If the stars and the moon align, a trophy can be made with zinc die casting – widely acknowledged to be the best and highest quality process for making awards. In many cases, the stars and moon could be taken to mean quantity and budget, but the design plays a factor as well.
The reasons why pressurized zinc die casting is not used more frequently are the same reasons why it is the best: It is extremely difficult, time consuming, expensive and unwieldy. Only a very few manufacturers of awards offer this process at all. Society Awards is the only manufacturer who has mastered it – we are experts at this most important of techniques to make high-quality, multiple quantity, limited edition works of art.
Die casting means that a “die” is made, in this case a large hardened tool steel mold, which comes apart in extremely large machines to allow for automated casting, opening and closing of the mold. The molten zinc is hydraulically injected under intense pressure to instantly fill all cavities of the mold. This allows the material to flow without air pockets and to cool at a controlled rate, so that the part will be strong and solid.
A large steel die cannot be made in less than forty-five days because carving the steel hardens it, the die in progress must be continuously annealed. After it is created, it can take a full day just to set up the die and get the machine running at the right temperature. From there, the process is automated and is typically exclusively used for the production of items in the tens of thousands. We are the only manufacturer who has mastered the technique to be able to apply it for production runs of one hundred units (and for certain prestige clients, sometimes fewer). Usually die casting in this way is used to make engine and auto parts.
One reason why this process is so great for awards is the detail of the tool steel die. It can be very precise, allowing for precision machine parts, or as we discovered, beautifully accurate sculpture. However to be technical, some processes with soft silicon molds can actually yield even more intricate detail because the part can be released from the soft mold, whereas it would get stuck in the steel die. The detail, however, will be more rigid and precise with die casting. The main reason why this process is superior is the other reason why it is good for engine parts – the resulting part is very hard.
A product can only be as mirror shiny as it is smooth. Society Awards has the best finished awards on the planet, because we put so much effort into the polishing and electroplating. However, a part that is porous and not very hard cannot be polished to a high shine, inherently limiting the possible shine that it may have.
The die cast zinc parts are very hard, and freer from internal defects than any other casting method available. Smooth surfaces in steel and bronze castings are created by welding back onto the work additional amounts of material to cover air pockets and defects – extremely labor intensive. Because the underlying work is so strong and hard, we can invest extra time and care into the polishing of the zinc, which shows all the way through our exclusive processes to result in the most finely plated awards.
Only the actual casting of the work in the die is done by machine. Artisan hands are required for every other step – from the model making at the outset, to the carving process of the steel dies, to polishing the resulting sculpture. The machine is utilized to inject the molten zinc into the dies which weigh hundreds to thousands of pounds each, resulting in a part of sufficient quality that it can be destined to become in this case not an engine to power an accomplishment, but a sculpture to honor human achievement.
If you are fortunate enough to have your trophies made by Society Awards with the die cast zinc process, then you have the best there can be by all metrics. If not, ask us if it is feasible for your project. Because the parts created are by definition solid metal, size and therefore weight, and shape, are considerations to ensure that it can be released from the inflexible mold. Nevertheless, we can always be creative.