Several industries use die casting since it provides numerous benefits. Die casting makes it possible to produce complex shapes and quality parts in large quantities with better precision than the other production processes. While there’s a lot of information regarding metal casting 101, those focusing on die cast tooling are more limited.
This article explains what die casting is and the different types of die. We also look at some die components and key industry terms.
What Is Die Casting?
Die casting or pressure die casting is a permanent mold metal casting process where molten metal is forced into the mold cavity called dies at high pressures. The molten metal then solidifies into a metal cast. The process is used to create geometrically complex parts and offers a uniform quality to the components produced.
The two main techniques for die casting are cold chamber and hot chamber die casting. You choose a method depending on the result you want to achieve and the project specifications.
Dies casting has a wide range of industrial applications. The method can be used to produce anything from appliance components and automotive housings to medical devices and toys. It’s one of the fastest and most economical casting processes and is suited for the mass production of parts. The process largely depends on the die casting tooling design. The mold’s shape and characteristics determine the final product’s features, affecting its uniformity, configuration and quality.
Types of Die Casting Dies
You can use different die casting toolings with varying functions, depending on your project’s requirements. The most common die types are prototyping dies, production dies, unit dies, rapid tooling dies and trim dies.
1. Prototyping Dies
A prototyping die is usually used to produce small quantities of casts to test the parts in different scenarios. Strategies for prototyping dies include machine hangouts, single-cavity, gravity casting, plaster mold prototyping and 3D-printed molds. Each method has unique benefits. For example, gravity casting is cost-effective for medium and high production runs of products. Plaster mold prototyping is quick and straightforward when making changes to the part’s geometry. Single-cavity prototype casting allows you to assess your end product’s essential characteristics critically.
Generally, a high-pressure die casting prototype is best suited when you need the same alloy, process, geometry and properties for production. A typical example is when you’re dealing with aluminum pressure die casting parts. The casting can be produced at less cost and within shorter lead times because of the standardized components.
2. Production Dies
Production dies are the most common die type. These are used after the design is finalized and approved. Production dies can have a single cavity with no slides or multiple cavities with options to slide. The material used for making the cavity is high-quality tool steel retained in a holder block. The tool steel is heat-treated to increase the die cavity’s life span. The dies are built to precise dimensions, allowing you to obtain the required machining specifications.
3. Unit Dies
This unique die casting mold is used for less volume and smaller parts. Unit dies are small and can be inserted into the master holding die. Typically, although the unit dies are changed to make varied components, the master die is a fixed member. They are suitable for complex geometry parts requiring maximum efficiency and control. For commercial purposes, the most common types are single- and double-unit holders.
4. Rapid Tooling Dies
Rapid tooling is a process that allows manufacturers to produce tools or molds quickly, providing dies and inserts with shorter lead times compared to conventional approaches. Rapid tooling is associated with various processes, including selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography and fused deposition modeling. Manufacturers may use rapid tooling dies either as production dies or prototyping dies, depending on the production volume requirements.
5. Trim Dies
A trim die for die casting can be single or multiple tools made in the same configuration as the die casting die. They trim off the overflows, flash and runner from the part instantly. Some trim dies require hydraulic operated motions while others need open and close functions to remove the flash effectively. They are designed for middle- and high-volume production and are suitable for different aluminum casting types.
Die Components and Terms
To fully understand die casting, you’ll want to know several die components and terms:
- Parting lines: This is the line where two halves of the mold meet. Typically, you can locate the parting lines at the top or side of the component. Casters consider the parting lines when designing the die casting since it’ll create a visible seam on the final product.
- Cavities inserts or cavity blocks: These parts are added to the die block to create a void in the cast part. A cavity insert or block a heat-treated, premium-grade tool to extend its life span and increase lubricity.
- Ejector pins and ejector plates: Die casting ejector pins are the moving pins used to remove the die tool from the moving half. Ejector plates, on the other hand, actuate the ejector pins to push the die casting out of the moving half. The number of pins, sizes and locations depend on the part’s requirement, configuration and size.
- Core and core pins: The core is an internal casting feature that creates a void and provides for the desired shape. The core can be in various shapes, although a circular shape — usually called the core pin — is the most common. It can be fixed to a slide or the die cavity and actuated by a hydraulic cylinder or mechanical opening and closing.
- Slides or slide cores: Slide core is the general term for either a pin within the larger slide mechanism or a simple core pin that moves in and out on some angle to the parting line. The slide generally refers to a tool, die or machine moving perpendicular to the die pull and in a straight line parallel to the die parting.
Contact Premier Die Casting for Your Die Casting Solutions!
Die casting enables you to create complex shapes within close tolerances than other mass production processes. It also produces durable parts with dimensional accuracy. There are several die casting toolings, and the type of casting mold you select depends on the specifications of your projects. Understanding metal casting 101 requires you to know some die components and terms in the industry, such as parting lines, cavities, ejector pins and ejector plates, core and core pins and slides.
Do you want to learn more about die casting tooling? Premier Die Casting is ready to answer all your questions and help you find the best solutions. We’re a United States-based die casting company with over 70 years in the industry. We offer a wide range of services, including die casting, CNC machining and metal finishing. Drop a comment or ask a question by filling out our contact form today!