An Introduction to Precision Die Casting

Dynacast, a Form Technologies Company, is a global manufacturer of precision engineered metal components. Utilizing proprietary die casting technologies, we offer robust solutions to many industries including automotive, consumer electronics, and healthcare. With over 80 years of experience, Dynacast consistently delivers value through engineering expertise, efficient operations, and Advanced Quality Planning systems.

The die casting process can have significant advantages over other manufacturing processes, leading to major cost savings in part price and overall cost of production. With die casting, you can create complex net-shapes, including complex internal and external features with minimal draft angles—minimizing secondary operations. This webinar aims to guide our customers on how to take advantage of the benefits of die casting.

Join us for the initial installment of the Dynacast Metal Solutions Webinar Series - Europe. In this webinar, our team will cover:

  • Material options

  • Die casting technology

  • Innovations in die casting showcase

  • Case studies

  • And more!

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Introduction to Precision Die Casting

 

Jan Dillinger:

Hello, everyone and welcome to today’s Metal Solutions webinar, an Introduction to Precision Die Castin presented by Dynacast. This webinar is the first installment of our Metal Solutions webinar series for the European region. I’m Jan Dillinger, business development administrator for Dynacast Europe and I’m responsible for tradeshows, lead generation, and for marketing and Europe. Before we get started, I’d like to go over a few housekeeping items so you know how to participate in today’s event. For the best viewing experience, please attend this webinar using one of our supported browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Using Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge occasionally results in poor audio quality.

 

There is no dial-in for this webcast. All audio will come directly through your computer speakers, all of which is movable and resizable. Feel free to organize your console in a way that works before for you. You can utilize the resource widget to view additional resources. There, you can access a free download of our die casting design guide whitepaper as well as a few of our blogs. There are also several other resources like this available in the resource tab on the Dynacast website.

 

You can submit questions via the Q&A widget, and we will be holding a life Q&A session at the end of the webinar and will try to answer questions in the order that they come in. So, be sure to get any questions you have in as early as possible. If we are unable to get to your questions, we will make sure that an engineer follows up with you via email after the webinar. If you have any technical issues, no sound, slides aren’t moving or anything else, please submit a comment via the Q&A widget and we’ll do our best to troubleshoot.

 

As usual, this webcast is being recorded, so if you’d like to re-watch the presentation or if you miss something, you can use the same link that you used to access this live webinar again in a few short hours. Each of our presenters has exceptional experience with optimizing die cast components for better performance and the best return for the customers. We’re excited to jump int our conversation about how the die casting process works and how you can gain the most value from this process. We can go ahead and get started.

 

Let me introduce to you Sergio Perino, regional sales manager in Europe who will be starting us off for today’s webinar. He leads a team of five business development managers responsible for managing global accounts. He has been in the die casting industry for more than 18 years, specializing in logistic, technical quality, and business development.

 

Dynacast for Precision Die Casting

 

Sergio Perino:

Thanks, Jan. First of all, thank you, everybody, for joining. I would like to welcome each of you as well to this first webinar, and I thank you for attending. I hope you are all doing good in this complicated momentum, but I’m as well excited being here today to start this new journey, and I’m sure this is just the first of many webinars we will give to share with all of you our knowledge and passion in helping our customers to bring ______ 00:03:36 map out their ideas.

 

Let me start by giving you a clear picture about what form technology is. So, back in January of 2018, Dynacast, Signicast, and Optimim merged under the umbrella of form technology. The idea behind was creating a unique concentration of technologies for producing high-precision metal parts. Being able to serve our customers with multiple technical solution. In other words, we are not only producers of parts but developers of solution leveraging on multiple technologies.

 

Now, let me give you a few words on each division. Dynacast produces high-precision die casting parts out of zinc, aluminum, and magnesium. If we talk about the size of those parts let’s say from the hand size down to almost nothing. We do have some parts which are really even hard to be seen and that’s something we will explain later. The strongest point we have is that we do have our own die casting technology in-house.

 

A few words also about Signicast, who makes precision investment casting. Signicast pours almost 200 different kinds of alloys and materials. I was amazed the first time I saw those. Parts go from hand size to basketball size and take a look to their website to see their automatic process and unique differentiators. It’s really impressive. Signicast is mainly located in the US but in Europe we have Cirex in the Netherlands, which is part of Signicast.

