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Magnesium Die Casting

Magnesium is the light-weight champion of all die casting metals.

If your project requires a lightweight die casting component with an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, magnesium die casting is the logical option. CWM die casts magnesium alloy AZ91D, a high-purity alloy which offers good corrosion resistance for your magnesium parts, as well as the following benefits:

  • Longer tool life
  • Easiest alloy to machine
  • Good thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Excellent for thin-wall, complex parts
  • Excellent noise and vibration dampening properties
  • Provides excellent EMI & RFI shielding
  • Good finishing characteristics
  • Light weight (75% lighter than steel, 33% lighter than aluminum) with high strength
  • Magnesium parts scrap material is 100% recyclable
Magnesium Kodak Camera Housing
Thinwall, hot-chamber magnesium die casting was used for this Kodak camera housing. It provided exceptional built-in EMI/RFI shielding needed for the design. Magnesium makes it possible to create a thinner profile with the equivalent strength of heavier metals.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium Magnesium is a base material for numerous alloys. AZ91D is the most common magnesium alloy for die casting. It offers very good castability and toughness, and is an ideal material for light weight, highly durable parts.

Hot-Chamber Die Casting

Chicago White Metal uses hot-chamber die casting to produce die cast magnesium parts. In this process, the metal injection components are submerged in a reservoir of molten magnesium. A hydraulically-powered piston forces the magnesium into the die, taking advantage of magnesium’s excellent flow characteristics to accurately produce complex shapes.

Why Choose Magnesium for your Die Casting Project?

Magnesium Leopold Scope Compared to steel, magnesium is 75% lighter with no significant loss of strength. It is a far better material for complex, thin-walled, net shape or near-net shape castings and offers greater dimensional stability. Magnesium castings can meet tight tolerances that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with steel. Tooling costs can be lower for magnesium castings, as multiple parts can be easily consolidated into a single component. This also improves component rigidity and reduces welding and assembly costs.

Compared to aluminum, magnesium is 33% lighter, with similar or improved mechanical properties, and machines easier. Magnesium provides greater corrosion resistance, and is better suited to large, thin-wall, net shape complex parts.

Magnesium Die CastingPrimary Benefit of MgSecondary Benefit of Mg
vs. Steel Weldment75% LighterLess Expensive
vs. Aluminium Die Casting33% LighterLonger Tool Life
vs. Plastic MoldingStronger, stifferEnvironmentally Stable

Magnesium is stronger and stiffer than even the most advanced engineered plastics. It also provides greater wear resistance, higher temperature resistance, and better energy absorption/impact resistance characteristics.

Chicago White Metal was the first hot-chamber magnesium die casting company in North America and operates one of the largest, most advanced facilities for magnesium die casting. With 8 magnesium die casting machines from 200 to 650 tons of locking force, CWM can produce magnesium parts in a range of sizes from 0.75″ x 0.75″ to 18″ x 18″.

Request a quote or contact Chicago White Metal to discuss your project.

Learn More About Magnesium Die Casting:

Redesign Delivers 40% Unit Cost Saving, 8% Less Weight, Superior Performance

This precision digital projector enclosure required high strength, rigidity, and low weight. The initial unit was produced as two magnesium Thixomold parts, assembled into one with seven bolts. CWM worked with the customer to redesign the enclosure as a single unit for Mg die casting production. The redesign resulted in a 40% final part cost reduction, a unit weight saving of 8%, and assured dimensional accuracy for improved projector focusing performance.

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Die Casting’s Answer to Plastic: Magnesium

This white paper gives an overview of the benefits of Magnesium Die Casting in comparison to plastic and CWM’s response to magnesium. This paper also references case studies and other valuable resources.

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Magnesium Die Casting: Solutions for Today’s Markets

Chicago White Metal explores magnesium die casting in this informative webinar. Reviews the unique properties of die casting with magnesium that can be employed in a new design or conversion from another process. The information presented in this webinar is for OEM product designers and engineers who want to understand how magnesium die casting can improve product performance and reduce costs. 50 minutes.

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10 Ways to Reduce the Costs of Die Cast Parts

6-page guide outlines 10 key cost drivers that design engineers can leverage during the product design stage to yield significant cost savings in the custom production of die cast components. These specific planning steps aid in integrating the realities of die cast manufacturing.

