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Understanding the Tool Making process

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Understanding the Tool Making process

Tool making is an essential part of the injection moulding manufacturing process because it involves designing and engineering tools used to produce parts or components.

SDI Plastics ensures that all of our tools are made with the utmost care and attention to detail. Every step of the process is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that errors are eliminated or reduced. 

The tool making process follows the design and prototyping phases and is an essential step in the final products build. It is a high grade and quality steel mould that necessitates extensive engineering knowledge and industrial expertise. It is translated into a tool/mould design based on the intricate CAD design. During the tool making process, the tool design process is extremely precise, and it is constantly re-worked to be the perfect tool/mould needed for manufacturing the final product. 

tool making machine and process

The making of a tool

The tool making process is essential to manufacturing because it involves designing and engineering tools to produce parts or components. For instance, to match the production of a new product design, tool making frequently necessitates the original method of new machines and tools. Our toolmakers at SDI Plastics understand the true art of tool making, build an entire mould from the beginning using a block of steel, and make our tools from high-grade steel.

Plastic mould making is a process with zero tolerance for any mistakes. As a result, high precision and perfect finish tools are needed for the manufacture of every single plastic mould.

Plastic injection moulds are an essential part of the plastic injection moulding machines. They can be made in any shape and size and can accommodate multiple cavities to increase the number of pieces made per cycle. 

A plastic injection mould is a metallic (made mostly of steel or aluminium) cube hollow from inside. It has pathways to allow for molten plastic to get from the injection point to the mould cavity. These pathways are called ‘runners.’ It also has holes for coolant (usually water) circulation and cools and solidifies the plastic.

There are two significant parts of a mould, which most mould makers refer to as Plate A or the cavity side and plate B or the core side. Plates A and B further comprise multiple smaller parts. Plate A is immobile and carries the runners and the gates, which are the entry point of molten plastic into the cavity. The cavity is also present on Plate A.

Plate B or the core side is mostly only responsible for opening and closing the mould and carries ejector pins mounted on a core plate that pushes the plastic piece out.

The machining

After the mould’s software designing is complete, the designers share their designs with the project manager. The project manager and his team of CNC and EDM programmers and machinists then set to work their magic on the metal piece.

The metal piece is first to cut into the desired shape using a CNC machine. The milling machine marks points for coolant circulation and screw holes. After this, a drilling machine drills holes for coolant circulation pathways and screw holes in handy during assembling.

After the mould makers have cut and drilled the metal piece, it goes ahead to the EDM process. The EDM process precisely cuts and shapes all the narrow and intricate pathways like runners and gates with high accuracy. EDM is capable of making precise incisions that CNC machining usually is unable to do.

After having undergone the EDM process, the metal piece may need to undergo some bench work. Benchwork involves scraping the metal piece using tools like sandpaper or ultrasonic tools for an excellent finish.

When the tool is finished, and the first production samples are made, the toolmaker measures all features to ensure they meet specifications before undergoing final adjustments and, in some cases, the final polishing stages. 

The significance of tool making

Tool making is critical in the production of high-quality finished parts or products. The tooling characteristics determine the accuracy and speed with which a component can be produced and the repeatability of manufacture in high-volume production. Tools must be planned and designed to a high standard to create the most delicate parts or items. Welding is frequently required for tools. This is especially true for expensive tools like die casting, large forging dies, plastic moulds, and forming tools, where repair and adjustment via welding is a highly cost-effective and economical alternative to producing new tools.

Steels with a high carbon content are typically thought to have poor weldability. Plastic mould steels make forming and shaping tools in the plastic processing industry. Unalloyed steels, case hardened steels, and tool steels are the preferred steels here. Plastic mould steel shines in two areas. First, they guarantee the highest steel quality, and their steel properties can be individually and optimally adjusted to the various requirements of the tool and plastic product in question. Plastic mould steel meets the most stringent requirements. The purity, polishability, uniform hardness, and microstructure add more to the wear resistance, temperature resistance, machinability toughness, hardness, thermal conductivity, and corrosion resistance. SDI Plastics offers a complete solution to your toolmaking needs, whether you have an existing tool or a brand new tool. 

  • It costs money to create a tool

The overall cost of tool making will vary from project to project due to the type of material the tool is made out of and the number of variables involved, which is critical when ensuring high quality tool making. The tool’s strength, rigidity, complexity in design and longevity are all essential elements and are important factors influencing tool cost. Furthermore, repeatability and quality are critical, as the tool must be strong enough to withstand repeat production, especially when mass manufacturing of components and products are considered.

  • Making of a die

Die making is a frequent site of tool making because it involves the creation of dies for various processes such as molten casting or casting plastic injection moulding components. The toolmakers design the cast to aid the production process by ensuring that it can be executed repeatedly and flawlessly. The toolmaker is responsible for ensuring that the die sets produced are machined with tolerances of less than one-thousandth of an inch in high volume production and manufacturing.

Tool making can and usually does include the allocation of machines and new tools to match the production of a new product design. This includes everything from the initial blueprints to the testing and setup of the tools that will be used to fabricate a new product in a manufacturing company.

  • Tool trial

The tool maker must understand the assembly process when it comes to machinery and factory equipment parts. Once the machine is ready to test the new tool that has been built, a vital part of the process is to conduct tool trials. 

The tool trial is essential, as it allows the toolmaker and the production team at first hand, to trial the tool and review the quality of production. The tool trials range from an initial tool trial, through to second and third tool trials to ensure the final product is being produced to perfection. Critical aspects, such as the functional check of the tool, checking for mould defects, to set initial process parameters and a full visual and dimensional review of the product are carried out.

A complicated process, as there are many facets to the tool trial, such as material quality, machine production time, cycle times and so forth.

At this point, there may be modifications required to the tool, to ensure the full process is optimised, that the tool is made correctly and the final product is fit to specification and to the customers’ expectation.

Toolmakers can offer valuable insight into far more than just the design to production process. They have a broad understanding of how to manufacture components and the key engineering elements that will be used for manufacturing to bring a vision to life. 

Working closely with our engineers and technicians, SDI Plastics create custom made tools for our Clients, and across a wide variety of projects. Please contact our team on (07) 3807 8666 to discuss how we can help you deliver on quality for your tooling needs.

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