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Die Casting Industry Spotlight: Medical Devices Manufacturing

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Industry-Spotlight-Medical-Die-CastingsThe medical industry is breaking through technological barriers at a rapid rate. This perpetual state of change has revolutionized the way the medical profession delivers healthcare. The way in which surgical procedures are done, replacement parts are made, medical data is obtained or analyzed, and various other aspects of healthcare is changing rapidly. As new ideas are developed and marketed, traditional methods are giving way to new approaches. All industries that are involved with the medical device market today have to be ready to adapt to this “moving target.” Project managers need to place more emphasis on shortening design and launch cycles so that products take advantage of the new technologies and get to market sooner.

While the medical manufacturing industry in general has made amazing technological advancements, the demand for these products also increases every year. The 2018 revenue projections are $41 billion and continued strong growth of roughly 12% is anticipated so long as the supply can keep up with the demand.

The increasing demand is most likely due to the following factors:

1)  More advanced and personalized treatment (i.e. portable oxygen concentrators, chemotherapy travel kits, heart monitors, etc.)
2)  An increase in the availability of healthcare (healthcare insurance reform includes those with a pre-existing condition, covering certain items within their treatment)
3)  An aging population
4)  An increase in device recalls (urges medical manufacturers to proactively invest in additional testing and validation for parts)

Since devices are increasing in demand, the industry has many medium to higher volume applications, ideal for using high pressure die casting as an efficient, high quality solution. When searching for a die caster, it is important to select a company that has a certified quality management system in place and an approach that allows all engineering teams to work collaboratively on the part design.

Want to read more on how the High Pressure Die Casting process can be used for mass production?  Complete with case studies, pointers, and resources, register free for a no-cost download of the white paper at the link below:

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CWM Gets “Klever” and takes Home a 2017 NADCA Die Casting Award!

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Rob receives NADCA Award on behalf of CWM Engineering Team for Die Cast Design!

Chicago White Metal collaborated with Klever Innovations to “cut” out the competition and take home a win for the Klever Xchange Plus Handle!  Both teams were honored with a 2017 North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) Excellence in Design Award, winning the “Magnesium under 0.5 lbs.” category.magnesium die cast handle

Klever Innovations is a company that makes safety their top priority and is committed to developing the most innovative safety equipment and utility cutting knives in the industry. Klever manufactures and designs all of their products within the United States, and the safety knives are built to the highest quality and efficiency, helping to reduce costs associated with on-the-job injury claims and employee downtime. They have developed a full line of cutters and safety knives that satisfy different needs in the workplace, utilizing an innovative replacement blade system which protects employees when they are changing out the blades.

the 2017 NADCA Die Casting Design Award now has a home on one of our Awards walls! Chicago White Metal spent a great deal of time and care ensuring the engineering of this part maintained the Klever reputation. Both engineering teams discussed the challenge, which was how to make as many of the features castable and eliminate additional processes. The previous end product (Klever Xchange) was a multi-part assembly, which was primarily plastic with steel and rubber features. CWM worked closely with the Klever team to create a design that involved consolidating this part into a single magnesium casting for a more cost- and time-efficient die cast solution.

NADCA is a die casting association that sets quality standards and checkpoints for die casters throughout North America.  The prestigious Award of Excellence is an annual award that is given to the companies involved in the design of a die cast part which shows the highest level of die casting innovation and overall efficiency.

Congratulations to the CWM Engineering Team and Klever for a 2017 Win!

 

Die Cast Tooling 101

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This is an illustration of a die cast tooling die. The key to a successful die casting is a good tool design, so it is vital that both the die caster and the customer are well-versed in die casting capabilities and how they fit with project requirements.

A die casting die is a custom-engineered, multi-part piece of equipment made from high quality, heat-treated steel.  The tool is composed of two halves – a cover die (which is stationary) and the ejector die (which the die casting machine moves to meet the cover die).  As soon as the two halves meet, the molten metal is injected into the tool, where it is held under pressure until it solidifies.  After solidification, the metal is ejected, creating a nearly net shaped part within seconds.

Before a die is built, the customer first presents a concept or existing part to a die caster.  A die cast engineer will assess the project from design to end product and work with the customer to optimize the part design for die casting.   An initial discussion with the die caster may include topics such as: functional and cosmetic requirements, tolerances, annual and lifetime volume, alloy choice, mating parts, project timing, optimizing wall thickness, adding ribs, draft and radius, etc.  Download a checklist of common considerations from CWM’s Die Cast Design Center (DC²):  NADCA Tooling Checklists for Die Casting Dies (2015).

