Aluminum Die Casting
Aluminum die casting is a process that requires extreme precision, expertise, and care. As a consumer, you don’t want the molded metal pieces you order to crumble under pressure.
Thankfully, aluminum die casting represents a safe, reliable process by which metal pieces can be cast and molded for a variety of purposes. Let’s take a look at what aluminum die casting is, what it entails, what it can create, and how it can help clients looking for well-crafted aluminum items.
What is aluminum die casting?
The most basic idea of aluminum die casting is to fill a die (a mold) with liquid metal in such a way as to press it into whatever shape you wish to cast. It is the go-to process for most industrial projects that require metal parts.
Part of this is due to the fact that, while it has higher startup costs than some other processes, over the long-term it can produce less expensive per-unit costs, especially for mass production. In addition, aluminum die casting also creates a smooth finish that gives products a nice aesthetic sheen.
Everything begins with casting the mold itself. The mold cavity is created by using two steel dies which have been machined into shape. These molds are then used similarly to an injection mold during the casting process.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when it comes to casting and producing metal products is keeping temperatures down. High, out of control temperatures can lead to the metal burning and spoiling, to say nothing of the severe safety issue that presents.
Another benefit of aluminum die casting is that it helps tamp down those concerns by lubricating the die during the metal production process, which helps keep things cool and likewise makes it easier to remove the freshly-cast metal product once it’s finished.
That finish to the process comes when the two halves are pressed together, with molten metal being forced into the space created by the two reverse side dies. Once the casting has solidified, the die is opened and the piece removed.
Advantages of aluminum die casting
Aluminum die casting has many advantages over other metal-forming processes that can help to create an aluminum part. One major advantage is producing extremely complicated shapes that neither aluminum extrusion nor aluminum machining can efficiently create.
The production of complicated automobile parts and housings is one perfect illustration. Other manufacturing processes do not always achieve the complexity or tight tolerance requirements for aluminum products.
The most popular advantages of aluminum die casting are:
- Textured surfaces or smooth surfaces can be achieved
- Extremely lightweight components without sacrificing strength
- A great range of surface finishes
- Corrosion resistance parts and assemblies
- The ability to produce extremely complicated parts
Hot casting versus cold die casting
Depending on the project, aluminum die casting is done via “hot” or “cold” processes.
In hot die casting, a hydraulic-powered piston is critical for forcing molten metal into dies for casting. Hot die casting machines feature build-in furnaces in which the metal is heated up in real-time during the process. Hot die casting is also quick die casting, with the typical casting time from start to finish being about 15 minutes.
By contrast, cold casting involves an extra step because it lacks a built-in furnace. This is instead done in a separate chamber. Once the metal has been melted down, it is then transferred via an injection cylinder into a machine for casting.
The big advantage of this method is that it allows for die casting to work with more materials than can be used in hot die casting. Metals with a high melting point that may melt too quickly in hot die casting chambers require more delicate handling and casting, which is what cold casting can provide.
Die casting materials
Video above: An aluminum die cast electrical housing for an electric vehicle. Manufactured by TFG USA.
Examples of metals that can be best served by cold chamber machines include aluminum, brass, copper, iron, nickel, and steel. Hot chamber casting is better suited to working with metals such as tin and zinc as well as alloys that have lower melting points.
Aluminum die casting applications
Aluminum alloys have good machining advantages. They appear in a variety of applications. These are also a major component of the automobile and construction industry.
The aluminum casting market is projected to increase from roughly $77 billion in 2021 to $117 billion by 2027. Below are the most common applications of aluminum die casting:
Aluminum is very robust compared to its weight and corrosion resistant. It’s likewise less expensive. The furniture industry uses aluminum die casting for the production of many furniture pieces.
Many important furniture parts are also made from aluminum die casting such as door handles, hinges, knobs, and other metal hardware parts.
During the last decade no other industry has climbed as rapidly as the electronic industry. Innovation in consumer products is remarkable. The aluminum industry plays an important part in producing electronic products. From mobile phones to networking hardware and heat sinks, die cast aluminum alloy is essential.
Aluminum alloy has a light weight and this feature also makes it important for today’s vehicles. These alloys are therefore widely used in automotive applications. From car engines to bodies and electrical vehicle battery housings, they exist everywhere.
Similar to the automobile industry, aerospace also requires a lighter alloy with high impact resistance. Achieving stronger parts requires complex tools with large tensile mechanical capabilities. Therefore, aluminum die casting is used in different parts on airplanes and other aviation components.
Several aerospace components are fabricated out of die casting aluminum like aircraft engine pistons, loading cylinders, fuel systems, distributor cylinder covers as well as light fixtures and electronic enclosure detention parts.
Aluminum die casting is also used to manufacture roofs, as well as window frames. Currently big structures such as bridges and office towers use die cast aluminum components in the building process.
Sand casting versus die casting
This is another divide in the casting processes that is between sand and die casting. Die casting involves forcing molten metal into molds via high-pressure injection and extrusion, whole sand casting pours that same metal into the mold instead.
Sand casting involves sand and clay being pressed together to create flasks. These can then be used to shape the metal as needed. Once the metal cools, the sand is then blasted away. Aluminum die casting tends to proceed at a faster pace than sand casting.
Squeeze casting versus semi-solid molding
Another variation in the aluminum die casting process is between squeeze casting and semi-solid casting. In the former case, the die halves are pressed together and the metal cast by generating high pressure without gas becoming entrapped. In semi-solid casting, the metal billets are instead cast with the intention of creating aluminum casting with low consistency that are easily treatable.
Work with a trusted aluminum die casting partner
As demonstrated above, there are many different variables when considering a die casting project. When tackling them, you want to know you’re working with aluminum casting experts who understand the ins and outs of the industry and can give you the best advice as to which methods are best for you.
At TFG USA, we take great pride in being able to do that better than anyone else in the state of Michigan. We will work hand in glove with you to take you through each of the processes listed above and describe how they can best be applied to your particular needs. Moreover, we will be glad to answer any questions you have about the die casting process and how it can work for you.
Every die casting project is different, and at TFG USA, we treat your order with the care and individualized attention it deserves. Contact us today to get a free quote for your next aluminum die casting project.
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