Industry Insights

Injection moulding tool design

Tool design is one of the most important parts of the injection moulding process.

Tool design is an important first step in ensuring a part is well made. Just as a fashion designer draws sketches before cutting cloth, an incorrectly designed tool can lead to complications, cost overruns and a poorly functional product. Designing the tool will allow the moulding technician and toolmaker to analyse any potential issues before any work is carried out. This minimises future part problems, modifications and potential failures in the field. At SDI Plastics, we take particular pride in our ability to manufacture high quality, long lasting tools, whilst creating value for our clients.

Who designs the tool?

All of our injection moulding tool design is completed in-house, or with our partners located in China. Our team is comprised of highly experienced injection moulding technicians, toolmakers and tool designers who each work together to ensure a successful outcome for each project. At SDI Plastics, we enjoy working together as a tight knit team so that every step of the process is done correctly and with a minimum of fuss. This is how we consistently produce high quality tool designs.

An example of the high quality work which we produce.

There are occasions where the tool has certain requirements, such as not leaving any surface marks or blemishes on the finished product, or the tool may need to be designed for use with a specific type of plastic. In these instances, we sit down with the customer and take the time to fully understand exactly what is required of the tool before starting on any CAD (Computer Aided Designs) models and tool designs. At SDI Plastics, we are known in the industry for spending that extra bit of time in the initial research and discovery phase.

Our priority is to design a tool that caters to our customers’ production forecasts.

Our priority is to design a tool that caters to our customers’ production forecasts. There are occasions where the tool has certain requirements, such as not leaving any surface marks or blemishes on the finished product, or the tool may need to be designed for use with a specific type of plastic. In these instances, we sit down with the customer and take the time to fully understand exactly what is required of the tool before starting on any CAD (Computer Aided Designs) models and tool designs. At SDI Plastics, we are known in the industry for spending that extra bit of time in the initial research and discovery phase.

The initial injection moulding tool design being planned out

Our tool designers bring years of experience to each project. Working hand in hand with the toolmaker, injection moulding technician and the customer, they will design a tool which is built as close as possible to the customer’s own specifications. Where we have identified potential issues with the customer’s initial concept our tool designers will liaise directly with the customer to find a solution that doesn’t affect the outcome of the project.

How do you design the tool? What is involved in the process?

Once the initial brief has been received and all potential issues have been overcome, our designers then begin modelling the tool from the ground up using CAD software (SolidWorks).

This image shows a tool being drawn with SolidWorks, this occurs during the design phase

Working with plastic can be temperamental. At SDI Plastics, our designers use some key points outlined below to ensure a high quality final product for our customers:

  • Allowing for different shrinkages in the plastic
  • Allowing for different surface finishes
  • Minimising burn marks or areas that have sharp corners that could potentially snap or break off
  • Placing surface radii in the component to make it stronger
  • Mitigating post-production errors that could occur out in the field
  • For food packages – adding different ribs to add strength for stacking and optimising wall thicknesses to ensure fast process production without compromising the design and strength

After the initial design, then what?

After the initial injection moulding tool design is completed, the toolmaker and injection technician will review the design with the designer. The customer is also invited to review the design and is encouraged to collaborate and provide feedback if they so choose too. If any questions arise during this phase of the project our team will answer them and provide an explanation for why the tool has been designed in a certain way.

Here’s another tool designed in SolidWorks, this is at final design stage, ready for production

At this stage, the toolmaker and injection technician may also provide feedback to the designer who will then make any amendments if required.

Once all parties are satisfied with the tool design, the designer will then make a finished model and product, and we will move forward to the toolmaking itself.

How long does the process take?

Typically the injection moulding tool design process will take 2 to 4 weeks depending on the complexity of the project and the number of revisions the design goes through. Designing more complicated tools adds to the amount of labour and time required however, we will always explain the expected timeframe to the customer before we commence any tool design work.

As you can see from the article and photos above, designing a tool for injection moulding is a complex process, before you begin any project, call us here at SDI Plastics, we may save you a world of challenges on your project.

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