Herbert Rees

Understanding
Injection Mold Design
Hanser Publishers, Munich
Hanser Gardner Publications, Inc., Cincinnati
The Author:
Herbert Rees, 248386-5 Sideroad (moro), RR#5 Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, L9W 2Z2
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rees, Herbert, 1915±
Understanding injection mold designaHerbert Rees.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56990-311-5 (softback)
1. Injection molding of plastics. I. Title.
TP1150.R45 2001
668.4'12±dc21 00-054085
Die Deutsche Bibliothek - CIP-Einheitsaufnahme
Rees, Herbert:
Understanding injection mold designaHerbert Rees, -Munich : Hanser;
Cincinnati:Hanser Gardner, 2001
(Hanser understanding books)
ISBN 3-446-21587-5
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
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# Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 2001
Typeset in the U.K. by Techset Composition Ltd., Salisbury
Printed and bound in Germany by Druckhaus ``Thomas MuÈ ntzer'', Bad Langensalza
Introduction to the Series
In order to keep up in today's world of rapidly changing technology we need to
open our eyes and ears and, most importantly, our minds to new scienti®c ideas
and methods, new engineering approaches and manufacturing technologies and
new product design and applications. As students graduate from college and
either pursue academic polymer research or start their careers in the plastics
industry, they are exposed to problems, materials, instruments and machines that
are unfamiliar to them. Similarly, many working scientists and engineers who
change jobs must quickly get up to speed in their new environment.
To satisfy the needs of these ``newcomers'' to various ®elds of polymer
science and plastics engineering, we have invited a number of scientists and
engineers, who are experts in their ®eld and also good communicators, to write
short, introductory books which let the reader ``understand'' the topic rather than
to overwhelm himaher with a mass of facts and data. We have encouraged our
authors to write the kind of book that can be read pro®tably by a beginner, such
as a new company employee or a student, but also by someone familiar with the
subject, who will gain new insights and a new perspective.
Over the years this series of Understanding books will provide a library of
mini-tutorials on a variety of fundamental as well as technical subjects. Each
book will serve as a rapid entry point or ``short course'' to a particular subject
and we sincerely hope that the readers will reap immediate bene®ts when
applying this knowledge to their research or work-related problems.
E.H. Immergut
Series Editor
v
Preface
During the last ®fty years I have been almost continuously working with
molders, mold makers and mold designers, and in doing so learning the
intricacies of designing of molds for many different products, from the early,
simple compression molds to highly sophisticated injection molds. I have
worked with them not only in North America, but also in Europe and Japan, and
especially in the last 15 years, as consultant to those in developing countries
who only recently started to seriously compete in the huge ®eld of
manufacturing molded plastic products.
During my discussions with these newcomers to the ®eld, but also in earlier
years, when talking to ``old hands'' in this ®eld, I have often wondered how
many of them really understood what they were doing when it comes to
planning for and designing a new mold, and why they were doing it. In many
cases I believe they took simply ``the easy way out'' by just imitating what they
saw in other molds, and expanding on it, regardless of whether the molds used
as ``precedents'' were for comparable conditions, for the same plastic, for similar
molding machines, or for a similar production requirement. Another problem I
saw was that in many mold making shops, here and everywhere, some designers
were more intent on making ``pretty pictures'', in the shortest posssible time,
rather than understanding that the job expected of a mold designer is to consider
possible alternatives of how the planned mold could look, then make a practical
and most suitable layout of a mold to produce the best quality product, at the
lowest cost, and ®nally supply all pertinent information to the mold maker, the
machinists, and asssemblers.
With the advent of computer aided designing (CAD), the technique of
making mold designs and drawings has become much easier to handle, and in
some cases where products are similar, it has become often so simple that the
mold design can be performed almost automatically, by just following the
prompts of the computer, by recalling older complete or partial designs from the
CAD memory, and creating a new mold by just changing some dimensions. If
you are brought up in this environment, you may be able to produce good
vii
designs, based on the available good precedents, but you will be hard pressed to
generate a good mold for which there is no precedent on ®le.
