Overview of the 2021 R&D Strategic Plan and Roadmap
This article presents a review of the 2021 NADCA R&D Strategic Plan and Roadmap,
this features research results from select projects, and presents a brief objective
and current research for each project in the portfolio.
The NADCA Research & Development Strategic Plan and Roadmap provides guidance
for the current and future direction of the NADCA R&D Program.
This plan is updated on an annual basis. The NADCA
Strategic Plan and Roadmap is in alignment with the most recent Metalcasting Industry
Roadmap which was released in mid-2016. The development of the Metalcasting Industry
Roadmap was managed by the American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) for the entire
metal casting industry and funded by the National Institute for Standards and Testing
(NIST). The research needs identified in the AMC Roadmap, as well as input from
members of the NADCA Technical Committees and the die casting industry are considered
for the NADCA Strategic Plan and Roadmap. To address the needs, specific research
projects are defined. Based on the defined projects and level of available funding,
the 2021 R&D Strategic Plan and Roadmap consists of 21 projects with a total
leveraged value of these projects (funding plus cost share) of $6.0 million. This
supports a portfolio of projects that addresses various needs within reasonable
The NADCA Strategic Plan identifies main topic areas that have been identified
by industry as strategic. This plan also ensures that efforts
are applied toward further development and advancement of the main topic areas.
Several strategic areas have been identified and are targeted for technological
advancement. The primary strategic areas are Process, Materials, Design, and Workforce.
Each of these primary areas contains sub-categories such as cast materials development,
computer modeling, die materials and die surface engineering, process technologies,
additive manufacturing, and others. Process, Materials, and Design are covered in
the Die Materials and Research and Development committees. Workforce,
the fourth main topic, is covered in the NADCA Education Program.
Process, Materials, and Design each have sub-topics or focus areas such as
additive manufacturing, smart machines and manufacturing, advanced casting technologies,
cast materials, die and tooling materials, design tools for manufacturing, and design
tools for casting. Within each of these focus areas are more detailed research focus
areas and actionable paths to advance a specific state of technology. It is these
detailed focus areas that define the NADCA roadmap and specific R&D activities
or research projects. Technological advancement of the detailed focus areas is targeted
to provide many benefits such as: higher performance alloys, solder reduction, cycle
time, productivity improvements, scrap reduction, cost reduction and lead-time reduction.
The NADCA roadmap currently has 21 research projects. (See Table 1). A brief
statement of objectives for each project is provided under the Current Projects
section. The total leveraged value of the portfolio of current projects, as mentioned
above, is approximately $
6,104,679.00. Sources of funds include the United States Department
of Defense (DOD) Defense Logistics Agency R&D (DLA/R&D) Program, and the
American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) and NADCA.
Project 219: Evaluating Material and Powder Size Characteristics for 3D Printed
Research Objectives: Investigate the relationship between the metal power
characteristics and 3D printed part quality and mechanical properties.
Study the 3D printed die properties and performances. (Dr. Yeou-Li Chu)
Key Accomplishments: The planned approach for this project
is to start with identification of a tool insert to be manufactured
using powder bed fusion - 3D metal printing. The insert is then
thermally examined using 3D modeling and thermal simulation to determine an optimum conformal cooling design. After
selection of the metal type and powder size, a powder bed
fusion 3D printer will be used to construct the selected insert.
After the insert is printed and final machining is completed,
the insert will be put into a production die cast die to produce
castings and evaluate the printed design. At this point, the project has produced several inserts with different cooling
designs to evaluate, design, create materials and process to
improve the die castings being produced using 3D conformally
cooled inserts in a production die cast environment.
Project 213: Rapid Creation of Tooling with Conformal Cooling – Additive Manufacturing
(DR. C. Soderhjelm, WPI)
Research Objectives: Develop and qualify additive manufacturing design
guidelines, processes, and materials for fabrication of rapid tooling, and rapid
tooling with conformal cooling lines. Using additive manufacturing as the production
process for the tooling. Die components such as cores and inserts, also referred
to as tooling, will be identified from production dies and targeted to be replaced
with additive manufacturing methods
Key Accomplishments: WPI has had several conformally cooled inserts built and
are currently at Mercury Marine running in high pressure die cast molds.
Project 227: Development of Specifications for Additive Manufacturing of Die
Casting – Additive Manufacturing (Dr. S. Midson, CSM)
Research Objectives: Develop specification guidelines, using Additive Manufacturing
for fabrication of die casting inserts.
