Complex Tool Design vs. Machining: Which is More Efficient?

Posted by Kaysun Corporation on Oct 26, 2011 10:00:00 AM

blank.pngThere is more than one way to build an effective plastic injection-molded part. Is complex tool design the answer, or is it better to utilize machining technologies to complete the task?

Designing a complex tool that inherently molds in the required precision features is the ideal solution. Yet, depending on the situation, turning to machining may be a better choice for optimal cost-efficiency in building a tool. This is particularly true when the cost of building a tool with such precision may be too high to justify the investment for the quantity desired. There is also the possibility of a tolerance issue if the precision required is better managed via machining.

Building more complex tools—those that mold in all the geometric details of a part—requires more engineering, testing, and development than simple tools. This is consequently more expensive, and such investments aren’t always justified. Let’s take the example of defense manufacturing. Production of military devices is almost always low in volume, so it may not be economical to build a highly functional yet expensive mold that will outstrip production needs. An option is building a simple tool and machining in the required geometric features: slots, screw holes, etc. This will reduce total cost of production for a short run.

And then there are potential tolerance issues. Some polymers can’t predictably hold tolerances during molding, or even tighter tolerances—down to ten-thousandths of an inch—than the mold can guarantee. In these cases, features must be handled via machining into the molded part.

How do you determine your company’s best course? Have a highly capable engineering team such as Kaysun offer to do a comprehensive cost analysis of the specific manufacturing situation. We’ll be able to determine the optimal solution that best meets your needs.