During the design stage, it’s important to identify the parameters of the project before determining the specific tooling approach and type of tooling required for the project.
This is done by outlining all aspects of the product, including dimensions and features; evaluating the molded surface; determining fabrication and trim techniques; temperature requirements; finish requirements; and other assembly needs.
In the fabrication stage, the appropriate tooling method is based on several factors as it relates to the specifics of each part, including:
- Machined aluminum
- Temperature Controlled
- Cast aluminum
- Vacuum or pressure forming
Machined Aluminum Tools
Plastics Design & Manufacturing uses 6061-T6 aluminum for the construction of these tools, which can be held to very close tolerances. These tools are then mounted on a temperature-controlled base to control the tool temperature during the forming process. Male or female tools and vacuum-form or pressure-form tools can be machined aluminum tools. Tools can be textured and may offer features such as loose cores, pneumatic cores, and inserts.
Cast Aluminum Tools
Cast aluminum tools are cast at a foundry from a pattern machined by Plastics Design & Manufacturing from composite material. The temperature controls are cast into the tools at the foundry. Cast aluminum tools are typically built for parts with large platforms and may be male or female and vacuum-form or pressure-form. Features such as texture, loose and pneumatic cores, and inserts are available.
For prototyping and short production runs, cost-efficient composite materials are used for mold construction. These molds produce parts that are to be evaluated for fit, form and function and may be modified to evaluate possible design changes. Composite molds are for vacuum forming only, are not temperature controlled and have a limited life.