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1st-ever Triple Winners in NADCA Die Casting Contest

Two Al and one Mg die casting Awards were won by CWM for a first-ever triple win for outstanding custom die castings in the annual North American Die Casting Association’s International Die Casting Competition.(Includes photos)

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CWM Al, Mg & Zn Die Cast Production Specs 

2-page descriptive detailed data sheet for Chicago White Metal Casting’s current high-tech production specifications, material properties and nominal chemistry for its Al, Mg & Zn alloy capabilities.

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CWM Comprehensive Die Casting Capabilities Brochure

16-page, full-color comprehensive brochure on Chicago White Metal Casting capabilities in the most widely specified die casting alloys— Al, Mg & Zn. From design assistance through production, post-casting machining, surface finishing and final product assembly. Detailed overview covers the experience, advanced technologies, and ISO 9001 & 14001 registered management systems that make CWM the cost-effective choice for net- and near-net-shape die cast parts. Includes case examples.

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Design & Specification Guide for Custom Die Castings

Updated and expanded 16-page reference to the major design & specification steps that drive the cost and performance of components die cast in Al, Mg and Zn alloys. Among key design and production factors covered: Matching material properties; Die design & construction; Minimizing part porosity; Optimizing part heat transfer; Preplanning post-casting machining, if required; Dimensioning and tolerancing; Flash considerations; Prototyping; and as-cast finish guidelines.

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Die Casting Design & Production Preplanning Guide

Preplanning Guide to aid OEMs considering custom die cast part production and reviewing existing literature. Organizes selected industry and CWM design resources into a 7-step sequence for the planning process. The source of each die casting design and production bulletin, tech brief, guide, checklist and reference manual is listed, with many available for Web downloading or forwarding by Email. Bulletin contains direct Web links to aid access or requests for all listed documents.

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Dirt Bike Al Hub with 35 Gear Teeth Cast to Zero Draft

First motocross design produced on American soil in 20 years features many rule-breaking design innovations, such as its “sweet,” solid shifting clutch, made with two high-tech Al die castings. The Al hub has 35 gear teeth cast to zero draft. The crankshaft and engine cover are AZ91D hot-chamber mag die castings, providing strength and light weight.

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GPS Satellite Tracker Unit in Rugged, Lightweight Mg

Project managers for this satellite positioning system designed a Mg die cast enclosure as advanced as the new technology inside: ultra-rugged; lightweight for field use; waterproof; dustproof, with fail-safe EMI shielding.

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High-Tech Al & Mg for Advanced Video Imaging System

Designed as part of an advanced digital video processing and control system, Sony engineers specified “perfect parts” for their new professional video camera. CWM high-tech die casting was selected to produce 11 aluminum and hot-chamber magnesium housing components for the new camera. Superior as-cast surfaces were primary specifications.

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Key High-Tech Mg Parts for Optical Survey System

World leader in global positioning systems selected Mg die castings for the key housing components in their new optical surveying instrument. Machined parts were rejected as cost prohibitive; plastic would not provide the required stiffness for highly accurate readings.

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Magnesium EMI Shielding Characteristics

Outlines EMI/RFI shielding requirements for electronic assemblies. Presents relationships between common measures of shielding, advantages of die castings in general, and mag die castings in particular, for electronic enclosure shielding. Prepared by Norsk Hydro Magnesium.

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Material / Physical Properties Comparison

This chart compares the material and physical properties for three popular die casting alloys: aluminum A380, magnesium AZ91D, Zinc #3 and ZA8. Several material properties such as tensile strength, impact and yield strength can be compared between the three alloys. Physical properties such as density and conductivity can also be examined.

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Medical Imager Mg Multi-function Housing Walls

Two Mg 12 x 17 in. precision die cast housing walls for an all-in-one multi-media desktop medical imager provide light weight, multiple functions and reduced part counts. Each high-tech hot-chamber mag die casting delivers 25 tight-toleranced features as-cast.

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Mg Die Cast Professional Digital Camera Case

First professional digital camera in a magnesium die cast housing, jointly developed by Kodak and Nikon. Mag, selected over the usual alternative of plastic encasing a stamped metal body or an Al casting, provides ruggedness, light weight and the quality feel of metal.

