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(in Russian, kovsh), in metallurgy, a steel or iron vessel designed for the brief holding, transporting, and pouring of molten metal, matte, or slag.
In ferrous metallurgy, ladles are used for transporting and pouring iron and steel. The welded or riveted casing of such ladles is lined on the inside with refractory brick. The ladles are moved using overhead cranes or on railway cars. A steel casting ladle has the shape of a truncated cone that widens toward the top. The steel is poured out through one or two nozzles located in the bottom of the ladle. The nozzle aperture is closed or opened by a plug that is operated hydraulically or by hand. The capacity of a ladle may reach 480 tons. Molten cast iron transfer ladles are usually barrel-shaped, and the iron is poured off through the casting lip when the ladle is tilted. The capacity of a ladle is 100–140 tons. A ladle for pouring iron into a converter is shaped like a steel casting ladle but has a solid bottom and is equipped with a casting lip. The capacity of the ladle is up to 360 tons.
In nonferrous metallurgy, ladles cast from steel or iron are slagged with converter slag for protection against the corrosive action of the hot metal or matte, but they are sometimes lined with refractory brick. The ladle is transported by an overhead crane. The ladles may hold up to 15 tons of matte. For removing molten waste slag from the shop, large ladles (up to 50 tons) are sometimes used; they are sinter ladles carried on railway platform cars. In the aluminum industry, vacuum ladles are used for removing the metal from electrolysis baths.
Manual, small trolley, and crane casting ladles are used in foundry work. The capacity of the manual ladles is 15–100 kg. The small trolley ladles with a capacity of up to 120 kg are usually suspended on a monorail and can be moved by one man. The crane stopper ladles holding up to 100 tons of liquid metal are used for steel casting. In pouring the metal from the ladle through the bottom openings (nozzles), slag does not enter the casting mold. Crane tilting ladles with a capacity of up to 100 tons are used for casting iron. Refractory partitions are used to retain the slag in such ladles.