Pure Aluminum –VS– Recycled Aluminum

Pure Aluminum –VS– Recycled Aluminum

As we talked about in our last article, the die casting process is environmentally friendly in three major ways – it uses less waste, offers high accuracy, and long part life. The most commonly die cast alloy, and one of the most abundant in the world, is aluminum. The physical and mechanical properties of aluminum make it an ideal choice for many industries since it is durable, corrosion resistant, low density, and has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

If die casting is so environmentally friendly, does that mean that all alloys that are die cast are also environmentally friendly? Well, yes and no. Let’s look a bit closer at aluminum. Recycled aluminum alloys are very environmentally friendly but pure aluminum is not. Why?

Pure Aluminum
Pure aluminum actually used to cost more than gold. Not because it is a rare metal but because extracting it was (and still is) incredibly costly to do. Pure aluminum is extracted from clay ore called bauxite. The process basically involves carefully smashing the clay into a fine powder and separating the aluminum ions from the powder utilizing electrolysis. Extracting pure aluminum is energy intensive and detrimental to the environment due to mining destruction plus pollutants and large amounts of CO2 that are released during the extraction process. Though utilized in a few industries due to strict quality regulations, like the aerospace industry, Aluminum is very rarely used in its pure form because it also tends to crack and shrink.

Recycled Aluminum
Thankfully aluminum is 100% recyclable and approximately 75% of all aluminum ever extracted is still in use today. Recycled aluminum also only uses about 5% of the energy that is required to process pure aluminum. Aluminum can be recycled again and again without deterioration to its mechanical or physical properties – which means it will give the same level of performance as pure aluminum while being environmentally friendly and more cost-effective.

Most aluminum used today is mixed with other materials including copper, magnesium, and silicon. These other alloys help increase aluminum’s fluidity, elasticity, corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and hardness to provide it with even better mechanical properties. Recycled aluminum alloy die cast parts tend to maintain their strength at high temperatures, possess good thermal and electrical conductivity, are lightweight, and can be cast with intricate geometries and thin walls while maintaining their strength.

The benefits of using recycled aluminum to our environment include reduced energy consumption, reduced mining pollution, reduced shipping pollution, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions… all without sacrificing quality or strength. The ease of use in die casting combined with its environmentally friendly properties, lighter weight, and durability make aluminum a top choice for designers from nearly every industry.

Ready to get started?
A&B Die casting is committed to environmental safety, sustainability, and recyclability. We utilize only 100% recycled materials and offer an exciting array of recycled aluminum and zinc options along with providing high quality secondary surface finishes and treatments (such as paint, plating, and powder coating for functionality and decorative appeal).

With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your part. Our in-depth knowledge and experience allows us to control the entire pre- and post-operative processing, as well as provide turn key part solutions with a variety of options, to meet your individual needs. Contact A&B Die Casting today to get started on your next project!

Is die casting environmentally friendly?

Is die casting environmentally friendly?

All industries today are concerned with waste disposal and the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes. Practically every nation has passed multiple laws designed to limit waste and protect the environment. When designing new parts it is important to not only design it for optimum functionality and easy fabrication but also its ultimate destiny at the end of its useable life. Basically, can the materials used to create the product be repurposed or recycled when the product is no longer useful?

A typical finished consumer product has more than one material used in its creation. For example, let’s look at an automobile. Approximately 75%-85% of the salvaged metal parts are removed and recycled at the end of the automobile’s useable life. However, a much lower percentage of plastics can be recycled and reused than most people know. Only about 9% of all plastics used (across every industry) can be recycled; the other 91% are dumped in landfills. This gives metal formed products a big environmental advantage over plastic products.

Die casting already boasts so many benefits – it is economical, efficient, repeatable, and reliable. Die castings also providing superior Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) shielding properties over plastics, which help to meet ever increasing FCC requirements for many medical, telecom, and industrial applications. Did you know that die casting is also one of the most recyclable metal forming processes? Just about all metals and metal alloys are recyclable and since the die casting process does not include hazardous chemicals it poses no problems in handling or reprocessing the materials. Currently, over 95% of all aluminum die castings in North America are made from post-consumer recycled aluminum. Utilizing the recycled materials also saves energy on primary aluminum production which helps conserve nonrenewable energy sources.

