What does diecast mean? Does diecast mean metal? Diecasting is a manufacturing process involving a metal alloy and a two-part mold, called, predictably, a die. It was originally invented in 1838 for creating moveable type for printing presses. But in the 20th century it became popular for making other goods, especially toys.
Diecast, in the modern meaning of the word, refers to materials made specifically of zinc alloy and cast in a mold. It’s an inexpensive process that yields very good detail and strength.
In metallurgy, zinc pest is a problem that occurs when impurities are introduced in the process of diecasting. The problem causes the metal to crack and disintegrate, in extreme cases crumbling to dust. It mostly affects products made in the 1920s-1950s.
Zinc pest or zinc rot was discovered in 1923 and well understood by the 1930s. It is relatively uncommon today, but can still occur due to sloppy manufacturing processes.
What is pot metal? It’s a catch-all phrase that covers casting parts out of nonferrous metals. Usually when the phrase is used, it refers to pieces of unknown or possibly questionable manufacture. But there are sophisticated processes, such as diecasting, that fall into the category of pot metal.
Pot metal originated from the practice of gathering all available nonferrous metals and melting them into a pot for casting. Any process that involves casting nonferrous metals is technically pot metal, though the phrase usually refers to a more haphazard composition. Outside of prototyping, it is still used for making toys, trinkets, and cheap jewelry.