Future of Zinc Die Casting—Thin Wall

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 794, 1978

Dale C. H. Nevison, Manager, United States Field Operations, Zinc Institute, Inc., Detroit, Michigan

One of the most intensive of material rivalries is the confrontation between zinc die castings and plastic injection moldings. Pressed hard by the plastics industry, zinc die casters are learning how to make parts with less material yet without sacrificing quality. The key to this new trend is the technique of Thin Wall die casting. The obvious benefits of Thin Wall are lighter weight and lower cost. Again, obviously, these are the very selling points that put plastics into many appliance and automotive parts formerly made of zinc. One of the factors that has been most conducive to the outstanding growth of plastics has been the increasingly prevalent concept that "adequate" properties are sufficient, especially if there are cost advantages. Most of modern design today is oriented around the reasonable life of a product, rather than indefinitely extended life. This is simply an acknowledgment of the existence of a design environment that pervades many areas, reflecting the life-cyclic desire for change. Too often, so-called "weight-saving" materials end up being very costly — not only in production, but in durability and dependability. Change for the sake of change usually doesn't effect a change for the better. In the majority of cases, the best bet is to design in traditional materials and minimize the material needed, while maximizing the efficiency of the production process. Component prices of products to be produced from either plastics or zinc must be studied in detail to determine which material will produce the lowest cost of manufacture. It is not uncommon for two parts, similar in appearance at a casual look, to have a considerable difference in energy requirements and production costs. Detailed cost estimates of the advantages of each material should therefore be prepared for zinc and plastic parts before the final design and material selection decisions are made.
Keywords: Zinc, Die casting, Thin-wall die casting, Life-cycle buying, Strength of materials, Alloys.