 

Last but not least, Optimim. Our colleagues for metal injection molding they are US-based, important, and can blend almost every material you might need. So, let me give you some numbers about the Form Technology Group. I have 10 thousand colleagues all over the world serving more than 2,200 customers globally. None of these customers represent more than five percent on revenue. So, we have really a very wide customer base. Most customers we have a great relationship that lasts more than 15 years, and for many of those we are single-source supplier for their products.

 

But today, we’re going to go deeper in that. If we want to have more information about Signicast or Optimim just visit their website. There are many opportunities for learning and many webinars you can subscribe to attend. Dynacast is the bigger division in Form Technology. We are 6,500 people over the world spread in 21 facilities in 16 countries. We serve almost two thousand customers, and we are ready to launch with them more than one thousand new projects ever year.

 

We are heavily involved in the automotive field. All Dynacast locations are ERTF certified and the characteristic I love is that we have several building for our own die casting machine, and we will talk about this in the next few slides but also later with more technical details from them.

 

So, I will say we have our own die casting technology developed in 1936. This unique casting technology we call multi-slide is especially dedicated to small and high precision and complex components. ______ 00:08:00 originally or zinc we have then developed dedicated machines for magnesium and in the last few years also for ______ 00:08:09 aluminum. This has been possible through our ______ 00:08:13 building center located in Germany that never stops developing improvements and new solutions based on new ideas and the feedback that they get from the colleagues all around the world using our machines. There is no other machine builder or casting company with this ability. This allows us to do things that simply others can’t do.

 

Now, some numbers just in general summarize. So, we say to 16 countries, 21 facilities. We are in this business since more than 80 years and every year we deliver more than five billion components to our customers.

 

This is our global footprint for Dynacast. You see the plants in North America, in Asia, and in Europe as well. In Europe we do have eight plants ______ 00:09:22 UK. They produce zinc die casting using both technologies, multi-slide and conventional. France is also producing zinc parts but only using our multi-slide technology. Then we have the Germany. Germany is our core center for multi-slide machines where also the machine building is. There we have capabilities in zinc, aluminum, and magnesium.

 

Austria is the largest plant in Europe and also our European headquarters. There we have available zinc, aluminum, and magnesium. And all these materials are cast using conventional technology.

 

Then Italy, we do have two plants. Both casting zinc. Milan is using multi-slide technology while Turin is 100 percent conventional. Another plant we have not here in Europe but in Norther Africa is in Tunisia where we have zinc capabilities using conventional technology and last but not least Dynacast Spain. They are using both technologies, multi-slide and conventional to cast zinc and they are specialized in cosmetics parts.

 

I hope now you have a better understanding of Form and Dynacast and I give the stage to Bernd, who will walk you through the next topics. Bernd, is part of my team of business development manager. Prior to this role, Bernd was a project engineer and sales manager specialized in developing new customer relationship internationally. He has been with Dynacast for over 20 years so actually more than me and is the right guy when we need to find a good solution for our customer because he’s really a guy who is able to think outside of the box. So, I would like to thank you very much once more and I give the stage to Bernd.

 

Bernd Frohlich

Thank you, Sergio. Good afternoon here in Europe. Thank you, all, for your participation of our first European webinar. In the next sections, around half an hour, I would like to give you an overview of the following topics. The different casting processes, so cold chamber, hot chamber, and multi-slide technology for the three materials, zinc, magnesium, and aluminum. Then the Dynacast capabilities, material options, and I’m also happy to show you some showcases of innovation and I will end this section by giving you examples of case studies with the answer of the question why customers are working with Dynacast using die casting.

 

Aluminum Die Casting Capabilities

 

Let me start with the aluminum capabilities. So, we have a machine between the range of 350 to 600 ton clamping ports. This enables us for maximum part weight of about two kilogram. The maximum speed of these machines is around 2.5 cycles per minute. In this picture, you can see a cold chamber die casting machine. It’s called cold chamber because the injection unit is separately by the oven so that’s external and this is needed because of the aggressive behavior of high melted temperature materials like aluminum is.

 

The feeding system is working like an injector. We developed this new concept with our supplier of these applications. The feeding system is used to prevent material oxidation and it’s to optimize the casing because of the accurate amount of melted material. This is used typically for small and mid-size parts to be able to cast ______ 00:13:56 components. The standard way for cold chamber die casting is to bring the liquid material with a kind of spoon from the oven to the machine and this makes the liquid metal in the spoon open for oxidation with the consequence of some trouble.

