Die Casting For The Automotive Industry: Benefits And Uses
Source:Gartner blog

Die Casting For The Automotive Industry: Benefits And Uses

Modern-day manufacturing technology has completely redefined the way automobiles are manufactured. Manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for effective alternatives to reduce the weight and to improve the mileage without affecting durability.

Ever since Harry Ford opened the doors for modern automobile manufacturing at the beginning of the 20th century, the car industry was receptive to emerging technologies.

What are the metals used in die casting for the automotive industry?

Automobile manufacturing requires metal parts to be cast into different shapes. Die casting is one of the most accepted methods to cast metal parts into various forms. Manufacturers often choose magnesium or aluminum for this purpose as these are light in weight.

On the other hand, the metal zinc is very easy to cast, and if used for automotive parts, it offers numerous benefits. Using zinc for die casting helps achieve extremely high production efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and superior quality.

Die casting automotive parts

For the automotive industry, die casting is an effective and economical process to construct different parts of various shapes and sizes.

cold-chamber-machine
Source:britannica

Besides, the parts should have a great service life and should be designed to enhance the surrounding part’s visual appeal. By using die casting for the manufacture of various parts of automobiles, designers gain numerous benefits. They are: 

Multiple finishing techniques 

Automotive parts of smooth and textured surfaces can be created with die casting. The parts can be quickly finished or plated with minimum surface penetration.

Fast production

With die casting, it is possible to produce automotive parts at a very high speed. Intricate shapes of utter complexity can be easily manufactured at a pace that is impossible with other manufacturing techniques.

Once a mold is created, thousands of parts can churn out with little or no machining required before repairing the molds.

Stability and dimensional accuracy

With die casting, automotive parts of high dimensional accuracy can be manufactured easily. Parts that are highly durable and heat resistant can be manufactured while maintaining close tolerance.

Weight and strength

With die casting, extremely thin-walled parts can be manufactured that are significantly lighter and stronger as well. 

The die-cast parts will have extremely high strength of the alloy, mainly because here the parts are not welded or fastened together.

Die casting zinc parts in the automotive industry.

Do you know that in the automotive sector, zinc die-casting accounts for approximately 28%?

Zinc die casting is most commonly used for manufacturing components in the building and industrial sectors. Its wide application can be seen in the automotive industry.

car
Source:Pixabay

Since this process offers an accuracy of nearly 100%, there is no need for any further processing after the die-cast. The parts can be used raw as they will have a smooth finish.

The process is also widely adopted for making components in the building and industrial sectors.

The metal has become a prominent one in the automotive industry, especially for products such as pulleys in seat belts, door lock housing maps, retractor gears, etc. 

Besides, when it comes to creating automobile parts with strict tolerances, embossing, or high-quality aesthetics, zinc is the ideal choice.

Benefits of Zinc die casting.

Here are some of the benefits of zinc die casting

  1. Greater flexibility

When it comes to fluidity, zinc beats aluminum and magnesium. Although aluminum is more light in weight than zinc, it can help make parts that are more complex in shape with thinner walls.

  1. Excellent electrical and thermal conductivity

The metal is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, which makes it a better choice for modern automobiles that are getting smarter.

  1. Highly resistant to corrosion

Since the metal reacts very minimally if exposed to the atmosphere, automobile parts made of zinc stay for an extended period. This gives a longer die life without the need for periodic maintenance.

  1. Sustainable and eco-friendly

As the amount of waste getting accumulated on the planet i\s increasing year by year, using zinc for manufacturing automobile parts will be an ideal option mainly because it is environmentally friendly and can be recycled into new parts.

  1. Better finish and highly stable

When it comes to dimensional stability, zinc beats all other metals. Parts that are cast out of this metal will have a superior finish and appeal aesthetically.

  1. Have excellent strength

The metals are more robust and harder than aluminum or magnesium without the need for any specialized treatment. Studies have shown that the metals can be stronger and harder 15 times more than A380 aluminum alloy.

