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Electroslag casting of hollow ingots and billets in industrial production: (review).

Hollow ingots from steels and alloys are widely used in state-of-the-art industry for production by means of rolling, pressing or radial forging of seamless pipes of different assortment and for manufacturing by hot and cold expanding of different rings and thin-wall shells. Use of such billets allows significant simplifying of technology of production of ready items. The hollow ingots themselves are produced with application of machining, hot upset, or piercing of central part of an ingot of solid section. Hollow billets, designed for expanding, are also produced by centrifugal casting.

Development of electroslag technology caused development of methods for production of hollow billets directly in the process of remelting. These billets were designated for further processing into items with especially high operation properties. In production of seamless pipes and shells use of a hollow billet excludes operation of piercing of a monolithic electroslag ingot, which compensates cost of electroslag remelting (ESR) and makes it possible to produce pipes from steels and alloys difficult for piercing. In many cases electroslag hollow billets may be used in the cast form without further deformation, because strength of the cast electroslag metal is not inferior to strength of a deformed metal of conventional production, but significantly exceeds it in plasticity and toughness [1, 2].

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

For formation of a cavity in an electroslag billet inside the mould an additional cooled surface, so called internal mould or a mandrel, is introduced. In this case ESR process is performed in the space between external and internal moulds (Figure 1).

In melting of a hollow ingot area of the molten slag contact with walls of the moulds increases that causes increased loss of heat, which is taken away by the cooling water directly from the slag pool. For compensation of this loss in melting of a hollow ingot specific power, released in the slag, should be higher than in melting of a solid ingot of the same external diameter, whereby the smaller is thickness of the hollow ingot wall, the higher should be increase of the specific power. Relative losses of heat from the slag pool to the cooling water in melting of hollow ingots of any standard sizes may be assessed proceeding from Figure 2. Using dimensionless factor F, equal to ratio of total area of the molten slag contact with cooled walls to area of the metal pool surface, one may determine share of heat, taken away by cooling water directly from the slag, by which supplied power should be increased [3].

In addition to increased heat losses from slag pool in melting of hollow ingots additional heat removal to the mandrel from the remelted metal occurs. Shrinkage of the ingot being melted causes compression by it of the mandrel. That's why character of change of heat removal from external and internal surface of the hardening hollow ingot significantly differs. By means of the distance increase from the metal pool surface, heat release of the ingot to the external mould reduces due to increase of gap between them, while heat release to the internal mould increases [3].

In connection with more intensive heat removal metal of the hollow ingot solidifies with higher overcooling than metal of a solid ingot of the same external diameter [4, 5]. This causes production of more fine-grain primary structure and increased and stable values of density of hollow ingots in comparison with solid ones. So, density of metal over thickness of the wall (220 mm) of a hollow ingot of 540 mm diameter from steel of the 35KhN3M grade remains constant and constitutes 7.85 g/[cm.sup.3], while in solid ingot of the same diameter it reduces to center by 0.04 g/[cm.sup.3]. As a result metal of a hollow ingot is characterized by higher ductility than of a solid one [6].

The first hollow electroslag ingot was produced in the E.O. Paton Electric Welding Institute as far back as in 1955 [7]. It was melted according to the scheme, presented in Figure 1, just instead of consumable electrodes of big section a welding wire was used. For implementation of such scheme of melting a disposable internal mould was used, which during << undressing >> of the ingot was cut and removed. Afterwards development of technology of electroslag casting (ESC) of hollow ingots was directed at search of methods of removal from them of internal moulds without destruction.

In industrial production three different methods of ESC of hollow ingots were mastered, which differed by peculiarities of formation of their external and internal surfaces. According to first method a hollow ingot is melted with internal and external moulds being immovable. According to second method the external mould remains immovable, while the internal one moves relative the ingot being melted. Third method is characterized by the fact that relative movement of both moulds and the ingot being melted takes place.