I undertook to write this book ``Understanding Injection Mold Design''
essentially to explain what is really important in the design of an injection mold,
so that a good mold, best suitable for the application, can be created even if there
is no precedent. It is meant to be used to guide the designer to think, and to
frequently ask why, where, when, how, etc., when considering the many possible
choices before settling on a ®nal concept. Also, in my experience, the greatest
obstacle to creating a good design has always been the reluctance of the designer
to acknowledge the possibility that he or she may be wrong, and that there may
be a better way than the ®rst one proposed. The designer must never forget, it is
always cheaper to change a design layout even if it adds some design time, than
to change (re-machine or modify) a poorly designed but already built mold.
Herbert Rees,
Orangeville, ON
viii Preface
1 Introduction
I believe that a short history of injection molding will help in the understanding
of what is required from a mold designer. After the Second World War, when
plastics technology was beginning, there were no ``mold designers.'' When a
mold was needed, it was produced by artisans in tool and die maker shops, who
were trying to expand into new ®elds. They were skilled in building accurate
steel tools and dies, and the boss of such shops often worked closely with the
molder, who understood better what was required. The molder sketched, often
crudely, how the mold should look, and the boss, by closely supervising the
machinists as they built the mold components, then by assembling and testing
the molds himself (at the molder), built well-functioning molds. These were
usually suitable for the, at that time, few existing plastics molding materials, and
quite satisfactory for the (by today's standards, low) productivity expected from
such molds. But over the years, many new and better plastics were developed,
more suitable for the ever increasing variety of products, each often requiring
different molding parameters. At the same time, the demand for increases in
productivity became a high priority.
These increased demands of the traditional tool and die maker generated
high specialization, and the ``mold maker'' was born. The mold maker was still
essentially an expert in machining and assembling, and depended on the input
from plastics materials suppliers on how to process these materials; also, the
materials suppliers were not always knowledgeable enough, and depended on
feedback from the molders regarding performance of the plastics they supplied.
The molder was instrumental in the operating features the mold should have,
and was often involved even in the selection of mold materials (steels, etc.).
Eventually, all this information required to build a mold had to be shown on
paper, both for the use of machinists in the shop and for assembling of the mold.
The services of draftsmen or designers now became necessary, to relieve the
boss from these time-consuming chores. Gradually, mold designers became the
middlemen between the molder (the customer), the mold shop, and the plastics
suppliers. The designers and sometimes the molders attended meetings and
1
seminars to learn about new plastics and their expected processing requirements,
and to apply their newly learned knowledge to the design of all molds.
Eventually, everything depended on the mold designer, who became solely
responsible for the construction and functioning of the molds, and the mold
maker reverted to just building the mold, per instructions given by the designer
and as shown on drawings. At ®rst, only assembly drawings were produced, with
the more important dimensions shown, but gradually, in addition to complete
assembly drawings, every mold part was detailed (except standard hardware
items), complete with appropriate tolerances, so that any skilled machinist
would be able to produce these components, and the boss returned to running
the shop and was rarely involved in design problems. The molds could then be
assembled by strictly following the assembly drawing, ideally, without need for
adjustments (``®tting''). The mold was then ready for testing and production.
In earlier days, molds would be tested only at the molder, but, gradually,
many mold makers acquired molding machines of various sizes for in-house
testing, rather than shipping the molds to the molder, often interrupting his
production if he had no suitable machine available at the time, and then shipping
the mold back for adjustments if required. This shipping back and forth was
costly and time-consuming; quite often, it had to be done not only once but
several times. The investment in test machines proved not an expense but a
saving for all parties involved, even though the cost of testing is added to the
mold cost.
The mold designer must be involved in the testing of every mold, because
this is where the most experience is needed, especially if the new mold does not
function or perform as wanted, and revisions are necessary. It is important for
the designer to insist that the molding technician not make any changes to the
mold while it is being tested unless the designer is present; the only way future
designs can bene®t from these experiences is if the problems and solutions are
properly recorded and the changes are documented on the drawings before they
are made. A complete, comprehensive test report issued before the mold is
shipped will greatly assist the molder when starting up the new mold.
