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Cutting a Casting Up to Inspect its Defects 

 

Creating a metal casting is a highly detailed and intricate process and has so many different variables that no two castings are the same. When the variables are not controlled tightly enough that is when the differences occur, usually in the form of defects. Even castings produced from the same pattern have their differences, those differences may be hard to spot but they are there. The difference from casting to casting may be so small that you can only spot the difference under a microscope, making it crucial to control the variables as much as possible.

Defects are inevitable in the metal casting industry, the goal is to keep the amount of defects to a minimum. With so many different variables going into each casting, there is bound to be at least one casting per production run that has some sort of defect. Some defects are obvious and can be seen with just a glance at the casting, such as the one pictured above. Other defects may require a microscopic or chemical analysis to detect, but both processes take up valuable time and resources.

The first diagnosis that should be performed on a casting is fracturing... yes I said fracturing. Fracturing involves taking that brand new casting and putting a saw to it. For smaller and thin castings, the suspect area is cut to reveal any porosity issues, grain size, oxides, and inclusions. Depending on the application in which the casting will be used, further inspection under a microscope may be required. For large castings, fracturing may not be possible, so a similar process is used. Sectioning is the process of cutting out multiple cross sections of the defected or suspect area. Taking multiple cross sections allows the inspector to create three-dimensional views of the suspect area to expose any or all evidence.

If these tests do not produce any defects within the casting and you still have your suspicions, further testing such as image and chemical analysis may be performed. But fracturing should still remain the first step in the casting defect and failure analysis.

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