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8 Questions to think about when choosing your Injection Mold Tooling

Posted on: September 13th, 2016 by Owen Timlin

Injection Molding is one of the most common ways to manufacture your product in production. The first step is choosing a tooling option that works for your project. Here are 8 questions from actual customers that will help make it a little easier to choose your Injection Mold Tooling.

Injection Mold Tooling

What is the scope of the project?

This is the probably the most important factor in determining which tooling method to use.

If the part is for pre-production then the answer is simple, aluminum tooling. This is common when the project requires the part to be made with the end production injection mold material. Aluminum tooling offers lower costs and faster lead times. If the material requirement is not needed see alternative options on RTV Molding and 3D Printing.

If the part is for production then there are a couple things to consider. What are the EAUs on the part? How long will the project run?

How does part size effect tooling?

Part size plays a big factor in determining tooling. Larger parts will need to be built in a standalone tool however smaller parts that fit within the size parameters may be subject to a (more efficient) cheaper alternative. Insert tools are extremely popular for smaller components. Instead of paying the full price of a standalone tool we can look to build an insert tool that fits into the (standard MUD) base unit on our press.

For example, you have a small housing that is 3″x 2″x 1/2″ and needs to be produced via Injection Molding. Instead of building a full standalone tool for such a small part we will build an insert tool out of aluminum or steel that fits into our pre-existing bases on our press. This is an extremely economical and waste minimization method to produce smaller components. We offer insert sizes ranging from a 5″x 5″ all the way up to a 11″x 14″.

How does part volumes effect tooling?

Part volumes can effect tooling especially when the volumes reach a higher level. The standard is a single cavity tool for low volumes of a couple hundred or a couple thousand parts per year, but as the part volumes grow you can look to add multiple cavities on the tool to produce parts more economically. When quantities and life of project are unknown or there is no solid forecast, single cavity tools are a good place to start. You can always look at building multi-cavity tools later on. Multiple cavity tools come with a little more upfront cost on the tool but it can significantly lower the piece price on your part.

Does part material effect tooling?

Yes, it does. The part material has direct effect on tooling for a couple of reasons. Mild injection mold resins like a Polypropylene are a lot easier on a mold therefore contributing to a longer tool life. Harsher injection mold resins like a Glass Filled Nylon wear down a tool much easier. This can be a crucial deciding factor when your part has a life of 8,000-12,000 pieces and you are deciding between aluminum or steel tooling.

Does part geometry effect tooling?

Yes, it does. We thoroughly evaluate each part before quoting. We look at part features that will effect the tool. Does it have undercuts? Cores? We also look at surface finish requirements. Will it be grained? Polished? Textured? These all effect the decision on the type of tooling used.

What is the life expectancy of a tool?

Aluminum tools are good for a lifespan of anywhere from 2,000- 10,000 parts depending on the type of aluminum used, part material and geometry.

Steel tools are good for a lifespan of 100,000 + parts depending on the material and geometry of the part. The tool may need re-worked after it has been in production for awhile.

What is the timeline to build a tool?

This changes on a part by part basis but a good rule of thumb would be:

Aluminum tools can be built in anywhere from 4-6 weeks for small parts and 6-10 weeks for larger parts while steel tools can be built in anywhere from 6-8 weeks for small parts and 8-12 weeks for larger parts.

What is the cost difference for Injection Mold Tooling?

This also changes on a part by part basis but typically a steel tool costs anywhere from 20-30% more then an aluminum tool.

TTH Injection Molding Glossary

How Can You Save Money on Your Next Molding Project?

Posted on: February 24th, 2016 by The Technology House

Custom Mold for Injection Molding

When you are ready to move your product to production,
one of the last things you want is to have unexpected costs suddenly emerge.

Below are a 3 simple tips to follow that you can you save money on your next molding project.

  1. Minimize Secondary Processes 
    Any processes outside the molding will require additional setups and cycle times, which will increase your part cost.  These can include processes like painting, and custom inserts.  Instead, consider alternatives like molding your part in a custom color instead of painting, or having inserts molded into the part.
  2. Blanket Orders 
    Say your demand is 100 parts per month.  Will you place an order every month as parts are needed?  Or will you order a year’s worth with blanket releases?  The latter will yield you a lower cost.  This is because you will receive a lower piece due to the higher quantities, and there will be fewer setup charges.
  3. Design for Molding
    Make sure that the part is properly designed for injection molding.  If not, then you run the risk of costly tool modifications and poor part quality.  Need help on what to review?  Here are 4 simple design checks you can do to make sure your part is on the right path to be properly molded.

If you are interested in learning more, or have any additional questions,
then feel free to contact us .  We have a variety of machines and processes
that can be tailored to fit your needs.


3 Steps To Make Your Tooling Project a Success

Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by The Technology House

Moving your design from the prototype phase to production does not have to be an uphill battle.  There are some easy steps you can take to keep your product moving efficiently to production.

