A high-quality die cast component starts with high-quality tooling. The quality of your die cast tool not only determines the tolerances you’re able to hold and how many shots you can get out of a single mold, but also the repeatability, strength, and complexity you’re able to achieve throughout the life of your project.
We’ve covered what drives the cost of your die cast tool as well as the top three reasons Dynacast tooling is more precise, but now we’d like to cover our tooling manufacturing process, capabilities, and what to take into consideration when purchasing a die cast tool. Discover why optimizing tool design and partnering with an experienced tooling supplier is critical to the success of your component’s production and gaining the most ROI from your project.
What is die cast tooling?
Tooling, or the die cast mold, contains a cavity in which molten metal is injected and formed. Once hardened, the tooling is separated into multiple pieces, allowing for the removal of the castings. Dynacast offers both our proprietary multi-slide die cast tooling, as well as conventional die cast tooling. Each method offers unique strengths depending on the specifications and scale of the project.
The tool design process
At Dynacast, all of our die cast molds are manufactured and produced with high-quality steel at our tooling division in Germantown, Wisconsin. There are twenty toolmakers and three design engineers at this facility with over 40 years of tooling experience.
When designing the tooling, our team of engineers takes into consideration all aspects of the mold and the end-part itself—from material selection, potential runner sites, tolerance stackups, and more. State-of-the-art magma flow software helps to analyze the castability of certain design features and the best sites for runner systems and cooling ports before the tool is manufactured. Features like cooling ports limit the amount of tool wear, prolonging the life of your die cast tool and ensuring an even porosity and high strength in the final casting.
Designing for optimal manufacturability
All of the value engineering that goes into designing the tool for success and longevity before the mold itself is cut is part of the Dynacast core concept, designing for manufacturing (or, DFM). When it comes to die cast tooling, designing for optimal manufacturability is what makes a true high-quality die cast tool. Not only does DFM expediate the tool design process by delivering a successful tool that will last the life of the project, but also makes for a more consistent, high-performing component than lower-quality tools.
Tooling care and maintenance
Aside from engineering a high-quality die cast tool, tooling care and maintenance should always be top of mind for your die cast supplier. While our tooling is designed for longevity, repeated cycles of heating (to over 1200 °F) and cooling will inevitably degrade the tool over time. Tools experience gate erosion and core wear, requiring occasional light maintenance during their service life. As with most machinery, adherence to a rigid maintenance program extends the lifespan of the tool and ensures the consistent and timely production of high-quality parts. And depending on your alloy selection and process, some tools require more maintenance than others.
For example, with proper design and maintenance, multi-slide tooling for zinc components can withstand approximately one million shots before needing replacement, while conventional tooling for aluminum components can withstand roughly 200,000 shots.
The average number of shots a tool can withstand varies depending upon project requirements, selected materials, and component complexity, among other variables. To get an accurate assessment of your project’s tool life, please consult with one of our engineers.
With tool wear taken into consideration before the mold is cut, your tooling maintenance and likelihood of total tool replacement is greatly reduced. At Dynacast, all tools are kept in “like new” condition throughout the life of your project. And when the tool requires maintenance to retain its “like new” condition, your maintenance is covered. All of our tooling maintenance programs are incorporated into the cost of your tool up-front—so when you invest in your die cast tool, you’re making a one-time investment over the entire life of your tool.
Getting the most ROI from your die cast tool
When choosing a die cast supplier, manufacturers want to know they’re getting the most ROI out of every step of their production process—including tooling. Some manufacturers may be tempted to cut corners by purchasing a cheaper, lower quality tool. While these tools may incur a lower up-front ticket price, they virtually guarantee greater investment down the line in the form of costly, unnecessary maintenance, tool replacement, and part defects. By investing in higher quality tooling, manufacturers are able to recoup greater ROI with prolonged tool life, lower scrap yield through the life of the project, and improved part performance.
In addition to being weary of a lower ticket prices, there are a few things manufacturers can do to engineer value into their die cast tools. When designing your component, the following should be considered to ensure a robust and long-lasting tool that produces high-quality parts:
- Be mindful and plan for flexibility when it comes to draft angles. Increasing draft angles of non-critical design elements allows for easier part extraction, which extends the service life of the tool
- Allow for lenient tolerance zones on non-critical design elements
- Get involved with your supplier as early as possible! Collaborate with our team of engineers to make adjustments unique to your specific part early on in the design phase to avoid costly re-designs.
Every part is different, but we are here to help. Get in contact with our team of engineers to get started on optimizing your tool design and engineering value into every step of your manufacturing process today.
To learn more about what makes a high-quality die cast tool and how to prolong the life of your tool, register for our free on-demand webinar, Tools for Die Casting: Quality, Maintenance, Replacement.