But it was increasing environmental standards requiring greater weight reduction in vehicles along with the desire to cut production costs that started to drive a more radical change in the market. A process once limited to a few luxury car lines was now catching the attention of car producers across all price ranges. Out of the 78 million light vehicles produced globally in 2020, 6 million involved structural castings in their manufacture.
It is still a small proportion of the market that includes aluminum die-cast parts in car bodies, but that figure is expected to grow to around 25 million by 2030. Michael Cinelli, Bühler’s Product Manager for Die Casting, believes the auto industry is at a watershed. “We see enormous opportunities for die casting as newcomers are changing the market by opting for the advantages of the aluminum die-cast method. On one hand, there’s the trend toward further implementation of structural components in many different car segments,” he explains. “On the other hand, the new body-in-white-concept is a highly interesting development, resulting in growing demand for bigger die-casting solutions.”
This market development led Bühler to expand its portfolio last year with the inclusion of the Carat 560, the Carat 610 and the yet-to-be-launched Carat 840, capable of a locking force of 84,000 kN (just over 8,500 tons). The locking force is the force used to keep the two halves of the die together. The greater the force, the larger the component that can be produced in one shot of aluminum under a certain pressure. These machines are big; the smallest of the three, the Carat 560, weighs about 400 tons, or the same as a Boeing 747-400.