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Technical Information 25

Poor Nodularity in Ductile Iron

This sheet summarises some important considerations affecting nodularity in ductile iron
production. Factors causing different types of poor nodularity are described, and important
criteria distinguishing between the different types of poor nodularity given.

Compacted graphite:
• Low residual magnesium and/or rare
earth’s from poor nodularising practice,
high temperature or long holding times.
• Excess sulphur in the base iron not
balanced by sufficient magnesium.
• Excess titanium in iron from
compacted graphite iron returns.

Exploded graphite:
• Excess rare earth additions,
particularly when high purity charges
are used. Normally found in thick
section castings or at higher carbon
• Sudden drop in base iron sulphur
content from change of raw material
lots (steel scrap, pig iron, recarburiser).

Chunky graphite:
• Excess rare earth additions when high
purity charges are used.
• Low Sulphur to RE ratio.
• Promoted by poor inoculation
(pronounced segregation effects).
• Similar causes as exploded graphite.

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Technical Information 25 2

Spiky graphite:
• Very small amounts of lead (Pb),
bismuth (Bi), or antimony (Sb) that
have not been neutralized by rare
earth’s. This has a catastrophic effect
on mechanical properties.
• Insufficient addition of rare earth’s to a
contaminated charge.

Irregular graphite shape:

• Poor inoculation or excessive fading of
inoculation. Often combined with low
nodule counts.
• High holding temperatures or long
holding times resulting in “dead” irons.
• Excessive addition of nodulariser.
• Can be improved by late addition of a
powerful specialty inoculant.

Nodule alignment:
• Low carbon equivalent.
• Poor inoculation causing hypo-eutectic
solidification and coarse dendrite
structures. Nodule alignment at
dendrite arms.
• High pouring temperatures.

Flake graphite surface:

• Excess sulphur built-up in moulding
sand. Reversion to flakes as
magnesium in the iron reacts with
• Can be overcome by using higher
magnesium or rare earth’s in
nodulariser, or a cerium containing
• Mould coating may also be useful.