A Guide to Die Casting

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Molten Metal Makes Die Cast Models and Toys

Die cast car models are a long-standing favourite on bidorbuy. Scores and scores of them get snatched every day. However, not everyone – except, presumably, the people who collect them – knows what exactly is a die cast.

Die casting is the process of forcing molten, non-ferrous metal into a mould. It was invented in 1838 for use in the print industry. Later on, during the course of the 20th century, it became a primary method used in the production of intricate items such as appliances - and die cast toys and die cast models.

Die Casting and the Car Model Industry

Prior to the Second World War, die cast models were rarely perfect. With time, the quality of die cast products increased greatly and the toy models became more intricate and of a higher quality, because there were fewer impurities in the alloy, and therefore less cracks in the models... As a result, die cast toys and model cars became popular collector’s items for adults as well as children.

Why is Die Casting so Popular?

With die casting, it is possible to make intricate and detailed products, with a clean surface finish.
Another factor is the flexibility:  both small and large items, weighing from as little as 3 grams to as much as 10 kilograms, can be produced by the method of die casting.

As the process of die casting became more refined, it allowed for a high degree of accuracy which is easily reproduced due to the fact that moulds themselves are made using a hardened tool steel.

Rapid production rates of up to 15 cycles per minute ensure that mass production is plausible. In fact, die casting is a manufacturing method better suited to mass production due to large capital  investment initially required. After the initial cost, however, die casting is considered a cheap production method for high volumes.

The Traditional Die Cast Process

  • The first step in manufacturing a die cast product is ensuring the mould cavity is sprayed with lubricant in order to assist in the removal of the casting.
  • The second step is closing the mould and injecting the molten metal into the mould under a very high pressure, which is maintained until the casting has solidified.
  • Once the casting has solidified, the mould is opened and the die-cast ejected. A shake-out process then ensures that any scrap metal is also removed.

Now that you are familiar with the die casting process, you can fully appreciate how far die cast car models have come during the course of the 20th century. 

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