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Iosso Metal Processes

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Designing with Zinc

Graph shows the hardness of various zinc alloys, before and after the IOSSO-ZN process.
Graph courtesy of IOSSO Metal Processes, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

Rich Novicky
Design-2-Part Magazine

More than 30 years ago, Richard Iosso, president of Iosso Metal Processes ( developed a patented breakthrough process that converts zinc alloys into hard metal for longer part life and significant cost savings. Zinc can be very easily and inexpensively die cast within tremendous tolerances, but in its unenhanced state, it is too soft for many applications. The electrochemical process IOSSO-ZN provides critical mechanical tolerances with uniform coverage and brings the surface hardness of zinc up to 68 Rockwell C.

D2P recently talked with Richard Iosso and his daughter, company vice president Marianne Iosso, about the IOSSO-ZN process. Following are edited excerpts of our conversation.

D2P: I'd like to cover benefits the IOSSO-ZN Process holds for product designers versus other materials and processes. From the cost savings end, is it true that most of the savings come because you're able to use zinc die casting instead of, for example, fabricating steel?

Marianne Iosso: Yes, pretty much because it's much more expensive to machine a part than it is to die cast, because they can be cast out quickly and zinc is less expensive. For example, a part made of steel would have to be machined and finished. Our process eliminates the costly secondary operations.

D2P: The IOSSO-ZN Process increases the hardness of the zinc parts and components. Can you give me some examples?

MI: Yes. We can achieve controlled surface tolerances from 0.000050 to 0.0005 of an inch. We can replicate the original surface conditions, so if you've got a mirror or a matte finish, our process will replicate it. The surface finish is not changed; it's just harder. It's uniform on complex shapes, with no build-up. It's heat resistant and corrosion resistant; doesn't peel, flake, or spall. It actually makes a new surface, so it's not just putting a layer on top of the metal; it's actually bonding to the surface and making a new surface: increasing the hardness and extending the life, and extending the wear.

It definitely gives a longer life cycle to the part.

D2P: So it's not like conventional plating; you don't have to worry about it wearing off?

MI: Right, exactly—it makes a new surface. My dad, Richard, created the IOSSO-ZN process and can provide more details:

Richard Iosso: We've added a lot of new customers because going to zinc saves them tons of money, and saves them all kinds of secondary operations. They can die cast to the size of the part without machining. They're switching from steel and powdered metal parts to die casting out of zinc, and with the IOSSO-ZN process, we can reduce the wear problems.

D2P: Are there any particular types of products that the process benefits?

RI: Yes. These parts are spread out through many applications. For example, we're doing lock component parts for major lock manufacturers. There are all kinds of castings that we do: zinc gears and timing gears and timing mechanisms; small shafts, small pinions, action parts, bearing surfaces. Almost any zinc die casting that you can think of that faces any wear. Any die casting that needs wear resistance, that's where we come in. It also has corrosion resistance.

Zinc is a very major cost saving because it can be die cast. It very seldom needs a secondary operation. On the other hand, there are people who haven't considered zinc because it's too soft—but not when we're done! Zinc doesn't have the wear resistance—that's where we come in.

In order for us to develop a part with the IOSSO-ZN process, we do a prototype order. You send us the part; we'll treat it after our conversation of where the wear resistance has to be. We will send it to you and you will run your test on it. We may do it two or three different ways, and you pick the one that suits you the best. And then if you need more cycles out of the part, we can tweak the hardness until we get it where you want to be.

But we know how to be cost effective—we wouldn't have any orders if we weren't cost effective.

D2P: How did you come to develop the IOSSO-ZN Process?

RI: We're on our second—third patent on this now, because we've had patent improvements. I looked for a hole in the industry—what is the most cost effective way to make a part, other than machining it? At that time, I was running a lot of steel components, but people were going to cast metal parts for cost savings. So a bell went off in my mind—why not zinc, because it die casts so much better, and weighs less? So that's how I developed it—it took a long time and a lot of work to do it. It's a continuing development because so many different configurations come in.

This technical information has been contributed by
Iosso Metal Processes

Click on Company Name for a Detailed Profile

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