Types of Die Casting Dies

Prototyping Dies

Prior to a full die cast production run, prototype parts can be created with a 3D printer using ABS plastic, or other rapid prototyping methods.A fully featured, custom production die is a significant investment, so a prototype die is often used to make a small number of castings to test the part in several different scenarios (with the end product, dimensional accuracy, etc.).   Prototyping strategies include 3D printed parts, machined hogouts, or gravity castings, but these involve tradeoffs on the design, tolerances, and properties.  A high pressure die casting prototype die is the best approach if you want the same properties, alloy, geometry, and process that will  be in place for production.

Prototype die casting dies can be produced in shorter lead times and at less cost because they can utilize standardized components (such as an existing die base and other components), and pre-hardened, uncoated tool steels.  They also require less engineering and may employ less efficient cooling or ejection techniques compared to other production methods.   The tool will not last as long and the die will not run as efficiently as a typical production die, but this is a non-issue when you only need a small quantity of parts (1,000 or less).    Design changes can be made faster and at less cost with a prototype die than would be the case on a custom, hardened/coated steel production die.   Parts made from a prototype die are generally hand cleaned of flash, avoiding the lead time and cost of a trim die.

Production Dies

Production dies are used when all designs are finalized, approved, and the program is ready to “launch” into an actual run.  These dies can have single or multiple cavities and the option of slides, depending on the design.  Read more about slides below, under “Casting Features and Die Considerations”.

Trim dies: In addition to the production die cast die, CWM employs trim dies for high volume production.  The trim die “trims” off the runner, overflows, and flash from the part, immediately after it is cast.  Some trim dies only require an open/close function, and others need multiple stations, cam, or hydraulically-operated motions to successfully remove all of the flash.   Occasionally, part geometry precludes the ability to completely remove flash with a trim die.  In that case, custom trimming devices, mechanical or hand de-flashing strategies will be employed.

This is an exploded view of a unit die insert that goes into a die cast tooling die.Unit Dies

A unit die is a special type of production die.  A common die-caster owned unit holder keeps the customer owned cavity block or unit die with cavity insert intact.   Single and double unit holders are common and come in a variety of sizes.   Typical sizes of the cavity blocks that they hold are 8”x10”; 10”x12”; 12”x15”; or 15”x18”.  Since unit dies employ generic components, they are often used for smaller, less complex parts with lower volume.   Larger, multiple slide, complex geometry, and higher volume parts are generally better served with a complete custom die that is engineered specifically for that part and allows for maximum efficiency and control.

Die Components and Terms

Some of the more common die components and terms include cavities (or cavity inserts), parting lines, cores or core pins, slides or slide cores, ejector plates and ejector pins.   A brief description of each follows:

Cavity Blocks or Cavity Inserts

These are the portions of the die casting die into which the part geometry is formed.   There is the ejector cavity (sometimes called the core cavity) and the cover cavity.   The cavity blocks are made of premium grade tool steel and are normally heat-treated to a very high hardness, then coated for lubricity and long life.   Water cooling lines pass through the cavity blocks as do the ejector pins that are used to push the part off of the die.   The cavity blocks are where most of the cost comes from, as generally this is where most of the custom design, engineering, and detailed machining is done.

Parting Lines

When the two die halves close, metal is injected into the cavity blocks and cooled in order to create the part.  There is a line that forms on the part where the cover half and the ejector half meet called the “parting line.”

More information on the parting line can be found in the following blog, “Read Between the Lines: Parting Line Placement in Metal Die Casting Design”.

Cores or Core Pins

A “core” is the separate and replaceable part of the die that forms an internal feature of the casting.   A core can be any shape, though circular is the most common (usually referred to as a “core pin”).   A core may be fixed to the die cavity or to a slide, actuated through the mechanical opening/closing of the die, or by hydraulic cylinder or other means.