Key Accomplishments: Dr. Midson has started a literature search for all
additive processes and the application to the production of die cast tooling.
Project 218: High Ductility Alloys; This project will carry on from work
performed in previous high ductility work, to examine the impact of T7 and annealing
heat treatments on the ductility of conventional die casting alloys. For.
(Dr. S. Midson, CSM)
Research Objectives: The objectives of this project are to characterize the impact
of T7 heat treatment and annealing on 360 type alloys. This project
will also characterize the solution heat treatments on strength for low-iron die
casting alloys containing copper.
Key Accomplishments: Testing for mechanical properties for the low-iron A360
alloys obtained in each temper. This alloy can achieve exceptional levels
of ductility for low-iron conventional die castings produced without vacuum.
Project #221: (ReMade) Development & Validation of thermodynamic, Kinetic,
and process models for material manufacturing involving secondary feed stock.
(Dr. A. Luo, OSU)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to use this optimized process
to produce AA390 solid material in industrially relevant wall thickness with uniform
ultrafine microstructure and excellent mechanical property combination of high strength >500
MPa and good ductility >15%. The project will deliver an optimized ultrafine
versions of A390 alloys meeting these requirements for lightweighting materials
for transport sector.
Key Accomplishments: This project is currently in the literature review.
Die Materials & Die Surface Engineering
Project 220: Effect of Duplex PVD Coated H-13 Steel on Thermal Fatigue Cracking
(Dr. M. Willard, CWRU)
Research Objectives: The proposed project will use the thermal fatigue tester
in the Case Metals Processing Lab to measure 7 steel samples. Three
specimens are different grades of die steels and the other four test duplex coatings
on premium grade H13 steel.
Key Accomplishments: This project is still in its starting phase.
The test equipment at CWRU has had some maintenance issues and is being prepped
for the testing. The Testing is expected to be started in early
Project 222: Shot blast resistant laser marking of die cast parts.
(M. Petro, Cascade Die Cast)
Research Objectives: The objectives of this project are to laser mark a series
of die cast parts using the initial parameters developed in the Landry et al 2018
paper. Initial parameters to be used are; fill rate of 80%, cell size
of 500 µm to 900 µm, cell depth of 0.55 mm to 0.60 mm. These parts will
be subjected to shot blasting using a steel media and then using a DM262X camera,
this will be used for data matrix code (DMC) verification.
The goal of the project is to develop a process for reading a laser etched bar code
that is then subjected to a shot blast process on a standard die casting.
Key Accomplishments: Castings have been produced, Bar codes have been placed
on the parts. Part presentation to the laser is not repeatable.
Project 214: Advanced Engineered Coatings with Extended Life for Tooling.
(Dr. S. Midson, CSM)
Research Objectives: The objectives of this project are to identify and develop
permanent die coatings that can be applied to commercial die cast tooling that are
truly non-wetted by molten aluminum and to improve the die coatings, so they can
survive as long as the life of the die inserts.
Key Accomplishments: This project started with a Literature review of other projects
regarding aluminum adhesion and how to prevent adhesion of aluminum. Three
types of bonding forces are being investigated, Mechanical, Chemical and Physical
bonding forces. By understanding the mechanisms for aluminum bonding, CSM
is working to design materials that are non-adhesive to aluminum. Aluminum
wetting on solid surfaces is also being studied. CSM has built an improved
test rig for testing of the developed coatings to be used for trials.
Project #229: PVD coating on zinc die casting dies (J. Anderson,
Anderson Die Casting, R. Winter, Eastern Alloys)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to use PVD coatings on Zinc
die cast dies and evaluate the effectiveness in terms of spray reduction and cycle
Key Accomplishments: This project is in the initial starting phase.
Design Tools / Computer Modeling
Project #215: High Pressure Die Casting Process Simulation Development for the
Shop Floor. (DR. J. Moreland, Purdue Northwest)
Research Objectives: The objectives of this projects are to develop a virtual
die casting machine and incorporate flow simulation to allow interactions with process
variables and display 3D images of parts based on process variations. Also,
to develop two virtual aluminum melting furnaces (reverberatory and stack melter)
that utilize process parameters to determine quality of the metal extracted from
the furnace. The virtual furnace will allow users to visualize and optimize the
melting process inside the furnace.
Key Accomplishments: Purdue has developed an interactive 3D model of a die casting
machine, operator panels and a working virtual model showing the sequencing of the
process parameters for a realistic operation of a virtual die cast cell.
