The internal combustion piston engine has been used in countless applications from small engines for lawn mowers,to larger engines for aircraft and automobiles, to large diesel engines for trains and ships. The applications and design processes have evolved, and so has the materials they are made from.
The piston is the internal component of the engine that reciprocates up and down in a cylinder, compressing an air/fuel mixture and then exerting force from the controlled explosion of that mixture downward onto the connecting rod and crankshaft.
Pistons are manufactured from alloys of aluminum and silicon. The amount of silicon incorporated into the alloy--which makes the alloy stronger--is dependent on the intended severity of duty of the engine, and also influences the expansion properties of the piston. Stronger alloys with greater silicon content allow smaller size and reduced weight.
Molten aluminum alloy is formed into roughly shaped blanks through either casting or forging, and once piston blanks are created, they are machined to final specification.
Cast pistons are most common due to the simpler and less expensive manufacturing process; molten alloy is poured into a mold of the near-final shape. Once machined, they are suitable for standard performance applications.
These pistons are made from higher strength aluminum alloy billets which are pressed into their basic shape rather than poured. The process results in a piece that has more uniform metallurgical properties that better withstands severe duty.
What Are Forged Pistons?
Pistons are the components in an engine that slide up and down against the walls of the cylinder and compress the air...
How to install a piston into an engine
I will show you how easy it is to install a piston into a cylinder and how to do it properly to...
How to Build an Internal Combustion Engine
Building an internal combustion engine requires that you have at least basic mechanical knowledge. When working with 4-stroke internal combustion engines, you...
How to Build Performance in Four Cylinder Engines
Building a performance four cylinder engine is much more difficult than building a six or eight cylinder engine because of displacement. Bigger...
How to Clean Engine Pistons
Carbon build-up on the top of pistons is a magnet for more carbon build-up. A substantial amount of carbon build-up can eventually...
How to Time a Small Engine
Setting the timing on an engine involves positioning the electrical stator assembly correctly so the ignition coil connected to it generates a...
What Are the Different Types of Piston Rings?
Piston rings can be made out of cast iron, chrome, stainless steel or similar substances, and it's important that the proper size...