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Cost reduction in zinc die casting
Cost reduction in zinc die casting is an activity that shall be executed without affecting the quality and functionality of the component that is produced. All the activities that aim to increase productivity, to diminish scrap rate and to simplify productive processes, as well as the choices of materials and processing, are cost reduction strategies.
Cost reduction strategies in zinc die casting
Cost reduction in zinc die casting can be implemented in different ways. In fact, zinc is a versatile metal that, if manufactured with the right technologies, allows saving not only in absolute terms, because it allows the die caster to save the time, energy and raw material that are required in the process, but also compared to other metals.
In the production of die-casts it is possible to implement cost reduction by:
- Choosing zinc instead of other metals or other metal alloys
- Optimizing the productive process
- Designing processes and components together with the customer through co-design methods
When it comes to save during die casting process it is also important to choose the right die caster, if you want to learn more on the matter read How companies can save while selecting the die caster.
Advantages of zinc: chemical and physical qualities and characteristics, melting temperature, circular economy
Zinc alloys usually employed in the die casting process have some properties that make them competitive if compared to other metals. These are chemical-physical properties that allow the reduction of costs related to productive processes and to the subsequent stages, such as, for example, those of disposal and recycling. Let’s analyze these characteristics in detail.
Chemical-physical qualities and properties
In the die casting process different zinc alloys are employed. The most common of those alloys are Alloy 2, 3 and 5, and they are chosen for the production of different components depending on their chemical-physical properties. In fact, according to the percentage and the relative values of the metals that are contained in them, the alloys have different characteristics that make them more or less appropriate to realize different typologies of products. For example, if the component is a safety product the alloy that guarantees the greatest resistance to wear, corrosion and pressure, yield strength and dimensional accuracy is to be chosen. In case of a technical component, for which it is often important to achieve details and thin ribs, the Zamak to be preferred will be the most fluid because it will be capable of spilling over the mold in the most uniform way. In this way it will be possible to obtain thin walls thickness that is essential to guarantee the functionality of products. Finally, for aesthetical products Zamak alloys able to ensure the best surface quality and the best performance if subject to subsequent processing and finishing, are to be preferred. Therefore it is very important to know the chemical-physical characteristics of the different zinc alloys in order to choose the most suitable for the production of a specific component. Only in this way, in fact, it is possible to make a winning choice and obtain, with reduced scrap rates, quality die casts that need a reduced number of finishing and further processing.
If you want to discover more about different zinc alloys and how to take advantage of their specific characteristics read the articles The best zinc alloys for hot chamber die casting and Zamak molding in hot chamber die casting: chemical composition.
To deepen your knowledge about the advantages of zinc in comparison to other metals read The importance of zinc die casting in automotive industry and Coating, plating and other kind of surface treatments.
One chemical-physical property that has a great impact in terms of cost reduction is the melting temperature of Zamak. The melting point of Zamak, in fact, is low and this allows hot chamber die casting. Differently from aluminum, which has a higher melting point and that is cold chamber die cast, Zamak allows energy saving provided by the different technological process used to melt the material. There are further advantages related to time that are connected to hot chamber die casting: hot chamber die casting is a faster process than cold chamber die casting and, as a consequence, it has an increased productivity. Another saving factor related to melting temperature is that the mold, subjected to lower temperatures, is affected by less wear and, for this reason, has a longer lifetime, with beneficial effects especially in large scale production.
In this brief review of the qualities of zinc in comparison to other metals one last property has to be mentioned: recyclability. Zinc, in fact, fits in circular economy processes and therefore meets the recent trends toward environmental sustainability. Zinc recyclability is not only an advantage for the final consumer, who can recycle products and appliances, but it is also an important factor of cost reduction for the die caster. In fact, if the agreements with customer allows it, zinc can be re-melted and, in controlled percentages, it can be reintroduced in the productive process with evident consequences in terms of reduction of scrap rate and of optimization of the productive processes.
If you wish to learn more about the possibility of recycling Zamak click here.
If you look for insights on zinc circular economy we suggest you to read Zinc life cycle: how it contributes to circular economy.
Productive process optimization
In regards to cost reduction in die casting not only the properties of zinc are important but also the productive process with which the metal is manufactured. Die casting techniques and machineries have to be up to date with technological development in order to be efficient, for this reason constant research and innovation are necessary. It is also important to have effective supply chain and logistic managment, if you want to learn more click here.
For a general overview about these topics we suggest you to read the article Production process improvement in the die casting industry. If you wanto to deepen your knowledge on the analysis necessary to optimize the productive process read the article How die casting companies can help you save time and budget.
Automation and cycle time
An important step to achieve cost reduction is, for example, the introduction of automation in the productive process. In fact, automation makes the system more efficient by diminishing the percentage of scrap and allowing the operators to deal with activities with a greater added value.
Moreover, the acquisition of automation is closely related to the capability of updating and implementing the productive machineries. Thanks to the purchase of new machineries activities that used to be manual become automatic with a resulting diminishing in lead time, cycle time and scrap rate and a noticeable increase in productivity. Cycle time, in particular, is very important in relation to cost reduction strategies: in fact diminishing cycle time means increasing OEE, the productive performance index of a plant, and, consequently, the production. In the specific field of hot chamber die casting the reduction of cycle time represents a further saving opportunity because, in a reduced cycle time, the thermal power that the melted material provides to the mold is increased with a resulting decrease of cold fronts and related defects.
If you want to learn more about automation and its importance for the production process read How automation helps improving the production process; if you want to discover more about cycle time and its optimization we suggest you to read How die casting cycle time optimization can help to reduce costs.
Another strategy to optimize the productive process is to use simulation software that allow designers to forecast what is going to happen during the die casting process. Simulation is a useful instrument to prevent problems, errors and defects during the production of the die casts and it is, moreover, a fundamental aid during design, prototyping and testing phases.
You can find a study about the advantages of simulation in zinc die casting clicking here.
A guarantee of optimization of the productive process and of the subsequent cost reduction is the achievement of quality certifications. Smeta 4 Pillars, for example, is a certification of qualitative standards, environmental management, company integrity, health and safety with a noticeable impact in terms of cost reduction. In fact, Smeta 4 Pillars through the sharing of standardized approaches improves and aligns the productive process safeguarding brand reputation and guaranteeing an ethical supply chain.
Co-design consists in a series of activities aimed at increasing the value of the product and at improving it in terms of quality and efficiency. Often these activities do not result in an increase in production costs but, on the contrary, they result in a decrease in costs. Through co-design, if already implemented during designing phase, it is possible to agree with the customer on weight reduction, elimination of secondary operations, optimization of the mold and a number of other actions that directly lead to a noticeable cost reduction. Obtaining a drawing that is already optimized for mass production allows the customer to have a final product that is in line with expectations and with less risks and scraps. As a further assurance of cost reduction, already during co-design phase, it is possible to undertake a VA/VE value analysis and to optimize the process through the DFM. VA/VE value analysis is a method of problem solving that allows the effective identification of unnecessary costs making it possible to reduce them. DFM, Design for Manufacturability, is a feasibility study in which the design of the product is evaluated and in which adjustments, special treatments and structural modifications are proposed in order to make the optimization of the production possible.
For a deeper insight on co-design we suggest you to read the article Product design for die casting, if you want to deepen your knowledge on VA/VE read The zinc die caster impact on production costs reduction.
The methods to implement cost reduction in zinc die casting and to optimize processes and products do not end here. However, by reading this article you should have had evidence of some important benefits of cost reduction.
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