1.Create a Rapid Prototype Design First
No designer has the “perfect tough” in that the design is correct the first time.  Even after design reviews, one does not know how the product will actually work until there is a physical model.  Utilize the materials and processes in both 3D printing and cast urethane to ensure that fit, function, and the look & feel is correct.

Rapid Prototype Design

The part on the left was 3D printed to test fit and function. This helped determine the part and tool design for the production piece on the right.

2.Design for Manufacturability (DFM)Analysis
Investing in a design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis can discover potential problems.  The DFM will make sure that the part design and manufacturability is correct for injection molding.  Correcting any potential problems before the tool is cut can save you tool modifications that were more than likely not accounted for in the initial budget.  In addition, the DFM can keep your product on track to be delivered to your customer.

Screen Capture of Rapid Prototype CAD Design

3.Fully Review Initial Samples
Now that your tooling is complete, it is now time to review your initial samples (often referred to as T1 samples).  But just because your initial prototypes worked, does not mean you can just glance at the tooling samples.  Make sure that the samples measure within tolerance, have no cosmetic defects, and fit & function properly.

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4 Simple Tips for Problem-Free Injection Molding

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 by The Technology House

Tooling and Molds for Injection Molding

When designing a part to be injection molded, you do not need to be an expert. Most molding issues we encounter could have been avoided by following four general guidelines.

1.Wall Thickness Consistency
One of the most basic design parameters is to keep the wall thickness consistent. Parts with a uniform wall thickness will not warp, will fill in properly, and minimize shrink variability. But how much wall thickness is typically allowed? Ideally, there should be no variation, but wall thickness variations should not exceed 10% in materials that have a high shrinkage.

2.Proper Gate Location
A part must have a gate, which is the opening that allows the plastic to be injected into the mold. Gates that are most effective are ones where they enter the thickest part of the cavity, and then flow to the narrower areas. Since the gate will be slightly visible on the part, it is best to have it on a non-cosmetic surface.

3.Radius Corners
If there is one thing that plastic does not like, it is sharp corners. Sharp corners are stress risers that can cause part failure. The molten plastic needs to be able to navigate around corners with ease. Corners with a radius will allow the plastic to flow more easily. In contrast, corners with sharp corners will result in molded-in stress.

Draft is when the side walls in the mold are tapered in the same direction that the mold opens. Draft facilitates the removal of the part from the mold.  It is important to note that different degrees of draft are required based off part geometry and surface texture. A tool should use at least 1 degree of draft for all vertical surfaces (2 degrees works very well for most parts).

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you with your production needs, or have any questions, feel free to contact one of our project managers through the link below.

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Top 5 for 2015: We Posted Them, You Read Them

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by The Technology House

As 2015 comes to an end, it is time for us to review what blog posts were most read in 2015.  The topics of these blogs ranged from 3D printed parts being used in a Formula One racing car to the benefits companies are seeing by doing production in the U.S.

Afraid you missed out on the more interesting posts?  No worries, below are the top 5 blogs in one place for you to riffle through.


5. SAE Racing Team Incorporates 3D Printing in Car Design

4. How Did Being an Early Adopter of 3D Printing Help Us?

3. What FDM Part Density is Best for You?

2. 5 Benefits of Reshoring Manufacturing

1. What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Tooling?

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part II

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by The Technology House

As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks”-Like converting metal parts to plastic.

We discussed in our last blog, when done properly, parts converted from metal-to-plastic benefit from:

-Cost reduction
-Improve functionality
-Design Freedom

But what industries benefit from metal-to-plastic part conversion? Three of the major industries we have helped are the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries.

The automotive and aerospace industries are converting parts to plastic in order to reduce vehicle weight, and to meet tougher federal emissions standards. The reason for the latter is that certain plastics are chemically and heat resistant.  These plastics can be utilized in the fuel and fluid handling systems.

A major reason we have seen the medical industry utilize metal-to-plastic conversion is for device ergonomics. Plastic products can be easier, such as molding a handle that is hard plastic, but the grip area is a soft rubber.  Another reason for metal-to-plastic conversion is that plastic has a lower thermal conductivity.  Therefore, plastic parts may not be cold to the touch, which allows the patient to be more comfortable when the product is in use.

We have helped a lot of customers over various industries with metal-to-plastic conversion. Contact us to consult with our team about the feasibility of converting your metal products to plastic.

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part I

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by The Technology House

We have encountered a lot of customers that have been more active over the past few years of converting existing metal parts to plastic parts. With the proper design, plastic parts can be just as strong as metal parts.  There are three major benefits on why this conversion is done: cut costs, improve functionality, and design freedom.

Metal and Plastic 3D Printed Parts

Cut Costs
Metal parts are primarily manufactured through CNC machining. But there are more options to produce plastic parts. Excluding CNC machining, the more common manufacturing methods for plastic parts are 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding.

A major benefit of 3D printing is that you can print parts in batches, thus allowing you to benefit from economies of scale.

Once the upfront tooling cost is amortized, cast urethane and injection molding allows you to mold parts in a matter of minutes rather than hours with CNC machining.

Finally, plastic production processes like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding allow you to mold all the features at once.

