30Nov

Aluminum Die Casting Design Guide

Die casting, the process of forcing molten metal into a mold cavity under extreme pressure, is a standard manufacturing process in numerous industries. While die casting can occur using various metals, aluminum is one of the more common materials.

Die casting has stood the test of time. Since its invention in 1884, it’s become a preferred technique for manufacturers demanding maximum precision producing items ranging from intricate components to larger parts found in automobiles and heavy machinery. 

Aluminum die casting offers several advantages:

  • It’s lightweight: Due to its lightweight composition, aluminum enables you to create the lighter parts and components required in many of today’s manufacturing processes without sacrificing strength or durability. 
  • It’s easy to work with: Aluminum is also easy to cast, letting you create a wide range of products. Aluminum can also withstand higher operating temperatures and offers excellent corrosion protection. 
  • You have customization options: With the assortment of available finishing options, you can create a customized product appearance when needed.

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to help you maximize the results from your aluminum die casting product design and manufacturing processes.

Material Selection

Not all aluminum versions are the same. Depending on the type of aluminum alloy you choose, there can be significant variations in crucial characteristics such as fatigue strength, weight, electrical conductivity, melting point and more. 

Some of the more popular aluminum die casting materials and their advantages include:

  • A380: This cost-effective aluminum alloy offers excellent thermal and mechanical properties, fluidity and pressure tightness.
  • A383: Some manufacturers choose this form of aluminum, also known as ADC12, as an alternative to A380 due to its increased corrosion resistance, casting ease and enhanced dimensional stability.
  • A413: Consider this aluminum alloy for producing hydraulic cylinders and other applications requiring maximum pressure tightness.

Machining Allowance

Machining allowance refers to the amount of stock that material manufacturers can remove from a finished die cast part. Specifically, it references the allowances required to eliminate inclusions on the casting skin and the impacts of surface roughness. 

An essential consideration during the aluminum die casting process is ensuring the optimum mechanical properties and density near the casting’s surface. If the allowance is too small, it might not meet the project’s requirements and create defects on the finished part or component. An excessively large allowance will lengthen the job’s completion time and increase labor hours and overall costs.

Wall Thickness

In most aluminum die casting projects, you must attempt to maintain uniform wall thickness to ensure an unimpeded metal flow and promote solidification. If the finished product requires a variable thickness, adjust the process gradually to prevent the formation of sharp edges. 

Attaining the appropriate wall thickness can be a delicate balancing act. A thinner wall can reduce material costs and make the workpiece lighter, but it can also jeopardize the finished product’s strength and structural integrity. Regardless of the desired thickness, it’s vital to maintain consistency throughout the part or component. 

The Assembly Process

Assembling the parts produced during aluminum die casting can range from a simple to a more complex process. Complicated assemblies typically require multiple steps to complete the procedure. 

In general, assembling complex workpieces involves implementing specialized techniques, such as welding, threading, fastening or coring holes. It’s imperative to pinpoint the correct processes during the planning phase, affecting the overall aluminum die casting product design. 

Shrinkage During Design

It’s imperative to account for shrinkage in your aluminum die casting design. Metal will naturally shrink during cooling and solidification, requiring the designer to make necessary adjustments. Thicker areas on the workpiece are more likely to shrink and result in surface porosity. 

To minimize shrinkage effects, you can attempt to create an aluminum die casting product design consisting of thinner sections. Adding vertical ribs to the walls and squeeze pins to targeted areas can also reduce the impact. 

Part Strength

The appropriate strength of aluminum parts varies depending on the intended use. The strength of the finished product is the result of multiple factors. Material selection plays a prominent role, as some aluminum alloys are stronger than others and more likely to withstand the rigors of high-demand applications. 

The specific die casting technique will also impact part and component strength. Executing the entire process in place prevents the need to perform additional machining steps, creating stress and jeopardizing the structural integrity. Implementing vacuum-assisted die casting can enhance strength by increasing density and reducing porosity.

Design and Appearance

The finished product’s aesthetics could matter when producing some exterior casting parts like casings or housings. If the finished product’s look is important in your applications, consider this during the aluminum casting design phase. 

A designer can incorporate various techniques that enhance appearance without impacting performance, quality or durability. Electroplating a metal coating onto the surface can help to create the desired look and improve other essential mechanical properties like corrosion resistance, hardness or friction reduction. It’s also possible to apply abrasive blasting techniques, such as shot peening, soda blasting or sandblasting to remove imperfections and prepare the part for painting.

Project Budget

The cost of aluminum die casting is a primary concern for virtually every manufacturer. Companies should begin by conducting a comprehensive budget analysis to determine the project’s affordability. A capable designer can develop a process that allows the job to fit the business’s pricing parameters without impacting quality or performance. 

For example, the designer can include pockets that make the product lighter without compromising its structural integrity. It will also save money by reducing material costs. Increasing tooling precision can also lower labor expenses by eliminating mistakes requiring corrections and do-overs.

Premier Can Meet Your Aluminum Die Casting Needs

Premier Die Casting offers more than 70 years of aluminum die casting expertise to companies across a diverse range of industries, including medical devices, firearms, renewable energy and many others. We’ll collaborate with you to develop and implement a customized process that serves your functional requirements and fits your budget. Our goal is to create aluminum parts, enabling you to improve finished products’ quality, performance and reliability.

Learn more about our aluminum die casting design process and how it can benefit your business. Contact us online for additional information and a no-obligation quote today. You can also call us at 908-930-1950.

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