FOLLOW US Facebook Twitter Linkedin CONTACT US FTJ Email address Phone number
 
TEN ISSUE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION FROM JUST £199

Future-oriented solutions for the automotive industry

Innovation by pressure diecasting

Pressure diecast parts made from aluminium and magnesium alloys are increasingly in demand by the automotive industry, because they contribute to reducing the weight of vehicles, have many beneficial properties and can be produced at favourable costs. Also, pressure diecast parts made from zinc have their established place in the automotive sector.

Innovation pressure

In every national economy, the automotive industry is one of the most important drivers of innovation. This also affects the pressure diecasting sector. According to a market survey on the German foundry industry, three quarters of the pressure diecastings produced by it are sold to the automotive industry(1). The global market for such parts had a value of nearly US$35bn in the year 2015 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 7 per cent up to more than US$48bn by the year 2021. Aluminium has a share of more than 65 per cent, magnesium nearly 19 per cent and zinc slightly more than 9 per cent(2).

Lightweight solutions 

The initially mentioned market survey reports that the pressure of the car makers can also be seen as an investment driver of the sector because it accelerates the technological progress resulting in new materials and processes. Regarding the importance of pressure diecasting, Dr Frank Dreves, the former head of production planning at the car manufacturer Audi, said that components made by pressure diecasting are a key element of Audi’s lightweight strategy(3). The is an ongoing demand for lightweight to reduce fuel consumption of vehicles with combustion engines and the emission of harmful exhaust gases. However, in the case of cars with alternative powertrains, lighter weight helps compensate the weight of electric motors, batteries and further components. Lightweight solutions consist of the optimum combination of materials with different properties complementing each other in an ideal manner. Therefore, the demand for aluminium and magnesium pressure diecastings is growing as, for natural reasons, they have a relatively low self-weight, can be formed into complex parts and can be manufactured at relatively low costs.

Application examples

Typical pressure diecastings made from these alloys are engine components, gearbox housings, structural and chassis parts, door reinforcements, and tailgate frames. In an aluminium diecasting competition, held during the EUROGUSS trade fair, the car maker BMW picked up an award for an aluminium pressure diecasting tailgate. The component foreseen for a car model of the BMW 5 Series weighs 11.6kg and is therefore 13kg lighter in comparison with a structure made from deep-drawn steel sheets. Even greater weight savings can be achieved by using magnesium. With a specific density of 1.74g/cm³, magnesium is one third lighter than aluminium (2.75g/cm³) and being used more widely for applications in the automotive sector as it is with BMW. Also, in the case of the Opel Vectra the dashboard support was replaced by a pressure diecasting made from magnesium. In comparison to the previous construction – a complex formed steel tube with welded deep-drawn steel sheets – the weight was reduced by nearly 5kg, and the manufacturing process was considerably simplified.

Another example is a 5kg seat frame made from steel. This part was replaced by a pressure diecasting made from magnesium whose weight is only 1.8kg and therefore 64 per cent lighter(4). Zinc is another metal which is processed into automotive parts by pressure diecasting. About 28 per cent of all pressure diecast zinc parts are destined for vehicles, for example door lock housings, pawls, take-up systems for safety belts, pump housings and housings for electrical systems. Although the material having a specific density of 7.14g/cm³ is one of the heavy metals like copper and steel, its advantages are characteristics such as a favourable strength weight ratio, a good castability, a relatively low casting temperature (about 430°C) and a good shielding against electromagnetic fields.

References

1. M&A in der Gießereiindustrie. Branchenreport. Angermann M&A International GmbH.? www.angermannma.de/fileadmin/redaktion/downloads/publikationen_und_broschueren/Gies sereimailing_2013_eng.pdf

2. Automotive Parts Die Casting Market – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2017 – 2022). August 2017. www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/automotive-parts-die-casting-market

3. Dieter Beste: Aluminium macht Automobil-Karriere. 9. November 2012. www.springerprofessional.de/werkstofftechnik/fertigungstechnik/aluminium-macht-automobil-karriere/6593924

4. Kemal Kulekci Mustafa, ‘Magnesium and its alloys applications in automotive industry’. International Journal Additive Manufacturing Technology (2008) 39:851-864. http://library.nmlindia.org/FullText/fulltext15.pdf

 

EUROGUSS 2018

Pressure diecasting foundries are capable of fulfilling the wishes of car makers by innovative solutions and contribute to the technological progress through their own developments. An insight into the state-of-the-art technologies in pressure diecasting and suggestions as to how diecasting foundries can strengthen and expand their market position will be provided at the EUROGUSS 2018 – international trade fair for diecasting technology, processes and products in Nuremberg, Germany, 16-18th January 2018. www.euroguss.de

Main Image source: BMW AG