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NADCA International Competition Shows Versatility of Die Cast Parts.

WHEELING, Ill. -- Die castings ranging from complex automotive components that contribute to better performance and fuel economy to a miniature wire connector that provides foolproof assembly were among the 10 die castings honored by the North American Die Casting Association as winners of the 2006 International Die Casting Competition.

The award winners were chosen from nearly 40 entries that showed the versatility, quality, innovation and cost-savings that can be achieved with aluminum, zinc and magnesium die cast parts.

"The entrants in this year's competition represent the variety of applications of die casting in today's global marketplace," said Daniel Twarog, NADCA president. "Several winners used new processes or alloys to create parts that previously were not suitable for die casting. This type of effort will continue to expand the market for castings."

Among the first-time uses for die cast products were a cast aluminum automotive sub-frame, a magnesium engine cradle and a die cast aluminum steering knuckle.

The annual competition recognizes outstanding castings based on their design, quality, cost savings, ingenuity, innovation and industry-changing potential. The winners will be recognized during the 110th Metalcasting Congress in Columbus, Ohio, April 18-21, 2006.

NADCA 2006 International Die Casting Competition Award Winners

Aluminum, Squeeze/Semi-Solid - SPX Contech, Portage, MI; Jaguar Steering Knuckle.

SPX Contech produced aluminum squeeze cast steering knuckles under a tight time frame while meeting Jaguar's needs for weight savings and high tensile strength. Furthermore, once the tests on this critical part were completed, production facilities needed to be established in the United Kingdom. Typically, steering knuckles are either forged or cast from steel or iron. SPX Contech was called in after a previous supplier failed to produce acceptable aluminum castings. Based on previous experience with a similar squeeze casting, SPX Contech used its proprietary P2000 HVSC process to develop parts that achieved a minimum ultimate tensile strength of 276 MPa and a minimum 0.2% proof stress of 207 MPa, while also providing elongation to a minimum of 6%.

Aluminum under 1 pound - PHB Die Cast Inc, Fairview, PA; Automotive Reflector.

PHB Die Cast produced a cast aluminum auto reflector for North American Lighting, Inc. that replaced a previous part that used a plastic housing with an aluminum casting. Not only must the part be the reflector but the casting is also used to support and adjust the light on the minivan. Creating a one-piece part provided savings of nearly 15% per unit, plus meeting the customer's needs for a leak proof design with thin walls to reduce weight.

Aluminum 1 to 10 pounds - Toral Cast Light Metal Technologies, Concord, Ontario, Canada; Cam Cover for a GM inline 4-cylinder engine.

Toral Cast Light Metal Technologies produced a die cast aluminum cam cover to replace plastic cam covers on GM inline 4-cylinder engines. The aluminum cam cover provides structural integrity at elevated temperatures (up to 150 degrees C/300 degrees F) and better sealing to prevent oil leakage, plus it requires fewer fasteners, which reduces overall manufacturing costs. The cam cover, now 100% recyclable, was cast using an innovative three plate die with a central gating system, allowing the most favorable flow and solidification patterns.

Aluminum over 10 pounds - Ahresty Corporation, Tokyo, Japan; Honda Rear Sub-frame.

Ahresty developed a new High Vacuum Die Casting Technology to produce a sub-frame that reduced weight by 38% compared with the previous steel stamping, while maintaining sufficient strength and toughness to absorb impact with the assurance of rigidity The new method capitalized on the traditional advantages of die casting - high productivity, freedom of shape and good dimensional accuracy - but increased strength through several techniques: the use of special aluminum alloys; a holding furnace that reduced debris and gases in the molten metal; and creating a high vacuum when filling the die. The die castings are MIG weldable.

Magnesium under 0.5 pounds - Product Technologies, Maple Lake, MN; Backbone for a Cordless Nail Gun.

Product Technologies produced separate right and left backbones that serve as the skeleton, supporting all of the internal and external components of a new product development for DeWalt. Cast with AM60 magnesium, each of the parts weighed less than a quarter-pound while maintaining superior integrity and requiring minimal machining.

Magnesium over 0.5 pounds - Meridian Technologies, Inc., Strathroy, Ontario, Canada; Z06 Corvette Engine Cradle

Meridian Technologies used a new high-temperature AE44 magnesium alloy produced by Hydro Magnesium to create a 24 pound engine cradle with the same design characteristics as aluminum, but with a weight savings of approximately 33%. It was the first commercial use of this type of alloy. The product demonstrated that magnesium chassis components can be made from the high pressure die cast process, expanding the die casting market. The reduced weight improved the vehicle handling, which was highlighted in the Z06 Corvette marketing information.

Zinc under 6 ounces/non-electroplated - Production Castings, Inc., Fenton, MO; Waterproof Wire Connector.

Production Castings, Inc. created a low voltage waterproof wire connector for Blazing Products that eliminated the need for wire strippers or pliers to complete the long-term waterproof connection. The new part reduced tooling, parts and assembly costs, while improving quality and ease of use. The product also demonstrated a new use for zinc die casting, creating a thin wall part in a 4-cavity mold on a high speed 2 x 2 inch die casting machine.

Zinc over 6 ounces/non-electroplated - ZF Lemforder Corp., Brewer, ME; IMA Stabilizer Link.

ZF Lemforder Corp. with their die casting machine supplier FisherCast Global created a new process to die cast end rings directly onto the end of the stabilizer link rods. The process replaced a previous method of welding precision stamped rings onto the ends of the rods. The new process reduced material costs by 20% and offered a number of other production advantages. These advantages include the ability to use pre-plated rods for savings on inventory and shipping, and a highly automated die casting process.

Zinc any size with decorative finish - Dero Enterprises Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Base cover for a funeral casket handle.

Dero Enterprises Inc. developed an ornamental, electro-plated handle cover for caskets that significantly improves the aesthetics and quality compared with the previous utilitarian steel stamping. Patterned after a piece of religious artwork, the handle cover is temporarily used during the funeral services in most cases. The die casting provides greater durability for extended use, allowed for details of the artwork to be reproduced and can be recycled once the cover is no longer serviceable.

Honorable Mention - Best Use of Die Castings in a Final Assembly, F5 Networks, Inc., Liberty Lake, WA; Bezels for controllers and network hardware

F5 Networks, Inc. created bezels and faceplates for controllers and other network hardware with core inserts to allow for different connector arrangements and product variations, including doors for power supply access. Designed in two sizes for equipment going in standard computer racks, the die cast parts replaced previously used plastic pieces. The aluminum and zinc die cast parts provided greater structural rigidity, the ability to mold all the features needed in a single piece and they eliminated the need to coat parts to provide EMI shielding.

Note: Electronic images of all award-winning castings are available upon request.

Based in Wheeling, IL, the North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) represents the world's most effective die casters creating the world's best cast products. Working with a North American die caster guarantees innovation, integrity, accessibility, and reliability.
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