Tool, Die & Mold making together represent three major capabilities of a modern machine shop. Machined tool steel (with a somewhat high carbon content in its alloy) that can be used for a variety of applications, do typically function as cutting dies, or punches, and shape stamping mechanisms. They are the modular and customizable portion of manufacturing machines that process materials, typically sheet metals. Though cutting dies are also used for making plastic blanks, again from a raw sheet form, metals are the typical types of matter used, as they are durable and strong for their weight.
What Type of Parts are Good Candidates for Tool, Die & Mold Making?
In an average manufacturing operation, a piece of sheet metal of a predetermined size is cut from either a sheet, but more typically a narrow band, of a uniformly thick and continuously advanced metal. This cut blank is then transported to the next phase of shaping where it is inserted into a shaping die press that consists of a negative and a positive form, and is pressed between these two carefully aligned thick plates or blocks, where it then takes on their shape. These machines are sometimes hydraulically powered, and sometimes mechanically powered with a flywheel, but in either case uniform pressure is exerted with great force in a concentrated way. The moving parts of the tool need to be in very close alignment for this process to work. This is one of the reasons why a precise process is used to make the tooling.
Designing Parts for Tool, Die & Mold Making
Mold making by a machine shop generally refers to the controlled shaping of thermal plastics or rubber materials into a final shape. A most common way this is achieved is with an injection mold machine, whereby a hopper of plastic pellets are fed, pumped and heated, to the entry gate of an injection mold at high pressure, the molten plastic enters the cavity of the mold to fill it, then the whole mold and plastic get rapidly chilled. The chilling process is accomplished by having a system of heat radiating water lines running through the body of the mold, but compartmentalized away from the cavity of the mold, so that heat is transferred quickly. The mold, in the simplest version is a two part design, is opened and the newly formed plastic part is ejected. The radiator system preheats the mold and the process is repeated.