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About die casting - History and Cast Metal

Knowledge  About Die Casting (I)


Die casting equipment was invented in 1838 for the purpose of producing movable type for the printing industry. The first die casting-related patent was granted in 1849 for a small hand-operated machine for the purpose of mechanized printing type production. In 1885 Otto Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine, an automated type-casting device which became the prominent type of equipment in the publishing industry. The Soss die-casting machine, manufactured in Brooklyn, NY, was the first machine to be sold in the open market in North America. Other applications grew rapidly, with die casting facilitating the growth of consumer goods and appliances by making affordable the production of intricate parts in high volumes. In 1966,General Motors released the Acurad process.

Cast metal

The main die casting alloys are: zinc, aluminium, magnesium, copper, lead, and tin; although uncommon, ferrous die casting is also possible. Specific die casting alloys include: Zamak; zinc aluminium; aluminium to, e.g. The Aluminum Association (AA) standards: AA 380, AA 384, AA 386, AA 390; and AZ91D magnesium. The following is a summary of the advantages of each alloy:

  • Zinc: the easiest metal to cast; high ductility; high impact strength; easily plated; economical for small parts; promotes long die life.
  • Aluminium: lightweight; high dimensional stability for complex shapes and thin walls; good corrosion resistance; good mechanical properties; high thermal and electrical conductivity; retains strength at high temperatures.
  • Magnesium: the easiest metal to machine; excellent strength-to-weight ratio; lightest alloy commonly die cast.
  • Copper: high hardness; high corrosion resistance; highest mechanical properties of alloys die cast; excellent wear resistance; excellent dimensional stability; strength approaching that of steel parts.
  • Silicon tombac: high-strength alloy made of copper, zinc and silicon. Often used as an alternative for investment casted steel parts.
  • Lead and tin: high density; extremely close dimensional accuracy; used for special forms of corrosion resistance. Such alloys are not used in foodservice applications for public health reasons. Type metal, an alloy of lead, tin and antimony (with sometimes traces of copper) is used for casting hand-set type in letterpress printing and hot foil blocking. Traditionally cast in hand jerk moulds now predominantly die cast after the industrialisation of the type foundries. Around 1900 the slug casting machines came onto the market and added further automation, with sometimes dozens of casting machines at one newspaper office.

Maximum weight limits for aluminium, brass, magnesium and zinc castings are approximately 70 pounds (32 kg), 10 lb (4.5 kg), 44 lb (20 kg), and 75 lb (34 kg), respectively.

The material used defines the minimum section thickness and minimum draft required for a casting as outlined in the table below. The thickest section should be less than 13 mm (0.5 in), but can be greater.

Metal Minimum section Minimum draft
Aluminium alloys 0.89 mm (0.035 in) 1:100 (0.6°)
Brass and bronze 1.27 mm (0.050 in) 1:80 (0.7°)
Magnesium alloys 1.27 mm (0.050 in) 1:100 (0.6°)
Zinc alloys 0.63 mm (0.025 in) 1:200 (0.3°)