This book provides the designer student, and perhaps even the advanced
designer, with some ground rules for designing injection molds. It focuses on
the ``why,'' rather than going into the details of the design, the ``how.''
Quite often designers do things mechanically (especially with a CAD
[computer-assisted design] program), following designs or methods used before,
without questioning whether they are using the best approach to the problem.
The mechanical approach can be useful and time saving as long as the precedent
(the earlier example) is similar to the current job. But often, designers do not
really understand why they copied what they did. It may have been the right
2 Introduction
thing for one plastic material, but not for another; it may have been suitable for a
small production, but not for a large one; and so on.
Numerous new plastics have been developed over the last few years for
speci®c applications, such as toys, housewares, packaging, electronics, electrical
equipment, cameras, ®lms, automotive, farming and aircraft components,
furniture, clothing, and housing. Some of these plastics may require different
production methods to arrive at the shapes required, such as compression and
injection molding, blowing, extruding, thermoforming, and stamping. Some
plastics can be shaped by more than one process, but in most cases, a mold is
required to give the product the required form. Molds for low-pressures
processing are easier to build than molds for high pressures, such as injection
molds. (There is very little difference between injection molds for plastics and
molds for die casting, i.e., the molding of liquid metals such as zinc.)
In the future, other plastics and other methods of processing and shaping
them will be developed, but at the present time, injection molding seems to be
the most common and economical method to produce plastic products,
especially where large quantities are required.
1.1 Economics of Mold Design
Economics is often overlooked when this subject is taught. Every designer
knows that the mold is a large expenditure and that its cost will affect the cost of
the molded product. What designers often do not see is that this is only relative.
Certainly, a simple mold, without all the ``bells and whistles'' will be less
expensive, if the anticipated production run with the mold is relatively small. In
some cases, it may be even of economic advantage not to mold a product
completely as designed, but do some postmolding operations for those areas in
the design that would require expensive features in the mold. For example, holes
could be drilled after molding at an angle to the mold axis rather than designing
and building complicated side cores; similarly, stamping of side wall could avoid
a ``split'' mold. The designer must always consider the overall picture. It is more
important to produce the lowest cost of the ®nished molded part, taking into
account the cost of material, molding cost, and cost of direct labor involved in
®nishing the molded product, and including the cost of any postmolding
equipment, such as drilling ®xtures.
On the other hand, in real mass production, where many many millions of
parts are expected to be produced, the mold should be built with the best mold
1.1 Economics of Mold Design 3
materials and the best mold design features, always keeping in mind that the
actual mold cost, even though higher, will have a negligible effect on the cost
per unit. It should also be clear that there is a difference between mold making
as part of the molder's operation and mold making as a business, that is, making
molds for selling to a molder or end user. The molder may forgo some of the
``appearance'' features that would be expected from a reputable mold-making
business. The molder will also be more aware of the expected production
requirements and may take shortcuts that the mold maker in business would not.
Today, most molders, but also many mold makers, specialize in certain areas.
There are specialists for thin-wall molding, screw-cap making, large beverage
container crates, preforms for PET bottles, small gears, and many others. This
leads to the specialization of designers for the molds for these applications. But
regardless of what size and type product is injection molded or who designs or
builds the mold, the basic mold design principles as explained in this book are
always the same. In this book, the designer should not look for pictures
(drawings) of existing molds, but will learn instead the many things that must be
considered when designing a mold. This does not mean that pictures of molds
cannot be helpful, but every mold is different and some may require a better
approach than the older mold depicted.
I will refer occasionally to three of my earlier books: Understanding
Injection Molding Technology (IMT), Mold Engineering (ME), and Under-
standing Product Design for Injection Molding (PD).
4 Introduction
2 Starting New in the Mold Design
Field
The only prerequisite for the beginner is some knowledge of mechanical
drawing delineation, whether it is done electronically on a computer (with
programs like Autocad) or on the drawing board with pencil. Of course, the
designer must also be familiar with some areas of basic arithmetic and
trigonometry; both are required to put dimensions on the mold parts so they can
be machined. Some of the advantages of electronic drafting are the following:
(1) Designs of entire, or portions, of earlier built molds can be easily used
again by simply copying or modifying some existing design features
from the program's memory, without the need for tedious redrawing.
