Why AUTOart uses real vents and through-holes in die-cast model car
Vents and through-holes in die-cast model car bodies represent some of the most labor-intensive processes in the manufacturing of an accurate scale replica. Die-cast model car bodies are predominately produced by injecting molten zinc metal at high pressure into a steel mould. Because the injection is fast, just fractions of a second, the molten metal is not able to flow smoothly around some small areas without overflow or excessive flash around the mould parting area. Thus it is often difficult to cast a car body with small through-holes or vents perfectly. Some model makers rely on plastic, which produces more consistent results because it can be injected smoothly into a steel mould without overflow or extra flash that must be removed later. However, plastic cannot be used on a die-cast model car body without causing resistance from collectors, who prefer the look and heft of an all-metal body.
For example, the front section of this model has many vent holes in the grill and bumper and are made of plastic because it can be produced easily. This is the most common and the easiest way to produce a model car, as all the difficult areas—usually the front and rear fascias where the inlet and outlet holes tend to be—are made with plastic material, while the rest of the body is cast in zinc metal.
In this example, the whole front section, including the bumper fascia, is cast in zinc metal together with the body, as a monoblock. Thus, all the air inlets will need to cut open manually. Here, many model makers will cut corners by simply painting the holes with black paint so that they will look like through-holes. However, black-painted holes look unreal and reduce the model’s accuracy and quality. Such “cheating” is not acceptable when collectors are paying increasingly higher sums of money for models.
Cutting the front air inlet holes using engraving machine.
At AUTOart, we make through-holes and vents on zinc metal body. It’s a time consuming process because the holes must be cut manually by an engraving machine, and zinc metal is hard, so the worker must cut the material little by little, hole by hole, with an engraving drill bit, carefully working it around the opening.
Once the holes are cut open, the workers must trim and polish the opening with a file, all by hand. Again, this process is time consuming and requires a lot of manual labor. Hence, the rejection rate may also be higher. Most model makers try to avoid this step because the manufacturing cost and production time are increased considerably.
After the holes are cut opened, a worker uses a small file to trim and smooth the side opening hole of a model car’s side skirt, which is made of zinc metal.
However, AUTOart will not compromise on such a process in the production of its collectable model cars. The visible vents and air intakes/outlets on the model must be through-holes and not just blanked off depressions painted black. Otherwise, the model car will not look real.
In this example, the whole car body of AUTOart’s 1:18-scale Porsche 959, including the front and rear bumper sections, is made of die-cast zinc metal. All of the vent holes, front and back, have been manually cut open with an engraving machine.
In this model, the most challenging part is to cut open the rear fender air ducts. The material on that section of the body is almost 10mm thick. Cutting such thick metal using a small drill bit requires long, labor-intensive hours, and so this process is the most expensive part of the model’s production cost. Other model makers will simply just paint the duct holes black to avoid all the trouble, but not at AUTOart.