First method of ESC is mainly used for serial production of cast electroslag billets with semi-closed cavities (Figure 3), which are formed by an immovable reusable mandrel [8]. Such mandrels represent rigid water-cooled rods, made from metal with thermal expansion which significantly differs from expansion of the cast metal. Channels for cooling water are cut on surface of a rod and covered by a thin copper jacket.

For ESC of a hollow ingot from carbon steel a mandrel with a rod from austenite steel is used. After melting the billet with a fixed in it mandrel is heated in a furnace. During heating it is stretched by the rigid mandrel which has higher thermal expansion. After cooling a gap is formed between them, and the mandrel is removed from the billet. In case of melting of a billet from austenite steel a rod from carbon steel is used. In this case during heating in a furnace the cast billet expands more than the mandrel, and the latter is removed in the heated state. As far as mandrels after each melt are insignificantly deformed, they may be repeatedly used [9].

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

An immovable rigid mandrel prevents from free shrinkage of the metal and causes in it tensile strain, which in the sections, where metal has not sufficiently solidified, may cause formation of hot cracks. Absolute value of tensile strain of a solidifying metal increases with increase of the cavity diameter, that makes higher probability of a crack formation. In this connection a mandrel, made in the form of a rigid water-cooled rod, may be used for formation of internal cavities of a limited diameter (in some cases not more than 200 mm).

Using immovable cooled mandrels the ingots are produced with cavities of even bigger diameter. In this case internal moulds are used, which are able to deform in process of melting under action of the shrinking metal of the casting. These may be water-cooled internal moulds with a disposable jacket, made from a thin carbon steel, or dismountable mandrels. Due to mutual movement of parts of the dismountable mandrel, the latter is not subjected to plastic strain in process of shrinkage of a hollow ingot, which allows using it repeatedly [10, 11].

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

The most widely method of ESC of hollow billets with application of immovable mandrels of different designs is used in manufacturing of parts of the power-producing equipment. So, from steels of the 15Kh1M1F and 0Kh18N10T grades housings of valves are produced with nominal bore from Dn 100 to 400 of 2.2 t mass for thermal and nuclear power plants, and from steel of the 0Kh18N10T grade--connecting pipes of valves with Dn 500 are made [8, 12]. From steel 20 housings of valves with Dn 800 for second circuit of the NPP power units are made [13].

For other branches of industry using such mandrels billets the container bushings from steel of the 5KhNM grade of 690 mm diameter were made, which had wall thickness 185 mm and mass 2.5 t [14], hollow billets of big nuts from steel 45 of 175 kg mass, etc. [10].

For implementation of second method of ESC of hollow billets an internal mould in the form of a truncated cone is used, which is moved in the course of the process relative the part being melted, which allows avoiding its gripping by the cooling metal. Coning of the mandrel is made in such way that during movement of the latter reduction of its diameter corresponds to thermal shrinkage of the billet, whereby the mandrel is placed with its bigger foot in direction of its movement. Depending upon direction of movement, a cavity of different configuration is formed in the casts. When the mandrel moves upwards, the cavity has constant diameter, while during its movement downwards a cavity with a small coning is formed [15].

In serial production only ESC method with a moving downwards internal mould is used. Because of coning of the internal cavity this method of melting is used for production of comparatively short billets with ratio of height to internal diameter close to one. Scheme of this process is presented in Figure 4. As far as electroslag melting is performed according to the multielectrode scheme in the immovable mould, melted ingots have smooth external surface. Their internal surface is also smooth (without surface tears) because a cone mandrel, when it moves in opposite to growth of the billet direction, compresses crust of the solidifying metal [15].

Peculiarity of cavity formation in such ESC method allows certain squeezing of the mandrel by a cooling billet. Value of the force, necessary for overcoming squeezing of the mandrel, is used as a parameter for regulating speed of drawing [16]. Doubtless advantage of this ESC method of hollow billets is possibility of its performance without application of special sensors that determine position of the metal pool level relative the movable mandrel.

