Acurad was a die casting process developed by General Motors in the late 1950s and 1960s. The name is an acronym for accurate, reliable, and dense. It was developed to combine a stable fill and directional solidification with the fast cycle times of the traditional die casting process. The process pioneered four breakthrough technologies for die casting: thermal analysis, flow and fill modeling, heat treatable and high integrity die castings, and indirect squeeze casting (explained below).
The thermal analysis was the first done for any casting process. This was done by creating an electrical analog of the thermal system. A cross-section of the dies were drawn on Teledeltos paper and then thermal loads and cooling patterns were drawn onto the paper. Water lines were represented by magnets of various sizes. The thermal conductivity was represented by the reciprocal of the resistivity of the paper.
The Acurad system employed a bottom fill system that required a stable flow-front. Logical thought processes and trial and error were used because computerized analysis did not exist yet; however this modeling was the precursor to computerized flow and fill modeling.
The Acurad system was the first die casting process that could successfully cast low-iron aluminum alloys, such as A356 and A357. In a traditional die casting process these alloys would solder to the die. Similarly, Acurad castings could be heat treated and meet the U.S. military specification MIL-A-21180.
Finally, the Acurad system employed a patented double shot piston design. The idea was to use a second piston (located within the primary piston) to apply pressure after the shot had partially solidified around the perimeter of the casting cavity and shot sleeve. While the system was not very effective, it did lead the manufacturer of the Acurad machines, Ube Industries, to discover that it was just as effective to apply sufficient pressure at the right time later in the cycle with the primary piston; this is indirect squeeze casting.
When no porosity is allowed in a cast part then the pore-free casting process is used. It is identical to the standard process except oxygen is injected into the die before each shot to purge any air from the mold cavity. This causes small dispersed oxides to form when the molten metal fills the die, which virtually eliminates gas porosity. An added advantage to this is greater strength. Unlike standard die castings, these castings can be heat treated and welded. This process can be performed on aluminium, zinc, and lead alloys.[
Heated-manifold direct-injection die casting, also known as direct-injection die casting or runnerless die casting, is a zinc die casting process where molten zinc is forced through a heated manifold and then through heated mini-nozzles, which lead into the molding cavity. This process has the advantages of lower cost per part, through the reduction of scrap (by the elimination of sprues, gates and runners) and energy conservation, and better surface quality through slower cooling cycles.
Semi-solid die casting uses metal that is heated between its liquidus and solidus, so that it is "slushy". This allows for more complex parts and thinner walls.