DIE CASTING & DIE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Die Casting?
- Sand Casting
- Investment Casting
- High-Pressure Die Casting
- Low-Pressure Die Casting
- Gravity Die Casting
- Shell Moulding
- Centrifugal Casting
- Continuous Casting
What are the benefits of Die Casting?
- Die casting is an economic process that produces high-volume components with consistent quality control. The cost-effective nature of precision castings means there is less waste compared to other manufacturing methods such as sand casting or permanent molding which require significant post-processing procedures.
- Die Castings produces tight tolerance die castings that require little to no machining after the casting process is complete.
- Die Casting’s low cost and high-volume production rates make it a beneficial choice for manufacturing industries requiring large quantities of components with quick turnarounds.
- Die Castings can be close tolerance in accordance with Class A or Class B requirements. Die Castings can also be manufactured to achieve Class C requirements if they are not too deep in relation to their diameters such as deep-drawn parts or lock washers.
Where does Die Casting start?
- The “die” portion of the name comes from metal embossing used by blacksmiths hundreds of years ago. Die casting is a precision injection molding process applied for the precise creation of low to high volume metal parts.
- Die casters use precision dies cut from hardened tool steels to produce small to large precision die-cast components ranging from a few grams up to hundreds of kilograms in weight with tolerances as close as +/- 0.002 inch (0.05mm).
- Die Casting professionals have produced many different types of components including pump housings, hydraulic motor housing, valve bodies, clamps fittings, and custom items used by our customers in many industries such as welding equipment manufacturers, material handling equipment manufacturers, and power tools manufacturers.
What is the minimum wall thickness for die-cast components?
- Die-cast alloys are available in thin-wall sections that provide an excellent weight-to-performance ratio by reducing part mass for lighter assemblies. Thin walls can be produced on aluminum die castings as thin as 0.5 mm or greater with proper cooling techniques. Die casting aluminum with thin walls is popular because the process does not require molds to be machined, so it’s more cost-effective than other manufacturing processes like machining and stamping.
Why use dies casting instead of another type of manufacturing process?
- Die castings are typically produced by larger manufacturers with the equipment and experience necessary to give you a high degree of accuracy and surface finishing.
- Die castings require less turnaround time than machining or stamping because they don’t require secondary operations like grinding and polishing.
- Die castings can also be produced without tools in large quantities. Therefore, we often see die-cast components used for prototype parts and short production runs, as well as long-term production applications that require high volume output.
- Die casting alloys may also offer significant cost savings over other options due to weight reduction benefits of thin walls, no need for secondary operations after casting, reduced tooling costs, and lower energy consumption in the process.
- Die casting is also a very versatile process capable of producing many different shapes, cross-sections, and finished surfaces.
What are common applications for die-cast components?
- Die castings are used in all kinds of industries–fuel systems for automobiles, bikes, lawnmowers; consumer products like remote controls; industrial equipment parts ranging from valves to printing press plates; medical tools such as syringes to electric motors; materials handling components like pallets and ladders; brake systems for motorcycles to leaf springs for cars. Die castings can even be found in items like cookware, telephones, toys, and novelty items.
- Die casting is one of the most popular technologies around because it’s an economical way to produce high volumes of metal components.
- Die castings are also easy to design, produce with minimal secondary operations, and hold excellent tolerances for fit and function.
- Die castings have been the most used metal casting process for more than a century because they can be very cost-effective in small production runs or when molding complicated shapes where other processes would be impractical or costly.
What is the ideal wall thickness for die casting?
- Die castings can be produced with ultra-thin walls for weight reduction benefits, but the quality of the metal is reduced due to hydrogen embrittlement. Die-cast components should have thicknesses from 0.5mm and up in aluminum alloys, 1 mm or greater in iron alloys. Die casting offers a huge selection of alloys ranging from magnesium to zinc to aluminum–all with a variety of properties that make them well suited to a wide range of applications where parts must be strong yet lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
What factors affect part wall thickness?
- Wall thickness depends on four major factors: desired production rate, material type, section size, and required strength or durability. The higher the production rate for your application, the thicker you can make the walls of your part due to faster cooling time between layers and helping alloy flow and fill gaps in the mold easier.
- Die-cast materials like aluminum and magnesium alloys offer excellent surface finishes which can be enhanced with coating chemistries or post-processing, while iron die-casting alloys typically require more secondary operations after casting to remove sanding marks left by the process.
What is a typical weight range for die-cast components?
- Die castings can range from 0.3–5 kg (0.7 lbs.–11 lbs.), but they tend to fall around 1 kg (2-2.5 lbs.). Die casting offers a very broad selection of material densities, allowing you to choose an alloy that’s heavy enough for strength, yet light enough to save on transportation costs for your finished product if you plan to distribute it via a supply chain. Die-cast parts are durable, but they’re not as strong as their forged or machined counterparts thanks to porosity that can occur in the casting process.
Are there any engineering advantages of die casting over other technologies?
- Die casting offers several key engineering advantages, including minimal draft angles on smaller sections, no need for secondary finishing operations like milling and drilling after the part is produced, deep-drawing capability, elimination of sharp corners or edges which can be an issue with metal stamping processes where burrs must be filed off the sheet prior to plate rolling.
- Die-cast tooling costs are also very economical compared to other technologies, and they’re lower than the costs associated with machining tooling. Die-cast tooling is easy to design, which makes it a good first step for product designers considering a new part or series of parts–especially if those parts require complicated geometries or tight tolerances.
Which die-cast metals are environmentally friendly to use and produce?
- Die-cast aluminum alloys are typically the most environmentally friendly when considering material selection, although zinc die-casting is currently the preferred metal in the automotive industry for its high-volume production and ability to achieve highly complex shapes. Aluminum dies casting can be acceptable if you’re looking for a mass-produced part with tight tolerance capabilities–but better material choices would be COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) components like plastic injection molded parts or sheet metal stampings like galvanized steel which require little finishing after trimming and deburring because they don’t need complex forming steps to create shape and tolerances aren’t as critical.
- Die-cast parts often require secondary machining operations such as turning down threads which increases manufacturing costs compared with stamped metal fasteners that are pressed or rolled into shape with high tolerances.
- Die-cast zinc would be the best choice if you’re looking for a component that’s more environmentally friendly–and both die-cast zinc and aluminum components are recyclable to some degree though not as easily as steel, iron, or aluminum scrap.
What are the benefits of die casting over screw machining?
- Die-cast components can have tighter tolerances than machined parts which are very important in applications requiring secure fitment of screws or fasteners, especially when considering higher stress conditions.
- Die castings are more cost-effective for mass production runs because the tooling costs are lower compared to other manufacturing processes that require expensive steel tooling.
- Die-cast zinc components are extremely economical due to their high-volume production rates and the ability for intricate detail–and Die Cast Fasteners has become a market leader based on affordability of our custom-built dies even though they’re typically considered higher-end tools compared with conventional steel dies thanks to advances over the years in die casting technology.
Do you have materials that are corrosion resistant without surface treatment?
- Die casting zinc and aluminum alloys can give corrosion resistance without requiring surface treatments like chromate conversion coatings like you would see with other metals like steel. But it depends on the type of application because die-cast components generally don’t do well against harsh corrosive elements compared with stainless steel or titanium alloys which require costly secondary finishing such as polishing and plating.