Using this ESC method, different hollow billets are made for subsequent deformation or use in a cast form instead of forged pieces. For hot expanding into rings and cold rolling of pipes hollow billets of 440 mm diameter with wall thickness up to 140 mm and height up to 500 mm from high-alloyed steels of the EI811, EI961, EP57 and Kh16N6 grades are melted [17]. For use in the cast form connection pipes of 10G2, 09G2S and 16GS steels with flanges of 550 mm diameter, wall thickness 100 mm and height up to 600 mm are produced [18]. Using ESC also cast drive gearwheels of powerful industrial tractors of 1180 x 860 x 140 mm size from steel 45G are produced, which were earlier produced from forged pieces. The ESC method allowed drastic reducing volume of machining of wheels due to casting of teeth with minimum profile allowances [19].

For production of long hollow ingots or billets third ESC method is used, in which relative movement of a melted metal and both moulds is performed, whereby a cone internal mould is directed with its expansion upwards. Different options of this method are used: for example, a hollow ingot being melted remains immovable on a pallet, and by means of its growth the moulds are moved upwards (Figure 5, a); the moulds remain immovable, while the billet being melted is moved downwards together with a pallet (Figure 5, b) [20].

For melting of billets using this method the used electrodes are arranged in the form of a paling from round and rectangular rolled stock. The paling of electrodes between the moulds is arranged in such way that elements of the structure that hold the mandrel in necessary position be in interspaces between separate electrodes. The moulds, united into a common block, may have expansion in the upper part. A slag pool is located in it during remelting, and process of melting of consumable electrodes occurs in it [21, 22]. The moulds with expanded melting zone allow using shorter electrodes, cross section of which may exceed wall thickness of a hollow billet being melted, which makes it possible to increase length of the billet without changing height of the electroslag unit [23].

In ESC in an expanded mould the molten metal from flashed ends of consumable electrodes drains into narrow part of the gap, in which a hollow billet is formed. By moving the mould or the ingot at the speed of melting, surface of the metal pool is maintained at the assigned level below the expansion threshold. Surface of the slag pool in expanded part of the mould also remains practically immovable relative its walls. In this case when direct scheme of connection of the electrode--ingot power source is used, local wear of the mould wall occurs in area of the slag pool surface. The wear occurs as a result of electric erosion of the metal under action of that part of the working current, which goes from the electrode through the slag pool directly to the mould wall [24]. In case of ESC of ingots with filling of an immovable mould, this phenomenon is manifested weakly, because the slag pool moves along the whole surface of the mould walls.

[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]

For the purpose of controlling local wear of the walls, consumable electrodes are connected pairwise with source of current according to the bifilar scheme, whereby share of the working current, which is directed to the mould, and, respectively, local wear significantly reduce [25].

In ESC with relative movement of the hollow ingot being melted and the moulds speed of the movement should correspond to rate of the ingot growth. In case, if speed of movement exceeds rate of the ingot growth, outflow of the molten metal through the formed interspace between the ingot and the cone mandrel will occur, while if speed of movement is below the rate of the ingot growth, squeezing of the mandrel by the hollow ingot will occur, and during its further movement the mould will start to tear from the ingot the metal crust that squeezes it. That's why in this case force of squeezing may not be used for regulation of speed of mutual movement in the same way as in case of melting with drawing of the mandrel downwards. For regulation of speed of mutual movement of the moulds and the ingot in this case special sensors are used which track the metal pool level. Sensors of induction [26], heat [27] and potential [28] types are used, which are installed in the mould wall below the expansion threshold.

Using ESC with relative movement of both moulds long hollow billets with diameters up to 1500 mm and wall thickness from 40 to 350 mm are produced under industrial conditions [23, 29-31]. The most typical examples of using such billets from different classes of steel are presented below.

From carbon steel 20 hollow billets of 680 mm diameter are produced, which have thickness of walls 110 mm and length 1.5 m. Housings of servomotors for hydroelectric power stations are produced from them [12].

From alloyed structural steel of the 38KhM grade wide nomenclature of hollow ingots, which are used for subsequent expanding into rings, are produced [29].