Improve Functionality
Certain plastics can have more chemical resistance with exceptional heat resistance. This allows for plastic parts to be ideal for applications like fuel and fluid handling systems. Some plastics are also engineered to be thermally and electrically conductive. Finally plastic parts can reduce the product weight.

Design Freedom
Being able to produce parts in plastic allows you to create parts with more complexity, as well as combining different parts to be built as one.  Processes that produce plastic parts, like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding, allow you to create parts with undercuts, threads, thin walls, and tight tolerances that may not be possible through metal manufacturing processes.

In addition, the ability to mold in features, such as ribs, will give plastic parts strength, yet allow the parts to be lighter than metal.

This is the first of two blog regarding metal-to-plastic conversion. In the blog, we will discuss which industries and applications have most benefited from metal-to-plastic conversion.

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5 Urethane Design Tips

Posted on: October 13th, 2015 by The Technology House

When using cast urethane, it is important to ensure that your part is designed properly. If not, then the part may not mold properly, thus jeopardizing your part functionality and lead time. But do you know what some of the major design pitfalls are? Or what the major guidelines are you should follow?

Here are 5 simple design guidelines for you to follow.

Wall Thickness
The minimum wall thickness for cast urethane is .040-.050”.  Most parts on average have a wall thickness ranging from .080”-.160”.

Although it is more critical for injection molding, draft is not as a big of a concern for cast urethane.  At least one degree of draft is ideal for cast urethane, certain parts can be molded without draft.  Although, if your  intention is to injection mold the part, then design the part as intended for production.

Use at least a  0.125” radius in corners in order to increase part strength and help material flow in the mold.  In addition, use at least a  .060” radii in the corners of bosses.  This will reduce wall thickness, yet still retain the part strength.

Lettering & Logos
Cast urethane can mold both raised and recessed lettering.  Regardless of which one you choose, make sure that the lettering and logo is at least .040” thick and raised/recessed at this same measurement.

Tolerance & Accuracy
Part tolerances for cast urethane are +/-.010” for the first inch, and +/-.005” for every inch afterwards.

By following these guide lines, you will be able to have your parts casted with better accuracy and less scrap.  Thus allowing you to get your product to the market faster.  Have an upcoming project?  Feel free to contact us to see how we can help you.  Don’t have an upcoming project?  No worries, feel free to gander at our other resources like our handbooks and photo libraries.


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When it’s Best to Choose Urethane Molding

Posted on: September 29th, 2015 by The Technology House

Urethane molding is used mainly for prototype, bridge, and lower volume production runs. The process by which urethane—or, polyurethane—molding is done is similar to other types of manufacturing such as injection molding. The big differences come in the overall cost and cycle time as urethane molding is a type of soft tooling manufacturing method rather than hard tooling.

How Are Urethane Parts Molded?

Creating cast urethane parts is a simple three step process. The first step is to create a master from the 3D printing process stereolithography, also known as SLA. The 3D printed master is then used to create a silicone mold. The silicone mold is then used to cast the urethane parts. This manufacturing process bears with it a lower cost and fast turnaround time than steel molds you would typically use with injection molding.

What Are the Benefits of Cast Urethane?

For those unfamiliar with urethane molding, there is sometimes a question of why. Why would I go this route when I could just do injection molding and be ready for a fully ramped up production style manufacturing? Well, there are a few reasons for choosing urethane molding over other methods.

  • Fast tooling turnaround—silicone molds can be produced and ready to shoot parts within days.
  • Material versatility—You are able to test out different materials in a silicone mold without sacrificing part geometry due to shrink
  • Applications— Urethane can be used during most aspects of the product development process.

How Can I Use Cast Urethane Parts?

Urethane molding is ideal for creating functional prototype parts, engineering verification of designs, alpha and beta builds, as well as pre-production and low volume production parts. The cost and speed of this manufacturing and prototyping method is what often appeals to manufacturers. Allowing a fast turnaround can bridge the gap when production is ramped up and deadlines are closing in quickly, but it allows provides for a faster to market strategy, especially in highly competitive fields.

If you’re interested in learning more about how polyurethane cane help your business, feel free to contact one of our project managers today.

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What is Durometer? How is Durometer Used?

Posted on: September 16th, 2015 by The Technology House

Durometer describes the instrument used to measure hardness, as well as the material’s hardness. Durometer is measured by the depth of an indentation into the material under a standardized force. Softer material will allow a deeper indentation, while harder materials will allow the opposite.

Common scales used today in casting are Shore A and Shore D. Shore A materials are rubbers, while shore D materials are plastics. Durometers range in scales of 10 with acceptable tolerance of plus or minus 5 points. For example a shore 60 A material will have a lower acceptable limit of 55 A, and a higher acceptable limit of 65 A.

Durometer Hardness Scale

What does this mean for you? It is important to understand the look and feel of the various durometers so that you can determine which material is best for your application. In addition to having different feels, the materials will have different properties (i.e. shrink rates, demold time, gel time, etc.) that need to be considered before molding.

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