Title page for ETD etd-05132009-155138

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Rutto, Hilary Kiplimo
URN etd-05132009-155138
Document Title Urea-based moulding compounds for investment casting
Degree PhD
Department Chemical Engineering
Advisor Name Title
Prof W W Focke Supervisor
  • biodegradable pattern
  • non-biodegradable pattern
  • polyvinyl alcohol
  • ethylene vinyl acetate
  • wax
  • urea
  • investment casting
Date 2007-04-15
Availability unrestricted
Conventional urea-based moulding compounds for investment casting patterns are manufactured using a slow “cooking” process. Nowadays in industrial processes the use of a faster process is highly recommended to increase throughput levels. At the same time, for quality control purposes, the requirements of an investment caster must be met. This study is therefore focused on:

  • Finding the appropriate conventional process and conditions to prepare urea-based investment casting moulding compounds.
  • Optimising the composition variables to meet the mechanical, thermal, surface, flow and cost properties needed in investment casting.
  • Characterising the moulding compounds to meet the requirements of an investment caster by comparing them with an industrial, “cooked” urea-based compound.

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) urea-based moulding compounds were prepared using a two-roll mill and a conventional extrusion processes respectively. It was possible to injection mould PVOH urea-based moulding compounds with a urea content of up to 90 wt % which had been compounded using a two-roll mill. Using the conventional extrusion process, it was also possible to compound and injection mould EVA urea-based moulding compounds containing up to 70 wt % urea.

The effects on composition variables on the properties of the moulding compound were studied and compared to those of the existing “cooked” urea-based moulding compound (Benchmark). The mechanical properties were characterised using the three-point bending test and Charpy impact test. The thermal properties were determined using simultaneous differential thermal analysis and thermogravimetric analysis (SDTA/TGA) and differential scanning calorimeter (DSC). The thermo-mechanical and visco-elastic properties were determined using a dynamic mechanical analyser. A scanning electron microscope was used to study the surface texture of the mouldings.

The EVA urea-based moulding compounds showed two endothermic melting peaks and multiple exothermic crystallisation peaks in the DSC curves. The peak at ca. 55 - 66°C corresponds to the melting of the wax/EVA blend, while the large peak at 130 - 132°C corresponds to the melting of the urea. The DSC heating curve of the PVOH urea-based moulding compounds showed two endothermic peaks. The small peak corresponds to the melting of the wax, while the large peak corresponds to the melting of the urea/PVOH blend.

PVOH urea-based moulding compound had better mechanical properties than the industrial benchmark. The mechanical properties of the EVA urea-based compound were generally lower. The effect of the wax and polymer content on the mechanical properties was as follows:

  • Increasing polymer content produced weaker but tougher moulding compounds.
  • Increasing wax content improved the strength and stiffness but gave compounds that were less tough.
  • Two-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) indicated significant polymer-wax interactions.

The urea content determined the stiffness (elastic modulus) of the compounds. PVOH mouldings had superior stiffness compared with the EVA and cooked urea-based mouldings. The Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) results confirmed the result obtained from the modulus of elasticity determination in the three-point bending test.

The impact strength increased with an increase in polymer content and reduced with an increase in wax content.

The linear thermal expansion coefficient decreased as the urea content was increased. Measured values (100 to 156x10-6°C) were comparable to those of the benchmark.

The cooked urea-based moulding compound had the lowest melt viscosity at 110°C, as indicated by its melt flow index (MFI). Fluidity increased with the polymer content.

The thermo gravimetric analysis (TGA) results confirmed that both the PVOH and EVA urea-based moulding compounds decomposed readily and left less than 1 wt % ash after combustion.

From the SEM results apparent surface roughness appeared to increase with wax content. The EVA urea-based moulding compound had an irregular surface texture.

Based on the criteria of cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness, the synthesis of PVOH urea-based patterns is preferable. The use of a conventional extrusion process to prepare PVOH urea-based patterns is recommended.

© 2006 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Rutto, HK 2006, Urea-based moulding compounds for investment casting , PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05132009-155138/ >


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