Case StudyDesign and build aluminum production mold alternatives
Challenging Our Mold Material Choices
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word aluminum? I bet it’s not injection molding. In an industry where P20 steel reigns as the preferred choice for mold makers and customers, aluminum has started to turn heads among manufacturers and OEM’s in the plastics industry.
Midwest Mold has been working with other pioneers, testing and utilizing aluminum for injection molds going on two decades now. Waves of information and experience have been refined and secured over the years so we can offer our customers the latest trends and most cost effective pricing without giving up the quality they expect.
One has to ask, what’s so special about aluminum tooling, what can it really do for me? Aluminum molds and tooling can provide customers with a 5% to 30% savings in tooling cost alone depending on design and part characteristics. However, the real benefits are experienced at the molding press. Aluminum tooling helps reduce cycle times upwards of 35% in some cases due in part to the higher thermal conductivity of aluminum as compared to steel. This allows machines to run faster whereas steel molds would have to run slower to allow the material to reach temperatures that wouldn’t affect the strength or design of the product and mold.
The experience and knowledge Midwest Mold has gained over the years is available to our customers who are willing to step into the 21st century and allow us to provide to them the cost saving measures needed to remain competitive in today’s market.
By choosing Midwest Mold as your aluminum prototype and low volume mold builder, you receive the benefit of years of mold making experience, product feasibility, product design assistance, internal tool follow up through our program management team, and product runs by our molding technicians.
Midwest Mold’s Solution
Considerations to be reviewed when selecting aluminum for mold tooling.
- Is the resin conducive? Abrasive materials are not always recommended.
- What’s the part geometry? Thin walls or standing towers can complicate the tooling.
- What’s the projected annual volume? Allows planning for material and design.
- What’s the desired cycle time? Allows process and manufacturing planning.
- What is the expected lifetime for the mold? Allows consideration for materials & design
Midwest Mold’s Results
Here are some facts from the findings Midwest Mold has discovered in comparing aluminum vs. P-20 steel for production molds.
- Aluminum has four to five times better thermal heat transfer. This makes the positioning and number of water lines less critical, allowing for additional ejector pins where needed.
- Aluminum has demonstrated productivity improvement of 20% to 30% in cycle times.
- The polishing and machining characteristics of aluminum is outstanding. With some high strength aluminum alloys demonstrating eight times faster machining rates than steel.
- Aluminum doesn’t need to be sent out for heat treating or stress relieving. All of this can be done during the manufacturing process.
- All aluminum alloys aren’t created equal. For production molds we highly recommend QC-10, a high strength, heat treated wrought aluminum alloy mold material. Midwest Mold can’t stress enough the importance of selecting the correct aluminum alloy for your design and product application.
By incorporating steel inserts into an aluminum mold, some of the above challenges can be overcome, providing you with the strength of a steel mold, while utilizing the advantages of an aluminum mold.
Over years of learning and experience, Midwest Mold has developed a way to incorporate steel and aluminum into the same mold. This technology if utilized correctly can cut many of the costs affiliated with conventional steel mold building and save our customers much needed cash. Lately, many OEM’s and partnering shops have been reaping the benefits of implementing aluminum molds into their product lines.
Are you ready to gain back some press time and save money too? Contact Midwest Mold Services Inc. Where we deliver “Success at the Press”.