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Technical Information 11

The “Sandwich Pocket Process”

The widely used "Sandwich" process for the production of Ductile Cast Iron requires the
use of magnesium ferrosilicon alloy that is carefully graded to match the size of the treat-
ment. Even then, variations in magnesium yield can occur due to sporadic, explosive ejec-
tion of alloy from the reaction chamber early in the filling cycle thus leading to excessively
large additions of alloy being required to compensate for these variations.

The "Sandwich Pocket" process, developed by Elkem, has been subjected to extensive
foundry trials and found to minimize many of the problems associated with the normal
"sandwich" process. At the same time the economics are improved by the use of slightly
smaller amounts of finely divided magnesium ferrosilicon alloy over a wide range of treat-
ment sizes.

Figure 1: Schematic example of the Ladle design; (a) Pocket located in the centre
of the ladle bottom, (b) Tea-Pot ladle alternative, (c) Charging funnel.

The advantages of the process arise principally from the use of the specially designed,
cylindrical pocket in which the magnesium alloy and its cover material are placed. The
pocket may be formed in the bottom of the ladle as shown in Figure 1(a) or, more frequent-
ly, it may be built at the periphery of the bottom as in Figure 1(b). The latter is essential
when using the process in conjunction with a tundish cover (see information sheet No. 10).
The cylindrical pocket must have a height to diameter ratio of at least 1:1 and must be
large enough to contain the entire magnesium alloy and the cover material. No material
must lie above the level of the ladle bottom after loading. Figure 1 indicates a method of
filling the pocket through a steel tube (funnel) to avoid spilling the alloy on the ladle bottom.
A thick layer of refractory material surrounds the pocket in order to avoid rapid heat
penetration to the bottom of the pocket as the ladle is filled.

Elkem ASA, Foundry Products © Copyright Elkem ASA

Postal address Office address Telephone Web Revision
P.O.Box 5211 Majorstuen Hoffsveien 65B +47 22 45 01 00 www.foundry.elkem.com No. 2.1
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Norway Norway +47 22 45 01 52 NO 911 382 008 MVA
Technical Information 11 2

The magnesium alloy preferably has a relatively fine size grading. Optimum results are ob-
tained with alloy sizes ranging from about 0.1 to 10 mm. Regular alloy qualities containing
3 to 7 per cent magnesium and normal levels of calcium, aluminium and rare earth’s may
be used with this process. Figure 2 shows the alloy pocket and the table suggested pocket
dimensions (diameter and height) for various treatment sizes and alloy addition rates.
Typical alloy sizings suited to the process are 0.1-1 mm, 0.1-5 mm, 0.4-4 mm, 0.5-5 mm.
1.0-10 mm. All these sizings will have a bulk density of about 2 kg/dm3.

The unique feature of using finely graded alloy is that it has a high packing density in the
pocket. As the intense heat from the metal above the pocket penetrates the cover, the
alloy tends to sinter into a briquette so that, when the reaction commences, it proceeds
slowly and gently downwards through the sintered alloy. This leads to very good process
consistency, high magnesium yields and minimum fume and smoke emission, particularly
when used in conjunction with a tundish cover.

Suggested pocket dimensions for various treatment

sizes and alloy addition rates. Diameter (d) and hight (h)
dimensions in centimetres (cm), respectively.
Treatment Addition rate, wt%
size, kg 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
100 9/10 10/10 9/12 10/12 10/13 10/13
300 13/15 13/15 13/18 14/18 14/18 15/18
500 14/20 15/20 16/20 16/20 17/20 18/20
800 18/20 19/20 20/20 20/22 21/22 21/22
Figure 2: Sandwich pocket with alloy and 1000 18/25 20/25 20/25 21/25 22/25 22/25
cover material. 1500 22/25 23/25 24/25 25/25 26/25 27/25

The maximum process yields are obtained by using regular ferrosilicon alloy as the cover
material. 45 or 75 per cent alloy with size gradings of 1 - 10 mm or 5 - 12 mm produce an
effective cover for the fine magnesium alloy below. The ideal amount of cover depends on
the temperature of the metal being treated but will normally be about 10 to 15 per cent by
volume of the magnesium alloy. If the use of ferrosilicon as the cover material leads to
excessive silicon pick-up, satisfactory results can also be obtained from the use of clean,
high quality steel punchings as the cover.

When using the "Sandwich Pocket" process it is important to keep the ladle in the inverted
position when empty in order to avoid slag and metal beads draining into the pocket and
reducing its capacity.

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