Die casting is environmentally friendly in three major ways – it uses less waste, offers high accuracy, and long part life.

1.) Less waste
Reducing, recycling, reusing. Overall die casting produces less waste and consumes less energy than other metal forming processes. Die casting typically utilizes long-lasting reusable dies (or molds) and materials such as aluminum, zinc, and magnesium alloys which are easy to recycle. These factors help lower the environmental impact of creating the metal parts.

2.) High accuracy
High accuracy also has a positive impact on the environment. The die casting process creates parts that are exact to narrow tolerances, and does so repeatedly. Meaning you can cast thousands of identical items at specification without wasteful adjustments, unnecessary energy expenditure, or material scrap. You can also cast threads or other features directly into the part which eliminates some secondary operations and further energy expenditures per part.

3.) Long life
Die cast parts also do not degrade over time due to temperature fluctuations or UV exposure, which are common problems with other materials, such as plastics. They also provide excellent mechanical properties – strength, stiffness, durability, etc. Die cast metal parts eliminate, or reduce, the need to find new sources of materials which lowers potential chemical pollution from extraction and purification, damage to the ecosystem or water supplies from mining materials, overall energy consumption related to the work and transportation, and other negative environmental impacts.

Ready to get started?
A&B Die casting is committed to environmental safety. We utilize only 100% recycled materials and offer an exciting array of recyclable aluminum and zinc options along with providing high quality secondary surface finishes and treatments (such as paint, plating, and powder coating for functionality and decorative appeal).

With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your part. Our in-depth knowledge and experience allows us to control the entire pre- and post-operative processing, as well as provide turn key part solutions with a variety of options, to meet your individual needs. Contact A&B Die Casting today to get started on your next project!

Die creation thoughts… was yours designed with manufacturability in mind?

Die creation thoughts… was yours designed with manufacturability in mind?

A high quality die cast component begins with a quality die. The die itself determines the tolerances held, repeatability, strength, complexity, and how many parts can be created utilizing that single die. A well-designed die should incorporate as many features as possible to minimize post machining operations; thus saving money for the final unit part cost and faster throughput.

Designing your die for optimal manufacturability (or DFM) is what will truly makes it a high-quality tool. Keeping manufacturability in mind not only delivers a successful die but also one that will last and create more consistent, higher-performance parts.

It is always a good idea to partner with your die casting company early in your project in order to get the best quality casts possible. The die casting engineers can assess your project’s concept or existing part, from design to end product, and work with you to optimize the design for casting. They will go over specifics such as:
• Critical tolerances
• Wall thickness
• Functional requirements
• Cosmetic requirements
• Finishes
• Secondary operations
• Mating parts or assemblies
• Volume
• Project completion expectations
• And more

Though dies can be expensive to create, and it can be appealing to try to cut costs in this area, it is never a good idea to go with the lowest bidder when it comes to die creation. Die design and creation affects the overall quality, uniformity, shape, and configuration of your final cast part. An improperly created die will result in inferior cast products, as well as tool or material corrosion. A die that fails will grind production to a halt and force you to spend more time and money re-building your die. Working closely with an experienced die caster will help you not only achieve the best possible product but also save you both time and money in the long run.

A few other things to keep in mind to ensure a long-lasting and quality die that produces consistent high quality parts:
• Make sure that your die is created with high-quality materials by an experienced shop
• Allow for some wiggle room in tolerances for non-critical design elements
• Plan for some flexibility in the draft angles of non-critical design elements (this will help ensure easy part extraction which will extend the life of the die)
• Make sure to partner with your die caster early in the process (that way their engineers can help make adjustments in the design phase which will save you some money avoiding re-designs)

Ready to get started?
A&B Die Casting utilizes 3D models and our FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling Machine) to check die layouts for part design fit and moldability. This helps us quickly address potential design for manufacturability (DFM) issues so that we can optimize the design for the die casting process. Utilizing our FDM in this manner also allows us to revise the design prior to the creation of the production die which saves you both time and money.

