IRON FOUNDRY BASICS
What is ironfounding?
lronfounding is fundamental to modern industry, yet it can be equally well operated on a small
scale by small numbers of people in rural areas.
Iron shapes or "castings" are made by pouring molten metal into moulds made of sand. Small parts
which cannot easily be shaped by the method of forging are cheaply and simply produced in this
Cast iron is a brittle material which is strong when compressed, but relatively weak when pulled or
bent. These qualities determine the uses of cast iron, which are very numerous.
Cast iron is found in motor cars, tractors, ships, factories (sic), mines, houses, in the streets and
roads, and almost any place one cares to look. For example, the cylinder head, water pump and
exhaust manifold of a car; the grid, manhole cover and lamp post in the street; parts of a
compressor, many parts of agricultural, building and textile equipment - all are made of cast iron.
Every day of our lives, something made of this material is used by most people.
A decision on the level of technology - or the size and type of foundry to be set up - must depend
on such factors as the capital available, raw materials supply and labour availability, the
characteristics of the market and the size and type of castings required.
When one has chosen the size and type of furnace, one must also make sure that there are enough
moulds to take the quantity of metal melted, and that there is always enough metal to complete a
pour once it is started.
Sequence of operations
For ironfounding there are three main
levels of technology:
(1) Simple operations needing low
capital and low power resources,
utilizing the crucible furnace.
(2) More elaborate operations for
longer runs, requiring more expertise
and labour, capital and power, and
using the small cupolette type of
(3) Elaborate operations requiring
high capital investment, high power
resources, and expensive melting
The present pamphlet covers the first two of these three possibilities. Information on the
mechanised foundry can be easily obtained from any large foundry equipment manufacturer.
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