Die casting manufacturers offer a variety of services from metal injection molding to precision die cast parts.  Some manufacturers also offer product design, assembly and testing, CNC machining and metal finishing.  Die casting manufacturing services can use several different metal types but the most common are zinc, aluminum, magnesium, copper, and lead. 

There are different advantages to each type of die cast metal.  Zinc is the easiest metal to cast, has high ductility, high impact strength, easily plated and is economical for small parts.  Aluminum is lightweight, has high dimensional stability for complex shapes, corrosion resistant, good mechanical properties, and has high thermal and electrical conductivity.  Magnesium is considered the easiest metal to machine, has excellent strength-to-weight ratio, and is the lightest alloy to die cast.  Copper’s advantages include high hardness, high corrosion resistance, contains the highest mechanical properties for die cast alloys, and strength close to steel.  Lastly, lead has very high density, extremely close dimensional accuracy, and is used for special forms of corrosion resistance.  Many die casting manufacturers can offer recommendations on which types of metal would be best suited for the part creation as a service to the customer.

Die casting equipment and metal dies are large capital costs which limits production to high volume quantities but with only 4 steps in the process, it keeps the incremental cost per item low.  Die casting is done in one of two machine types; either a hot chamber or a cold chamber and is determined by the type of metal.  Hot chambers are best suited for zinc, tin, and lead based alloys.  A cold chamber production method is best suited for aluminum, zinc alloys with large compositions of aluminum, magnesium, and copper. 

Die casting manufacturers offer a variety of services depending on the needs of the business.  From prototype design, to metal choices, to assembly and testing, die casting is the most efficient and cost effective solution to high volume part creation.

Rapid prototyping allows the quick and affordable production of part prototypes using 3D printing with computer aided design (CAD) software. This technology allows engineering companies to produce prototypes in-house in order for designers to test the product before it goes into production. The affordability of rapid prototyping allows the production of several prototypes, each with a slightly different design, to enable designers to make the best end product possible.

How Does 3D Printing Work?

3D printing works by layering and fusing materials (different materials are used for different industries and 3D printing machines) based on a virtual design. These objects created by 3D printing do not have the same physical or mechanical properties of parts created with traditional manufacturing methods. The global market for 3D printing amounts to a little over $2 billion.

Prototyping for Die Cast Parts

While 3D printing for prototyping is a cost-effective way to produce prototypes for some manufacturing processes, experts recommend that die cast prototypes should be die casted. While this method used to be considered expensive in previous years, developments in the industry now make die casting prototypes a viable option. Die cast prototypes are stronger and have the same mechanical properties of the part that will be made in production, providing an advantage to engineers for pre-production testing and design development.

The exception is for parts that will play an atheistic role only. In this scenario the properties of the die cast part is not as essential and 3D printing could be used to create the prototypes for these parts without any negative design effects on the final product.

Computer-aided design is sometimes used with additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) for rapid prototyping of die cast parts. Rapid prototyping creates models that are then used to make economical molded or gravity cast prototypes for die cast parts. However, the additive processes, like fused deposition modeling (FDM) or laser sintering are not used to create the actual prototypes.

3D Printing for Manufacturing?

Some strides are being made 3D printing for end products in specific industries, but for now, the technology is mostly for prototyping. The technology is a good ways from being able print parts for accurate testing for essential mechanical properties of die cast parts, like strength, hardness and elongation.