From tool steel of the 9KhF grade billets of 1200 mm diameter are cast with thickness of walls 320 mm, length up to 2.4 m and mass above 16 t for cast sleeves of support rolls of rolling mills [32].

From die steels of the 4KhMFS and 4Kh4M2VFS grades bushings of diameter from 295 to 775 mm and internal diameter from 145 to 365 mm are melted for hydrocontainers of horizontal pipe presses [31]. Experience of operation of cast electroslag bushings showed that their durability exceeds 2 times durability of the forged ones.

From stainless steel of the 07Kh16N6 grade billets of drums of 6 t mass, length 2.5 m, diameter 1460 mm and wall thickness 80 mm are melted [33]. From steel of the 12Kh18N10T grade billets of vessel housings of 2.5 m length, 715 mm diameter with wall thickness 170 mm, which operate at temperature of liquid nitrogen and pressure 7 MPa, are made [34].

There is a version of the ESC technology, according to which the ingot is drawn downwards, and the external mould and the mandrel are not united into a common block. In this case the mandrel is installed on a rigid rod, through which also cooling water is fed and withdrawn. In process of ESC upper end of the internal mould is maintained below level of the slag in such way that it just a little protrudes above the metal pool, whereby space inside the mould that is above the slag pool level remains free for placement of the consumable electrodes [35, 36]. Scheme of such ESC process is presented in Figure 5, c.

Advantage of this ESC version of hollow ingots is possibility of using for remelting one consumable electrode of big diameter. In course of the ESC process as if piecing of solid electrode and formation of a hollow billet occur. This variety of ESC received name--electroslag piercing.

In piercing there is no need to use for remelting thin rolled stock from the required grade of material and produce from it a consumable electrode in the form of a paling of bars. Application of one electrode simplifies process of the ESC preparation and significantly reduces cost of its preparation. Especially efficient is piercing in production of hollow billets from hardly-deformed steels and alloys, from which it is difficult to produce thin bars, whereby for melting of hollow billets cast consumable electrodes may be used, produced by methods of vacuum induction melting and vacuum arc remelting.

Introduction into industry of the piercing method encounters certain difficulties, connected with durability of the technological fitting-out. Firstly, maximum length of a hollow billet, melted in this way, is limited by rigidity of the rod that preserves with necessary accuracy position of the mandrel in relation to the external mould. Secondly, because of a direct scheme of the consumable electrode connection to the power source not just local electroerosion process of the external mould wall occurs, but also intensive destruction of upper part of the mandrel. Wear of the mandrel by the passing current is aggravated by the rain of the overheated metal drops, which get on it from the flashed end of the consumable electrode.

For reduction of these harmful phenomena built-up moulds and mandrels, assembled from separate isolated from each other parts, are used. In addition, using blowing of the slag pool by inert gases through the mandrel, the zone of the drip fall is shifted from upper end of the mandrel to surface of the annular metal pool. These technological methods increase service life of the moulds up to several hundreds melts [37].

Using electroslag piercing, hollow billets of 525 mm diameter with wall thickness 135 mm, length 1.5 m from the 30KhN2M steel and nickel alloy (wt.%: 20 Cr; 20 Fe; 5 Nb; 3 Mo; 1 Ti) were produced. These billets were designed for subsequent deformation [36]. Electroslag cast billets of longitudinal carriages of automatic machines were also serially manufactured from the 20Kh steel. Billets of 1.4 m length with a shape external surface and cavity of 135 mm diameter were melted [35, 37].

Using ESC method with drawing, hollow billets with a curvilinear axis were also produced, whereby forming parts of the moulds were imparted necessary curvature, and the billet was drawn over arc of the circumference of necessary radius. Scheme of the process is presented in Figure 5, d. Using this ESC method pipe knees from high-temperature chrome-nickel steel of 25-20 type [38] and elbows of Dn 350 with wall thickness 60 mm having mass up to 950 kg from steel of the 14KhGS and 30KhMA grades are produced. They are used for production of pipelines and heat exchangers that operate at high temperature and pressure. Produced by this method cast electroslag knees may have turn angle up to 180[degrees] [13].