Project #225: Shrinkage Prediction and validation in high pressure die
casting. (A. Luo, OSU, et al.)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is physically model using water
analog studies and compare that modeling to several software modeling packages i.e.
Magma, and then compare both modeling techniques to actual die castings.
The objective is to improve the porosity modeling systems in high pressure die casting
Key Accomplishments: Water analog tooling has been constructed and tested
using various thicknesses of die castings. This initial modeling has
been directly compared to Magma simulation and ProCast simulation.
Differences and similarities have been described.
Project #226: Die Casting Manufacturing Analysis Tool (CastView update) (C. Monroe,
UAB W. Warriner, UAB)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to use the initial CastView
project and develop an updated version of CastView using Matlab.
This will update the cast view software to a current platform and improve the speed
and abilities of the CastView software.
Key Accomplishments: The initial code has been written in Matlab and testing
of the software for thick/thin sections of CAD models is currently taking place.
Project #205: On-Demand Melting (Dr. C. Monroe, UAB Matthew, S. Udvardy, NADCA)
Research Objectives: To identify and develop melting furnace options for
small batch/on-demand melting, and to evaluate methods for transferring/laundering
the prepared molten metal to the die casting machine shot sleeve. To develop
a computer program to accurately and quickly calculate the type and amount of master
alloys to be added to the melt to create a specified alloy
Key Accomplishments: A test rig has been constructed to validate the computational
model that is being developed for Energy consumption and energy efficiency.
This data from the On Demand Melting (ODM) system is being compared to conventional
melting and holding technologies. ODM shows efficiencies from
30% to 40% more efficient than traditional melting and holding systems.
The goal is to achieve a melt rate of 6 seconds per pound. The next
experimental steps are to compare the revised models to the actual energy needed
for ODM for a die cast operation.
Project #210: Develop a Better Performance Refractory for Aluminum Die Casters
(Dr. Wang, Purdue, Dr. Y. Chu, Ryobi, Various others)
Research Objectives: To understand the ingredient and mix for refractory material
to resist Aluminum chemical attack, and to have good mechanical abilities to resist
abrasiveness of cleaning, charging and erosive wear of refractory materials.
Key Accomplishments: The study approach has been; To understand the refractory
wear conditions, complete a theoretical study of refractory types, determine an
optimum refractory material, complete lab tests of refractory materials and
complete a field test of designed refractory material. Testing criteria are
being developed and used to rate refractory materials in contact with molten aluminum.
Project #212: On Demand Casting of Net-Shape Titanium Components for Improved
Weapon Systems. (Dr. C. Monroe UAB, Dr. S.Midson CSM, Dr. X.Wang,
Purdue, Dr. A. Luo, OSU, S. Udvardy, NADCA)
Research Objectives: Identify Process, Die Materials, On-Demand melting of Titanium,
and Titanium composition for the die casting of Titanium components.
Key Accomplishments: This project has 3 main focus areas from 3 universities.
Colorado School of Mines (CSM) is responsible for the development of tooling, and
development of a coating for the tooling to withstand the casting process for Titanium
die casting. CSM is also responsible for the titanium alloy composition for
die cast ability and high-performance properties. CSM is completing
a literature study for die casting high temperature alloys and coatings that are
non-reactive to molten titanium. The University of Alabama Birmingham
(UAB) is responsible for the On-Demand Melting (ODM) system to safely and efficiently
melt titanium for use in the die cast process. UAB has produced a test
rig for melting high temperature alloys in an argon covered environment.
UAB has currently melted steel, and titanium in the test rig melting environment.
Purdue University is responsible for the development of an Ultrasonic degassing
of the molten titanium to maintain casting quality during the die casting operation.
Purdue is currently doing a literature research on degassing methods for high temperature
materials and titanium. The research partners on this are University of Alabama
Birmingham, Colorado School of Mines, and Purdue University.
Project #216: Solder is a symptom of die casting sticking (A. Monroe, Mercury
Research Objectives: The hypothesis is that solder is not the cause of sticking
to the die. Instead solder indicates a propensity for sticking. Two experiments
will be conducted to support this hypothesis. First, solid aluminum - solid iron
diffusion couple experiments will measure the effect of iron concentration on the diffusion coefficient between aluminum and iron. Second, plant floor tests
will measure the forces required to separate the casting from the die. The results
of these experiments may provide a new avenue of pursuing the elimination of release
Key Accomplishments: A test Rig has been built with a drafted pin to be able
to cast molten material around the pin and measure the friction force during ejection.
