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Sand Casting, or sand metal casting, is a process using sand
as the molding material to produce metal castings. The term is also used to
refer to the products produced by this process. Metals cast using the process
include tin, cast iron, aluminum and steel, as well as copper and bronze. Sand
casting is used to produce over seventy percent of all metal castings, some
of these include metal tools, car parts and plumbing. These castings are
produced in specialized foundries and factories, and the process is considered
an economical option because it requires less technology and cost.
Sand is an ideal material for efficient metal casting
because it is a refractory material and can withstand high temperatures. The
sand is usually mixed with clay or other bonding agents and is moistened with
water to establish the plasticity and strength of the mixture, which makes it
suitable for molding. The mixture is held in a system of mold boxes or frames
known as a flask. Compacting the sand around models or patterns, or carving
directly into the sand creates the gate system and mold cavities. The basic
process begins with placing a pattern in the sand to create the mold. Next, the pattern and sand are incorporated
in a grating system. The pattern is then removed and the cavity filled with
molten metal. Once the metal cools, the sand mold can be broken away and the
newly produced casting removed.
Sand casting is often used because it produces castings with
decent strength, structural density and pressure tightness at low cost. Equipment
is cheap and easy to use, so skilled operators are not a requirement. Sand
cores also allow for fairly complex shapes to be cast, as well as very large
castings if needed. The molds are usually destroyed after each run, but the
materials can be reused innumerable times. Other benefits include a wide alloy
range, design flexibility, and tooling lead time with this process.