(2) An up-to-date library of standard mold components and hardware can
be established, which can be easily and quickly accessed and
reproduced in new designs without the need for redrawing them every
time they are needed.
(3) The quality of the drawings produced by a computer printout does not
depend on the skilled hand of the designer.
(4) The computer permits easy transmission of designs to other locations,
such as in-house manufacturing centers or manufacturers at other
addresses.
Note the computer is only a tool to the designer; ultimately, the quality of a
design depends entirely on how well the designer understands what is required
and what can be made. Also be aware that even the most experienced designer
will not always come up with the best design on the ®rst attempt, but will try out
different ideas in the course of the design job. This often necessitates sketching,
erasing, and redrawing part or all of the picture, which is much easier to do
electronically. There is a saying about the difference between a draftsman and a
designer: ``the draftsman uses the pencil, the designer uses the eraser.'' In the old
days, the designer made his drawings on paper without much care for the
5
appearance of the resulting picture; it was then usually left to draftpersons to
produce a good, readable drawing.
The important thing is the thought that goes into the design of the mold, to
ensure the best possible design. Different solutions are always possible to
achieve the same end; in fact, all mold designers have their own ideas on how to
solve certain design problems. To take advantage of various ideas, and to arrive
at the best mold, it is good practice for the designer, after creating a mold layout,
to consult with a colleague, or to arrange a design meeting of peers to discuss
the proposed design. In many cases it is even better to provide two or more
different layouts. These alternatives should then be discussed, and the best
design or a composite of the various ideas should then be agreed upon.
This procedure is standard practice in all major design of®ces around the
world. It may appear to be time-consuming, but the time (and emotions) invested
in such peer critique are usually outweighed by the bene®ts of arriving at a better
mold. Since, in general, mold designers (especially beginners) may not be
familiar with machining and assembly practices, someone who is familiar in
these areas should be included at such design meetings; this prevents a design of
mold parts that may be dif®cult (or even impossible) to produce economically or
to put together at assembly. It is also bene®cial to have someone who knows the
actual molding process look at a new layout. It is much less expensive to catch
an error while it is still in the designing stage, than to ®nd out about it later when
steel has been cut or, even worse, when the mold is completed.
Time and money can be saved by spending more time during the design
stage to consider alternatives and to get the designer involved in the
manufacturing process of the mold, than by rushing a job through the design
of®ce to save a few hours there. When estimating the total time to build a mold,
allocate approximately 15±20% of the total time for designing and detailing,
about 60±70% for machining, and 15±20% for assembling the mold. (This, of
course, depends on the shape of the product and the complexity of the mold.)
And remember that the better the drawings are when given to the shop (or an
outside source), the less time is wasted during machining and assembly of the
mold.
6 Starting New in the Mold Design Field
3 The Basics of an Injection Molding
Machine
(See also IMT, which contains much basic information on injection molding,
molding machines, and molds.) The injection molding machine (Fig. 3.1)
provides
A safe support for the mold
The opening and closing motion of the mold halves
The clamping force to keep the mold closed while injecting
The melted (plasticized) plastic to be injected
The injection force to ®ll the mold cavity space
The ejection force
All necessary sequencing and temperature controls
Any additional functions as may be required
Molding machines come in many different sizes, from small machines with a
few kilonewtons (tons) of clamping force, to giant machines with 80,000 kN
7
Figure 3.1 Schematic of an injection molding machine (top view).
(8800 US tons), for very large products. All machines can be equipped with a
choice of standard injection units, suitable for the mold size and output required.
At this point, we will not go further into the functions of the molding
machine. When discussing the injection mold, we will explain, when required,
how the functions of the machine and the mold are interrelated.
8 The Basics of an Injection Molding Machine
4 Understanding the Basics of the
Injection Mold
4.1 Design Rules
There are many rules for designing molds. These rules and standard practices
are based on logic, past experience, convenience, and economy. For designing,
mold making, and molding, it is usually of advantage to follow the rules. But
occasionally, it may work out better if a rule is ignored and an alternative way is
selected. In this text, the most common rules are noted, but the designer will
learn only from experience which way to go. The designer must ever be open to
new ideas and methods, to new molding and mold materials that may affect
these rules.
