Cast Iron | Types, Advantages, Disadvantages, Applications [Full Guide]

By | August 27, 2018

In this article we will learn following things about cast iron.

  • What is cast iron?
  • Its Types
  • Its Advantages
  • Its Disadvantages
  • Its Applications

What is cast iron?

Cast iron is a ferrous alloy which has more than 2% carbon in it. Though it can have any percentage of carbon between 2% to 6.67%, but practically it is in between 2% to 4% only.

There is a basic difference between cast iron and steel. Steel contains less than 1% carbon and cast iron contains more than 2% carbon.

Cast iron has got its name due to its excellent casting qualities.

Other alloying elements which are generally used in cast iron are

  • Manganese: Increases resistance to wear and abrasions
  • Chromium: Increases hardenability, wear resistance, corrosion and oxidation resistance
  • Nickle: Increases tensile strength
  • Tungsten: It increases hot hardness and hot strength
  • Molybdenum: Increases hardenability
  • Vanadium: Increases hardenability and hot hardness
  • Silicon: Increases hardenability and electrical resistivity
  • Aluminum: Works as deoxidizer in steel
  • Titanium: Works as deoxidizer in steel
  • Niobium: It reduces hardenability and increases ductility, which results in increased impact strength
  • Cobalt: It reduces hardenability and resists softening at elevated temperatures

Types of cast iron

"Composition

In above table you can find the composition of different types of cast iron.

There are four basic types of cast iron (not taking Compacted Graphite, since its composition is almost same as Gray cast iron)

  1. White cast iron

Properties of white cast iron are

  • It has High compressive strength
  • It has Good hardness
  • It has Resistance to wear
  1. Gray cast iron

Properties of gray cast iron

  • It has Good machinability
  • It has Good resistance to galling and wear
  1. Ductile cast iron

Properties of ductile cast iron

  • It has High ductility
  • It has High strength
  1. Malleable cast iron

Properties of malleable cast iron

  • It has High ductility

Advantages of cast iron

  • It has Good casting properties
  • It is available in large quantities, hence produced in mass scale. Tools required for casting process are relatively cheap and inexpensive. This results into low cost of its products.
  • It can be given any complex shape and size without using costly machining operations
  • It has three to five times more compressive strength compared to steel
  • It has Good machinability (gray cast iron)
  • It has excellent anti-vibration (or damping) properties hence it is used to make machine frames
  • It has good Sensibility
  • It has excellent resistance to wear
  • It has constant Mechanical properties between 20 to 350 degree Celsius
  • It has very low notch sensitivity
  • It has Low stress concentration
  • It bears Low cost
  • It is Durability
  • It has Resistance to deformation

Disadvantages of cast iron

  • It is Prone to rusting
  • It has poor tensile strength
  • Its parts are section sensitive, this is due to slow cooling of thick sections.
  • failure of Its parts is sudden and total, it does not exhibit yield point.
  • It has poor impact resistance
  • Compared to steel it has poor machinability
  • It has High weight to strength ratio
  • It has High brittleness
  • It is Non machinable (white cast iron)

Applications of cast iron

It is used in making following things

  • Pipes
  • Machines
  • Automotive industry parts
  • Pots pans and utensils
  • Anchors etc.

Table of composition

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