On Tool Failure in Die Casting

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Die casting is a very cost-efficient method of forming thin-walled and complex near net-shaped products with close geometric tolerances and good surface finish. A permanent die tool is used to make large quantities of identical products. The performance and tool life are limited by several mechanisms, e.g. thermal fatigue cracking, erosion, and corrosion. To develop new and more resistant tool materials for die casting detailed knowledge of the actual casting conditions and the tool failure mechanisms are essential. This thesis contributes to an increased knowledge of tool failure in die casting by investigating and simulating actual casting conditions and tool failure mechanisms.A method to record the temperature fluctuations in a cavity insert during actual brass die casting was developed, and details of the temperature conditions were obtained. Also, a test method based on cyclic induction heating and internal cooling of hollow cylindrical test rods was developed, where the surface strain during thermal cycling could be measured. This method reproduced the characteristic type of surface cracking observed on die casting tools, and proved to give information of the strains and stresses behind the fatigue failure.In actual die casting, the dominant tool failure mechanism is thermal fatigue cracking. The formation of the cracks is associated to accumulation of the local plastic strain that occurs during each casting cycle. Initial crack growth is facilitated by oxidation of the crack surfaces, and proceeded growth is facilitated by this oxidation in combination with crack filling of cast material, and by softening of the tool material. In addition, local enrichment of Pb at the crack front from the cast alloy melt was also observed to promote the crack growth in die casting of brass.In an investigation of thermal fatigue of two hot work tool steels, quenched and tempered to different conditions, it was found that low-cycle fatigue occurs, although the estimated tensile stress never exceed the initial yield strength of the steel. The reason is a gradual softening of the steel during the thermal cycling, and the presence of stress raising defects. The resistance against thermal cracking improves with initial tool steel hardness, because any initial ranking in hardness among the steels is unaffected by the thermal cycling.Another investigation on a selection of surface engineered tool steels, including common diffusion treatments, PVD coatings and combinations of these, showed that surface engineering generally reduce the resistance against thermal cracking as compared to untreated references, since the engineering processes influence negatively on the mechanical properties of the hot work tool steels.Finally, corrosion tests of CrN PVD-coated tool steels by exposing them to molten aluminium revealed the mechanisms of initiation and progress of liquid metal corrosion of this material combination, and that the corrosion resistance improves with the CrN coating thickness.