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!

The Benefits of Die Casting Zinc for Medical Device Parts

The Benefits of Die Casting Zinc for Medical Device Parts

The medical industry continues to break through technological barriers at a rapid rate in order to continuously revolutionize the way the medical profession can deliver healthcare.
• The way surgical procedures are done
• The way replacement parts are made
• The way medical data is obtained or analyzed
• And the way various other aspects of healthcare are constantly changing and evolving

As new ideas are developed, traditional methods are giving way to new approaches and new technologies. However, one thing remains the same – when it comes to human health, there can be no compromise in quality. The challenge with designing medical devices is striking a balance between products that address clinical needs, minimize human error, and increase patient safety. They must also be biocompatible (hygienic, antimicrobial) and able to withstand not only regular use but also regular cleaning and disinfecting without damaging the functionality or appearance of the device.

Zinc is the alloy of choice
Zinc alloys are optimal for casting parts requiring intricate detail and close dimensional tolerances at high production rates. Zinc alloys are castable to closer tolerances than any other metal or molded plastic. Zinc casting alloys are stronger than reinforced molded polymers and zinc’s hardness, self-lubricating properties, dimensional stability, and high modulus make is suitable for working mechanical parts.

Complex shapes, high density, with thin walls
Due to the high density and extremely thin-walled casting ability of zinc die cast alloys, hand-held medical devices can be designed for better overall usability. Features such as weight, balance, valence, haptic feedback, and inertia can be specifically engineered to provide a more comfortable experience for both the medical professional and the patient.

RFI/EMI shielding capabilities
If the medical device contains sensitive electronics the shielding capabilities inherent to zinc become an incredibly important feature. You want to ensure that the functionality of a sensitive medical device is not adversely being affected by the electrical or electromagnetic radiation from other devices.

Zinc is currently used to produce a wide range of medical device parts for products such as:
• Blood pressure monitors
• Breathing aids
• Defibrillators
• Pacemakers
• Patient monitoring systems
• Ultrasound systems
• and much more

Overall, Zinc is a casting alloy that offers high precision with lower tooling costs. Zinc’s superior strength and hardness is an ideal alternative for machined, pressed, stamped, and fabricated components. Zinc is optimal for complex, multi-faceted, versatile, net shaped parts with thin walls while offering excellent electrical performance and shielding properties which makes it an ideal choice for use in medical applications.

How can A&B Die Casting help with your medical project?
A&B Die Casting leads the industry with a trusted worldwide reputation for unique economical approaches and value-added services for all of your die casting solutions.

We also understand that people’s health and safety rely on the dependability of the products we help create. We work closely with our medical device customers to help them design and produce economical, top-quality, parts from the foundation of the product by generating prototypes throughout the proof-of-concept stage and every stage towards FDA approval.

Medical device manufacturers can count on us for:
• Consistent quality
• Cost-effective production
• Tight tolerances
• Complex component capabilities
• Cast housings that are extremely durable
• Fully recyclable materials
• Wide variety of finishes
• Value-added engineering services
• And more

With over 70 years in the business, we’ve been at the forefront of revolutionary changes by consistently refining our equipment and processes to ensure we provide our medical device customers with leading-edge technology and the highest quality parts.

Need assistance or want to get started on your next die cast project? Contact A&B Die Casting today!

Porosity in Die Cast Parts and What it Means to You

Porosity in Die Cast Parts and What it Means to You

What is porosity in die casting?
Porosity refers to small voids, holes, or pockets of air that are found within a finished part. These holes typically occur when air is trapped in the material being worked with. Porosity is a big concern in die casting, though it is typically acceptable in non-critical areas.

Porosity can happen in a variety of ways. Air can become trapped by the die cast machinery leaving gaps at the top of the die, it can occur when filling a mold too slowly, or when some of the material being used solidifies too soon. It can also occur when the air used to force molten metal into the mold isn’t completely forced out or able to escape through vents and overflows.

Causes of porosity in die casting:
• The design of the mold and cast parts
• The purity of the metal or alloy being used
• Pressure and shot speed of the machines
• Shrinkage of the material wall thickness
• Too much lubricant in the die
• Sharp corners in the mold
• Low metal temperatures
• Air trapped in the metal

How do you check for porosity?
• X-ray the finished material
• Using computerized tomography
• Cutting and polishing a section and then analyzing it under a microscope

porosity

Can it be prevented?
Porosity varies in severity and can occasionally be acceptable in the final product, but generally it is best to limit it as much as possible. There are so many areas that need to be closely monitored in order to avoid porosity – the die casting process (such as the design of the mold), purity of the metal, low metal temperatures, pressure and speed of the machines, and more.