4.2 The Basic Mold
4.2.1 Mold Cavity Space
The mold cavity space is a shape inside the mold, ``excavated'' (by machining
the mold material) in such a manner that when the molding material (in our case,
the plastic) is forced into this space it will take on the shape of the cavity space
and, therefore, the desired product (Fig. 4.1). The principle of a mold is almost
as old as human civilization. Molds have been used to make tools, weapons,
bells, statues, and household articles, by pouring liquid metals (iron, bronze)
into sand forms. Such molds, which are still used today in foundries, can be used
only once because the mold is destroyed to release the product after it has
solidi®ed. Today, we are looking for permanent molds that can be used over and
9
over. Now molds are made from strong, durable materials, such as steel, or from
softer aluminum or metal alloys and even from certain plastics where a long
mold life is not required because the planned production is small. In injection
molding the (hot) plastic is injected into the cavity space with high pressure, so
the mold must be strong enough to resist the injection pressure without
deforming.
4.2.2 Number of Cavities
Many molds, particularly molds for larger products, are built for only 1 cavity
space (a single-cavity mold), but many molds, especially large production
molds, are built with 2 or more cavities (Fig. 4.2). The reason for this is purely
economical. It takes only little more time to inject several cavities than to inject
one. For example, a 4-cavity mold requires only (approximately) one-fourth of
the machine time of a single-cavity mold. Conversely, the production increases
in proportion to the number of cavities. A mold with more cavities is more
expensive to build than a single-cavity mold, but (as in our example) not
necessarily 4 times as much as a single-cavity mold. But it may also require a
Figure 4.1 Illustration of basic mold, with one cavity space.
Figure 4.2 Illustration of basic mold with two cavity spaces.
10 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
larger machine with larger platen area and more clamping capacity, and because
it will use (in this example) 4 times the amount of plastic, it may need a larger
injection unit, so the machine hour cost will be higher than for a machine large
enough for the smaller mold. Today, most multicavity molds are built with a
preferred number of cavities: 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64, 96, 128. These
numbers are selected because the cavities can be easily arranged in a rectangular
pattern, which is easier for designing and dimensioning, for manufacturing, and
for symmetry around the center of the machine, which is highly desirable to
ensure equal clamping force for each cavity. A smaller number of cavities can
also be laid out in a circular pattern, even with odd numbers of cavities, such as
3, 5, 7, 9. It is also possible to make cavity layouts for any number of cavities,
provided such rules as symmetry of the projected areas around the machine
centerline (as explained later) are observed.
4.2.3 Cavity Shape and Shrinkage
The shape of the cavity is essentially the ``negative'' of the shape of the desired
product, with dimensional allowances added to allow for shrinking of the
plastic. The fundamentals of shrinkage are discussed later.
The shape of the cavity is usually created with chip-removing machine tools,
or with electric discharge machining (EDM), with chemical etching, or by any
new method that may be available to remove metal or build it up, such as
galvanic processes. It may also be created by casting (and then machining)
certain metals (usually copper or zinc alloys) in plaster molds created from
models of the product to be made, or by casting (and then machining) some
suitable hard plastics (e.g., epoxy resins). The cavity shape can be either cut
directly into the mold plates or formed by putting inserts into the plates.
4.3 Cavity and Core
By convention, the hollow (concave) portion of the cavity space is called the
cavity. The matching, often raised (or convex) portion of the cavity space is
called the core. Most plastic products are cup-shaped. This does not mean that
they look like a cup, but they do have an inside and an outside. The outside of
the product is formed by the cavity, the inside by the core. The alternative to the
cup shape is the ¯at shape. In this case, there is no speci®c convex portion, and
4.3 Cavity and Core 11
sometimes, the core looks like a mirror image of the cavity. Typical examples for
this are plastic knives, game chips, or round disks such as records. While these
items are simple in appearance, they often present serious molding problems for
ejection of the product. Usually, the cavities are placed in the mold half that is
mounted on the injection side, while the cores are placed in the moving half of
the mold. The reason for this is that all injection molding machines provide an
ejection mechanism on the moving platen and the products tend to shrink onto
and cling to the core, from where they are then ejected. Most injection molding
machines do not provide ejection mechanisms on the injection (``hot'') side.