Using scheme with drawing of the billet over circumference only from the external mould, half rings of solid section are cast; after their pairwise welding cast electroslag ring billets are produced. Using this technology, bands of cement kilns of T-shape profile from steel 35 are produced. These rings are welded into body of the kiln and function as supports during rotation of the latter. They have width of the support part 900 mm and general width 1500 mm. Diameter of the support part of the rings is 6 m, internal diameter is 5 m, mass is 65 t. Application of such electroslag bands allowed increasing rigidity of the cement kiln body and significant increasing durability of its lining [39].

[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]

For application in cast form without subsequent deformation it is possible to produce not just cylindrical billets with a cavity, located concentrically, but also billets with any other constant over length shape of the cross section. For example, billets of 4 m length with an eccentrically located cavity and a rectangular protrusion outside on the side of the biggest wall thickness [40] and cylindrical billets of the housing of the double-worm granulator of 1.7 m length with the cavity in the form of figure of eight, consisting of two circumferences of 80 mm diameter [41], were produced. Billets in the form of a parallelepiped of 600 x 540 x 830 mm size with a rectangular 190 x x 160 mm hole were also melted [42].

For some machine building parts that operate under conditions of heating long billets with through holes for cooling are needed. Making of long holes by means of machining is rather complex. The ESC method with relative movement of the moulds significantly simplifies manufacturing of such parts. For production of long billets with several isolated from each other longitudinal holes inside the external mould a respective number of cooled conic mandrels are placed. Example of such cast billet is a cooled guide of 3.7 m length in the form of a shape profile with four longitudinal through holes of 23 mm diameter from steel of the 3Kh13 grade [43].

In Figure 6 shapes of cross section of some cast shape billets, produced by considered above ESC methods, are shown.

For commercial production of the electroslag hollow ingots and billets of different mass a series of electroslag furnaces was developed [44]. For specific items a water-cooled specialized copper and steel technological fitting-out (moulds, mandrels, pallets) were developed, by means of which it is possible to melt billets of different shape and size [10, 45, 46]. Methodologies of calculation and design of different types of moulds with convective or boiling conditions of cooling were developed [4].

Analysis of possibilities of different methods of production of the hollow cast electroslag billets and experience of their use in industry allowed giving following recommendations:

* it is most rational to perform melting of billets with semi-close cavities using the ESC method with application of immovable external and internal moulds;

* melting of hollow billets of a limited height one may perform by the ESC method with application of an immovable external mould and a movable relative the billet being cast internal mould, whereby external surface of the produced billets may have a complex form;

* for melting of long billets of constant cross section with one or several cavities the ESC technology with relative movement of the billet being melted and the moulds should be used.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Specialists of different countries developed and introduced into industrial production a special version of the electroslag process--ESC of hollow ingots and billets. This technology allows producing directly in the ESC process hollow cast billets, metal of which has higher service properties than the strained one.

2. The electroslag cast billets significantly simplify production from them of many unique parts. The ESC technology also solves the task of production of hollow billets of complex profile from hardly-deformed high-alloyed steels and alloys, which are used on ever growing scale in industry.

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[14.] Yuzhanin, Zh.I., Tsypunova, I.R., Agafonov, A.S. (1979) Producing of billets of container bushings from 5KhNM steel by electroslag casting. Metallovedenie i Termich. Obrab. Metallov, 6, 53-55.

[15.] Medovar, B.I., Chekotilo, L.V., Pavlov, V.L. (1973) Electroslag melting of hollow ingots. In: Proc. of Int. Symp. on Problems of Special Electrometallurgy (Kiev, June 1972). Kiev-Moscow, 42-46.

[16.] Yuzhanin, Zh.I. (1983) Auxiliary technological equipment in producing of electroslag castings. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, 19, 29-32.

