Injection tooling process has been greatly accelerated with the advancement of CAD software and their ability troubleshoot designs, perform simulations on performance, tolerance, and strength.
Additionally, customers can shorten the time to part production by using intermediate and stage tooling, also known as Rapid Injection Tooling, Bridge Tooling and Production Tooling.
Here is a look at the different types of tooling available:
Rapid injection tooling can usually be produced in one to three weeks and is good for part volumes of 5,000-10,000. This type of tooling is basic and may not be a fit for all types of parts. For one, it generally has manual ejection and limited cooling and heating capability. Rapid Injection Tooling also has only a single cavity.
These tools are usually made of metals such as aluminium, DME steel or P20 steel. Available features may include limited polish, textures, and undercuts formed with slides or lifters, although that process is generally manual. It may also be tool modifiable and insert moulding capable. An inspection report with first off-tool samples is also supplied.
Rapid Injection Tooling is a great “get started” tooling method for prototyping, pre-production and some types of production, and can reduce wait time for companies that need to begin manufacturing.
Bridge Tooling is used at the end of the product development cycle and the beginning of production. If prototypes are approved and there is already a demand for product, bridge tooling can be used while awaiting final tooling or when more near-term iterations to the design might be possible. More robust than Rapid Injection Tooling, Bridge Tooling usually has a lead time of two to six weeks depending on configuration. It is good for part volumes from 10,000-100,000 parts. In Bridge Tooling, ejection can be manual or automatic and the tool may have multiple cavities. Mould bases may be pre-made or custom and cooling or heating can be done by both water and oil.
Bridge tooling is commonly produced with NAK80, DME steel and P20 steel. Available features allow for mechanical undercuts with slides or lifters and it is tool modifiable. There is some polish capability, but it depends on the material used to make the tool (for example: polish in Bridge Tooling works best with NAK80). The tool allows for texturing and it is insert moulding capable. Inspection reports are provided with first articles and unlike Rapid Injection Tooling, Bridge Tooling is two-shot capable.
Production Tooling is the traditionally recognised high-volume steel tooling option. Lead times can take between four and eight weeks and Production Tooling is usually viable for 100,000-1,000,000 parts. It can handle all types of part materials including high-temp and can utilise multiple cavities. Ejection is usually automatic for Production Tooling and mould bases are custom.
Production cooling can use oil or water for cooling or heating. And unlike both Rapid Injection Tooling and Bridge Tooling, Production Tooling may also allow conformal cooling. Conformal cooling is when the tool allows water or oil to flow in channels that conform to the shape of the tool. This allows more uniform cooling and allows the cooling medium to reach hard to get to hot spots to better protect the final part from the effects of differential heat as it exits the mould.
Tool materials for Production Tooling may include NAK80, H-13, and both S7 and S20 steel. Available features include both mechanical and electronic undercuts formed with slides or lifters. Production tooling also allows textures, is tool modifiable and insert moulding capable. Polish is also finer with Production Tooling with NAK80 and H-13 and S7 steel performing best. As with other types of tooling, inspection reports are included with first articles and the mould is two shot capable.
The design and decision to move forward with tool production has come a long way. As the demand for shortened product development cycles only increases, GoProto is here to help you determine the type of tool needed, and then produce the right tool for any design stage or level of production.