P20 Tooling

P-20 | S-7 | H-13 | 420 Stainless Steel Tooling

Often we have customers who prefer their rapid prototypes be created out of a Steel Alloy mold. However, many times their project can be supported by Aluminum Tooling and Bridge Tooling – Aluminum production quantities.

One major OEM we work with requires surface hardening the Aluminum Tool because the resin they use is Fortron. This particular resin requires a very high mold temperature to flow correctly. Most optical component resins often require a high mold temperature as well, but the resin’s used to create them are not as rough and abrasive on a mold.

Because Fortron and other glass filled resins are very abrasive plastics, the erosive characteristics will cause substantial wear in Aluminum molds. Of course this can be somewhat minimized by using surface hardening. 

Consider Bridge Tooling From Aluminum Molds

How long does the mold or process need to exist? What will the mold life be for your project? Some of our medical device manufacturers seldom require ‘high’ production quantities. Reduce project costs by using Bridge Tooling. This applies to any project in any market. The current method of thinking is that anything called ‘production’ requires Steel Alloy tooling. Production quantities and quality can be achieved using lower cost Aluminum molds. One major OEM just did a recent study proving the longevity and production potential of Aluminum Tooling.

We can produce production quality plastic prototypes with the Phoenix Proto process. Wow, say that sentence 5 times fast. One particular customer had such a difficult living hinge design partnered with a stiff nylon resin, that it required the many years of experience from our engineering staff and our certified Master Molder to help them learn how to transition from their P-20 mold to an Aluminum production mold.

Good Aluminum Tooling Practices

Stereotypes die hard. Another living hinge designer just never had good luck with Aluminum Tools. He experienced problems with wear and less than desirable workmanship. Because of this the customer wasn’t very interested in anything other than steel alloys, P20 Tooling was his go to. Aluminum Tools built poorly do deserve that reputation. However, here at Phoenix Proto Technologies with over 50 years of experience in designing and building Aluminum tools, good tooling practices gives our customers a high-quality Aluminum mold. Ironically, most P20 Tooling projects can be fully supported by Aluminum Tooling. Most P20 Tooling projects quantities are under 100,000, 50,000, 10,000, 5,000 components. Aluminum Tooling can support up and over 1,000,000 shots on a multi-cavity tool if we are notified on the front end of the program of projected quantities needed.

Production Quality Aluminum Mold Prototypes

We build our Aluminum molds to production quality in our rapid prototyping process. This is how we achieve consistent results with tight tolerances and the highly aesthetic requirements plastic parts like optical components and chrome finishes need. Because of our practices from conception, build to molding and best maintenance practices is why every project we take on is a successful one.

Aluminum vs Steel Molds Heating and Cooling Differences

There is a considerable difference in the way Aluminum heats up evenly and cools down evenly vs how steel heats up and cools down. This difference greatly impacts the outcome of an injection molding project and if it produces successful parts consistently. Also, mold changes are completed much sooner as molds cool off and heat up quicker. In the video below the top right and bottom left molds are made out of Aluminum. It is clear to see that they out perform steel in heat consistency.
Video is courtesy of Rich Oles.

Rapid Plastic Injection Molding Done Right

Rapid Plastic Prototypes usually means compromising on the design in order to receive parts quickly and cost efficiently. We blend traditional Injection Molding Tooling methods with Aluminum Tooling to rapidly produce production quality Plastic Prototypes in 3 weeks or less. Your design, no limitations.
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