2024 R&D Strategic Plan

Updated annually, the NADCA Research & Development Strategic Plan and Roadmap guides the current and future direction of the NADCA R&D program. Our goal is to conduct research efforts that support the ongoing viability of the North American die casting industry and shape the industry’s future by providing advanced technologies.

The plan for the roadmap is established with input from NADCA Technical Committees and aligns with the Metalcasting Industry Roadmap managed by the American Metalcasting Consortium (AMC) and funded by the National Institute for Standards and Testing (NIST).

Ideas for future projects are included in the AMC Metalcasting Industry Roadmap; NADCA also has an inventory of new project ideas. However, we continually seek new ideas, which can be submitted to research@diecasting.org.

2024 Project Statistics


$6 Million










Research Categories

Additive Manufacturing


Cast Materials
Cast Materials


Die Materials
Die Materials & Die Surface Engineering


Design Tools
Design Tools / Computer Modeling


Process Technologies
Process Technologies


Additive Manufacturing

Project #213: Rapid Creation of Tooling with Conformal Cooling - Additive Manufacturing

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: Several conformally cooled inserts were built have had production runs at Mercury Marine, and Ryobi Die Casting. These are being evaluated for productivity improvements and quality improvements in the die cast process.

Project #234: Modeling Conformal Cooling of AM Dies

Research Objectives:  The proposed research will model the fluid flow and thermal history of diecasting dies with conformal cooling channels. The objective is to design dies with proper thermal management for high quality diecasting products.  Also, extending die life is an objective of the proposed research work. 

Key Accomplishments: This project has just been released and work is just starting.

Project #231: Failure Analysis of Additiverly Manufactured Die Components

Research Objectives: This project will investigate a few failures experienced by early adopters from among a variety of candidates in an effort to: 1) Determine the damage/initiation sites and mechanisms, 2) recommend possible design and material improvements, and 3) help other die casters apply the lessons learned.

Key Accomplishments: Several Additive Manufactured components that have exhibited failures were collected and are currently starting to undergo evaluation of the failure areas.  

Project #233: Porosity Reduction Through Modification of Die Material and Conformal Cooling, AM Inserts

Research Objectives:  Develop and qualify additive manufacturing use for porosity reduction in thick areas of the die cast die.  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: Project has recently been released.  

Project #227: Development of Specifications for Additive Manufacturing of Die Casting

Research Objectives:  Develop specification guidelines, using Additive Manufacturing for fabrication of die casting inserts.  

Key Accomplishments:  Dr. Midson has produced a publication for all additive processes and the application to the production of die cast tooling.  

Cast Materials

Project #221: Development & Validation of Thermodynamic, Kinetic, and Process Models for
Material Manufacturing

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 version of A390 alloys meeting these requirements for light weighting materials for transport sector.

Key Accomplishments: This project has reviewed and optimized the use of refractory materials by reducing the amount of reaction between the aluminum and refractory materials.    This reduction has led to a refractory material that will have less reaction to molten aluminum and provide longer life.   

Project #235: Rheocasting with GISS

Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to utilize a Gas Induced Semi Solid process in several different casting types and determine the application and process improvements that can be achieved using this technology.    This will be used on transmission cases and valve bodies using an A380 type die cast material.  It will also be used on transmission parts made from a B390 aluminum alloy.  

Key Accomplishments:  The GISS Unit has been trialed in making B390 transmission parts.   Initial results from photomicrographs have shown a reduced porosity level as compared to a base line casting without the GISS.    The first trial is underway, and more results will be determined at a later date. 

Die Materials & Die Surface Engineering

Project #220 Effect of Duplex PVD Coated H-13 Steel on Thermal Fatigue Cracking

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: The test equipment at CWRU has had several upgrades from its original condition. These include the test procedure for crack detection from a manual optical device for measuring crack length and quantity of cracks to a Keyence Microscope with better resolution and lighting for more accurate crack detection and measuring of crack length.    The testing is still on going for the fatigue specimens.  

Project #222 Shot Blast Resistant Laser Marking of Die Cast Parts

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: Casting testing has yet to be completed by Cascade Die Cast.    

Project #214 Advanced Engineered Coatings with Extended Life for Tooling

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: A Die cast die was built with two sets of cavities.    The cavities were coated with a PVD coating and the die was ran at The Ohio State University on a 250 ton die cast machine.    The initial run on one cavity was a 40-shot run with zero die release agent applied to the cavity surface.    Additional runs are being planned with the 2nd set of cavities.   

Project #229 PVD Coating on Zinc Die Casting Dies --- Plant Project ---

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 time improvement.   

Key Accomplishments: Cavities were produced for a Zinc die and were coated with a PVD coating.   The initial production run did show some solder formation away from the gate area of the casting. Although the solder formation was slightly less than normal production on uncoated tools, there was not a significant change from current production cavities and a PVD coated die, in spray amounts or solder formation.  Additional trials on the coated tools are being planned. 

