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Cast Iron vs Cast Steel

One of our dandong foundry clients asked me which one is better for cast iron vs cast steel. I have to say, no one is better, but just which one is more suitable to your products.

Firstly, let us know what is cast iron and cast steel.

Cast iron usually refers to gray iron, ductile iron and malleable iron, which is iron casting with carbon content upper than 2%.

Cast steel usually refers to normal carbon steel and alloy steel, or called steel casting with carbon content lower than 2%.

Therefore, no big difference considering from the chemical content and raw materials for cast iron vs cast steel. However, their physical properties have many differences.

The advantage and disadvantage of cast iron:

The grey cast iron has good casting properties, good vibration damping, good wear resistance, good machinability and low notch sensitivity. However, its tensile strength and elongation are very low, so grey cast iron is suitable for producing some metal parts with low mechanical requirements, such as protective cover, cover, oil pan, hand wheels, frame, floor, hammer, small handle, base, frame, box, knife, bed, bearing seat, table, wheels, cover, pump, valve, pipe, flywheel, motor blocks etc.

Grey cast iron also has some high grades, so the grey iron castings with high grades can withstand greater load, and a certain degree of tightness and corrosion resistance. Such as cylinder, gear, base, flywheels, bed, cylinder block, cylinder liner, piston, gear box, brake wheel, coupling Plate, medium pressure valve, etc. More refer to iron-foundry.com.

The ductile iron and malleable iron have higher strength, better ductility, heat-resistance and toughness than grey iron, so it has a wider application, in some cases, ductile iron can replace carbon steel.

However, its production technology is high, the production process is more complex, so ductile iron castings have more casting defects, and its production cost is higher than grey cast iron. Considering its advantagous, there are many fields that ductile iron are using for, such as Pressure pipes and fittings, Automotive applications, Agriculture, road and construction applications, General engineering applications.

The advantage and disadvantage of cast steel:

One of the advantages of cast steel is the design flexibility, the designer of the casting have the greatest freedom of design choices, especially the complex shape and hollow cross-section parts.

Cast steel has the metallurgy manufacturing flexibility and strongest variability, you can choose a different chemical composition and control, adapted to the various requirements of different projects. By different heat treatment choice in the larger context of the mechanical properties and performance, and good weldability and workability.

Steel castings can be used for a variety of working conditions, and its mechanical properties superior to any other casting alloys, and a variety of high-alloy steel for special purposes. To withstand high tensile stress or dynamic load of components, it is important pressure vessel castings in low or high temperature by the large and important part load key parts, in principle, should give priority to steel castings.

However, the cast steel has comparatively bad shake-suction, wear resistance, mobility and the casting performance are compared bad with cast iron.

The steel castings made by lost wax investment casting will have better inside and surface quality, but its price will be much higher than ductile iron.

Moreover, the cast iron castings could be made by automatic molding line or shell molding process, therefore, the production rate is much more higher than steel castings. The production leading time will be much shorter.

Cast Iron vs Cast Steel:

Therefore, for cast iron vs cast steel, they have their own advantages and disadvantages, you should choose it according to your application and their physical properties.

The choosing principle will be:

1. If the gray iron or ductile iron can meet the mechanical and physical properties of your products, then no necessary to consider cast steel.

2. If you prefer the perfect surface quality and dimensional control, then you could consider the steel castings made by silica sol investment casting process, although its price will be very high.

3. If you have very high demand quantity, such as tens of thousands pieces each year, you may need to consider cast iron made by automatic molding or shell molding process.

4. If you do not have high requirement to their mechanical properties, then you can choose gray cast iron, because its price will be the lowest than ductile iron and cast steel.

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