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Die Casting

Die casting is a manufacturing process that can produce geometrically complex metal parts through the use of reusable molds, called dies. The die casting process involves the use of a furnace, metal, die casting machine, and die. The metal, typically a non-ferrous alloy such as aluminum or zinc, is melted in the furnace and then injected into the dies in the die casting machine. There are two main types of die casting machines - hot chamber machines (used for alloys with low melting temperatures, such as zinc) and cold chamber machines (used for alloys with high melting temperatures, such as aluminum). The differences between these machines will be detailed in the sections on equipment and tooling. However, in both machines, after the molten metal is injected into the dies, it rapidly cools and solidifies into the final part, called the casting.

Here comes the specific procedures:


The first step is the preparation and clamping of the two halves of the die. Each die half is first cleaned from the previous injection and then lubricated to facilitate the ejection of the next part. After lubrication, the two die halves, which are attached inside the die casting machine, are closed and securely clamped together. Sufficient force must be applied to the die to keep it securely closed while the metal is injected.



The molten metal, which is maintained at a set temperature in the furnace, is next transferred into a chamber where it can be injected into the die.  Once transferred, the molten metal is injected at high pressures into the die. This pressure holds the molten metal in the dies during solidification. The injection time is the time required for the molten metal to fill all of the channels and cavities in the die. The proper injection time can be determined by the thermodynamic properties of the material, as well as the wall thickness of the casting. A greater wall thickness will require a longer injection time.


The molten metal that is injected into the die will begin to cool and solidify once it enters the die cavity. When the entire cavity is filled and the molten metal solidifies, the final shape of the casting is formed. The die can not be opened until the cooling time has elapsed and the casting is solidified. The cooling time can be estimated from several thermodynamic properties of the metal, the maximum wall thickness of the casting, and the complexity of the die. A greater wall thickness will require a longer cooling time.


Ejection - After the predetermined cooling time has passed, the die halves can be opened and an ejection mechanism can push the casting out of the die cavity. The ejection mechanism must apply some force to eject the part because during cooling the part shrinks and adheres to the die. Once the casting is ejected, the die can be clamped shut for the next injection.


During cooling, the material in the channels of the die will solidify attached to the casting. This excess material, along with any flash that has occurred, must be trimmed from the casting either manually via cutting or sawing, or using a trimming press.  The scrap material that results from this trimming is either discarded or can be reused in the die casting process.