Cast iron

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Ferrite (α-iron, δ-iron)
Austenite (γ-iron)
Pearlite (88% ferrite, 12% cementite)
Martensite
Bainite
Ledeburite (ferrite-cementite eutectic, 4.3% carbon)
Cementite (iron carbide, Fe3C)

Crucible steel
Carbon steel (≤2.1% carbon; low alloy)

Alloy steel (contains non-carbon elements)

Cast iron (>2.1% carbon)

Wrought iron (contains slag)

Cast iron usually refers to grey iron, but also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys, which solidify with a eutectic. The colour of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due to its carbide impurities which allow cracks to pass straight through. Grey cast iron is named after its grey fractured surface, which occurs because the graphitic flakes deflect a passing crack and initiate countless new cracks as the material breaks.

Carbon (C) and silicon (Si) are the main alloying elements, with the amount ranging from 2.1 to 4 wt% and 1 to 3 wt%, respectively. While this technically makes these base alloys ternary Fe-C-Si alloys, the principle of cast iron solidification is understood from the binary iron-carbon phase diagram. Since the compositions of most cast irons are around the eutectic point of the iron-carbon system, the melting temperatures closely correlate, usually ranging from 1,150 to 1,200 °C (2,102 to 2,192 °F), which is about 300 °C (572 °F) lower than the melting point of pure iron.

Cast iron tends to be brittle, except for malleable cast irons. With its relatively low melting point, good fluidity, castability, excellent machinability, resistance to deformation and wear resistance, cast irons have become an engineering material with a wide range of applications and are used in pipes, machines and automotive industry parts, such as cylinder heads (declining usage), cylinder blocks and gearbox cases (declining usage). It is resistant to destruction and weakening by oxidisation (rust).

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