With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your part. Our in-depth knowledge and experience allows us to control the entire pre- and post-operative processing, as well as provide turn key part solutions with a variety of options, to meet our customer’s individual needs. Contact A&B Die Casting today to get started on your next project!

Robotics and Die Casting : How do robots benefit from die cast components and how are robots used in die cast foundries?

Robotics and Die Casting : How do robots benefit from die cast components and how are robots used in die cast foundries?

Automation is increasing in popularity in just about every industry as the impact of technology continues to improve how we complete tasks. Simply put – robots can work in places and ways that cannot be replicated by human beings; whether we are talking about saving money, decreasing errors, speeding production time, reducing waste, or limiting staff exposure to toxic or harmful materials.

When it comes to die casting, robots are typically utilized to reduce costs and speed up production. This is particularly true in high-volume die casting where the work can be almost completely automated with a single human overseer. Robots are both widely used in the die casting industry to produce products and are themselves produced by being cast.

How do robotics applications benefit from die cast components?
Die casting produces components that are durable, can withstand wear and tear from repeated tasks, exposure to chemicals or harsh environmental conditions, as well as protect delicate interior electrical components. All of these qualities make die casting an ideal process for creating many different parts of a robot.

What types of parts are we talking about? Components such as:
• External parts that make up the arms, wrist, base, elbows, and several other parts
• Internal and external structural components
• Exterior housings that protect sensitive electronics
• Internal components that hold together different CPUs, motherboards, power supply units, and other vital electronics
• Gearing and mechanical controls
• Interchangeable tools such as drills or grippers
• And more

What types of alloys are used?
Since robotic applications require components with excellent physical and mechanical properties the most commonly die cast alloys – aluminum, magnesium, and zinc – all have properties that are ideal choices to cast a wide variety of robotic equipment and parts.
• Aluminum is particularly attractive since it is relatively easy to cast, boasts a higher tensile strength than cast iron at about 1/3 of the weight, it is non-magnetic, corrosion resistant, non-sparking, and a good conductor.
• Magnesium can create even lighter parts with stiffness equal to that of aluminum; however A&B Die Casting does not work with it.
• Zinc is best for thin walls, very tight tolerances, or small parts.

Aluminum Alloys
Aluminum alloys are strong, lightweight, and economical for high-volume casting. Parts cast from aluminum alloys maintain their strength at high temperatures, possess good thermal and electrical conductivity, and can also be cast with intricate geometries and thin walls while maintaining their strength.

Why is aluminum used so widely in robotic applications?
• Lightweight
• High dimensional stability
• Corrosion resistance
• Excellent mechanical properties
• Good machining characteristics
• Superior EMI and RFI shielding properties
• High thermal and electrical conductivity
• High strength-to-weight ratio
• A variety of decorative and protective finishes
• Great choice for high temperature coating processes
• Made from 100% recycled material and is fully recyclable

With strength comparable to zinc alloys, aluminum is frequently chosen for robotic applications when weight is at a premium – it has a very low specific gravity which places it amongst the most lightweight structural materials available today.

Zinc Alloys
Zinc alloys are perfect for robotic applications that require smaller and more complex shapes since no other alloy can be cast with such tight tolerances and thin walls. Zinc’s superior strength and hardness is an ideal alternative to machined, pressed, stamped, or fabricated components. Zinc also boasts excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, requires less tooling or secondary operations, and can be cast at moderate temperatures which provides significant energy and processing savings over other metals and engineering alloys.

Why is zinc used so widely in robotic applications?
• Offers high precision with lower tooling costs
• Superior strength and hardness
• Optimal for complex, multi-faceted, versatile, net shaped parts with thin walls
• Excellent electrical performance and shielding properties

How are robots used in die cast foundries?
Since robots are more consistently accurate than human beings can possibly be, many die casting companies utilize robots in their foundries to help produce better quality castings. Robots are also able to withstand temperatures and environments that would be harmful or uncomfortable for a human operator.

