The process cycle for die casting molding consists of five main stages, which are explained below. The total cycle time is very short, typically between 2 seconds and 1 minute.
- Clamping – The first step of die casting molding is the preparation and clamping of the two halves of the die. Each die half is first cleaned from the previous injection and then lubricated to facilitate the ejection of the next part. The lubrication time increases with part size, as well as the number of cavities and side-cores. Also, lubrication may not be required after each cycle, but after 2 or 3 cycles, depending upon the material. After lubrication, the two die halves, which are attached inside the die casting machine, are closed and securely clamped together. Sufficient force must be applied to the die to keep it securely closed while the metal is injected. The time required to close and clamp the die is dependent upon the machine – larger machines (those with greater clamping forces) will require more time. This time can be estimated from the dry cycle time of the machine.
- Injection – The molten metal, which is maintained at a set temperature in the furnace, is next transferred into a chamber where it can be injected into the die. The method of transferring the die casting molding is dependent upon the type of die casting machine, whether a hot chamber or cold chamber machine is being used. The difference in this equipment will be detailed in the next section. Once transferred, the molten metal is injected at high pressures into the die. Typical injection pressure ranges from 1,000 to 20,000 psi. This pressure holds the molten metal in the dies during solidification. The amount of metal that is injected into the die is referred to as the shot. The injection time is the time required for the molten metal to fill all of the channels and cavities in the die. This time is very short, typically less than 0.1 seconds, in order to prevent early solidification of any one part of the metal. The proper injection time can be determined by the thermodynamic properties of the material, as well as the wall thickness of the casting. A greater wall thickness will require a longer injection time. In the case where a cold chamber die casting machine is being used, the injection time must also include the time to manually ladle the molten metal into the shot chamber.