Die casting Aluminum parts in the automotive industry.

If you look at the present automotive industries worldwide, you could see that metal aluminum is extensively used for the construction of automobile parts.

The good thing about aluminum alloys is that it is lightweight and possesses excellent dimensional stability for constructing complex machine parts. The metal also comes in handy when it comes to making extremely thin-walled machine parts as well.

Low-density aluminum is essential for die casting in the automotive industry. The castings exhibit high strength even at high temperatures requiring the use of cold chamber machines.

The metal will be placed in a holding pot above a furnace where the melting will take place. Since the pumping system cannot be operated at high temperatures, the open holding pot where the molten metal is placed will be kept separate from the rest of the system.

In the casting process, a steel mold is capable of producing thousands of casting in one session. The die will be made into two sections to permit the easy removal of the castings.

The process begins once the casting dies press clamps the two parts tightly together. The molten metal will be injected into the die cavity, which will solidify rapidly.

After cooling, the die halves are removed, and the casting is ejected from the mold. Depending on the extent of complexity requirement, the dies can be simple, having movable slides or other sections.

Benefits of aluminum die casting.

There are numerous reasons why the automotive industry adopts aluminum die casting as one of the preferred methods for manufacturing components. Let us take a closer look at those benefits.

die casting

  1. Manufacture lightweight components

Every year, competition is on the rise among the automobile manufacturers to design vehicles with the best fuel economy standards and not to mention the government’s peer pressure to make cars that are cleaner and more efficient.

For this reason, automobile manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for newer and innovative methods to reduce the weight of the vehicle.

The primary way that designers and engineers opt to improve the fuel economy is by reducing the overall weight of the automobile. Studies have shown that a mere reduction in 15% of the overall weight can improve the fuel economy by 25%.

The manufacture of extremely lightweight automobile parts is possible with the help of aluminum die-casting.

Engineers can design parts that are not only robust but also fast performing and long-lasting with this process.

  1. Safe and reliable

When it comes to designing automobile parts, the most important thing that designers have in mind is safety.No matter how intriguing a design might appear to be. It cannot be put into manufacture if it compromises the safety of the passengers.

With aluminum die casting, it is possible to design components resistant to heat and friction and impact-proof to protect against road accidents.

  1. Flexibility in producing complex components

Newer versions of vehicles often come with components that are more complex in design. With aluminum die casting, it is possible to develop vehicle parts that are complex and unique in design.

Unlike other metals, aluminum is more flexible when producing designs that are difficult to make by using other metals.

  1. Producing environmental friendly components

Every year thousands of tons of automobile waste are dumped in junkyards. Certain metals seep into the soil polluting the environment.

It is essential to make sure to use a metal that is not only recyclable multiple times but also causes less environmental pollution.

Using aluminum die casting for producing automobile parts will be highly beneficial in the long run mainly because they are recyclable and minimize the environmental footprint.

Die casting magnesium parts in the automotive industry.

In today’s world, magnesium is one of the most pliable and lightest metals used in alloy die casting. Since magnesium’s purest form is corrosive, volatile, and combustible, it should be mixed with other lightweight metals such as aluminum to be cast into different textures and shapes.

These compounded materials formed from the fusion of magnesium and other lighter metals such as aluminum offer unlimited possibilities for thin-walled and complex structures.

Magnesium alloy products are most commonly used in the manufacture of various vehicle parts

The metal has excellent temperature and heat resistance, good electrical conductivity, and a 100% reclamation rate when recycled.

Another important speciality of the metal is that magnesium provides the best strength to weight ratio of any die-cast material.

Magnesium can be melted by using a variety of methods. You could either use a hot chamber or cold chamber die casting, depending on your specific need.

In the process of hot chamber die casting, the molten magnesium will be kept inside a steel crucible under specific atmospheric conditions.

