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Leading steel casting research has been a cornerstone of SFSA for more than a century. The Society’s portfolio of research programs are devoted exclusively to steel castings. Topics are influenced by the various research committees and research is conducted at leading universities with experts in areas like modeling, melting, heat treat, and material development.

SFSA members have exclusive access to research results through the steel casting wiki, technical meetings and the annual T&O conference.


  • Effect of Cooling Rate on Austenite/Ferrite Ratio, Iowa State University – Scott Chumbley
    • CD3MWCuN is a super duplex stainless steel used in corrosive environments. This two-phase microstructure gives this alloy a good combination of mechanical properties and corrosion resistance. Due to tightening specifications on allowable ferrite content, control of these two phases during melting has become increasingly critical. Schaeffler diagram has been used to predict the amount of austenite and ferrite in stainless steels based on chemistry; however, this plot was developed for welds. This project aims to develop a similar diagram based on variations of cooling rate from the homogenization temperature. The effect of the major alloying elements – chromium, nickel, molybdenum – on the microstructure will also be investigated. The CD3MWCuN composition will be varied by 10% Cr, Ni, Mo and the ferrite content will be measured.
  • Cold Spray, Iowa State University – Scott Chumbley
    • In some instances, small porosities are found on sealing surface of castings after machining. When this happens, castings need to be welded and reheat treated for them to be accepted. However, if the casting cannot be reheat treated without compromising its properties, the casting is scrapped instead. This project recognizes the potential of cold spray in salvaging castings and minimizing scrap in foundries. Cold spray is a relatively new technology that is used to deposit material as a coating or to fill up cavities for dimensional restoration and surface quality improvement. This method seems to be a viable technique to fill up small surface porosity on a sealing surface and other minor surface indentations.
  • Digital Surface Inspection, Iowa State University – Frank Peters
    • Current standards for inspection of cast metal surfaces use qualitative methods leaving room for variation in interpretation of the standard. Standards used in the metal casting industry are the Alloy Casting Institute (ACI) Surface Indicator Scale, Manufacturer Standardization Society (MSS) SP-55 Visual Method, and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) A802 that reference the Steel Castings Research and Trade Association (SCRATA) comparator plates. Some surface roughness inspection processes use the GAR Electroforming Cast Comparator C9. Other standards include ISO 11971 and BS EN 1370, which overviews SCRATA and BNIF, and ASTM A997 for investment castings. Digitizing the process will make the inspection more repeatable and reproducible and will help avoid confusion between the foundries and their customers. This will also help foundries verify visual inspection results internally or promote automation of the inspection qualification process.
  • Heavy Section Austenitic Stainless Steels, Lehigh University – John DuPont
    • Heat resistant austenitic stainless steels are capable of operating at high temperatures and are used in various applications. Depending on composition and section size (cooling rate), it can be difficult to achieve acceptable tensile properties in HH grade. The HK and HP grades are susceptible to cracking during welding and riser removal that has been attributed to carbide formation. Austenitic alloys such as CF8 and various heat resistant grades have exhibited indications during penetrant testing (PT) which is assumed to be due to grain boundaries pulling apart. This project will investigate these production issues and recommend solutions to improve properties and performance and reduce the scrap/rework resulting from the PT indications.
  • Intensive Quenching, Missouri University of Science and Technology – Laura Bartlett
    • Non-martensitic microstructures lower the fatigue performance of steel. Traditional methods of quenching require higher cost alloys with higher alloy content and risk potential for quench cracking. This project will determine intensive quenching parameters that will improve the performance characteristics of low alloy cast steels.
  • Cost Modeling, University of Alabama at Birmingham –Charles Monroe
    • The ability to produce and deliver cast parts on time and with the required quality is thwarted by unexpected process complexities and associated manufacturing difficulties. A cost modeling software will be developed to predict process complexity and estimate variable costs. This project will identify possible manufacturing routes, improve the speed, quality, and predictability of production, and minimize the operation and sustainment costs through better reliability of replacement parts.
  • Cast Preforms for Forging, University of Alabama at Birmingham – Robin Foley, Charles Monroe, John Griffin
    • Many forgings have long lead times and high costs because the stock is unavailable or is poorly shaped to produce the final forging. A cast preform allows material to be positioned to get the forging shape and properties efficiently. This project will determine the forging reductions for cast steel preforms to realize the required properties of a forging. The goal is to reduce the reduction ratios and still meet the required forging properties. Another application of this project is to further improve properties of some castings like ground engaging tools by forging critical areas of the castings. The use of cast preforms would expand the supply chain for low volume forged components since foundries can melt and cast in smaller batches.
  • Image Analysis for Digital Radiographs, University of Alabama at Birmingham – Robin Foley, Charles Monroe, John Griffin, William Monroe
    • UAB is developing an image analysis tool to rate digital radiographs and verify relationship between mechanical properties and maximum indication length. This maximum indication length will be determined using the radiography test (RT) standard developed by University of Iowa.
  • Modeling of Reoxidation Inclusions in Steel Castings, University of Iowa – Christoph Beckermann
    • Steel cleanliness still remains a major challenge in the steel industry. It was found that reoxidation inclusions are the major source of these inclusions. Reoxidation is the reaction of elements in liquid steel with oxygen after the molten steel has been deoxidized. Air entrainment during pouring is the main cause of reoxidation inclusions. SFSA’s Clean Steel program during the 1980’s and 1990’s has investigated the factors that affect air entrainment by conducting water modeling and several casting trials. University of Iowa (UI) is now developing a computational modeling tool that would predict the amount of air entrained during pouring. The experimental data acquired from the previous water modeling trials were compared to the results generated by the UI model. This modeling tool would help design and evaluate gating systems of steel castings.
  • Rapid Production Using Additive Manufacturing, University of Northern Iowa – Jerry Thiel
    • Rapid response and more suppliers are needed in the replacement of critical cast components for legacy weapons systems. Tooling including patterns and core boxes are often difficult to locate. New tooling for manufacturing cast metal parts is often expensive and requires significant lead-times. This project will demonstrate and transition advanced AM methodologies by developing virtual tooling that can be utilized by several suppliers, using advanced simulation to assure quality and conformance, improving the quality of cast components through optimization of design, including weight reduction and / or part consolidation, and minimizing costs and lead times.

