No need to cast about for answers

New software from Finland offers design engineers a way to check whether components can be cast. Not only that, but it shows the non-expert how to optimise the castability at the design stage, saving time and cost, as well as improving the quality of the finished part.

The programme is designed to ease communications between the designer and the foundry. Engineers in the field are used to designing the components and adding machining stocks, drafts, and such like, but the casting process remains something of a mystery.

CastCheck, which runs on Windows 95 and NT, UNIX and MacOS platforms, comes with a library of simple casting shapes which show trivial and optimised solutions. The library helps the user to visualise good and bad designs, at the same time teaching the designer to understand the requirements of the casting process better.

Although the programme is based on numerical simulation, results are analysed from the design engineer’s viewpoint. Very little prior knowledge is needed. The engineer must have a stereolithography (STL) file of the component and general information such as the casting method, the material and the minimum wall thickness of the component.

No gating and risering system is required to run the programme. Results are shown as 3D X-ray pictures which describe the potential defect areas in the component. Typical running times vary from minutes to a few hours, depending on the complexity of the component.

Castech, the company that developed the program, is now also offering a new release of the casting simulation programme CastCAE, version 2.5, which simulates mould filling, solidification, shrinkage and expansion, porosity and defect formation and also predicts microstructure and hardness of certain materials. It can be used in sand casting, gravity die casting, investment casting and vacuum processes. Casting materials can be cast iron, steel and other metallic alloys.

Figure 1: By numerical simulation, the CASTCAE program calculates heat transfer, solidification and mass flow during the casting process. Left: temperature field and defects. Right: solidification time of casting

{{CastechTel: Finland +358 9 43 75 353Enter 603}}