When it comes to versatility, cast aluminum is tough to beat. The lightweight, attractive metal is a component in thousands of products, from personal hand-held devices to big trucks. Due to its strength, heat resistance, and lightness it’s also popular in home goods like cookware or patio furniture.
Cast aluminum is affordable and long-lasting. When it does crack or split, a talented craftsman or do-it-yourselfer can repair a part by welding cast aluminum, adding to its lifespan.
What is Cast Aluminum?
Cast aluminum is created when aluminum is heated to extremely high temperatures. The molten aluminum is then molded into a shape and cooled to craft a wide variety of products.
Some common aluminum casting molds include.
Die casting molds
This is a high-volume technique that lets manufacturers make products in bulk. Molten aluminum is added to a steel mold or die, then shaped under high pressure.
Sand casting molds
The sand casting process comes with a high degree of versatility. Though it’s slower than the other methods, it’s best suited for small-batch products or those with intricate designs. It also works well for a particularly large product.
The first step is to create a model of the finished product. The model is pressed into sand to create a mold. Molten aluminum is poured into the mold. Once fully cooled, the sand can be removed and brushed away, revealing the final product.
A kind of sand casting, shell molds are created by melding sand into an ultra-thin shell using resin. Shell molds lead to highly accurate results, but it’s a costly process.
Permanent mold casting
For this process, aluminum gets poured into a mold and solidifies in place. Products made using the permanent mold casting technique are typically stronger and more durable than those crafted using die casting or sand casting.
Also known as precision casting because of the detailed work it allows, ceramic molds work with the investment casting technique. A ceramic mold is crafted from wax or plastic that melts or disappears during firing, leaving the mold open for molten aluminum.
This technique, a kind of lost casting, uses a plaster mix poured over wax. When the mold heats up, the wax melts and leaves the pattern behind. Aluminum can then be poured into the mold.
Uses for Cast Aluminum
This type of metal has a wide variety of uses in home and industry.
Two of the most common home products made of cast aluminum are cookware and patio furniture. In fact, cookware was the first widespread, daily-use product in the home made from this metal. The metal is also commonly used for components in small appliances, hand-held tools, lawn equipment, and other household machinery.
Cast aluminum accounts for over fifty percent of aluminum in automobiles, and the industry represents the metal’s biggest market. It has also been widely used in motor vehicles for more than 100 years. Its lightweight nature helps improve fuel efficiency.
The telecom industry uses this metal as well. Its ability to disperse heat makes it an ideal material for RF filter boxes. Aluminum castings also lend resilience and protection to hand-held devices without adding weight.
Cast aluminum is essential to electronics. It has strong performance under high temperatures, making the metal especially well-suited for connectors and housings.
Cast Aluminum vs. Aluminum
When deciding on the right material to use in the production of a part or component, it may be tough to choose between cast aluminum and aluminum. To those unfamiliar with the materials, they may sound to be exactly the same, however, there are some differences.
Products manufactured from this material are typically known to be solid, long-lasting, and low-maintenance. It stands up well to weather, rust, and wind. It’s also suited to more detailed design due to its malleability, so you can find a variety of unique choices.
Products made from regular aluminum will definitely have a lower price point, but this is due to it’s lower quality. While aluminum does not get as hot in high temperatures, it doesn’t provide the same amount of strength. Regular aluminum can dent and scratch easily, so the products produced with it will show more wear and tear more quickly.
In addition to its versatility and durability, cast aluminum is also environmentally friendly. Nearly all aluminum casting in the U.S. is from recycled aluminum. From home to high-tech industry, this casted metal gets the job done.
Cast aluminum vs. cast iron
Similar to cast aluminum, cast iron is used for many similar applications. However, there are some major differences between the two.
Cast aluminum has numerous advantages. First off, it is far lighter than cast iron. Cast aluminum withstands rusting, while cast iron can quickly be overrun by rust if you’re not careful about its cleaning and storage. Cast aluminum cookware is often less pricey than cast iron as well.
One major benefit of cast aluminum over cast iron is that it heats up and cools down faster than iron. This is a very attractive feature in the production of a wide range of products such as cast aluminum cookware. Aluminum is also usually much easier to maintain than cast iron. This is especially important for those who intend to produce consumer products.
For many consumers, the choice of cast aluminum vs. cast iron is a personal preference. However, when you’re actually producing a product it’s important to investigate both options to understand which would be best used for your specific application.
Common Products Created With Cast Aluminum
You may be surprised to find out that many of the commercial products you come in contact with every day may be using cast aluminum parts and components or even be made entirely from cast aluminum.
Car Parts & Components
Due to the amazing strength and light weight of cast aluminum parts, it is very popular in the production of car parts. For example, safety-critical parts like airbag housings or seat-belt retractor spools are made with diecast aluminum. In addition, steering knuckles, which support the wheel bearing, are made with this material. This is an essential part of a vehicle’s suspension, so the lightweight material helps to reduce the overall weight of the car without compromising strength or performance.
Many medical devices are also made from cast aluminum, not only due to the strength but also due to its heat resistance. Some of the more common medical equipment you may see made from this metal is parts for various pumps, surgical tools, components for monitors, and even gearboxes for hospital beds.
Another popular application for die casting is the production of firearms. While many popular firearms may have plastic components, there are still a number of parts that are created from die-cast metals. Some of these parts may include triggers, trigger guards, trigger safetys, and much more.
Cast Aluminum Cookware
For decades, cast aluminum cookware has been a vital tool in a well-stocked home kitchen. The versatile product is perfectly suited for cooking on the stovetop and baking in the over. It is dishwasher safe, making for a quick and easy clean up. Despite some ridiculous reports, it is safe to use for cooking and poses no health risks at all.
If you’re looking for pots and pans made from this material, the good news is they’re everywhere. You can find brand-new sets on the websites of major retailers. If a more classic style is what you are after, you can even find vintage cast cookware on eBay.
Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture
When you think about investing in patio furniture, you want something attractive, durable, and low-maintenance. If you also want an outdoor ensemble that’s available in a variety of styles, finishes, and colors, cast aluminum patio furniture may provide you with an ideal setting to enjoy entertaining and relaxing with family and friends.
Work With The Federal Group On Your Next Casting Project
Whether you’re exploring prototyping options for a new product, or you have an existing product that you’d like to put into production, The Federal Group USA can help you with your next aluminum die casting project. We’ve provided high-quality metal fabrication services to a wide variety of industries for more than 30 years. Contact us today to request a quote for your die-casting project.