Know When it’s Time to Move on From Die Casting

As your manufacturing volumes remain at high levels, die casting is often the obvious casting process to use. But, most manufacturers don’t recognize when the status quo may be hurting them.

Die casting is one of three commonly known aluminum casting processes next to sand casting and permanent mold casting.

Manufacturers cast with die casting when they need high part volumes that require tight tolerances (+/- 0.005″) and low draft angle (.5-2 degrees). Die casting also creates smoother surface finishes compared to sand casting and permanent mold casting. While die casting can’t integrate sand cores (to create internal cavities and undercuts), it can create complex castings.

For various reasons though, volumes may drop and once that happens, die casting is no longer the best fit.


Recently, a large OEM reached out and told us the majority of their parts are produced using die casting. In this OEM’s instance, their part designs evolved, while the old designs still needed support in a service environment. They told us their current die casting vendor couldn’t dedicate the time to produce service-level quantities.

In problem situations where your product volumes drop or your current die casting supplier can’t commit to lower quantities, sand casting becomes your solution.


Sand casting has many of the same characteristics and benefits you get with die casting — at a more affordable rate (since you’re only producing service-level quantities).

Unlike die casting which requires highly complex and very expensive tooling, sand casting applies patterns built from a variety of lower cost materials – renboard, machined aluminum, and more increasingly, even printed using 3D printing technology – that create high quality aluminum parts at a fraction of the cost of a die cast tool. Pattern life is equitable to the volume requirements of the part in each case. As we mentioned earlier, sand casting also integrates sand cores that achieve complex internal pathways or undercuts – features that die casting operations struggle to replicate.


Sand Casting High-Pressure Die Casting
Surface Finish Good  Best
Dimensional Tolerance/Stability Good (+/- 0.030″) Best (+/- 0.005″)
Undercuts and Internal Passages via Sandcoring Yes No
Minimum Wall Thickness Good Best
Annual Production Volumes 1 – 20,000 20,000 – 1,000,000+
Tooling Cost Very Low High
Per-Piece Cost Medium Low
Tooling Turnaround Time Very Fast Poor


In the instance where your die casting supplier can’t – or won’t – accommodate your service-level quantities, sand casting is the simplest transition to make:

  • We have the capacity to take on your service-level requirements and give you the service you expect.

Our engineers can help you launch a new part or produce service-level quantities (for a legacy part) and determine the appropriate process for your part and its purpose.

Depending on what your specifications are and your current casting process, transitioning from one to another can optimize your margins and improve delivery rates.

If you have any questions or would like more details, please feel free to reach out.