Procedures such as:
• Tend to the die cast machinery : Using robots where appropriate to tend to the machinery can speed up production dramatically, can lead to higher material yields due to consistent pouring, reduce the amount of scrap, and create an overall safer working environment for human operators.
• Pour molten metal and other material handling : Molten metal can be extremely dangerous and needs to be poured with a steady hand. A robot can also skim dross and ladle faster and more accurately than a human can, which eliminates the chance of spilling and reduces waste. Robots can also load inserts and extract solidified casting more quickly and efficiently.
• Spray mold release lubricants : Dies need to be properly lubricated and spraying consistently can be difficult for a human to achieve. Uneven application of the lubricants can cause issues with the castings as well as uneven die cooling.
• Trim excess metal away : Unnecessary runners, flashes, and risers need to be removed after casting. Using robots to grind or cut away the excess metal greatly speeds up moving the project to the next stage.
• And many more.

As you can see foundry robots are designed and used for a wide variety of applications that optimize the production process. Utilizing robotics productivity has increased exponentially, errors have gone down substantially, and most importantly they make foundries safer. Robots have had a monumental impact on the die casting process and they continue to play a crucial role in both productivity and worker safety. They are widely used in foundries and are created by them too.

Ready to get started on your next project?
With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your application. By incorporating innovative engineering and state-of-the-art technologies, we take pride in designing and manufacturing the highest quality tools and parts at the right price. Need assistance or want to get started on your next die cast project? Contact A&B Die Casting today!

How Can 3D Printing Benefit Your Die Casting?

How Can 3D Printing Benefit Your Die Casting?

Die casting is an extremely popular, effective, and reliable manufacturing process for creating metal products. Die cast parts produce high quality, uniform pieces that can be created in just about any size, part geometry, surface texture, or finish. They also require minimal secondary processes since many features can be integrated into the design such as studs, hinges, drill holes, and bosses, to name just a few.

Die casting is a time-tested manufacturing method that is dramatically benefitting from newer technologies such as 3D printing. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, gives engineers greater design flexibility since a 3D printer can print just about anything that you can imagine and model a drawing of.

What are the benefits of 3D printing for die casting?
3D printing has quite a few clear benefits for die casting, such as:
• Design flexibility
• Easy to revise designs
• Perfect for prototyping or testing proof of design
• Saves you time and money

3D printing is an inexpensive way to create and test a working model of a design. Utilizing this technology to test your designs makes it easier to make design revisions without the high costs of making multiple dies. The technology helps die casters bypass a lot of costly and time-consuming aspects of creating and testing out dies and is a great choice for achieving proper fit and function of a product when you are testing out the design before beginning high-volume production. This equates to better die cast products, faster production times, and quite a bit of cost savings.

How does A&B Die Casting utilize 3D printing?
Die creation is expensive, utilizing 3D printing to check the part design for fit and moldability, as well as revising it quickly as needed prior to the creation of the production die will save you both time and money. Creating 3D models utilizing FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling Machine), as A&B Die Casting does, helps the die caster address potential design for manufacturability (DFM) issues to optimize the part for the die casting process.

Not only is 3D printing valuable in DFM (Design For Manufacturability) with the mold design but it also helps with secondary operations that will be needed to bring the product to its final specifications. It allows the die caster to develop machining fixtures, as well as get a head start on writing the machining and CMM inspection programs. All of this facilitates getting the actual FA castings processed to completion and approved for production faster.

The use of 3D printing in design for manufacturability in die casting has proven to save time, reduce costs, and ensure better results. Utilizing 3D printing technology is ideal for highly complex casting jobs, facilitating both greater design freedom and cost-effectiveness in pattern and mold production.

Ready to get started?
With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your part. Our in-depth knowledge and experience allows us to control the entire pre- and post-operative processing, as well as provide turn key part solutions with a variety of options, to meet our customer’s individual needs. Contact A&B Die Casting today to get started on your next project!