Cast Iron – a Definition
Cast irons typically contain 2-4 wt% of carbon with a high silicon concentrations and a greater concentration of impurities than steels. The carbon equivalent (CE) of a cast iron helps to distinguish the grey irons which cool into a microstructure containing graphite and and the white irons where the carbon is present mainly as cementite.
Cast iron’s properties are changed by adding various alloying elements, or alloyants. Next to carbon, silicon is the most important alloyant because it forces carbon out of solution. Instead the carbon forms graphite which results in a softer iron, reduces shrinkage, lowers strength, and decreases density. Sulfur, when added, forms iron sulfide, which prevents the formation of graphite and increases hardness.
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