[17.] Rabinovich, A.Ya., Zhelnin, B.P., Marinin, A.V. et al. (1983) Electroslag remelting at Kulebaksky S.M. Kirov Metallurgical Works. In: Electroslag technology. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

[18.] Chekotilo, L.V., Pavlov, V.L., Alikin, A.P. et al. (1983) Production experience of electroslag casting of shaped billets of hollow ingots by << cone >> method. In: Ibid.

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[23.] Medovar, B.I., Baglaj, V.M., Chekotilo, L.V. (1979) Electroslag casting of high-pressure large-sized pipes. In: Electroslag remelting. Issue 5. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

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[29.] Vasiliev, B.P., Fedorovsky, B.B., Us, V.I. et al. (1991) Hollow ESR ingots: billets for hot rolling of rings and shells. Ibid., Issue 4, 6-9.

[30.] Baglaj, V.M., Fedorovsky, B.B., Timashov, G.A. (1976) Producing of thin-walled pipes by electroslag casting method. Ibid., Issue 5, 34-40.

[31.] Zhadkevich, M.L., Fedorovsky, B.B., Borodin, A.I. (1988) High-quality cast hollow electroslag billets. Litejnoe Proizvodstvo, 8, 12-13.

[32.] Fedorovsky, B.B., Timashov, G.A., Emelianenko, Yu.G. et al. (1987) Application of hollow electroslag billets in heavy machine-building. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, 2, 24-27.

[33.] Yuzhanin, Zh.I., Dubinsky, R.S. (1988) ESC at PO Kolomensky Works of Heavy Machine-Tools. In: Electroslag technology. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

[34.] Medovar, B.I., Chepurnoj, A.D., Saenko, V.Ya. et al. (1981) Electroslag melting of billets of high-pressure vessels from austenitic steel. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, Issue 15, 13-16.

[35.] Timashov, G.A., Fedorovsky, B.B., Khlebnikov, B.A. et al. (1983) Producing of shaped billets of machine tool parts by electroslag piercing method. In: Electroslag technology. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

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[38.] Uji, A. (1977) Producing of shaped rings using the ESC process with stripping and rotation. In: Electroslag remelting. Issue 4. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

[39.] Pokhlebaev, V.K., Dimitrov, Z.I., Beloglazov, A.P. et al. (1983) Application of electroslag technology for producing of welded band billets at << Volgotsemmash >> Works. In: Electroslag technology. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.

[40.] Fedorovsky, B.B., Timashov, G.A., Nagaevsky, I.D. et al. (1983) Application of ESC for producing of long shaped castings with flanges. In: Ibid.

[41.] Medovar, B.I., Timashov, G.A., Fedorovsky, B.B. et al. (1979) Electroslag casting of billets of two-worm granulators. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, Issue 11, 41-43.

[42.] Paton, B.E., Medovar, B.I., Chekotilo, L.V. et al. (1971) Electroslag melting of rectangular section hollow ingots. Spets. Elektrometallurgiya, Issue 13, 35-39.

[43.] Fedorovsky, B.B., Timashov, G.A., Bondarenko, L.I. et al. (1986) ESC of long billets with simultaneous producing of several holes of small diameter. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, 3, 38-39.

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[45.] Bondarenko, L.I., Timashov, G.A., Fedorovsky, B.B. (1986) Sectional moulds for ESC of large-sized hollow ingots. Problemy Spets. Elektrometallurgii, 1, 26-30.

[46.] Tsykulenko, K.A. (2007) Progress of electroslag technologies and updating of designs of ESR moulds (Review). Advances in Electrometallurgy, 4, 7-17.

M.L. ZHADKEVICH, V.L. SHEVTSOV and L.G. PUZRIN

E.O. Paton Electric Welding Institute, NASU, Kiev, Ukraine
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Title Annotation:ELECTROSLAG TECHNOLOGY
Author:Zhadkevich, M.L.; Shevtsov, V.L.; Puzrin, L.G.
Publication:Advances in Electrometallurgy
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Words:5206
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