Die Casting vs Liquidmetal

Die Casting Process

Die Casting is also known as Aluminum or Magnesium Casting. These materials have a relatively low melting temperature, allowing you to hold a large vat of material in a molten state.

A single shot of material is either suctioned off from the vat or a ladle of it is poured into the shot sleeve. From there, a rod and plunger pushes the molten alloy into a steel mold.

The part comes out of the mold to net shape, good precision, and full strength. A secondary process to remove flash around the parting line is required. Other processes to improve surface finish and corrosion resistance may be desired.

Liquidmetal Process

Amorphous Metal Molding uses a special alloy designed to have an amorphous atomic structure in a solid state. Small batches of feedstock are melted in a vacuum chamber to avoid contamination from Oxygen. The melted alloy is poured into the shot sleeve where a plunger pushes the material into a steel mold.

The Liquidmetal part comes out of the mold to net shape, great precision, and with full physical properties. Secondary processes to remove the part from the runner and overflows are necessary.

Design Considerations

Parameters such as part geometry and size are dependent on the process used to make the part. The chart is a comparison of how these two manufacturing processes affect the capabilities.

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Complex Contoured Geometries
Limits on size and wall section

Design
Flexibility

Complex Contoured Geometries
Limits on size and wall section

+/- 0.063mm

Dimensional
Tolerances

+/- .02mm (critical dim)
+/- .05mm (standard)

1 to 2 degrees internal features
0.5 to 1 degree external features

Draft
Requirements

3 degrees internal features
1 degree external features

15g to 10kg

Part Size

< 1g to 450g

0.08 – 1.1 Ra μm

Surface
Finish

0.05 – 0.35 Ra μm

0.8 mm

Min Wall
Thickness

0.3 mm

12 mm

Max Wall
Thickness

3.5 mm

Material Properties​

A manufacturing process can influence the material properties of a part due to the resulting porosity or grain structure, but the main contributor to the properties is the type of material that can be used in a particular process. The melting temperature of a material and the final part geometry will dictate which manufacturing process to use.

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

150 – 283 (23-41)

Yield Strength
Mpa (ksi)

1250 (181)

.05 – .35
Standard Elasticity

% Strain

1.6
High Elasticity

63 – 100 (67-105)

Hardness
HB (Vickers)

460 (500)
No Heat-Treating Available

50 to > 500 hours salt spray
(Surface treatments common to improve)

Corrosion
Resistance

> 500 hours salt spray

1.8 – 6.6 (.066 – .24)

Density
g/cc (lb/ci)

6.8 (.25)

Process Considerations

Cost is usually a driving factor in selecting a manufacturing process. A process that gives you a lower cost part might require more up front tooling cost, and a longer engineering and development time. These trade-offs may be offset by the speed at which you can make the part if you need a high capacity process for a high volume product.

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Die-Casting

VS

Liquidmetal

Medium to Ultra-high

Production
Quantities

Medium to High

Ultra-low to Low
< $0.10 to $5.00

Part Costs

Low to Average
$1.00 to $20.00

Al, Zn, Mg

Alloy
Alternatives

Amorphous alloys only

2 to 4 weeks

Production
Lead Time

4 to 6 weeks

High, $10K to $100K

Tooling
Costs

High, $30K to $100K

Process Advantages and Disadvantages

Die cast parts cannot match the strength of Liquidmetal or steel parts. When molten aluminum or magnesium cools into a solid, the material crystalizes and shrinks. This makes it difficult to control precise dimensions. Amorphous metals maintain the amorphous atomic structure of liquids when they solidify. As a result, molded amorphous metal parts match the dimensions of the mold within microns. These technologies are rarely competing for the same part because of the big differences in price and strength.