We have seen how the cavity spaces are inside the mold; now we consider
the other basic elements of the mold.
4.4 The Parting Line
In illustrations Figs. 4.1 and 4.2 we showed the cavity space inside a mold. To be
able to produce a mold (and to remove the molded pieces), we must have at least
two separate mold halves, with the cavity in one side and the core in the other.
The separation between these plates is called the parting line, and designated
P/L. Actually, this is a parting area or plane, but, by convention, in this context it
is referred to as a line. In a side view or cross section through the mold, this area
is actually seen as a line (Fig. 4.3).
The parting line can have any shape, but for ease of mold manufacturing, it
is preferable to have it in one plane. The parting line is always at the widest
circumference of the product, to make ejection of the product from the mold
possible. With some shapes it may be necessary to offset the P/L, or to have it at
Figure 4.3 Illustration of schematic mold, showing the parting line.
12 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
an angle, but in any event it is best to have is so that it can be easily machined,
and often ground, to ensure that it shuts off tightly when the mold is clamped
during injection. If the parting line is poorly ®nished the plastic will escape,
which shows up on the product as an unsightly sharp projection, or ``¯ash,''
which must then be removed; otherwise, the product could be unusable. There is
even a danger that the plastic could squirt out of the mold and do personal
damage.
4.4.1 Split Molds and Side Cores
There are other parting (or split) lines than those that separate the cavity and
core halves. These are the separating lines between two or more cavity sections
if the cavity must separate (split or retract) to make it possible to eject the
molded product as the mold opens for ejection.
Figure 4.4 shows simple ``up and down'' molds. The machine clamping
force holds the mold closed at the P/L. (In (B) and (C), the parting line could be
anywhere on the outside of the rim, between the two positions shown, but is
preferred as in (B).) In (D) we must consider the injection pressure p (as shown
with small arrows inside the cavity space), which will force the two cavity
halves in the direction of the the large arrow m. This force also exists in the other
examples, but is resisted by the strength of the solid cavity walls, which do
slightly expand during injection and then return to their original shape once the
injection cycle is completed. Since these side forces can be considerable (see
Section 4.6), the mold plates (the ``mold shoe'') must be suf®ciently solid to
Figure 4.4 Schematic illustrations of location of parting lines (P/L) (only one half of
mold shown): (a) core, (b) cavity. (A) Simplest case: P/L at right angles to axis of mold.
(B and C) Product with rim but still simple. P/L can be either as in (B) or in (C). (D)
Simple product but with rim and projection. Cavity is split, creating an additional P/L 2.
4.4 The Parting Line 13
contain these forces and provide the necessary preload to prevent opening of the
mold during injection. These side cores, or split portions of the cavities, can
represent just small parts of the cavity, or even only small pins to create holes in
the side of the products, but they could also be sections molding whole sides of
a product, as, for example, with beverage crates or large pails.
4.5 Runners and Gates
In Fig. 4.3, we showed molds with cavity spaces and parting lines. Now, we
must add provisions for bringing the plastic into these cavity spaces. This must
be done with enough pressure so that the cavity spaces are ®lled completely
before the plastic ``freezes,'' that is, cools so much that the plastic cannot ¯ow
anymore. The ¯ow passages are the sprue, from where the machine nozzle (see
Fig. 3.1) contacts the mold, the runners, which distribute the plastic to the
individual cavities, and the gates, which are (usually) small openings leading
from the runner into the cavity space. We discuss the great variety of sprues,
runners, and gates later. We illustrate here only two methods of so-called cold
runners (see Fig. 4.5).
The left part of Fig. 4.5 shows the simplest case of a single-cavity mold, with
the plastic injected directly from the sprue into the cavity space. This is a
frequently used method, mostly with large products. It is inexpensive, but
requires the clipping or machining of the relatively large (sprue) gate. The right
drawing is of a typical (2-plate) cold runner system, with the plastic ¯owing
through the sprue and the runner and entering the cavity space through relatively
small gates, which break off easily after ejection. Instead of the 2 cavities as
shown here, there can be any number of cavities supplied by the cold runners.
