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   Cast Iron vs. Wrought Iron

 

From Lincoln, Massachusetts to Lincoln, Nebraska to Lincoln, Ontario - North America is rich with history. Every town has a story to tell. The buildings in those towns have played as much of a part in crafting the past as the people themselves.

Reproducing the architectural iron or metalwork of historical buildings with quality and authenticity is a critical component to the overall accomplishment of the restoration. Smaller decorative finishings and larger outdoor elements such as bollards, gates, fences, lamp standards, or even park benches are made using architectural metalwork techniques. Iron castings can be reproduced from drawings or from salvaged original pieces by foundries (factories that produce metal castings) with iron casting experience.

Since 1927, Reliance Foundry has produced decorative, architectural features and historic reproduction castings for customers - even including more modern aluminum die castings for decorative site features. Our most common architectural products are decorative metal bollards and post covers, which have become a specialty of ours in recent years.


We are often asked, “what is the difference between wrought iron and cast iron?” There is a common misconception that the term “cast” iron refers to all early iron work; or that early iron work was always “wrought” ...or a combination of both. Actually, the distinction between the two is not a matter of the time period it was created, but is a difference in the technique used to work the metal into a finished piece, as well as the chemical composition of the metal itself.

Wrought or Cast? What’s the Difference?
The simplest way to remember the difference is to know that wrought iron is metal that has been heated and then worked with tools to produce its shape and form, while cast iron has been melted and poured into a mold to give it the desired look.

Of course there is much more to it than simply melting the metal and shaping it. Various chemical agents that are added and removed affect the strength of the end product. Historically, wrought iron had more of the metal impurities removed to make it easier to work with, and to get a stronger end product. However, in our modern era, metal “purity” is no longer necessarily a quality of wrought iron. The term is applied to any metal that has been worked with tools and purity and durability of mass-produced products are not guaranteed.

Cast iron is less pure as far as the metal properties are concerned, but because the metal is poured into precision-made molds, you receive a more accurate end-product. Even though it is more brittle, it gained great popularity in the United States in the nineteenth century because of its suitability to the lower-cost mass production process in a time when wrought iron was still an individual hand-craft. This is important for restoration projects. It is more affordable and newer techniques, such as ductile cast iron work, enable parts to be cast with larger sections and with much greater strength.

Ductile cast iron was invented in 1943. Nodular graphite inclusions make it less brittle than traditional cast iron. Its flexibility and elasticity enable use in products where cast iron would not hold up. Reliance Foundry offers bollards made from ductile cast iron as part of their bollard product line. Decorative and architectural ductile iron bollards enhance the outdoor space of a historical restoration, while also offering perimeter definition and, if needed, bike parking or chained area options.

 

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●    Cast Iron Price Calculator - calculate or evaluate the casting prices by yourself

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●    Iron Casting Common Defects - showing the common metal casting defects with photos

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