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NOTE ON INOCULATION OF CAST IRON / DUCTILE IRON

Inoculation is a means of controlling the microstructure and properties of the


iron by minimizing under cooling and increasing the number of nuclei
during solidification.

Inoculant is a material added to the liquid iron in very small proportions


(.05 - .5 %) just prior to pouring. Inoculants are based on Ferro-Silicon,
Calcium Silicide and Graphite. Small quantities of other elements such as
Aluminum, Barium, Calcium, Strontium and Zirconium are added to
enhance the effectiveness of the inoculants. Generally pre alloyed or
homogeneous inoculants perform better than heterogeneous or pre-mixed
inoculants.

Of the inoculants mentioned above, Ferro-Silicon containing 70 – 75 % Si is


most popular. However, it has been also observed that pure Ferro silicon is
not very effective and its efficiency greatly depends upon minor elements
such as Al, Ba, Ca etc.

For cupola irons (having higher S ) Strontium base inoculants are


recommended. Strontium reduces chill without increasing eutectic cell
count. This reduces the tendency towards un-soundness.

Barium based inoculants maintain high nucleation rates throughout the cycle
giving maximum nodularity for ductile iron. These inoculants are specially
suited for foundries where time gap between treatment of metal and pouring
is more due to layout or largeness. Barium based inoculants also work very
well where casting section vary greatly i.e. in jobbing foundries. Their
addition rates are low making them highly economical. They are equally
useful for Gray as well as Ductile Irons making it possible to use only one
type of inoculant for various types of castings.

For Ductile Iron, inoculation increases number of graphite nodules. It also


reduces chilling tendency, thereby promoting ductility. This in turn brings
down need for heat treatment to remove carbides.

It is observed that, carbides may form in thin sections in metal treated with /
in converter and cored wire process. Metal treated with Ferro-Silicon –
Magnesium generally will have fewer tendencies to form carbides in thin
sections and also will have good nodularity.

Presence of carbide stabilizers promotes segregation during solidification,


especially in heavier sections. This in turn promotes intercellular dendrites
or carbides. Similar state also can occur due to in-effective inoculation and
thus may give rise to Inverse Chilling.

All the above clearly indicates importance of INOCULATING


EFFICIENTLY for better properties. Inoculation efficiency depends upon
various factors. Tapping temperature must be sufficiently high for good
dissolution and dispersement of the inoculant. Also inoculant must be
measured carefully before addition. Late inoculation, when correctly
applied, gives maximum effect. It is used where effective ladle / stream
inoculation is impossible. However, late inoculants are a specialized process
and must be introduced after rigorous trials.

For ladle addition, 0.20 –0.50 % by wt. Of metal and of size 0.5 – 15 mm is
added. For stream inoculation, inoculant of the size 0.08 – 0.25 % by wt. Of
the size 0.2 – to 6 mm is added. Whereas in-mould ( late ) addition can be
0.05 % by wt of size 0.5 -0.2 mm.

In the end it is important to note that efficiency of the inoculant depends


upon tapping temperature, method of addition, size and composition of
inoculant.as well as metal composition.

Always remember that any inoculent starts fading immediately after


addition, some inoculants fade faster than others and efficiency of the
inoculant depends greatly on its composition.