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The commercial relevance of cast irons is best understood in the context of the iron-carbon phase diagram, where their composition places them near the eutectic point, which sheds light on why they melt at lower temperatures than steel and why they can be cast into more intricate shapes. This chapter examines these unique properties and how they are derived. It begins by describing the basic metallurgy of cast iron, focusing on the eutectic reaction. It explains how to control the reaction and thus properties of cast iron by overcooling and inoculation. The chapter also discusses composition, microstructure, heat treatments, and the classification and casting characteristics of white, gray, ductile, malleable, compacted graphite, and special cast irons.

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