 

So, you can see the diagram of cold chamber machine on the right side. There is the tomb. You can see the gate system is coming from the down side through the center. The mold is mounted between two plates on the die casting machine. The piston and the casing unit are outside. So, I will call it cold. Where we have to serve the melted material at the hot plate and the injection system, let me show you a short video to give you an idea how this machine is working. I hope this video we are able to see the video. I think it works.

 

On the left side, you see the piston putting the material with the feeding system in the nozzle. That brings the material into the mold marked in dark gray color. After the cooling and solidification of the material, we are ready to open the die to inject the shot and process is done and just information in our case, all the machines are equipped with a man-like robot to prevent the parts damaging while being ejected.

 

Now I would like to give you an idea of hot chamber die casting. This is used for low-melting alloys like zinc and magnesium. This material is not ______ 00:16:02 the injection system like aluminum. This is why you can see the whole injection unit is located into the melted material. The injection system is taking melted material from the bottom, so without ______ 00:16:18 that goes directly into the tool. So, you will have less bubbles and less oxidation and the shot. Another big advantage of hot chamber die casting is that we can ensure more than one million shots of ______ 00:16:38 for zinc. For magnesium in this category we are between 300 and 400 thousand shots. If you compare this to aluminum we are only server with 150 thousand shots.

 

In the next slide, I would like to show you also a video that you can see the movement of the machine. Okay. You can see the injection system is a kind of…we call it gooseneck integrated in the oven. The movement of the platter brings the liquid metal into the closed mold, after the material has cooled down and the solidification of the material is done, we are ready to inject the shot. This is the same as shown already in the cold chamber die casting process.

 

The cycle time of this process is between three and seven shots per minute. So, it’s much faster than aluminum die casting.

 

Now, let’s come to Dynacast core technology, the multi-slide technology. For the introduction of the technology, I would like to show you a diagram video where you can see very in detail how this process works and gives you an idea what are the special tool requirements on this kind of technology. I hope you can hear the audio of my colleague so that we can see this.

 

Video:

At Dynacast, we’ve spent over 80 years perfecting how to make the highest precision die cast components in the industry. Our secret? It’s our proprietary multi-slide technology. This unique approach combines state-of-the-art tooling with the most sophisticated injection system in the world. Simply, this enables us to produce even the most challenging designs with tolerances of just 200ths of a millimeter. It allows us to run at six times the cycle speed of traditional alternative, and it delivers ______ 00:19:01 shaped components with minimal part to part variation and greater repeatability. Ultimately, it gives today’s design engineers greater freedom to create more complex, more precise parts to consolidate multiple components into one and to do so shot by shot to the very highest quality.

 

You see, there’s die casting, then there’s precision die casting from Dynacast. Dynacast.

 

Bernd Frohlich

So thanks to my colleague for the explanation. I couldn’t do it better, I think. These kind of machines are only available in the global Dynacast world for zinc and magnesium and now as Sergio already said we have developed this technology also for aluminum die casting. So, I will give you more details later.

 

Four Slide Die Casting

 

Now I am going to show you a four-slide video in nearly real time. This is just a video from real production on our plant, but it is shown around 25 shots only. From my experience, the fastest I have ever seen in my time with Dynacast was also 64 shots per minute. So, ______ 00:21:11 matter of the part. Now, let me give you an overview of our machine capabilities that we have installed for die casting.

 

We have the multi-slide technology and the conventional die casting machines as ______ 00:21:27 in the beginning. From the multi-slide technology we are serving a machine range from four to 65 tons and around the world we have about 450 machines running from this type. The part weight is starting from 0.03 grams, that’s like you see a point on your fingertip. And the maximum is around 100 grams. Cycle time, we are facing with the technology ______ 00:21:59 is up to 60 cycles per minute, but all parameters are linked to geometry, part weight, and quality requirements.

 

Conventional die casting we are using the most common machine range from 20 to 200 tons clamping force mostly supplied by our preferred supplier ______ 00:22:22 machine building in Germany. We have more than 100 machines of this type running only in Europe. The maximum part weight is around 1.5 kilograms and as already mentioned we are running up to seven cycles per minute with these conventional die casting machines.

