Latest from Issues and Ideas


NADCA Winners Focus on the Auto Industry

June 25, 2007
The winners of the North American Die Casting Assn.'s annual design contest offer new, and improved, components for automotive customers.
The North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) has revealed the winners of its annual International Diecasting Competition. The annual competition recognizes outstanding castings based on their design, quality, cost savings, ingenuity, innovation and industry-changing potential. The winners were honored during the 111th Metalcasting Congress in Houston May 15-18, 2007.

The products submitted to the competition demonstrated the versatility, quality, innovation and cost savings that can be achieved with aluminum, zinc and magnesium diecast parts. This year, the winning diecastings in each the various design categories offer economical solutions for manufacturers, and help to enhance performance and fuel economy. According to NADCA, several of the designs should be considered breakthroughs in casting for the auto manufacturing industry, because of their impact in reducing vehicle weight.

  1. Aluminum under 1 lb. — Twin City Die Castings Co., Minneapolis; Exhaust Gas Re-circulating Housing. Twin City Diecastings produced a one-piece EGR valve housing for car and truck diesel engines that has features usually formed by multiple die and sand-cast components. The piece positions and houses the valve actuator, maintains alignment, fixes the valve seats and provides a sealing surface. It was cast in a two-cavity die with two stainless steel inserts per cavity and six core pulls. The stainless steel insert molding weighs less than a stainless steel cast housing, without sacrificing performance or durability.
  2. Aluminum 1 - 10 lb. — Contech, Portage, MI; Vehicle Shock Tower - Suspension Mounting and Alignment. Shock towers traditionally are manufactured from a series of steel stampings that are welded together during the making of a vehicle's body. By using a lighter weight aluminum casting and reducing the number of assembly components for the shock tower, Contech provided a weight saving of approximately 40%. Produced by a new casting technology called High-Q-Cast, these heat-treated aluminum shock towers have very thin walls, yet give manufacturers the ability to weld and rivet the castings to other components.
  3. Aluminum over 10 lb. — Metaldyne, Plymouth, MI; Front Engine Module Assembly (FEMA). Metaldyne used their patented, insert molded-tube technology in a FEMA diecasting for V-6 and V-8 engines. The tube assembly is made from mandrel-bent 304 stainless steel and welded together. Each casting is produced from 380 aluminum with a minimum wall thickness of 3.0mm. Neither special tooling nor equipment is required as part of the process. Compared to sand or semi-permanent mold casting, insert molded tubes improve fluid-flow efficiency, eliminate leaks, and reduce weight and cost.
  4. Zinc under 6 oz./non-electroplated — Cast Products, Inc., Norridge, IL; Rearview Mirror Mount, Volvo Autos and SUVs. Cast Products created a new design for Gentex's rearview mirror mount, using zinc for its wear resistance, tensile strength and ability to mold thin wall sections. The casting was designed around the mirror mount's humidity sensor to make the smallest possible footprint. This windshield-to- mirror head transition housing allows the mounting of the sensor and related wiring and harnesses, which is important because, increasingly, rearview mirror assemblies are the preferred location for advanced electronic features, such as climate control and automatic dimming to eliminate nighttime glare.
  5. Magnesium over 0.5 lb. — Lunt Manufacturing Co., Schaumburg, IL; BMW E-70 Cross Car Beam. Lunt created a diecast cross car beam, and by using magnesium for instead of steel, they provided BMW with a 50% weight savings. The part is cast in a 4,000ton cold chamber IdraPrince using a two-cavity die design. The part provides improved stiffness for the beam and steering column as well as crash energy absorption, and the design allows attachment points to numerous instrument panel areas.
  6. Magnesium under 0.5 lb. — Phillips Plastics, Eau Claire, WI; CRU Frame for Electronic Storage Device. Phillips Plastics used a magnesium casting to make an assembly that injects and ejects 3.5-in. hard drives from a server, squelches and dampens vibrations from the disk drives, and offers EMI protection. The cast part is the assembly's backbone, holding fiber channels, clips, an EMI shield, hard drive, a locking mechanism and a pin connector. Zinc was previously used, but magnesium dampens vibration well and brings inherent EMI protection.
  7. Aluminum, Squeeze/Semi-Solid — Contech, Portage, MI; Toyota Rack-and-Pinion Steering Gear Housing. Contech created this innovative tooling design capable of producing the large, complex housing for Toyota's rack-and-pinion steering gear in their larger-scale Tundra and Sequoia models. Contech developed a two-cavity die and met the customer's burst test requirement and end-cost target. Contech used its P2000 HVSC process with a 2,000-ton Prince DCM, incorporating a vertical shot into a die split vertically, with horizontally moving die blocks. Although neither Contech nor Toyota had ever worked on a rack and pinion gear housing this large, the launch of what they called "the bazooka" was a success.

AFS Announces Casting of the Year Winners
Like NADCA, the American Foundry Society recently named the winners of its annual casting competition.

Earning top honors was a component that distributes seeds during re-vegetation of arid sites, the Rangeland Planter Boot Casting, from Smith Foundry Co. Made of austempered ductile iron, it was cast via horizontally-parted green sand molding. The casting achieved a 15% weight reduction, cut lead time in half, and reduced cost 65% from the predecessor, which was a steel weldment.

Four castings were awarded ‘Best In Class,' including an aluminum, low-pressure permanent-mold cast snowmobile chassis suspension support by Greenville Casting Ltd.; a magnesium diecast instrument panel cross car beam by multiple-winner Lunt Manufacturing Co. Inc.; an A355 aluminum semi-permanent mold transmission main housing component by Denison Industries; and a carbon steel investment casting drop tube by Signicast Corp.

Four honorable mentions were awarded, as well. Watry Industries' manifold housing, an A356 aluminum permanent mold casting; a offset bracket, formed as a ductile iron lost foam casting, by Citation Corp.'s Columbiana Foundry; an A356 aluminum-rubber plaster-mold casting processing unit enclosure by Precise Cast Prototypes & Engineering Inc.; and an Evolution Size II Bottom Header by Burnham Foundry LLC.

The contest was sponsored by MAGMA Foundry Technologies ( , which awarded Smith Foundry Co. with a one-year license of its MagmaSoft software, including training and implementation assistance.