The plunger will inject the molten metal through the nozzle into the cavity of the die. The pressure applied to the metal during the injection process will solidify the metal and force it to form inside the cast.

You could also use cold chamber die casting to produce the metal.

Since cold chamber die casting holds several advantages over hot chamber die casting, most automotive magnesium die-castings are produced by cold chamber die casting.

Benefits of Magnesium die casting.

Here are some of the benefits of using magnesium in the die casting industry

  1. Manufacturing lighter automobile parts

By reducing the overall w2eight of the automobile, it is possible to achieve better fuel efficiency and higher performance.

When the market environment is full of cutthroat competitions, mileage is one of the several advantages that companies highlight to attract customers.

Using magnesium and aluminum or zinc alloys makes it possible to manufacture well-performing parts and light in weight.

  1. Better corrosion resistance

No matter how many coats of paint are applied to the automobile parts, we cannot avoid the risk of corrosion, especially if the vehicles are parked closely in salty environments.

Dust and smoke from polluted cities also react with the metal surfaces corroding them and eventually shorten automobile components’ lives.

Using newer magnesium alloys of higher purity makes it possible to achieve better corrosion resistance than carbon steel or aluminum alloys.

  1. Complex design can be quickly produced

Magnesium alloys allow engineers to manufacture intricate shapes that are complex in appearance and functionality.

Since it is possible to manufacture extremely thin-walled automobile parts with magnesium die casting, structures can be made from one piece rather than several components.

This, in turn, helps lower cost, reduce joints, minimize tool cost, and enhance reliability.

  1. Good dimensional stability

One of the main reasons magnesium alloys are used to create automobile parts is due to their excellent dimensional stability. Magnesium has the best strength to weight ratio of any other metal available.

Automobile parts that are cast out of magnesium have superior stability and quality.

  1. Environmental friendliness

Magnesium is produced from magnesium-bearing minerals, seawater, and brines. This is one of the most naturally occurring metals.
Due to its widespread occurrence, it can be harvested and considered eco-friendly. It can be 100% recycled and dissolves without any trace.

Global demand for die casting in the automotive industry

The die casting market worldwide was valued at $3,633.6 million in 2018. This amount is projected to reach $4,978.7 million by the year 2026.

assembly
In the industrial production workshop, the robot arm of the automobile production line is working

In the last decade, die casting has emerged to be one of the most popular and widespread methods for producing automobile parts.

The automotive industry stood as a significant user of die-cast parts when the design and engineering sectors focused more on the manufacture of lightweight automobiles.

One of the essential advantages of die-cast parts is that they are more robust, lightweight, and have thinner walls. For the automobile industry, this is of immense value since the increasing trend is towards the manufacture of lightweight automobiles.

The number of die-cast parts used in modern-day automobiles is increasing on a massive scale.

Traditional cast iron engine blocks are replaced with aluminum die-cast blocks. This helps to reduce the engine’s weight by a stunning 60%, providing a rapid boost in performance and mileage.

Advancements in R&D in metallurgy such as Al-Si-Cu-Mg-Fe will help expand its use to engineering components in the structural elements.

As foundry 4.0 continues to emerge, more and more investments are made in the die casting industry to monitor the machine’s proper functioning and detect any defects at an early stage of production.

At present, China ranks as the most prominent and fastest-growing market in the die casting industry, with a market share of 37.6% share. The CAGR is 9.1% over the analysis period, backed up by the ever-increasing automobile and consumer electronics industry.

Bottom line

Die casting has completely revolutionized the world of automobile manufacturing. Now it is possible to shed tons of weight without compromising the efficiency of the engines.

This article mentioned some of the essential metals used for die casting within the automotive industry as well as their individual benefits.

In the next decade, the present growing trend is that almost all automobile parts will be made of die-cast parts alone.

This article is a part of our comprehensive guide on “Die casting: Process, Equipment, Uses, and More

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