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Die Casting Industries The Many Applications of Modern Die Casting

Author / Editor: Simon Morrison / Nicole Kareta

Although the automotive industry consumes the majority of die castings, many other industries rely on die cast products. We explore other die casting applications and take a look at current challenges and where the industry is headed.

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Besides the automotive and construction industry, there are many others that make up a large portion of overall die cast component sales.
Besides the automotive and construction industry, there are many others that make up a large portion of overall die cast component sales.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Unsplash)

People have used die cast metal processes to create products for over 7,000 years. Historians believe that the Chinese were using iron castings as early as 6000 BC. The earliest known example of die casting is a copper frog found in Iraq that dates back to 3200 BC. In more recent times, die casting has continued to be a critical element in the manufacturing process for a vast array of aluminum, zinc and magnesium components, parts, and products.

According to a recent report, the die casting industry as a whole in 2020 had a value of USD57.12 billion. The worldwide die casting industry is projected to be worth USD81.48 billion by 2026, giving it a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 5.92 % during this period.

The automotive industry is by far the biggest purchaser of die cast components. Currently valued at USD40.23 billion, the automotive die casting market is projected to be worth USD58.4 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of more than 6.19 %. While the need for lightweight die cast parts in the auto industry continues to spur overall growth, die casting is still a crucial element for the production of a wide range of goods across many other industry sectors.

The Die Casting Industries and their Die Cast Parts

The below industries are reliant on die casting and now make up a large portion of overall die cast component sales:

  • Construction – Because of their strength and lightweight, aluminum metal castings are used to manufacture window frames, roof superstructures, and building frames. Residential and commercial buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers are now made with a variety of die cast parts.
  • Health Care – Die cast parts are used to manufacture complex medical devices such as ultrasound systems, pacemakers, dialysis equipment, medical robots, monitoring devices, and hospital bed gearboxes.
  • Energy – The oil and gas sectors are dependent on die casting components to produce piping, drilling machinery, valves, flow controls, filtration devices, impellers, and more. The renewable energy sector utilizes a range of die cast components such as wind turbine blades and solar panel brackets.
  • Electronics – The rapid pace of innovation in the consumer electronics industry requires a constant supply of flexible, light, heat resistant, and highly durable precision parts. The electronics industry incorporates die cast components in everything from 5G base-station housings to smart phones to drones to personal computers and home appliances.
  • Culinary – Cast iron and stainless-steel castings are ubiquitous in the culinary industry. Products such as stainless steel and cast-iron pans, skillets, and ovens are used by both the average consumer as well as the restaurant industry. Because it is resistant to bacteria, heat and chemicals, stainless-steel precision casting is widely used for heavy machinery in the food processing sector.
  • Mining – Die cast metal components are used in mining and mineral processing equipment such as excavators, drills, draglines, crushers, and specialized heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Paper – Paper mills rely on a range of machinery made with die cast components. These include heads used in paper machine dryers, pulleys, gears, and housings.
  • Furniture – Die cast aluminum parts can be precision made cheaply from recycled materials, have no joints, can be powder-coated, and feature parts with many integrated functions. This makes them ideal for furniture manufacturers.
  • Mechanical and Plant Engineering – High-precision manufacturing processes are only possible with the use of large-scale die cast industrial products such as machine tools, conveyors, pumps, lifting equipment, and compressors.
  • Aerospace – As with the automotive industry, the aerospace sector requires lightweight, high tensile structural components and complex parts. The use of magnesium and aluminum die casting allows aerospace manufacturers to build lighter and more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Current Issues Facing the Die Casting Industry

Despite the growth of the worldwide die casting market, manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) now face a diverse range of challenges. The ongoing impact of the Covid 19 coronavirus has resulted in massive disruptions to global supply chains, causing shortages of materials and order backlogs. Supply chains are also being tested by political tensions caused by the recent trade war between the US and China, as well as the effect of Brexit on the US and UK markets. Manufacturing components on a just-in-time basis is becoming more of a challenge.

The rise of additive manufacturing - also known as 3D printing – threatens to eventually replace many traditional forms of die casting. However, on a large scale, the present additive manufacturing process cannot compete with the production rates of die casting.

Climate change is the most pressing issue for all die casting manufacturers and OEMs. As governments instigate emissions controls and other measures, industries must strive to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient products, vehicles, and machinery. Often, these efforts must be undertaken without sufficient direction from politicians.

Future Demand for Die Casting

The growing global need for lightweight die cast products is highlighted by recent industry statistics. As governments and consumers demand more environmentally friendly vehicles, products, and production methods, manufacturers will require a constant source of aluminum and magnesium die cast components.

Exponential infrastructure and construction growth in the Asia Pacific market and the demand for lightweight vehicles in US will continue to drive demand for die castings in these regions. Although the European market is currently sluggish, German light metal foundries are experiencing good levels of growth. The overall value of the worldwide die castings industry is projected to reach a value of at least USD90 billion by 2030.

While there are challenges to be overcome now and in years to come, there is good reason to remain optimistic regarding the future growth of the die casting industry.

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