Slides or Slide Cores

A slide (or slide core) is the portion of the die that forms a feature of the casting, that cannot be made with the normal opening and closing of the die, but is required to move at some angle relative to the parting line (with the most common orientation being parallel to the parting line).   The “slide” is the general term for the entire moving section, but a slide consists of multiple pieces (such as the slide front or tip, the wear plates, gibs, locks, carriers, etc.) and is generally water cooled.   Slide core is the general term used for either a simple core pin that is moving in and out on some angle to the parting line or a pin within the larger slide mechanism (for example: a replaceable “slide pin” can be mounted in the slide to form a specific hole, where the rest of the slide face forms the outside surface of the part).

Angle pins and hydraulic cylinders are the most common motion sources that activate slides.  Both sources of motion need to be designed into the tooling to avoid interference with part ejection/removal.

Angle pins are the more economical option because it is activated by the opening and closing of the die, and does not require hydraulics or switches, but is limited to shorter movements.   The hydraulic method offers a wider range of options including pull direction, timing of the pulling, and length of pull.   A die cast engineer can recommend the appropriate option based on the project.

These are ejector pins that are strategically engineered into a die cast tooling design.Ejector Plates and Ejector Pins

Once a part has been cast and cooled, the halves open up and reveal the cast part.  The part typically shrinks in size as it cools, remaining in the ejector half of the die.   Ejector pins that are driven by a moving ejector plate are activated and used to push the casting off the die.

The ejector pin leaves a slight imprint on the casting, which indicates the placement of the pin should be in a non-cosmetic surface area of the casting that is not critical to the design (overflow, boss, bottom of a deep pocket, bottom of a rib, etc.).  Ultimately, the number of pins, pin locations, and pin sizes are dependent on the configuration and size of the part, along with other requirements.

Contact a CWM Die Cast Engineer.

 Our engineering team is prepared to answer any questions you may have about the die casting process, as it pertains to your project.  Feel free to contact us directly at 630-595-4424, or e-mail us at sales@cwmtl.com in order to get in touch with the appropriate specialist.

Order a copy of the NADCA Product Specification Standards for Die Castings book.

Visit our Online Store and get an exclusive discount!

CWM Industry Spotlight: Robotics

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robotheader

robotIndustry Outlook

Due to the increasing popularity of automation, the robotics industry continues an upward trend in today’s economy.  Robots take necessary operations and create measurable tasks, which can accurately estimate project timelines.  Robots also perform tasks at a lower cost and allow very little room for error, working in a way that cannot be replicated by a human manufacturing team.  New robot technology is constantly being researched and implemented, allowing rapid growth in capabilities.  Though the robotics industry is generally known for great success in automotive manufacturing, it has given various other industries the benefits of automation.

For example, service robotics are being utilized in government initiatives for military/defense sectors to reduce human involvement.  This would increase the number of unmanned ground vehicles deployed into the front lines, reducing the number of casualties in the face of danger.

The medical industry is another example.  Medical service robots work with MRI, CT scans, fluoroscopy and ultrasound imaging, increasing productivity and decreasing malpractice liability, human error, and the exposure of radiation to human staff.

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Service robotics are estimated to reach $21.7 billion by 2022, with growth over 17.8% from 2015 to 2022.  Medical service robotics sales were just over $2.1 billion in 2014 and are expected to exceed $6 billion by 2022, growing 15% during the forecast period.

The Role of Die Casting in Robotics Products

There are many parts inside of a robot which are ideal candidates for the die casting process.  Aluminum, magnesium, and zinc are the most common alloys in die casting and all three can be used in any type of robotic equipment based on part requirements.  CWM die casts durable components that withstand the wear of repeated tasks, exposure to harsh environments as well as office settings, and protect the delicate electrical work in a robot.

How CWM Contributed Die Castings to the Industry

Chicago White Metal manufactures thousands of parts which have been incorporated into robots.  The CWM engineering team collaborates with customers to produce castings at reduced costs.  These parts are generally high in quality and in strength to protect the delicate electrical work in a robot.

robotsawyerAluminum for Robotics

Aluminum A380 is the most frequently used alloy in die casting, offering the best combination of material properties and castability.  Aluminum die castings are used in various industries, including the robotics industry.  CWM casts several components, including housing in the arm, wrist, base, “elbow”, and several other parts of industrial robots.  CWM offers an aluminum alloy data sheet, available for download here.

Aluminum is the ideal choice when the strength-weight ratio is important.  It is about 1/3 the weight of steel and higher tensile strength than cast iron, which are other popular metals used in robot manufacturing.  Of the three, aluminum is the most abundant resource, providing a cost efficient product.  Aluminum is also an excellent non-magnetic, non-sparking conductor, which makes it suitable for robotic construction.