 

With magnesium, we started more than 20 years ago using only multi-slide that we have developed based on our experience with zinc die casting and in order to bring our customers new solutions for small and ______ 00:22:58 parts in this metal. Actually, we are running seven machines with a clamping force of 28 tons. With these machines we produce a part weight from I call it 0.06 grams. So there is no dimension from the smallest to 70 grams. The cycle time is up to 50 shots per minute but in the growing market of magnesium we also added machines in conventional die casting. Now we have three machines available from 125 to 315 ton clamping force that enables us to cast the maximum part weight of around 600 grams and the cycle time is up to four CPM.

 

As I already mentioned, the cycle time is every time depending on part geometry and material weight. So, now we have seen our machine capabilities. Let’s walk through the material options that we are able to serve.

 

Let’s start with zinc. At the moment, we are using seven alloys with different characteristics. Some are two, three, and five are the most common alloys and the variation of these materials are only the amount of copper inside. But if you need superior characteristics of extreme application we have to use other alloys. Let me call them special purpose alloys. We experience this while helping our customers to improve their products with different materials and end with different casting technologies. This is very important when we are converting designs with the customer.

 

For example, you convert from metal turn part, metal machine part, ______ 00:25:03 parts, ______ 00:25:07. We converted project to casted parts and it is extremely helpful to look for the best combination of material and casting technology. So, the result is and should be every time reducing costs and / or optimizing the process at the customer side. Sometimes, we are even converting parts from plastic. Its strength, optic, or others are required. Now, let’s go back to the alloys through the different descriptions.

 

So the Zamak 5, that’s the most versatile alloy and it covers approximately 90 percent of all zinc die casting materials that is used in Europe. But if you need some special characteristics then we have other alloys available. Number two, if you need some more wear resistant, number three for a little bit more hardness and ductility. And that ZA8 is the strongest and hardest hot chamber zinc-based alloy for special application.  

 

Beric is very good in terms of wear resistance, and in addition EZAC has been developed for better creep resistance combined with exceptional tensile strength comparable with ZA27. That is an aluminum-based alloy used in die casting. The most used magnesium alloy for hot chamber die casting is the AZ91D. The D is mentioned die casting. The material has great mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and has the best castability for small and mid-size parts.

 

In aluminum, we are using the two most common materials in the industry. That’s the AL44300 and the AL46000. They are both perfectly for casting but the main significant difference is the ______ 00:27:27 conductivity. This is why the 46000 is widely used for heat dispensation applications in automotive and electronic industry and in the next three pages I would like to show you some data to compare different alloys in terms of tensile strength, hardness, and terminal conductivity.

 

Let me start with tensile strength and hardness. In case of tensile strength and hardness, EZAC and ACuZinc are the best choices. As I said, special purpose alloys and in case you need to develop parts with superior mechanical properties this is most likely the choice you have to do. Here you can also see the comparison diagram for hardness. As I already said, in case your need terminal conductivity the best choice is to use aluminum 4000, sorry. But as we’ll see later in our case study section we have also developed more heating applications out of the ______ 00:28:47, which has a terminal conductivity comparable like aluminum 44300.

 

After all these material topics, the data sheets you can download in this portal or you can find all this information on our website. Let me walk you now through the next section, the Dynacast showcases.

 

New Technologies in Die Casting

 

Now I will show you some specific capabilities and a few innovations from the last years. You were talking about machine building in the beginning and the Dynacast difference. So, let me introduce our SIS, our Servo Injection System, that we constantly improve. This is one of the reasons for our development to answer the growing market demand for having improved surface finishing, to have minimized porosity, and / or to keep the traceability of injection parameters and to have a traceability of the process.

 

With this system, SIS, we are able to constantly control and monitor parameters like injection pressure, metal temperature, injection speed, cycle time, and some more. Let’s make sure that machines are running constantly with the same parameters. So, that means we measure and trace the production for a stable process. We have spoken about machines and processes, the second very important topic where we are talking about customized die casting parts is the tool. Here’s just an example using our engineering and tooling expertise we achieve, as casted, internal undercuts with internal slide outs you see there in the middle.

 

There are two hooks and they undercut in the middle, and therefore we are able to eliminate secondary operations and this also especially ______ 00:31:19 required high-gloss finishing parts with really great understanding for the customer. Standard threads are cast ______ 00:31:31 the outside for the parting line of the geometry. Here you see ______ 00:31:37 cast threads. Because of this, we are also removing CNC operations and cost to design.