These and other runner methods are explained later.
Figure 4.5 Illustration of schematic mold, showing cold sprue (left) and cold runner
(right).
14 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
4.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure
At this point we digress and consider injection pressure and how it affects mold
design (see Fig. 4.6). As the plastic ®lls the cavity space under high pressure p,
the pressure, in the direction of the mold (and machine) axisÐin other words, in
the direction of the motion of the clampÐwill tend to open the cavity at the
parting line. The separating force F created by the pressure p is equal to the
product of the pressure p times the projected area A, which is the area of the
largest projection of the product at the parting line. The arrow describing
projected area in Fig. 4.6 really describes an area not a line, as delineated in this
section view of the mold. The actual area can be seen (and measured) in a plan
view of the mold cavity. From this it becomes clear that the clamping force, the
force exerted on the mold by the molding machine, must be at least as great as
the force F to keep the mold from opening (cracking open) during injection.
The dif®culty is how to determine the value of the injection pressure p. We
can easily calculate the injection pressure inside the machine nozzle, which is
directly related to the size of the injection cylinder of the machine and the
hydraulic (oil) pressure supplying the injection cylinder. The injection pressure
at the machine nozzle, in general, is adjustable between any low values, to a high
of about 140 MPa (20,000 psi), in most molding machines, and in some
machines can be as high as 200 MPa (29,000 psi) or even higher. This pressure,
Figure 4.6 Portion of a schematic mold, showing a cavity ®lled with plastic under
pressure acting in all directions.
4.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure 15
however, is greatly reduced (by the pressure drop) by the time the plastic passes
through the machine nozzle ori®ce, the runners, and the gates, and as it ¯ows
through the narrow passages of the cavity space. The ¯ow also depends largely
on the viscosity (de®ning the ease of ¯ow) of the plastic, which depends on its
chemistry and on its temperature (the higher the temperature, the lower the
viscosity). This area is the subject of much research and experimentation, and
computer programs are available to calculate the pressures and the ¯ow inside
the cavity space (see Appendix).
A good working assumption is a cavity pressure p of approximately
30±40 MPa (4000±5000 psi) for average product wall thicknesses of about
2±3 mm or more, and 40±50 MPa (5000±6000 psi) or even higher for thin-wall
products. For example, a disk of 100 mm (10 cm) diameter, with a thickness of
2 mm, will generate an opening force of (10
2
p 4) cm
2
30 MPa = 235 kN
(approx. 26 US tons) per cavity.
4.6.1 Clamping Force
From the above example we see that a clamping force of at least 235 kN (26 US
tons) per cavity should be used to ensure that the mold will not crack open. If the
average wall of the product is thinner, or if the de®nition, that is, the accuracy
and clarity of reproduction of details in the cavity wall, is important, then the
pressure must be higher and a larger clamping force will be required.
4.6.2 Strength of the Mold
There are two other serious effects of the injection pressure p. First, as can be
seen in Fig. 4.6, the pressure also acts in the direction at right angles to the axis
of the mold. These forces, which are the product of the projection of the cavity
in this direction times the pressure p, will tend to stretch and de¯ect the cavity
walls outward. The greater the height H of the product, the greater will be this
force and the stronger must be the walls surrounding the cavity.
Second, the clamping force is applied as soon as the mold closes. At this
moment, the whole clamp force is resisted (``taken up'') by the area of the land,
which is the area surrounding the cavity that touches the core side. If this area is
16 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
too small, the land will be crushed and damage the sealing-off surfaces of the
parting line, eventually ruining the mold. Proper sizing of the land and correct
materials and hardness (steel, etc.), or other measures to counteract the clamping
forces are the solution to this problem. Also, the mold setup technician should
be informed by a nameplate attached to the mold that the recommended
maximum clamp force for the mold must not be exceeded during mold setup or
during operation.
