What are the polishing methods commonly used in aluminum alloy die casting?

Release Date:2023-05-24 14:59

The process of polishing is integral in improving the visual appeal and surface characteristics of aluminum alloy die castings. Various techniques are commonly utilized in the industry to attain the desired finish. In this regard, we shall examine some of the most frequently employed methods for polishing aluminum alloy die castings.


1. Mechanical Polishing:
Mechanical polishing is a polishing method that relies on cutting and plastic deformation of the material surface to remove post-casting protrusions and achieve a smooth surface. It typically involves manual operations using tools such as oil stones, buffing wheels, and sandpaper. For applications requiring high surface quality, a method called super-finishing can be employed. Super-finishing utilizes specially designed abrasives pressed against the processed surface of the aluminum alloy die-casting while immersed in a polishing fluid containing abrasives. This technique can achieve a surface roughness of Ra 0.008μm, which is the highest among various polishing methods. It is commonly used for optical lens molds.

2. Chemical Polishing:
Chemical polishing involves dissolving the microscopically protruding areas on the surface of the aluminum alloy die-casting preferentially over the concave areas in a chemical medium, resulting in a smooth surface. The main advantage of this method is that it does not require complex equipment and can polish aluminum alloy die-castings with complex shapes. It also allows for simultaneous polishing of multiple die-castings, ensuring high efficiency. The key challenge in chemical polishing lies in the preparation of the polishing solution. The surface roughness achieved through chemical polishing is typically in the tens of micrometers range.


3. Electrolytic Polishing:
The basic principle of electrolytic polishing is similar to chemical polishing, where the selectively dissolved material's micro-protrusions lead to surface smoothing. Compared to chemical polishing, electrolytic polishing can eliminate the influence of cathodic reactions, resulting in better polishing effects. The process of electrolytic polishing consists of two steps:
  - Macro-level leveling dissolution: The dissolution products spread into the electrolyte, causing a decrease in the geometric roughness of the aluminum alloy die-casting surface (Ra > 1μm).
  - Micro-level surface smoothing anodic polarization: The surface brightness is improved as the micro-protrusions are smoothed (Ra < 1μm).



4. Ultrasonic Polishing:
Ultrasonic polishing involves placing the aluminum alloy die-casting in a suspension of abrasive particles and subjecting it to ultrasonic vibrations. The oscillating action of the ultrasonic waves helps in grinding and polishing the surface of the die-casting. Ultrasonic processing exerts minimal macroscopic force and avoids the deformation of the die-casting. However, it can be challenging in terms of fixture fabrication and installation. Ultrasonic polishing can be combined with chemical or electrolytic methods. By applying ultrasonic vibrations to the solution during corrosion or electrolysis, the dissolution products near the surface of the aluminum alloy die-casting can be detached, ensuring uniform corrosion or electrolyte distribution. Additionally, the cavitation effect of ultrasonic waves in the liquid can suppress the corrosion process and facilitate surface brightness.

5. Fluid Polishing:
Fluid polishing relies on high-speed flowing liquid and abrasive particles to brush and polish the surface of the aluminum alloy die-casting. Common methods include abrasive jet machining, liquid jet machining, and fluid dynamic polishing. Fluid dynamic polishing is driven by hydraulic pressure, causing the high-speed reciprocating flow of a liquid medium carrying abrasive particles over the surface of the aluminum alloy die-casting. The medium is typically a special compound (polymeric substance) with good flow characteristics at relatively low pressures, mixed with abrasives such as silicon carbide powder. This method offers high efficiency, excellent quality, controllable processing conditions, and favorable working conditions. With suitable abrasives, a surface roughness of Ra 0.1μm can be achieved. 

Each polishing method has its advantages and is suitable for specific applications and desired surface finishes. The choice of polishing technique depends on factors such as the complexity of the die casting's shape, the required surface quality, production volume, and cost considerations. By selecting the appropriate polishing method, manufacturers can enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of aluminum alloy die castings, meeting the requirements of various industries and applications.

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