High Pressure Die Casting Processes

Update:Jan 04 2017
Summary:

It is difficult for the casting designers and engineers […]

It is difficult for the casting designers and engineers to create stability when producing high pressure die casting. Within approximately hundred casting process parameters, it is very difficult to identify and acknowledge the variation of each of the parameters on the final casting quality. The biggest challenge for the engineers and designers remain the counter effect of a single parameter on the rest of the other parameters and then how that collective variations effect the final casting.

The issue becomes all the more difficult as the continuous changes in variables and parameter variations can reflect alterations in the various stages of moulding, production run and casting. Though advanced monitoring systems do indicate the production floor regarding the parameters being out of control, of course they cannot keep a track of how changing parameters would effect the other parameters and the quality of the final product.

There is a big change happened of process improvement. Using MAGMASOFT(r) simulation software, the complete casting process can be simulated, changed and optimized in the short time frame available to the toolmaker. Simulations made of casting models provide information about the quality to expect during casting production - before being released. Based on the simulation results, changes to the casting, runner system, the mold or process parameters can be easily made and results quickly reviewed.

Further adjustments during casting production are on a minor scale only and should not change the mold or casting design at all. The result is one design for casting, mold and process, which can be used until castings are not needed anymore, significantly reducing design and production time and costs. Reducing the time and effort involved in the design and production areas allows the improvement team the time to concentrate on other important tasks, such as the effects of different die steel or better heat treatment to extend die life, implementation of more sophisticated equipment to increase the opportunity to cast more complex castings or save melting energy, increase automation and educate the work forces - and all this without disturbing a good production run.

Process simulation software has been used by the modern die caster on a daily basis for a long time. The first simulations are done as a part of the quoting process in order to get a better understanding about the project. After winning the bid, the die design is simulated. The feeding and overflow system as well as the cooling and heating channel locations are changed until a good casting condition is shown. Potential weaknesses can be determined, corrections made, and simulations rerun until the customer's goal is met - and before a casting is ever made. Using simulation today's engineering process is significantly faster, the casting quality higher, the costs lower - and the customer can get the quality, price and speed they want, while providing the die caster with an improved bottom line - and a satisfied customer.

Justifying the cost of the simulation software, however, is not an easy task. It is one thing to determine costs when the die is in the machine and the process creates a high scrap rate - but understanding the casting costs when using simulations is a far more difficult task. In general, the die casting machine and operator cost per hour are easy to estimate. More difficult is tracking the melting cost or the use of oil, electricity, water or spray lubricant for each die-casting machine, especially when they aren't being used for production. After all, if you can get the casting right by the use of a simulation, you won't have those initial production costs to determine - but you might forget that that is money you are also saving. Similarly, the dollars not spent on wages for engineers, maintenance and machine operator workers who did not have to produce - and correct - lower quality castings are equally hard to calculate.

The cost of software, hardware and user training can cost almost 120,000 USD, an amount for a medium size die caster hard to swallow, if taken all at once. However, software manufacturers often offer their customers other options. For example, a die caster can rent the software for 4,000 USD a month and get the payments credited against the sale price. Addressed that way, the die caster can break even with as few as 5 projects a year - a cost that even a small die caster should be able to handle. Given good timing, adding the software in advance of a new project would allow a die caster to receive revenue from the project before the first rental payment comes due.

It seems to be expensive to invest in simulation software, but it can allow a caster to provide his customers higher quality casting, faster time-to-market, and contained - or even reduced - costs - all of which will help to ensure a good caster/client relationship, continuing business - and overall an improved bottom line.