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Cast Iron material in civil engineering application

Cast Iron material in civil Engineering Application


Civil engineering involves the construction, maintenance and designing of the naturally build environment. Construction and maintenance include roads, buildings, canals, bridges, Dams etc. Engineering field is also classified, for example, biomedical engineering, construction engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering etc. All engineering fields have specific requirements or we can say require specific tools to perform the specific task.  In the case of civil engineering, engineers utilize many material and tools made of a combination of material to construct a building, dam bridge, road and maintenance of the already build structure (Columbia.edu, 2016).

Civil engineering is one of the most important engineering fields in this world. It is the civil engineering that the engineers become able to construct the huge buildings, dams long distance roads and bridges that the world decades ago cannot imagine will exist some day.  At present, civil engineering lead many countries to become developed by having proper road system, buildings, bridges etc. 

Metals are considered as the backbone of civil engineering projects. Metals are usually found as the compounds and sulfates and oxides, carbonates, phosphate etc. Different kinds of metals and combination or metal material are used in the civil engineering. There are many types of metals and combination of metals that have specific property for example Cast Iron, Fiber Glass, and wood, that can be used for specific purposes in civil engineering like a construction of buildings, bridges, dams etc.

Cast iron:

Cast Iron was introduced in 1830 as a farming material and the builders at that time used the Cast iron metal as an alternative to masonry bearing walls. Cast iron is considered as strong and heavy metal. After the invention of Cast iron material in 1830, people used it to construct the huge or taller buildings. At present, the use of Cast Iron, become more important to civil engineers. Cast iron has important and unique properties that led civil engineers to use it

Properties of Cast Iron:

Cast iron is made by adding carbon and limestone in the pig iron o that the purer form of the metal is obtained which is known as Cast Iron. However, there is a variation in the amount of carbon present in the Cast Iron for example; it varies from 2 to 4.5%. Cast Iron has a coarse Crystalline and fibrous structure. On breaking or fractured Cast Iron has a grayish color appearance. Cast iron is the form of material that cannot be welded and magnetized.  Cast iron has the property that does not rust. It is a hard metal and requires tools to work with it (Csengineermag.com, 2014). 

Gray Cast Iron in the field of civil engineering is specially used for the construction of building and bridges. Cast Iron is brittle, somehow sensitive to fatigue weights, become weak in high-tension etc. melting point of the cast iron is 12000oC and its gravity is 7.5. It becomes strong on compression (Metals used in Civil Engineering, 2015).

Application of Cast Iron in Civil engineering

  • Cast Iron In construction:

Cast iron is used for many different purposes in Civil engineering. The use of metallic materials in the structural application evolved over the past few decades.  In the field of civil engineering, it is important to know the strength and the properties of the metals be used for the specific purpose because engineers cannot take risk of people life by constructing bridges, buildings, and roads with a poor and impure material (Zoghi, 2013).  

  • Cast Iron in Structures:

In early times, the cast iron was used to build the beams and columns in the building. 9in 1790’s the textiles mills was constructed with the Cast Iron material because of its properties. As it as strong metal so beams made by cast iron can handle the weight of the heavy machinery (Bussell, 2016). 

Source: http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/structural-ironwork/structural-ironwork.htm

In civil engineering at present, cast iron can be used for the constructing the water system, pipe system or sanitary system of a specific region or area for example; cast iron pipes and fittings are used for the waste, rainwater, and soil pipe system. These pipes are made by gray Cast Iron. There are many other uses of the cast iron for example; cast iron can be used in the manufacturing of the stairs, structural connection used in the buildings, dams. It can also be used to make the fences, columns, and balusters. Moreover, it can also be used as the stoves, firebacks, tools, utensils etc.

Present use of Cast Iron in Civil engineering:

At present, because of the innovation and technology, the use of Cast iron is increasing in the field of civil engineering.  The innovative use of the cast iron is considered to be in the railroad systems and rail bridges. Now the engineers use the Cast Iron for the construction of large warehouses for the materials and machinery. 

Problems with the Cast Iron:

Cast iron in the past was considered to be reliable material for the construction of bridges and the large structures like the buildings etc. but somehow, there are some problems with the  cast iron as it is not reliable for the log purposes and for heavy materials. History includes many cases regarding the problems of the cast iron bridges and structure in 1876, Ashtabula the railroad disaster occurred because of the failure of the Cast iron bridge. 


Cast Iron has specific properties and  can be used for the specific purposes, but for the civil engineers it is important to know the properties and strengths of the metal before constructing a heavy structure like bridges and building. 


Bussell, M. (2016, April 7). 19th-century Structural Ironwork in Buildings. Retrieved Nov 5, 2016, from buildingconservation.com: http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/structural-ironwork/structural-ironwork.htm

Columbia.edu. ( 2016, October 9). What is Civil Engineering? Retrieved Nov 5, 2016, from columbia.edu: http://civil.columbia.edu/what-civil-engineering

Csengineermag.com. (2014, 19th, February ). CAST IRON: A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. Retrieved Nov 5, 2016, from Csengineermag.com: http://csengineermag.com/article/cast-iron-a-historical-background/

Metals used in Civil Engineering. (2015, Dec 2). Retrieved Nov 5, 2016, from aboutcivil.org: http://www.aboutcivil.org/Metals-used-in-Engineering.html

Zoghi, M. (2013). The International Handbook of FRP Composites in Civil Engineering. CRC Press.

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