There are several processes which can be used to efficiently manufacture parts. When a project engineer has a solid idea of how the parts all come together to make the end product, it is time to consider which manufacturing process will be the optimal solution for the individual components. Die casting is one of many processes that should be considered.
When considering DFM for a die casting, even the smallest details may affect cost and performance. It is imperative for the die cast engineering team to understand the application of the end product and what the part function will be. The following factors are considered in the initial review:
- Mating Part review – what does this connect with? Is it an assembly?
- Environment – what are the features and functions of the part?
- Product testing – Are there any additional tests the part needs to undergo? What other tests will the product need to undergo that pertain to the die casting?
- Are there any cosmetic or finish requirements?
It is important to remember that working with the die caster and providing as much as detail as possible in preliminary meetings will determine whether or not die casting is the correct process for the application. Selecting a die cast supplier with in-house capabilities for post-casting operations (i.e. filing, deburring, CNC, machining, coating, assembly, etc.) will make the process much easier and keep the project running as smoothly as possible. It is vital to find a die caster that is transparent in all their communications and non-biased. Reputable die casters would never recommend the die casting process; a specific alloy; or a design that is not going to be an effective solution.
Web-based meetings or face-to-face meetings can be either on-site at a die caster or arranging a die caster to visit a desired location. A visit to the die caster will open the opportunity for both the die casting team and the in-house team to develop a partnership, review best practices, and get an idea of what technology they currently use and what their plans are for the future.
Hosting an in-house company seminar (where the die caster visits) will allow the program to be tailored to the needs of a company and allow the die caster to review numerous in-house samples.
Whichever option is selected – it gives each team the ability to capitalize on strengths and get a feel for the feasibility of a project when considering die casting.
4 Major Factors in Part Design to Consider for Die Casting
In the preliminary stages of moving from concept to ready-to-tool design, a product engineer engages in exploring manufacturing solutions would be best for the part.
In order to get an idea of what to consider in DFM for die casting, here are 4 factors that are important to consider:
- Uniform Wall Thickness
Uniform wall thickness aids filling, improves quality, and lowers cost. Heavy mass areas should be avoided. Ribs should be utilized where increased strength or stiffness is needed.
- Design/Cost Trade-Offs
“As-cast” parts provide a consistent geometry, but sometimes machining is needed (to hold tighter tolerances). Similarly, more complex tooling can be used instead of machining, but in addition to increasing tooling costs, it may result in stepped parting lines and higher costs to remove flash. There is also the possibility to having several mating parts consolidated into a single casting resulting in substantial piece cost savings. Cosmetic or performance requirements, are cost drivers and can involve added polishing, coating, or corrosion protection strategies. These are just a few of the cost tradeoffs to be considered.
- Mold Flow Analysis
Running a mold flow analysis can give engineers on both sides a look at optimizing for part geometry and filling. It solves several of the major issues upfront so a re-design can be worked in prior to creating the tool and going into production. This ultimately will translate into both time and cost savings.
- Drawing Development
It is generally suggested that notes from a previous process are to be excluded from updated drawings. The notes should be specific to what is required in the die casting process.
Datum schemes and tolerances are very important and can influence whether the part can be made as-cast, or if it will require machining? Notes can help guide interpretation of the drawing, but it is best to work with a die caster who can help to align the notes to the manufacturing process best suited to your application. The use of industry standard terms and specification guidelines is strongly recommended.
A good die caster will know whether the part can be made with the die casting process. A great die caster will have enough know-how to direct an individual towards another process if die casting is not a good fit, or help you to optimize the design if die casting is a good fit. Contact our team today for more information on how die casting can benefit your project.