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What's in a name?

What's In a Name?

Have you ever been asked by newcomers to the foundry industry, or people outside the industry, why we call things what we call them? Maybe not, but I'm asked all the time. Here are a few examples.

"What's the difference between grey iron and gray iron?"

"What's the difference between ductile iron and nodular iron?"

"How do you invest an investment casting?"

"What makes stainless steel stainless?"

Dumb questions? I don't think so. Sometimes they are asked out of idle curiosity, sometimes genuine interest. Often times these questions are asked out of a real need to know. They've been posed by college students, consultants, bankers, government officials and, most importantly, by casting buyers and designers.

Take just a minute and ask yourself how you might respond to the above questions keeping in mind that they are being asked by people who really don't know, but who really want to know. Then, maybe you could help me out on the question I'm asked most often.

"Why do you call it green sand?"

Normally I try to explain that the term really has nothing to do with the color green. Rather, the term "green" refers to the fact that molds and cores, when using the green sand process, are made by mixing water, clay and sand together, and do not require curing. So, in this case, the term "green" really refers to the newness or freshness of the mold, and that green is often used as a synonym for these terms.

Sometimes they understand, and sometimes they don't. But I know I've really lost them when they ask, "Then why is it black?" I determined a long time ago that the questioner really isn't interested in a dissertation on the use of seacoal or other carbonaceous materials in the molding process.

Maybe it's only us editor types who concern themselves with things like industry jargon, but to some extent the industry itself should be concerned when its terminology confuses its own customers.

Here's a case in point. Some time ago, I received a call from the purchasing agent of a large truck manufacturer who was looking for sources of "nodular iron castings made in `that styrofoam stuff.'" Call me picky if you will, but I thought it was my duty to set him straight on the lingo.

So, I explained that nodular iron was more commonly referred to as ductile iron. "Why?" Because the term ductile refers to an important property of the metal, whereas nodular refers to the shape of the graphite in the iron.

I continued by saying that it was felt that material engineers were probably more interested in the properties of the iron than the configuration of its graphite. The same was true of malleable iron. Then I asked him not to ask me about the differences between grey iron and gray iron, or about how gray iron got its name.

We then started on "that styrofoam stuff." I gave him a quick rundown on the history of the process that was originally known as the Full-Mold process. I told him that the process goes by several names today, and ran off as many as I could think of at the time: Evaporative Pattern Casting (EPC); Evaporative Casting Process (ECP); Evaporative Foam Casting (EFC); Plastic Foam Pattern Casting (PFPC); Foam Casting Process (FCP); Lost Foam Casting (LFC). I admitted that I may have missed a few.

"Kind of sounds like the government," he said. "Why so many?" It's a relatively new process, I told him, and people used the various names for proprietary, commercial and for personal reasons. "Why don't you just settle on one?" That's easier said than done, I said, but we are trying.

And so we are. Up until this issue of modern casting we have referred to "that styrofoam stuff" as the evaporative pattern casting process, or EPC. And while we don't want to confuse the issue any further, you will notice in our report on the process in this issue we are now calling it "Foam Pattern Casting," or FPC. This is because, for some time, many of the people who have researched and worked the process have been telling me that while the pattern does many things during the casting process, it does not evaporate. They finally convinced me.

So, starting with this issue, we will be calling it the Foam Pattern Casting process. Besides being more technically correct, hopefully it will be easier on our customers and potential customers, and no one has claimed the name--yet--for commercial use.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:the vocabulary of the foundry industry
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:editorial
Date:Oct 1, 1989
Words:761
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