Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
830
n
IRON AND STEEL


silicon equals I-66, there will be no blowholes; if this sum is less, blowholes will occur, and will be injuriously near the surface unless this sum is reduced to o-28. He thus finds that this sum should be either as great as I-66, so that blowholes shall be absent; or as low as 0-28, so that they shall be harmlessly deep-seated. These numbers must be varied with the variations in other conditions, such as casting temperature, rapidity of solidification, &c., 123. Se re ation.-The solidification of an ingot of steel takes place gracfually from without inwards, and each layer in solidifying tends to expel into the still molten interior the impurities which it contains, especially the carbon, phosphorus, and sulphur, which by this process are in part concentrated or segregated in the last-freezing part of the ingot. This is in general around the lower part of the pipe, so that here is a second motive for rejecting the piped 'part of the ingot. While segregation injures the metal here, often atally, by giving it an indeterminate excess of phosphorus and sulphur, it clearly purifies the remainder of the ingot, and on this account it ought, under certain conditions, to be promoted rather than restrained. The following is an extreme case:-

Carbon. Silicon. Manganese. Phosphorus. Sulphur. Composition of the

initial metal per

cent . 0-24 0-336 o-97 0-089 0-074

Composition of the

segregate . 1-27 o-41 1~o8 0-753 o-418

The surprising fact that the degree of segregation does not increase greatly either with the slowness of solidification or with the size of the ingot, at least between the limits of 5 in. sq. and 16 in. sq., has been explained by the theory that the relative quiet due to the gentleness of the convection currents in a slowly cooling mass favours the formation of far out shooting pine-tree crystals, and that the tangled branches of these crystals landlock much of the littoral molten mother metal, and thus mechanically impede that cent reward diffusion and convection of the impurities which is the essence of segregation.

124. Castings and Forgiugs.-There are two distinct ways of making the steel objects actually used in the arts, such as rails, gear wheels, guns, beams, &c., out of the molten steel made by the Bessemer, open hearth, or crucible process, or in an electric furnace. The first is by “ steel founding, ” i.e. casting the steel as a “ steel casting ” in a mould which has the exact shape of the object to be made, e.g. a gear wheel, and letting it solidify there. The second is by casting it into a large rough block called an “ ingot, ” and rolling or hammering this out into the desired shape. Though the former certainly seems the simpler way, yet its technical difficulties are so great that it is in fact much the more expensive, and therefore it is in general used only in making objects of a shape hard to give by forging or rolling. These technical difficulties are due chiefly to the very high melting point of the metal, nearly 1500° C. (2732° F.), and to the consequent great contraction which it undergoes in cooling through the long range between this temperature and that of the room. The cooling of the thinner, the outer, and in general the more exposed parts of the casting outruns that of the thicker and less exposed parts, with the consequence that, at any given instant, the different parts are contracting at very different rates, i.e. aeolotachically; and this aeolotachic contraction is very likely to concentrate severe stress on the slowest cooling parts at the time when they are passing from the molten to the solid state, when the steel is mushy, with neither the fluidity of a liquid nor the strength and ductility of a solid, and thus to tear it apart. Aeolotachic contraction further leads to the “ pipes ” or contraction cavities already described in § IZI, and the procedure must be carefully planned first so as to reduce these to a minimum, and second so as to induce them to form either in those parts of the casting which are going to be cut off and re-melted, or where they will do little harm. These and kindred difficulties make each new shape or size a new problem, and in particular they require that for each and every individual casting a new sand or clay mould shall be made with care by a skilled workman. If a thousand like gears are to be cast, a thousand moulds must be made up, at least to an important extent by hand, for even machine moulding leaves something for careful manipulation by the moulder. It is a detail, one is tempted to say a retail, manufacture.

In strong contrast with this is the procedure in making rolled products such as rails and plates. The steel is cast in lots, weighing in some cases as much as 75 tons, in enduring cast iron moulds into very large ingots, which with their initial heat are immediately rolled down by a series of powerful roll trains into their final shape with but slight wear and tear of the moulds and the machinery. But in addition to the greater cost of steel founding as compared with rolling there are two facts which limit the use of steel castings: (1) they are not so good as rolled products, because the kneading which the metal undergoes in rolling improves its quality, and closes up its cavities; and (2) it would be extremely difficult and in most cases impracticable to cast the metal directly into any of the forms in which the great bulk of the steel of commerce is needed, such as rails, plates, beams, angles, rods, bars, and wire, because the metal would become so cool as to solidify before running far in such thin sections, and because even the short pieces which could thus be made would pucker or warp on account of their aeolotachic contraction.

125. Heat-ing Furnaces are used in iron manufacture chiefly for bringing masses of steel or wrought iron to a temperature proper for rolling or forging. In order to economize power in these operations, the metal should in general be as soft and hence as hot as is consistent with its reachingalow temperature before the rolling or forging is finished, because, as explained in § 32, undisturbed cooling from a high temperature injures the metal. Many of the furnaces used for this heating are in a general way like the puddling furnace shown in fig. 14, except that they are heated by gas, that the hearth or bottom of the chamber in which they are heated is nearly fiat, and that it is usually very much larger than that of a puddling furnace. But in addition there are many special kinds of furnaces arranged to meet the needs of each case. Of these two will be shown here, the Gjers soaking pit for steel ingots, and the Eckman or continuous furnace, as modified by C. H. Morgan for heating billets. 126. Gjers Soaking Pit.-When the outer crust of a large ingot in which a lot of molten steel has been cast has so far cooled that it can be moved without breaking, the temperature of the interior is still far above that suitable for rolling or hammering-so far above that the surplus heat of the interior would more than suffice to reheat the now cool crust to the rolling temperature, if we could only

arrest or even greatly retard the

further escape of heat from that

crust. Bringing such an ingot,

then, to the rolling temperature

is not really an operation of heating,

because its average temperature

is already above the rolling

temperature, but one of equalizing

the temperature, by allowing

the internal excess of heat to

“soak” through the mass. Gjers

did this by setting the partly solidified

ingot in a well-closed

“ pit ” of brickwork, preheated

by the excess heat of previous

lots of ingots. The arrangement,

shown in iig. 31, has three

advantages-(1) that the temperature

is adjusted with absolutely

no consumption of fuel; (2) that the waste of iron due to the oxidation of the outer crust of the ingot is very slight, because the little atmospheric oxygen initially in the pit is not renewed, whereas in a common heating furnace the flame brings a constant fresh supply of oxygen; and (3) that the ingot remains upright during solidification, so that its pipe is concentrated at oneend and is thus removable. (See§ 121.) In this form the system is rather inflexible, for if the supply of ingots is delayed the pits grow unduly cool, so that the next ensuing lot of ingots either is not heated hot enough or is delayed too long in soaking. This defect is usually remedied by heating the pits by the Siemens regenerative system (sec § go); the greater FIG. 31.*-S€Ct1011 of Gjers

Soaking Pit.