So you’re having trouble using your existing mold for production and don’t know whether you need mold customization or a new mold to cater to your specific production needs? While the beauty of injection molding lies in the ability to use a single mold for multiple production runs, there are times when you just can’t proceed with the production with the same mold.
Whether it’s design modifications, a shift in resins, or resizing components, the question surfaces: Can mold modification help solve this production need, or is it time to build a new mold?
To help you find that out, this article will delve deeper into the situations when mold adjustment can do the trick and when the only solution is to shift to new mold production. So, without any delay, let’s begin exploring!
First things first – when trying to fix a production issue or catering to a specific product’s manufacturing requirements, it’s important to consider mold modification as the primary option.
After all, mold modification involves a strategic approach to enhance efficiency without the hefty investment of creating an entirely new tool. Hence, this mold adjustment is a wise and cost-effective method that offers various advantages for injection molding manufacturing needs.
Here’s a closer look at the situations where mold modification is an ideal choice:
Mold alteration becomes invaluable when needed to resize or reshape a part. Though we can’t add material, the strategic removal of excess metal allows for precise adjustments. Following the alterations, a meticulous analysis ensures that the modified mold meets the required specifications without introducing unforeseen issues.
If your need or production requirement is fulfilled just by adding small components or features to an existing mold, it’s worth considering mold revision (provided there is ample space). This approach facilitates mold adaptation, allowing minor improvements without compromising structural integrity.
Now you know when to consider mold modification. Yet, what if your issue doesn’t fall into the said categories? That’s where creating an entirely new injection mold is the only solution left to consider.
Of course, this will take significant time and investment. But, if you’re in one of the following situations, opting for a new mold becomes not just a choice but the optimal solution. These situations include:
1. Mold Transformation for Size and Shape Adjustments
When your objective is to reduce the size of a part or alter its shape, the complexities of adding more metal to an existing mold make this process challenging. In such instances, fabricating a new mold tailored to the desired changes instead of opting for mold improvement is a more efficient option.
2. Alterations in Connection Points
Any modifications involving the addition or alteration of elements where parts connect often necessitate the creation of a new mold. This is linked to the potential impact on plastic flow dynamics during injection molding. Creating a new mold here instead of mold revision ensures seamless integration and optimal flow, adding to the quality and efficiency of the production.
3. Adapting to Different Materials
Let’s shift to a different material. Whether due to shortages or discovering inadequacies in the initially chosen one, it may require the fabrication of a new mold.
Why? Because different materials exhibit varied shrinkage rates, and molds are intricately designed to accommodate this shrinkage. Hence, when the new material shrinks less, crafting a smaller mold becomes crucial for precision and efficiency, excluding the option of mold modification.
When confronted with decisions regarding injection molding, you might want to be familiar with the costs of creating a new mold of different sizes and complexities. This is another crucial aspect that can help you determine which option is better for your production needs and prepare accordingly.
Notably, the financial landscape for these two approaches varies significantly based on size, complexity, and material specifications.
Considering that, here’s a cost Breakdown:
|Estimated Cost Range
|New Mold (Low-Volume)
|$2,000 – $6,000
|New Mold (Large-Scale, Complex)
|Intricate, Multiple Cavities
|Tens of Thousands – $100,000+
Note: Costs are influenced by tooling material, size, and complexity.
Here, remember that crafting a brand-new mold demands a substantial financial commitment, especially as the size and intricacies increase. For a small, single-cavity mold tailored for low-volume production, costs typically range between $2,000 and $6,000.
However, as molds become more intricate, designed for large-scale production with multiple cavities, costs can increase to tens of thousands, potentially exceeding a staggering $100,000.
In contrast, mold adjustment presents a more economically suitable option. This approach involves strategic adjustments, enhancements, or refinements without necessitating a new mold. The costs associated with mold modification are often more controlled and targeted, aligning with cost-effective adaptation and refinement principles.
Did you know? According to a research article, common mold issues often occur and can easily be solved through mold modification. One such challenge is the need for adjustments in cutting depth.
Milling out larger parts of a mold is common, but constraints on minimum cutting depth require careful planning. Gladly, mold modification addresses this by systematically accommodating varying milling equipment requirements, ensuring optimal cutting depth increments.
Parting lines pose another significant concern. Expanding a part at the parting line often demands a new mold, impacting other mold features, such as gates and vents crucial for plastic flow and air escape during injection.
Here, again, mold adjustment proves to be an ideal solution for addressing parting line modifications and maintaining the mold structure while facilitating necessary alterations.
So you know exactly when and why you need to modify your mold. But what about the ‘how’ of efficient mold modification?
Even if you are familiar with the injection molding process, it can be confusing to determine how to streamline mold modification for a more accurate and efficient production process.
To help you understand that, we have listed 7 key steps for mold customization.
1. Optimizing Cutting Depth
Efficiently milling larger mold parts requires careful consideration of the minimum cutting depth. So, plan the milling process, ensuring adequate space for the minimum cutting depth, which varies with milling equipment. Also, be mindful of different milling machines and adjust your cutting in increments according to their specific minimum depths.
2. Managing Parting Lines
Expanding a part at the mold’s parting line in mold customization often requires a new mold, impacting various features. Gates and vents, integral to plastic flow and air escape during injection, are typically fixed in the parting line. Modifying parting lines can compromise mold integrity, making evaluating the need for extensive mold alteration or a complete transformation crucial.
3. Leveraging Micro-Milling Technology
Enhance precision and reduce build times by embracing micro-milling technology for mold refinement. This advanced method excels in holding steel plates flat and parallel, outperforming traditional rotary surface grinding. You can also optimize the mold for increased accuracy by adopting micro-milling, a transformative approach to mold customization.
4. Economizing with Undercuts
When considering mold modification, undercuts provide an economical solution. Unlike extensive additions, undercuts replace side actions without altering the parting line. Hence, strategic mold design incorporating undercuts is a cost-effective way to improve mold without unnecessary alterations when needed.
5. Strategic Material Selection
A suitable material is crucial in mold manufacturing. It’s mainly because each material has distinct advantages and drawbacks, demanding thorough research for informed decision-making. For this, nold adaptation is facilitated by selecting materials that align with specific requirements, ensuring a customized approach to meet the desired mold characteristics.
6. Resin Choice for Shrinkage Management
Resin selection also significantly influences mold performance, particularly in managing shrinkage during cooling. After all, molds are intentionally oversized to accommodate shrink rates. So, test various resins in a single mold, starting with the highest shrink-rate resin. Choosing resins with lesser shrink rates is always preferable to achieve a meticulously crafted mold.
7. Strategic Planning for Flexibility
Designing a mold with modifications in mind is a key cost and time-saving strategy. While some changes may warrant a new mold, proactive planning allows flexibility. Mold modification of certain parts instead of the entire mold becomes a more efficient option, demonstrating the importance of strategic planning in mold refinement.
Efficiency in injection molding is all about precise planning. Having said that, the need for mold modifications often arises from overlooked design errors rather than deliberate changes. To safeguard production plans and capitalize on mass production benefits, meticulous scrutiny of product design is essential.
For this, it’s smart to choose a professional mold manufacturer like Prototool to ensure you are investing your money to get the right suggestions and a catered mold refinement or new mold creation service according to your product needs.
Choose Prototool for streamlined production and optimized outcomes.