– In this type of cast iron, the presence of carbide impurities lead to the white cracks. Though the alloy is hard, it is brittle with low silicon content and melting point.
- Grey Cast Iron– This type of cast iron is the most used variant among the others. The cracks can’t pass through during the breakage of the material as the high carbon content leads to the formation of graphite flakes.
- Ductile Cast Iron– Addition of minor amount of magnesium to the molten iron produces this ferrous alloy. It is a ductile alloy and exhibits a linear strain-stress relationship.
- Malleable Cast Iron– It behaves as low-carbon steel and is recognized with its blunt boundaries.
Why is Cast Iron an Important Component of Engineering Needs?
The presence of cast iron is evident in various accessories of automotive spares like cylinder blocks, gearbox cases, and cylinder heads. Along with these spare parts, cast iron is also found in machines, pipes, and other materials due to its immunity to destruction and susceptibility to oxidation. Other attributes that make cast iron one of the finest components of the engineering needs are the low melting point, castability, good fluidity, top-notch machinability, as well as resistant to wear and deformation.