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Die Casting Alloys

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Die Casting Alloys --- Aheadmold

The four major types of alloys that are die-cast are zinc, aluminum, magnesium, and copper-based alloys. The die casting process was developed in the 19th century for the manu- facture of lead/tin alloy parts. However, lead and tin are now very rarely die-cast because of their poor mechanical properties.
The most common die casting alloys are the aluminum alloys. They have low density, good corrosion resistance, are relatively easy to cast, and have good mechanical properties and dimensional stability. Aluminum alloys have the disadvantage of requiring the use of cold-chamber machines, which usually have longer cycle times than hot-chamber machines owing to the need for a separate ladling operation.
Zinc-based alloys are the easiest to cast. They also have high ductility and good impact strength, and therefore can be used for a wide range of products. Castings can be made with very thin walls, as well as with excellent surface smoothness, leading to ease of preparation for plating and painting. Zinc alloy castings, however, are very susceptible to corrosion and must usually be coated, adding significantly to the total cost of the component. Also, the high specific gravity of zinc alloys leads to a much higher cost per unit volume than for aluminum die casting alloys.
Zinc-aluminum (ZA) alloys contain a higher aluminum content (82.7%) than the standard zinc alloys. Thin walls and long die lives can be obtained, similar to standard zinc alloys, but as with aluminum alloys, cold-chamber machines, which require pouring of the molten metal for each cycle, must usually be used. The single exception to this rule is ZA8 (8% Al), which has the lowest aluminum content of the zinc-aluminum family.
Magnesium alloys have very low density, a high strength-to-weight ratio, exceptional damping capacity, and excellent machinability properties.
Copper-based alloys, brass and bronze, provide the best mechanical properties of any of the die casting alloys; but they are much more expensive. Brasses have high strength and toughness, good wear resistance, and excellent corrosion resistance.
One major disadvantage of copper-based alloy casting is the short die life caused by thermal fatigue of the dies at the extremely high casting temperatures. Die life is influenced most strongly by the casting temperature of the alloys, and for that reason is greatest for zinc and shortest for copper alloys. However, this is only an approximation since casting size, wall thickness, and geometrical complexity also influence the wear and eventual breakdown of the die surface.

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