Die casting is a manufacturing process that can produce geometrically complex metal parts through the use of reusable molds, called dies. The die casting process involves the use of a furnace, metal, die casting machine, and die. The metal, typically a non-ferrous alloy such as aluminum or zinc, is melted in the furnace and then injected into the dies in the die casting machine. There are two main types of die casting machines – hot chamber machines (used for alloys with low melting temperatures, such as zinc) and cold chamber machines (used for alloys with high melting temperatures, such as aluminum). The differences between these machines will be detailed in the sections on equipment and tooling. However, in both machines, after the molten metal is injected into the dies, it rapidly cools and solidifies into the final part, called the casting. The steps in this process are described in greater detail in the next section.
The castings that are created in this process can vary greatly in size and weight, ranging from a couple ounces to 100 pounds. One common application of die cast parts are housings – thin-walled enclosures, often requiring many ribs and bosses on the interior. Metal housings for a variety of appliances and equipment are often die cast. Several automobile components are also manufactured using die casting, including pistons, cylinder heads, and engine blocks. Other common die cast parts include propellers, gears, bushings, pumps, and valves.
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