Most companies offer prototype mold fabrication before going directly to manufacturing processes for various reasons. They are cheap molds that are typically different from the production molds because they target only short-term use. In many scenarios, prototype molds become more vital in production companies when there is a need to create new products, check specifications, and observe product behavior or functions. The many prototype molds types have specific benefits to a company. Here are the most used prototype molds in manufacturing processes.
Prototype molds benefits
Since these prototypes are not the same as final products in function, they serve separate functions. They are the preproduction prototype molds that aid in solving and testing problems before making a final product. The molds have shorter time leads since they test products that need further studies.
The molds come from cheap materials because they out not to be the real final products. They help see how your final product will appear and its final specifications. They help companies to get a reliable and cheap final product evaluation. Prototype molds aid in modifications to assist producers to remove or adding necessary processes before building a final product. They help a business determine the best product before getting into the final production.
Prototype mold types
Prototype mold production is both a science and an art. There are many materials available and diverse types of molds that you can choose. Here are the common prototype mold variants.
Master unit molds
Here, molding frames for standard injections are essential with the many inserts that define the final part shapes (internal cavity). The prototyping method used here is the EDM (electric discharge machine) or the CNC machining that depends on the needed materials of mold inserts.
If you want to make use of plastics with high molding heat, high cycle numbers and more complicated parts, you can’t use CNC machining but EDM.
It reduces overall costs and turnaround time during prototype revisions.
It’s easy to redesign, get rid of the insert, and reinject without removing other parts.
You can use it for significant adjustments or debugging in injected molded parts.
Injection molding gives some merits during revisions, but they aren’t for MUD molds. The advantages are iterative tools such as CNC machines and 3D printing.
Aluminum tooling molds
Solid aluminum mostly works as a project’s final deliverable, but you can get other tools to make the prototype molds to change designs during product development processes. An aluminum tool is easy to use, unlike steel, making it easier to change designs.
Aluminum metals are strong conductors of heat. It heats up and cools down quickly, making it the real deal for molding injection.
The quick cooling enables many cycles at a time, accounting for quicker production.
Despite turnaround time being irrelevant in prototype molding, it offers insights into injection molded production when on the full scale.
Aluminum tooling helps improve inside material flow into the cavity. It ends in reduced defective parts that save your money.
Aluminum isn’t tough like steel. The cycle numbers, parts complexity and molding temperatures depict its lifespan.
Steel mold prototypes
The material is more common in full-scale manufacturing than being a prototype material. Steel prototypes are higher than MUD or aluminum tooling.
It’s strong with a long lifespan
It’s more conductive to thermal than aluminum.
It’s intricate and precise
Has little tolerance for errors
Errors in production are expensive
The many available prototype molds make it hard to choose the best to use. Each material has its cons and pros, so you need to be keen in your selection process.