Digital Innovative Design for Reliable Casting Performance program

The Digital Innovative Design for Reliable Casting Performance (DID) project is to develop a set of design tools that allow modern engineers to design castings confidently and elegantly. This set of design tools, based on comprehensive property measurements, will allow engineers to create cast parts that are reliable, high performance, and cost efficient for critical DoD and commercial applications.

The objectives of this project that support various levels of design strategy include:

  • Create design guidelines that will inform a designer on the design approach that is appropriate for their application
  • Write a standard, similar to ASME BPVC and AWS D1.1, that will inform designers on the appropriate alloy, heat treatment and specifications to use given their component requirements
  • Establish a digital design process that incorporates solidification modeling results with local material properties to evaluate the design in performance modeling
  • Develop NDT standards that are related to component performance

The university researchers involved in the DID program are:

  • NDT Development and Evaluation of Variability and Reliability, Iowa State University – Frank Peters and David Eisenmann
    • To support developing the design levels proposed, it is important to develop new NDT standards tied to performance. Current NDT methods and standards for commercial work are based on visual comparisons of workmanship standards. Experimental testing will be done to establish correlations between the NDT methods used to evaluate a casting and the resultant mechanical performance.
  • Solidification and Performance Modeling, University of Iowa – Christoph Beckermann
    • Casting solidification modeling will be integrated to performance analysis tools. This effort will enable the casting process solidification modeling results to predict local material and quality design properties to allow the component geometry to be digitally tailored to meet the performance requirements.
  • Material Characterization and NDT Development, University of Alabama at Birmingham – Charles Monroe, Robin Foley, John Griffin
    • The development of digital tools for computer modeling assessment of local design properties that are reliable will be impossible without experiments to validate the underlying assumptions in the process. Microstructural characterization of samples that are representative of the casting process will be conducted.
  • Welding Process Development, Lehigh University – John DuPont
    • Welding is a part of the production of steel castings; however, there is some misconception that this is done to “repair” the casting. This research aims to demonstrate that welds on castings do not degrade the quality and performance of the casting.
      Welding trials will also be done to support the current AWS D1.1 proposal to include carbon steel castings in the prequalified base metals. The mechanical properties of common cast carbon steels welded to similar mill grades will be evaluated.
  • Building Construction Component Design and Testing, University of Arizona – Robert Fleischmann
    • Structural testing of cast components will be done to show that steel castings can be used as structural components. The effect of different quality factors on the performance of steel castings will be evaluated. Cast prototypes will be welded to hollow structural steels to demonstrate that castings can be welded to standard structural components. A design guide for designers will also be developed to make the use of steel castings less complicated.
  • Development of Cast Carbon Steel for Building Construction, Pennsylvania State University – Robert Voigt
    • Current standards for cast carbon steels specify lower minimum strength and typical composition has higher carbon equivalent than mill products. The aim of this research is to develop a cast carbon steel that matches wrought grades used in building construction in terms of strength and carbon equivalent. This project will support the current proposal to include cast grades as prequalified base materials in AWS D1.1.
  • Process and Property Optimization of FeMnAl, Missouri University of Science and Technology – Laura Bartlett
    • Manganese steel, FeMnAl, offers excellent combinations of strength and toughness and low density; however, there are challenges, which are also common in making other manganese steels, in production of these alloys. These include melt cleanliness, large grain size, cracking during processing, and non-uniform response to heat treatment. This research will evaluate how to mitigate these issues and improve the manufacturability of this alloy. A next generation FeMnAl variant for castings and wrought products will be developed.

Project status summary

Research ProjectUniversityProfessorResearch Sponsor
Effect of Cooling Rate on Austenite/Ferrite RatioIowa State UniversityS. ChumbleySFSA
Cold SprayIowa State UniversityS. ChumbleySFSA
NDT Development and Evaluation of Variability and ReliabilityIowa State UniversityF. Peters, D. EisenmannDID
Digital Surface InspectionIowa State UniversityF. PetersAMC
Welding Process DevelopmentLehigh UniversityJ. DuPontDID
Heavy Section Austenitic Steel CastingsLehigh UniversityJ. DuPontAMC
Process and Property Optimization of FeMnAlMissouri University of Science and TechnologyL. BartlettDID
Intensive QuenchingMissouri University of Science and TechnologyL. BartlettAMC
Development of Cast Carbon Steel for Building ConstructionPennsylvania State UniversityR. VoigtDID
Material Characterization and NDT DevelopmentUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamC. Monroe, R. Foley, J. GriffinDID
Cost ModelingUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamC. MonroeAMC
Cast Preforms for ForgingUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamC. Monroe, R. Foley, J. GriffinAMC
Image Analysis for Digital RadiographsUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamC. Monroe, R. Foley, J. GriffinAMC
Building Construction Component Design and TestingUniversity of ArizonaR. FleischmannDID
Solidification and Performance ModelingUniversity of IowaC. BeckermannDID
Modeling of Reoxidation Inclusions in Steel CastingsUniversity of IowaC. BeckermannAMC
Rapid Production Using Additive ManufacturingUniversity of Northern IowaJ. ThielAMC