Excerpt from the December 2018 post of Metalworking World by Fabio Boiocchi
Die casting is an economical method for the manufacturing of structural components. The foundries that operate in this area have to cope with a number of challenges. The use of modern manufacturing technology and the cooperation with other companies in the value chain strengthen their competitiveness. Structural components made by light metal die casting, above all aluminum and magnesium, are an integral part of modern automotive bodies and chassis. These components can be reliably manufactured with die casting methods, meet important requirements in terms of lightweight construction, strength and crash behavior and can be completely recycled at the end of their useful life .
Specialists expect that the market for structural castings will continue to grow strongly in the coming years . The general global demand for automotive die castings is expected to increase from more than USD 7.5 billion in 2015 to nearly USD 12 billion in 2021 with an estimated average annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 7.8% in the period from 2016 to 2021 . One of the strengths of die casting technology is that die casting processes enable in one operation step the manufacture of parts which can combine different geometries, partially reinforced or thinned wall thicknesses and various functions.
The most important requirement of automobile manufacturers to their suppliers is to deliver parts reliably with a consistently high quality on a just-in-time basis. Additionally, automobile manufacturers expect their suppliers to operate their own manufacturing facilities near the car factories. In order to fulfill this requirement, die casting foundries must cope with many challenges that influence each other. Last but not least, this includes globalization. The global interlinking of industrial activities means that well-established automotive suppliers have to cope with a strong international competition where also companies from emerging economies are going to play a more active role. As structural components usually have a large surface and are thin, light metal die casting competes in this field with steel and aluminum sheets and profiles processing. This presents another challenge for die casting foundries .
In order to meet the requirements of the automobile industry and other customers, the cost-efficient manufacturing of the cast structural components along the entire value chain is crucial. Modern manufacturing systems guarantee high availability, work in an energy and raw material-efficient manner and can be flexibly adapted to new market and order situations.