 

As we are casting more and more electronic parts for the automotive industry…so we have to do also automatic washing machines. We have to have automatic washing machines to meet the requirements of the norms of VDA19 and that’s the standard in the automotive industry. And we are able to reach this by using alcohol and water-based solvent.

 

Another very important point is if we have to ensure the cleanness of the parts that’s very important before sending them to the customers. So, we implemented also our containment test unit in-house. Here you can see a zinc die casting part with a plastic over-molding. A TPU, EPDM, or other plastic materials. We developed this with our customers to produce a different kind of sealant in one shot to save money with less individual parts and for easier assembly. And in my eyes the biggest innovation from Dynacast over the last year is the release of our first hot chamber aluminum die casting machine for small-size parts with multi-slide technology.

 

This is the first and at the moment the only one around the globe created in our plant in Germany. We will have or we are facing big advantages for the geometry of complex aluminum parts in terms of cycle time, two lifetime repeatability, and as well as tooling cost. You will see when the next machine will be built.

 

Die Cast Examples

 

Now, after so many words and explanations let’s allow the next slide, the images to speak for us, why customers are working with Dynacast using die casting. Let me start with zinc example. This part is a pedal shifter. It’s a cosmetic part, complex shape, and the main reason for using zinc die casting is a customer would like to have a cold touch uptake and for sure the metal view. The same for the next example is the car keys, also different variations plated with copper nickel or copper nickel chrome but the parts and also the polishing and ______ 00:34:45 operation included.

 

You can see a complex antenna part with the copper and tin plating, this part has to be weldable to ensure grounding of the whole application. This is a very strong part linked to the ATM machine, copper nickel plated. There has to be a full metal optic and as you know heavy duty use in public areas. As I said, in the ______ 00:35:25 section here is one example for E-transmission on an LED light. The ______ 00:35:30 application is cast in Zamak 3. It’s a high-volume part and with some surface treatment on top to avoid corrosion.

 

This is also a very complicated part. Originally designed for aluminum die casting with many, many ______ 00:35:51 operations. We converted this part to zinc because of its complexity and in order to limit machine operations and for sure to reduce the cost for the customer.

 

Small connector housings used to be plated with nickel or brass to ensure protection of ENZ shielding and grounding for the connection, mostly used in all kinds of electronical industry.

 

One safety part is I think well known. This is 100 percent controlled to ensure capability of the process. Very tight tolerances in measurement but also in the weight and the cast we produced millions and millions every year with zero PPN, and it helps saving lives. This is a famous part of mine, to be honest. This is produced in Europe for centuries, even if this ______ 00:37:07 is mostly served from overseas. Only possible with the continuous improvement process to reach better pricing and to reach all over wall thickness of less than one millimeter casted net shape with additional requirement on flatness.

 

Let’s see some aluminum parts. The complex and small camera housing, tight tolerances, with high volumes machined and painted. This is an example for ______ 00:37:53 molding on aluminum. This is not zinc. This is aluminum so the steel pin is for the bearing of the actuator and this is put into the mold before injecting the melted material. So it’s a kind of over-molding in aluminum. So, there’s no additional operations or secondary operations needed for assembly. This is only one example for various heat ______ 00:38:20 applications for LED lights in the automotive industry. It is cast without any machining operation even with the holes for self-threading screws.

 

Now let’s go through the magnesium pages. This picture shows an assembly of pre-magnesium parts, small magnesium parts for a laser application used for driver assistance systems. So also safety parts with the painting and the secondary machining to fit together.

 

Another example for camera housing. This is used for industrial ______ 00:39:07 so that means lightweight. It means less force is needed to carry in the automatic process on the robot.

 

An example from the sport industry, I say ever gram counts to win. It’s an accurate complex geometry with surface treatment and machining after painting.

 

Last but not least, one of my favorite parts is the football stud. The reason for the customer was to look for a premium metal solution for the soccer cleats. The main focus was the low weight and commercial advertising. So, the customer was able to sell high technology with magnesium, so therefore together we developed this concept in magnesium.

 

Let me finish my presentation and looking forward to the Q&A section and I’m looking forward to the time after COVID-19 when I’m able to visit you in person again to think about challenging solutions for your projects. Thank you very much.

 

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Last updated 05.17.2021