Magnesium in the future?

Magnesium AZ91D is known for its lightweight properties as a metal.  AZ91D can also be designed for robotic components, when the requirements call for a weight reduction and portability without compromising on material strength and rigidity.  Chicago White Metal can use magnesium in various robotic applications.  For more information on the Magnesium alloy AZ91D, download the white paper here.

If you would like to learn more about the capabilities of die casting and the robotics industry, e-mail us at sales@cwmtl.com or give us a call at 630-595-4424.

CWM Industry Spotlight: Lawn & Garden Industry for Die Castings

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Industry Outlook

lawn-garden-tool-groupThe lawn and garden power equipment industry is experiencing a steady increase each year, with a 3.2% annual growth rate.  Projections show that at this rate, the industry will reach $11.7 billion by 2019.  While the residential consumer segment still dominates the market, the commercial market has seen an uptick in growth that is clearly outpacing the segment.

The lawn and garden industry includes products such as lawnmowers, turf and grounds equipment, trimmers, edgers, garden tractors, rotary tillers, chainsaws, blowers, vacuums, pruners, sweepers, snow throwers, hedge trimmers, and many other power equipment items.  There is a growing importance within the industry not only for performance, portability, affordability and quality, but also to incorporate environmentally-friendly processes to the manufacturing and assembly of the internal parts of the equipment and machinery.

 

The Role of Die Casting in Lawn & Garden Productslawn-garden-equipment-group

There are hundreds of components within lawn and garden equipment and vehicles which are ideal candidates for the die casting process.  Aluminum, magnesium and zinc are the most common alloys in die casting and all three are used in a variety of lawn and garden product applications where they provide better overall value than plastic, stampings or machined parts.  Each of the die cast alloys have unique properties that can be used based on the requirements for the parts.  CWM die casts components in all three alloys to meet the durability and high strength demands for outdoor, rugged and long-lasting end products.

 

die-cast-engineering-designHow CWM Contributed Die Castings to the Industry 

Chicago White Metal manufactures hundreds of thousands of parts which have made their way into various consumer and commercial applications within the industry.  The CWM Engineering team works with customers to engineer and produce durable, high quality parts at reduced costs.

 

lawn-garden-roll-cage-die-casting-A380Aluminum for Encasements

Aluminum A380 is by far the most frequently used alloy in die casting.  This alloy offers the best combination of material properties and castability.  Aluminum alloy die castings are used in a wide variety of industries, including the lawn and garden industry.  CWM casts several components, including gear cases, covers, and several parts which go into a differential assembly. CWM offers a aluminum alloy data sheet, register to download here, at no cost to you.

 

lawn-garden-bearing-cap-die-castingMagnesium for Portability

Magnesium AZ91D is the material incorporated into the design of several components for portability because of the alloy’s lightweight properties – a known alternative to plastic but with the strength and rigidity of a metal.  Chicago White Metal uses magnesium to cast parts that are ultimately assembled in lawn and garden end products, including both consumer and professional handheld lawn maintenance equipment.  This bearing cap is part of an assembly inside of a professional hedge trimmer & blower.  A magnesium alloy data sheet is available when you register to download it here at no cost.

 

Various roll cages have also been produced by CWM, which go into differentials found in commercial and consumer mowers.  Along with the examples given, many other components have been engineered and manufactured by our team to carefully meet the high standards of our customers within the lawn and garden industry.

 

If you would like to learn more about the capabilities of die casting and the lawn and garden industry, e-mail us at sales@cwmtl.com or give us a call at 630-595-4424.

Fall 2016 – Vol. 12, No. 2

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  • Die Casting Newsletter Inside CWM image for vol 12 no 2Multiple Die Casting Design & Education Awards for CWM
  • Industrial Robots Assisting Die Casting & CNC Operations at CWM
  • National Sales Conference Sets Sail on Lake Michigan
  • 2016 Annual Picnic Pictures
  • Ted Bystryk Celebrates 43 Years at CWM
  • Marketer Goes for Pro in Competitive Kayaking
  • CWM Soccer Team Champion Coaches Children’s Soccer League
  • Die Casting Crossword & Wordplay (GAMES)

  Inside CWM Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 2pdf-icon