From that a derived equation for calculating the ejection force required to remove
the pin from the cast material. 360 alloy and 380 alloy were used, and
many samples were run and ejection forces measured. Initial data shows
that there was no difference seen in ejection force based on alloy. It is
theorized that the required ejection force and the alloy composition may have different
effects at elevated temperatures.
Project #217: An Initial Evaluation of the Capabilities of Micro-CT Scanning
for Measuring and Characterizing Porosity in Aluminum Castings (Dr. S. Midson,
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to utilize Micro-Computed Tomography
(CT) scanning to provide qualitative data on porosity in die castings.
This study will quantify porosity in die castings and start to establish base lines
for the ability of Micro-CT scanning and its application to die casting porosity
Key Accomplishments: Dr Midson has completed several scans on die cast test bars
and is comparing the porosity found using the CT scanner to different conventional
methods. The CT scanned parts are being evaluated for porosity location
and % porosity at each location The CT scanner is showing that the skin
area of the casting has almost zero porosity while the center of the casting may
contain as much as 4-5% porosity. The CT scanner is also being
used to distinguish between gas porosity and shrink porosity.
Project #223: Die Lube Splash test development (Dr C. Monroe)
Research Objectives: Evaluate Die Lubes’ performance through casting/die interfacial
heat transfer coefficient (IHTC) perspective during die filing stage and early solidification
Key Accomplishments: Test Rigs have been built to be able to adjust the heated
plate temperature up to 400 oC. By being able to manipulate
the plate temperature, it simulates a mold temperature and then the die lube wetting
temperature and lubricity can be viewed by pouring liquid aluminum on a sprayed
plate. The soldering and sticking of the alloy can be observed as well
as the spalling and lubricity of different lube types and ratios.
Project #211: Properties Versus Section Thickness for Specifications and Standards
and Technology Transfer. (B. Glim, NADCA; P. Brancaleon, NADCA)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to establish typical properties
for various section thicknesses of production die castings for better design guidance.
The information will be added to the NADCA Product Specification Standards
Key Accomplishments: A380 alloy has been completed for 4 cross section
thicknesses. The test bar specimens were 2.3mm, 3.4mm 4.7mm and 8-9mm.
Specimen test bars were cut from the castings and each tested to determine UTS,
Y, %E for each specified thickness. B360 alloy has also been completed
in the F condition and the T7 heat treated condition. Parts were supplied
by Mercury Marine and 4 cross section thicknesses were cut from the castings.
From those samples, test specimens of 2.5 to 9 mm thicknesses were used for
Project #224: Reduce inspection setup cycle time and cost, using collaborative
robotic 3D scanning. (Mingu Kang, ARIS Technology, C.
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to test and evaluate collaborative
robotic 3D Scanning processes. This project is focused on reducing Setup
time and Cycle time of inspection of die cast parts.
Key Accomplishments: This project is in the development phase, more
will be reported in June 2020.
Project #228: Investigate the SPR joint quality of high pressure die cast materials
by using a special die set for the piercing and rivet process and compare the results
to different heat treatment methods of die cast parts. (Xuzhe Zhao,
Bollhoff, Dr. Y. Chu, Ryobi)
Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to Investigate how the special
dies from Bollhoff (RA, RB and RS) comparing to the conventional dies (FM, SM and
KA etc.) will improve the crack resistance and joint strength by joining the stamping
parts (A6022-T4) and high strength parts (JAC 980 HF steel) with HPDC parts (Ryobi
W3 alloy, Aural 5 and NHT alloys) using SPR
Key Accomplishments: This project is just getting started as of March 2020,
The portfolio of projects remains as well balanced as possible considering the current level of funding support. Results and technological advancements from the R&D Program provide many benefits to the die casting industry including enhanced cast part performance, higher productivity, improved process efficiencies, and lower operating costs.
Future project ideas are included in the AMC Metalcasting Industry Roadmap and NADCA has an inventory of new project ideas. However, new project ideas are continually sought and can be submitted to email@example.com
for consideration. The AMC Metalcasting industry Roadmap can be found at www.diecasting.org/roadmap
DLA/R&D Funded Projects:
205, 211, 212, 213, 214, and 215
NADCA Funded Projects:
210, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227,228, 229
ReMade Funded Project: