In a year when automakers faced new challenges and fuel prices climbed to new heights, it's not surprising that automotive die castings comprise the majority of winners in the 2007 International Die Casting Competition sponsored by the North American Die Casting Association (NADCA).
The competition is dedicated to demonstrating the versatility, quality, innovation and cost savings that can be achieved with aluminum, zinc and magnesium die cast parts. In particular, this year's innovative die cast automotive components offer economical solutions for manufacturers and help to enhance performance and fuel economy.
Several winning die cast components can be considered breakthroughs in casting for the auto manufacturing sector because of their reduced weight, a significant factor in automobile engineering. In a demonstration of die casting's versatility, a computer component for electronic storage also received an award.
The annual competition recognizes outstanding castings based on their design, quality, cost savings, ingenuity, innovation and industry-changing potential. The winners will be honored during the 111th Metalcasting Congress in Houston, Texas, May 15-18, 2007.
NADCA 2007 International Die Casting Competition Award Winners
Aluminum, Squeeze/Semi-Solid - Contech, Portage, MI; Toyota Rack and Pinion Steering Gear Housing.
Contech created an innovative tooling design capable of producing the large, complex housing for Toyota's rack and pinion steering gear in their larger-scale Tundra and Sequoia models. Contech developed a two-cavity die and met the customer's burst test requirement and end cost target. Contech used its CONTECH P2000 HVSC process with a 2000-ton Prince DCM, incorporating a vertical shot into a die split vertically, with horizontally moving die blocks. Although neither Contech nor Toyota had ever worked on a rack and pinion gear housing this large, the launch of what they called "the bazooka" was a success.
Aluminum under 1 lb. - Twin City Die Castings Co., Minneapolis, MN; Exhaust Gas Re-circulating Housing.
Twin City Die Castings produced a one-piece EGR valve housing for car and truck diesel engines that has features usually done with multiple die and sand cast components. The piece positions and houses the valve actuator, maintains alignment, fixes the valve seats and provides a sealing surface. It was cast in a two-cavity die with two stainless steel inserts per cavity and six core pulls. The stainless steel insert molding weighs less than a stainless steel cast housing, without sacrificing performance or durability.
Aluminum 1 to 10 lb. - Contech, Portage, MI; Vehicle Shock Tower - Suspension Mounting and Alignment
Shock towers traditionally are manufactured from a series of steel stampings that are welded together during the making of a vehicle's body. By using a lighter weight aluminum casting and reducing the number of assembly components for the shock tower, Contech provided a weight saving of approximately 40%. Produced by a new casting technology called High-Q-Cast, these heat-treated aluminum shock towers have very thin walls, yet give manufacturers the ability to weld and rivet the castings to other components.
Aluminum over 10 lb. - Metaldyne, Plymouth, MI; Front Engine Module Assembly (FEMA).
Metaldyne used their patented insert molded tube technology in a FEMA die casting for V-6 and V-8 engines. The tube assembly is made from mandrel bent 304 stainless steel and welded together. Each casting is produced from 380 aluminum with a minimum wall thickness of 3.0mm. Special tooling or equipment is not required as part of the process. Compared to sand or semi-permanent mold casting, insert molded tubes improve fluid flow efficiency, eliminate leaks, and reduce weight and cost.
Magnesium under 0.5 lb. - Phillips Plastics, Eau Claire, WI; CRU Frame for Electronic Storage Device.
Phillips Plastics used a magnesium casting to make an assembly that injects and ejects 31/2 inch hard drives from a server, squelches and dampens vibrations from the disk drives, and offers EMI protection. The cast part is the assembly's backbone, holding fiber channels, clips, an EMI shield, hard drive, a locking mechanism and a pin connector. Zinc was previously used, but magnesium dampens vibration well and brings inherent EMI protection.
Magnesium over 0.5 lb. - Lunt Manufacturing Co., Schaumburg, IL; BMW E-70 Cross Car Beam.
Lunt Manufacturing created a die cast cross car beam for BMW. By using magnesium for the part instead of steel, they provided a 50% weight savings. The part is cast in a 4000-ton cold chamber IdraPrince using a two-cavity die design. The part provides improved stiffness for the beam and steering column as well as crash energy absorption, and the design allows attachment points to numerous instrument panel areas.
Zinc under 6 ounces/non-electroplated - Cast Products, Inc., Norridge, IL; Rearview Mirror Mount, Volvo Autos and SUVs.
Cast Products created a new design for Gentex's rearview mirror mount. They used zinc for its wear resistance, tensile strength and ability to mold thin wall sections. The casting was designed around the mirror mount's humidity sensor to make the smallest possible footprint. This windshield-to- mirror head transition housing allows the mounting of the sensor and related wiring and harnesses, which is important because rearview mirror assemblies are increasingly becoming the preferred location for advanced electronic features, such as climate control and automatic dimming to eliminate nighttime glare.
Note: Electronic images of all award-winning castings are available upon request.
Based in Wheeling, IL, the North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) represents the world's most effective die casters creating the world's best cast products. Working with a North American die caster guarantees innovation, integrity, accessibility, and reliability.
SOURCE North American Die Casting Association
CONTACT: Leo J. Baran of NADCA, +1-847-808-3153, baran(at)diecasting.org; or Norwin A. Merens or Thomas A. Stack, both of NM Marketing Communications, Inc., for NADCA,