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Mg Die Cast Ultrasound Portable Workstation Housing

Eight precision components form the self-contained display and keypad plus probe connector unit for a new all-digital portable ultrasound system. A total component weight of 1.725 lbs. makes the unit lighter than a molded plastic design, with greater drop strength. Winner of a “Design Award of Excellence” from the International Magnesium Assn.

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Mg IMA Process Technology Award for Auto Mirror

New Mg die cast support structure for an advanced rear view automotive mirror is now being produced in a high-pressure hot-chamber mag die casting machine with trimming operations eliminated. Employing “in-die de-gating,” two-stage ejection technology, borrowed from miniature Zn die cast production, savings include eliminating the trim die build. (Includes photos)

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NADCA Standards: Magnesium Alloy Data

Mg alloy selection, machining and finishing data; chemical composition; material properties and die casting and other characteristics.

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NADCA: Comparison of Mag Die Casting & Plastic Parts

NADCA updated comparison reviews die cast and plastic parts on material availability and recycling, material properties, design tolerances and material costs. Examines the fact that plastic materials that offer higher strength than mag alloys have material costs that are at least four times greater than magnesium.

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Only Mg Met Strength-Weight Specs for Voice/Data Unit

Ruggedness, impact strength and light weight were key requirements for this handheld field unit for on-site analysis of voice and data. Specifications were met by this hot-chamber Mg die casting housing, which survives 4-foot drop tests to concrete.

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Portable Die Cast Mg Case with Elastomer Overmolding

Handheld fiber optic cable analyzer introduced in a high-tech magnesium die cast housing with elastomer overmolding. Innovative case, claimed to be the first overmolding of a complex die casting, offers improved performance over plastic at a 20% saving.

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Product Solutions Through Die Casting

Presentation to aid efficiency, functionality and cost savings in the design and production of custom die castings. This narrated webinar focuses on helping effectively capitalize on today’s advanced die casting capabilities to improve performance and lower the costs of their custom components. 1 hour.

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Prototyping for Die Casting in All Alloys

Guide to developing optimum prototyping strategies for developing and testing component designs prior to final die casting die construction. Discusses prototyping alloys and processes, including new rapid prototyping technologies.

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Quick Guide to Surface Finishing for Al, Mg & Zn Parts

8-page condensed resource on evaluating finishing alternatives and optimizing component finishing decisions for Al, Mg and Zn die cast products. Features a comparison table rating 32 surface coatings on relative cost, appearance, wear and corrosion resistance; Presents recommended finishing for a range of typical die cast components.

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Rugged Mg Spotting Scope Die Casting Award

This advanced spotting scope, offering the sharpest, brightest viewing at distances greater than possible with premium binoculars, has impressive housing specifications: lightweight portability, absolute ruggedness, 100% waterproof construction— it is nitrogen filled and guaranteed for life. Its central housing is produced as a hot-chamber magnesium high-precision die casting, weighing just 8.0 oz. (226.8 gm) with thin-wall sections as narrow as 0.039 in. (1.0 mm).

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Still Believe These Five Magnesium Myths?

A 2-page technical paper. Offers the facts to five ‘known’ misconceptions about magnesium die casting. It also discusses the unique properties that can be gained from die casting with magnesium.

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Surface Finishes for Die Casting

Presents the important factors that can affect the outcome of the final appearance of your die cast component when its surface finish is a critical issue. This narrated webinar will aid an understanding of the various finish options, and how their uses and limitations can make the difference between successful product development and costly results. 49 minutes.

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Surface Finishing for Die Casting Bulletin

Brief overview to surface treatment systems for die cast part protection, decoration and improving component performance, for all alloys: Al, Mg, Zn and ZA.

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The Die Casting Process: An OEM Designer’s Overview

This overview for OEM designers and specifiers is a refresher for those OEM product design engineers, buyers and purchasing managers already familiar with die casting; and for those new to the process it provides a valuable framework or further pursuit.

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The Plastic vs Die Casting Process Decision

If a structural component requires stiffness and extra strength, a proposed plastic part is usually a good candidate for production as a light weight magnesium die casting. If EMI shielding and green recyclability are a concern, die cast Mg can be a hands down choice

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