The best way to minimize porosity is to make sure the engineers and the die caster are working closely together to provide strategic guidance from the very beginning of the project. In addition, making sure the die caster is experienced and is using only top quality materials also greatly reduces any possible issues with your die cast part.

Need a hand?
Early involvement with a seasoned die caster is essential in avoiding issues with your cast and any possible expensive corrective steps needed down the line. With over 74 years of experience in die casting, A&B Die Casting understands your materials, designs, and parts as well as the casting process factors that are most likely to cause different types of defects. This wealth of experience enables us to prevent many defects before they even occur. We can also assist with redesigning elements to address porosity-prone areas and shift them to locations that will not impact structural integrity.

If you are developing your own tolerance limits, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) lists the standards for porosity in castings on their website (https://www.astm.org/). They are an excellent resource for standards, books, journals, and articles for a variety of industries, materials, and products.

If you are concerned about the porosity of your casting, we recommend you contact us directly and chat about your specific project.

-A&B Die Casting
(877) 708-0009
www.abdiecasting.com

NOTE: Porosity photos included here are courtesy of the NADCA Product Specification Standards for Die Castings / 2015

How Important is Temperature when you are Die Casting?

How Important is Temperature when you are Die Casting?

Die casting temperature control is a serious issue. When it comes to die casting, as temperatures increase the tensile and yield strengths of the alloy decrease. Ductility also increases as the temperature increases but differs based on the type of alloy being cast. The proper temperature is crucial for both the die and the metal to be cast. The metal being cast needs to be heated correctly to ensure proper flow and fill of the mold. If the temperature of the molten metal is too hot for the mold, it could damage the mold. If the temperature of the mold is too cold, the metal will cool too quickly as it flows into the mold and will cause defects.


Metal flowing into a die

What temperatures need to be closely monitored?
• The temperature of the die itself
• The temperature of the die casting machine or casting chamber
• The temperature of the alloy used for casting

All three of these temperatures must be kept within their individual optimum range in order to produce the highest quality die cast parts.

What is the proper die temperature?
The die temperature will depend on what alloy you intend to cast. You want to avoid putting excess strain on your die, stressing the die will lower the life expectancy of the die itself. It is best to pour your alloy into your die when it is approximately 50° to 70° degrees higher than the crystallization temperature of the alloy. The die needs to be maintained at approximately a third of the alloy’s temperature.

What is the proper die casting chamber/machine temperature?
The temperature required for the die casting machine is a complex calculation that includes things such as the alloy type, die type, size of the part to cast, and more. The chamber temperature needs to be determined by an experienced die caster.

What is the proper alloy temperature?
Alloy temperatures vary greatly depending on the material. Here are two examples of the most common die cast alloys – aluminum and zinc.

Aluminum
Aluminum 360, 380 and 413 are by far the most popular metal choices for die casting. Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, lightweight, and extremely durable. When casting aluminum 380, for example, you will get a tensile strength of 48 at 75° with yield strength of 24 KSI (Kips per Square Inch). If you increase the temperature to 212°, you will get a tensile strength of 45 KSI, while the yield strength stays constant at 24.

Zinc
Zinc 3, 5, and 7 are also incredibly popular die casting alloys. For these zinc alloys, a temperature of 75° produces an average of 40 KSI. If you increase the temperature to 275° you will produce an average KSI around 10.

Optimal temperature ranges for surface finish:

What happens if the temperature is incorrect?
If the temperature of the metal being cast is too hot for the mold it can damage the mold, which dramatically shortens the effective usage life of the mold. If the temperature is too cold the metal will cool too quickly as it is flowing into the mold which can cause defects (such as porosity problems or misruns).

How can A&B Die Casting help?
Here at A&B Die Casting we take the issue of temperature control very seriously. We are highly experienced at keeping our materials and casting equipment at the optimal temperature. We utilize 3D flow analysis software to ensure optimal die filling for superior casting quality. The software allows us to simulate how the specified material will flow into the a mold so that we can more accurately gauge the overall effectiveness of the mold as well as identify any potential issues with the material temperature fluctuations while it flows into the mold.

For over 70 years A&B Die Casting has been serving world-wide manufacturers with low-to-medium volume aluminum and zinc die castings. Our experienced team creates solutions for your production needs from the formative stages of engineering and prototyping to machining, finishing, assembly, packaging and shipping with adherence to your exact specifications.

Need assistance or want to get started on your next die cast project? Contact A&B Die Casting today!