Steam Engine? Wassat? I started out with Alka-Seltzer and soda water in a bottle and attached it to the skateboard. That didn’t do much.” – Kellan Lutz
Thankfully, engines have progressed further than Lutz’s childhood invention – even if the principles of fuelling a vehicle or another machine via a chemical reaction are still valid. Our modern combustion engines go well beyond the baking-soda-vinegar type, and, in fact, many engines today don’t even rely on the same kind of chemical power source that earlier generations did. A motor (Latin: mōtor = “mover”) is a machine that performs mechanical work; it does so by transforming one type of energy (chemical, thermal, or electric) into propulsion. The earliest such device was based on the principles of converting thermal energy to movement in the first “steam engines”, courtesy of James Watt.
These steam engines, originally invented by Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen and successfully implemented by Watt in 1778, mark the beginning of the technical development of modern motors. Almost from the beginning, their uses went beyond simply powering fixed machines; with the invention of the high-pressure steam engine, they were used in locomobiles (a steerable, partially self-propelling steam engine for powering threshers or steam plows), steam locomotives, steamships, steam tractors, and steam rollers.
In 1816, Robert Stirling invented the heat engine that bears his name (a machine with no danger of an exploding boiler). Development progressed in leaps and bounds from there on out – first the combustion motor of Étienne Lenoir, a gas motor with a dual stroke; Nikolaus August Otto’s 1862 contribution of the four-stroke engine; and its adaptation for use in the new “auto-mobiles” of Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Friedrich Benz – before arriving at modern combustion motors as we know them, which convert the chemical energy from fuel into heat and convert this heat to mechanical movement.
We supply manufacturers of ship and railway motors, motors for decentralized energy production, and motors for commercial vehicles as well. Shafts, pistons, housings, cylinder barrels and covers, and other such parts are made from traditional gray or SG cast iron, but can also be produced in ADI (ausferritic/austempered cast iron). Exhaust pipes and manifolds, turbine housings, or combinations of these components (such as a turbine housing with an integrated exhaust manifold in the casting) can be cast in SG iron for low-temperature applications, but can also be produced using SiMo-alloyed SG iron for applications up to 700° C (1290° F), or in Ni-Resist (D2 and/or D5; nowadays: austenitic cast iron according to DIN EN 13835) for even higher temperatures up to 1000° C (1830° F).
The development of electric motors followed a similar trajectory; today, electric motors can be found in all shapes and sizes and in every conceivable application, from toys to industrial machines. Many electric motors – in particular those with permanent magnets – can also be used as generators when they are mechanically driven. Here again, there is a multitude of different terms that can scarcely be differentiated when looking at the castings they describe. For a generator or a motor, the housing or the shaft, etc. – the detailed specifications of these parts are exacting, and can be difficult for us, in our role as the producing foundry, to classify by name.
As a general rule, motors contain a rotating shaft which is used to power a mechanical configuration, such as a gearing arrangement. (The exceptions to this rule are rocket engines and linear motors.) For Brechmann-Guss, combustion motors are one key feature on our company map, accompanied in addition by electric motors.
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