A high quality die cast component begins with a quality die; and a quality die begins with a good tool design. Die design and creation will affect the overall quality, uniformity, shape, and configuration of your final cast parts. The die is a custom-engineered piece of equipment, typically made from heat-treated steel, which is composed of two halves. One part, or the cover die, is stationary. The second part, or ejector die, moves to meet the cover die. When the two halves meet, molten metal is injected into the tool where it solidifies and is then ejected as a final part.

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. To begin any die cast project, you need to have a die created for your specific part. Your die concept needs to address critical information such as:
• Critical tolerances
• Volume (both annual and lifetime)
• Functional requirements
• Cosmetic requirements
• Secondary operations
• Mating parts or assemblies
• Wall thickness
• Alloys used
• Project timing
• And more

There are also a few different types of dies used for die casting. Those include (but are not limited to) prototyping dies, production dies, and unit dies.

Prototyping dies
Prototyping dies are utilized because the full featured production die is a significant investment and thus you really only want to create one. So a prototype of the proposed production die is created to test fit and functionality to ensure accuracy. Prototype dies can be created from 3D printed parts, machined hog-outs, and more.

Production dies
Production dies are the most common dies produced. They can be single cavity dies with no slides or multi-cavity dies with any number of slides. These dies are typically made from high-quality steel and are retained within a holder block. These dies are built to critical dimensions to enable coring of the maximum amount of stock from the casting.

Unit dies
Unit dies are special types of production dies that are used for lower volume or smaller parts. They typically have a standardized main die frame with replaceable cavity units designed to be removed from the main die without having to remove the standard frame from the die casting machine. This feature allows for quicker setup time and more efficient low volume production runs.

What needs to be taken into consideration prior to die creation?
Aluminum offers so many attractive characteristics however there are still quite a few considerations that need to be taken into account before you build a die to cast your parts. Factors such as:
Part design
• Mold configuration
• Tools used to create the die
• Part quality expectations
• Heat treatment techniques
• Die coatings
• And more

Die material
The grade of material used to create your die should be as high quality as possible. The die itself is repeatedly exposed to extremely high temperatures and pressures during the die casting process. Of course the die material selected is also contingent on the alloy that will be cast in the die, the critical characteristics of the part to be cast, and the long-term production requirements for the die. The choice of die material will affect both the lifespan of the die and the quality of parts cast.

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.

Ready to get started?
Start by downloading NADCA’s official tooling for die casting information and checklist HERE.

Then give us a call!
With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of interdisciplinary 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!