Cost Breakdown of High-Pressure Die Cast Parts

Cast Parts

High pressure die casting (HPDC) is a precision manufacturing process for creating intricate metal components. This technique is primarily used for non-ferrous metals like aluminum, magnesium, and zinc. 

This article focuses on breaking down the cost of fabricating parts using high-pressure die casting, examining all the factors affecting the fabrication cost. 

What is High Pressure Die Casting?

High-pressure die casting (HPDC) is a manufacturing process for fabricating metal parts by injecting molten metal into a pre-made mold cavity under high pressure. This process is widely used in the production of intricate, high-volume metal components. However, it is mostly used for fabricating parts using non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, magnesium, and zinc because ferrous metals usually have extreme melting points.

Overview of the High-Pressure Die Process

Below is a brief overview of the die casting process. 

  • Die Preparation: The die cavity in die casting is usually made of hardened material, such as steel. It consists of two halves: the cover die half and the ejector die half. These dies are meticulously designed since they account for the final part’s shape, structure, dimension, and other integral features.
  • Heating and Melting the Metal: The metal, typically aluminum or another non-ferrous alloy, is melted in a furnace to reach a specific temperature where it becomes liquefied. 
  • High-pressure Injection: The molten metal is injected into the die cavity at high pressure (typically between 1500 and 25000 psi) using a piston or plunger. This high pressure ensures that the molten metal completely fills all the intricate details of the mold and takes its shape. 
  • Cooling and Solidification: After injection, the metal quickly cools and solidifies, taking the shape of the die cavity.
  • Ejection: Once the metal has solidified, the die halves are separated, and the part is ejected from the mold using ejector pins.
  • Trimming and Post-processing Finishes: After ejection, the die cast part often has excess material, such as flash or runners, on its surface. These excesses are trimmed away from the final part, and other appropriate finishes and treatments may be performed to enhance its appearance. 

How to Calculate the Cost of High-Pressure Die Casting

Calculating the cost of high-pressure die casting involves several contributing factors to its overall expense. Understanding these factors helps in making informed decisions to optimize production efficiency and control costs. Below are the key cost components in high-pressure die casting. 

Machine Cost 

Machine cost refers to the expenses related to the machines used in the process. A standard high-pressure die casting machine is usually expensive, requiring an initial investment. However, this cost may be influenced by several factors. 

  • Machine Size and Capacity: Larger machines are usually more expensive than smaller ones. The larger devices usually possess more considerable capacity, allowing them to handle bigger and more complex parts that are generally more expensive. The capacity of the machine, in terms of clamping force, also impacts the cost.
  • Operational Costs: This includes electricity consumption, maintenance, and machine wear and tear. Again, the machines’ size and capacity come into play, as high-capacity machines typically consume more energy and require frequent maintenance.
  • Depreciation: The cost of the machine is depreciated over its useful life. This annual depreciation expense is factored into the overall cost of production.

That said, the size of the machine you acquire for your die casting services may depend on the kind of order you get. If running a low-scale business, you may not need a large one. However, a more sophisticated device will benefit a large-scale company that is dealing with complex die casting projects more. It will increase their production capacity and ability to meet tight deadlines. 

Die and Tooling 

While the machine cost is often considered the most important, the cost of the die and other tooling also plays a crucial role in the overall cost of the die casting process. The complexity and precision requirements of the project also play crucial roles in the cost of the die cavity and overall project costs. 

  • Die Design and Fabrication: Creating the die involves designing, machining, and heat-treating high-grade tool steel. The complexity of the part design influences the cost, with more intricate designs requiring more detailed and expensive dies.
  • Tooling Life: The lifespan of the die affects cost allocation. Longer-lasting dies spread the cost over more parts, reducing the per-part cost.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the die in good working condition, adding to the overall cost. Occasional repairs or modifications might also be required to address wear and tear or to update the design.

Labor Costs

Labor costs account for the money spent managing your workers, including skilled and unskilled staff, during the die casting process. They account for their regular wages and other benefits. Die casting services require skilled technicians to operate the machine, including those in charge of quality control services and regular maintenance of the device. 

These costs also account for indirect labor and training of supervisors, engineers, and administrative personnel who will continue the overall production process. Initial and ongoing training for workers to effectively handle new machines, techniques, and safety protocols will also account for labor costs. 

Surface Finishes 

We already mentioned surface finishing as one of the steps in die casting. It is almost impossible for die casted parts not to require surface finishing. At the same time, it could be as easy as simple trimming extensions and remains from the die casting process to more complicated surface treatments. These are operations to enhance the die cast parts’ appearance, corrosion resistance, and functionality. 

Die casting parts are compatible with different finishing techniques. These include processes such as anodizing, painting, powder coating, or plating, which have varying costs. The choice of finish depends on the required properties and aesthetics of the final product. Achieving a specific surface finish can involve additional machining or polishing, increasing costs. Finer finishes typically require more work and are more expensive.

Material Costs

Material costs are determined by the type and amount of metal used in the casting process. The cost of the raw materials, the market price of the metal – aluminum, magnesium, or zinc alloy, and other factors like quantity affect price. Generally, the size of the die casted part will influence the amount of metal you’d require, influencing cost. Material quality and usage efficiency may affect costs. For example, if you have to rework an already casted part, it will elevate the overall costs. Also, die casting using scrap materials will be cheaper than high-quality aluminum rods or blocks. 

Additional Factors

Besides all the factors affecting costs discussed earlier, die casting costs may also be influenced by other criteria, including the following. 

  • Cycle Time: Faster cycle times improve production efficiency and reduce labor and operational costs per part. Optimizing machine settings and processes can minimize cycle times. 
  • Quality Control: Ensuring high-quality production involves inspection and testing, which adds to the overall cost. Implementing robust quality control measures helps reduce defects and rework, ultimately saving costs in the long run.
  • Production Volume: Higher production volumes can spread fixed costs over more parts, reducing the per-part cost. However, it requires higher initial investment and capacity planning.
  • Logistics and Overhead: Transportation, storage, and other logistical costs, along with general overhead expenses such as utilities, insurance, and administrative fees, contribute to the total cost.


Evaluating the cost of high-pressure die casting involves a comprehensive analysis of various factors involved in the operation. These factors include machine costs, die and tooling expenses, labor costs, material costs, and surface finishing requirements. Understanding and optimizing these elements is crucial for controlling production costs and making die casting a more cost-efficient manufacturing process.

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