Design Tools / Computer Modeling

Project #215 High Pressure Die Casting Process Simulation Development for the Shop Floor

Research Objectives:  The objectives of this projects are to develop a virtual die casting machine and incorporate flow simulation to allow interactions with process and display 3D images of parts based on process variations.  Also, to develop a virtual aluminum melting furnaces that operates with the same process parameters as an actual melting furnace.   The virtual furnace will allow users to visualize and optimize the melting process inside the furnace.  This virtual reality furnace will also be used for training furnace operators on the operation of a melting 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.   A virtual melting/breakdown furnace has also been developed.   There are training aids in both simulations to teach operators about the die cast and melting operations and to have them experience both cells in a virtual reality simulation.  

Project #225 Shrinkage Prediction and Validation in High Pressure Die Casting

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:  The water analog tooling studies have been completed and compared to the computer modeling simulations.   An actual die cast die with the same configuration is now being readied for a die cast run in a 250 ton die cast machine.    The actual porosity levels and locations in the die casting will then be compared to both the water analog trials and the simulations for correlation of all three systems.     

Project #226 Die Casting Manufacturability Analysis Tool - CastView

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 CastView code written in Matlab is still being trialed.    The project has moved from University of Alabama Birmingham to the University of Alabama.   Once the CastView code is completed it will be made available on the NADCA website.

Process Technologies

Project #212: On-Demand Casting of Net-Shape Titanium Components for Improved
Weapon Systems

Research Objectives: Identify Process, Die Materials, for die casting High Temperature Alloys.  

Key Accomplishments: This project has 2 main focus areas from 2 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 High Temperature Alloys.  CSM is also responsible for the material alloy composition for die cast ability and high-performance properties.   CSM is completing a literature study for die casting high temperature alloys and coatings.    There are several past research projects that are aiding in the current direction of this project.   The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) is responsible for the On-Demand Melting (ODM) system to safely and efficiently melt high temperature alloys 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.   

Project #216: Solder is a Symptom of Die Casting Sticking

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 lubricants.

Key Accomplishments: Several trials using a test Rig with a drafted pin to be able to cast molten material around the pin and measure the friction force during ejection have been completed.    For the 360 and 380 alloys there has been additional work completed on comparison of the ejection forces needed at elevated temperatures.   This project is set for completion the fall of 2021.  

Project #230: Detecting Stuck Pieces in 3-Plate Dies

Research Objectives: The goal of this project is to Investigate better methods of detection of stuck runners in the operation of 3-plate die cast dies. 

Key Accomplishments:  Several methods were investigated for the detection of stuck parts during the operation of 3-plate die cast dies.    Those methods were, Laser detection, photo eye detection,  physical limit switch detection.    Initial results showed that laser detection is possible if there is limited environmental haze due to spray lubricants.     A final report on this project will be completed in the fall of 2021.    

Project #223: Die Lube Splash Test Development

Research Objectives: Evaluate Die Lubes’ performance through casting/die interfacial heat transfer coefficient (IHTC) perspective during die filing stage and early solidification stage.

Key Accomplishments: Test Rigs have been built to be able to adjust the heated plate temperature up to 400 oC.   Additional spray lube trials are being planned for characterization of different spray lubes and showing the fluidity of the molten materials for each lube trial.   

Project #211: Properties Versus Section Thickness for Specifications and Standards and Technology Transfer

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: B390 alloy has been completed for 4 cross section thicknesses.   The test bar specimens were 2 mm, 3 mm 5 mm and 8 mm. Specimen test bars were cut from transmission casting made from B390 alloy.  The castings were each tested to determine UTS, Y, %E for each specified thickness.   A360 alloy is being tested for 2021.   Parts were supplied by RCM Industries and 4 cross section thicknesses are being cut from the castings.   From those samples, test specimens of 2 mm to 8 mm thicknesses will be used for mechanical testing.

Project #224: Reduce Inspection Setup and Cycle Time and Cost Using Collaborative Robotic 3D Scanning

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 has shown that through the use of a collaborative robot (COBOT) and a laser measurement tool.   Inspection times can be reduced from 45 min to about 8 to 10 minutes for large engine block castings.   The inspection system can be operated by inspection personnel without and training in robot programing.   The training can be accomplished by moving the COBOT manually and clicking a set point.    The program is then run in the successive programmed steps and the casting measured using a laser measuring device.    The measurements are then automatically compared to a CAD model and a report generated for the specified dimensions.  

Project #228: To Investigate the SPR Joint Quality for HPDC Materials by Using Special Die Set Comparing to Heat Treatment

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:  The SPR joint quality being studied has shown that the SPR Joint is directly affected by the design of the mold that the rivet is being forced into.    With a proper design of the mold, the joint quality between die cast aluminum and other materials produces a joint with fewer cracks and imperfections.  


Project #232: Corrosion & Crack Resistance of Die Internal Cooling Units

Research Objectives: Water corrosion behavior using a combination of different tool materials, cooling line manufacturing processes, and water quality will be studied in this project.  The objective is to find an optimal combination of different parameters to reduce the corrosion attack from residual corrosion build-up and corrosion stress crack inside cooling lines.  The combination parameter includes: 


  • Die steel type:  H13 and Maraging steel
  • Die Fabrication Process:  Forged and 3D printed 
  • Water quality:  Regular, soft, and anti-rust water

Key Accomplishments:  This is a two-year project and has just been released.    Literature review has been started.