4.6.3 Why Are High Injection Pressures Needed?
High injection pressures are needed to ensure that the mold is completely ®lled
during the injection cycle, with the desired clear surface de®nition. There are
several problems to consider.
(1) The thinner the wall thickness of the product, the more dif®cult it is to
push the plastic through the gap between cavity and core, thus requiring higher
pressures. Since material (the plastic) usually accounts for 50±80% of the total
cost of a molded product, it is highly desirable to reduce the weight (mass) of
plastic injected to a bare minimum. This usually means reducing the wall
thickness as far as possible without affecting the usefulness of the product. Over
the years, many products have been redesigned just to reduce the plastic mass of
a product. This is also why many modern injection molding machines provide
higher injection pressures than older ones.
(2) The colder the injected plastic, the higher its viscosity, and the more
dif®cult it becomes to ®ll the mold. The cost of the product depends directly on
the cycle time required to mold a product. The higher the melt temperature of
the plastic, the easier it will ¯ow and ®ll the mold. However, higher melt
temperatures also require increasing the cooling cycle time to bring the
temperature of the injected plastic down to a level where the product can be
safely ejected without distorting or otherwise damaging it. This means more
power (for heating and cooling), longer cycles, and therefore higher costs. It is
often better to inject at the lowest possible temperatures, even if more pressure is
needed to ®ll the mold. Note that higher injection pressures will require greater
clamping forces and a stronger, possibly larger, machine. Another solution to the
problem might be to select a plastic that ¯ows more easily. Such plastics,
however, are usually more expensive and may not be as strong as desired.
(3) High injection forces are needed for good surface de®nition. Typically,
this is important when molding articles such as compact discs, where the clarity
4.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure 17
and precision of the surface de®nition is in direct relation to the quality of the
sound reproduction of the recording.
4.7 Venting
As the plastic ¯ows from the gate into the cavity space, the air trapped in it as
the mold closed must be permitted to escape. Typically, the trapped air is being
pushed ahead by the rapidly advancing plastic front, toward all points farthest
away from the gate. The faster the plastic entersÐwhich is usually desirableÐ
the more the trapped air is compressed if it is not permitted to escape, or vented.
This rapidly compressed air heats up to such an extent that the plastic in contact
with the air will overheat and possibly be burnt. Even if the air is not hot enough
to burn the plastic, it may prevent the ®lling of any small corners where air is
trapped and cause incomplete ®lling of the cavity. Most cavity spaces can be
vented successfully at the parting line, but often additional vents, especially in
deep recesses or in ribs, are necessary.
Another venting problem arises when plastic fronts ¯owing from two or
more directions collide and trap air between them. Unless vents are placed there
the plastic will not ``knit'' and may even leave a hole in the wall of the product.
This can be the case when more than one gate feeds one cavity space, or when
the plastic ¯ow splits in two after leaving the gate, due to the shape of the
product or the location of the gate. Within the cavity space, plastic always ¯ows
along the path of least resistance, and if there are thinner areas, they will ®ll only
after the thicker sections are full.
Venting is discussed more thoroughly in ME, Chapter 11.
4.8 Cooling
Cooling and productivity are closely tied. In injection molding, the plastic is
heated in the molding machine to its processing (melt) temperature by adding
energy in the form of heat, which is mostly generated by the rotation (work) of
the extruder screw. After injection, the plastic must be cooled; in other words,
the heat energy in the plastic must be removed by cooling, so that the molded
piece becomes rigid enough for ejection. Cooling may proceed slowly, by just
letting the heat dissipate into the mold and from there into the environment. This
is not suitable for large production, but for very short runs ``arti®cial'' cooling of
a mold is not always required. However, for a production mold, good cooling to
remove the heat ef®ciently is very important.
18 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
4.8.1 Basics of Cooling
The physics and mathematics of cooling are quite complicated. Computer
programs can determine the appropriate means of cooling a particular mold,
after input of the geometry of the product and the mold, and based on assumed
temperatures of melt and coolant, ¯ow patterns and sizes of the cooling
channels, and other variables, such as heat characteristics of the coolant and the
mold materials. This means that a computer program can determine the best
planned cooling layout for a mold only after the mold is designed. But the
designer wants to know how to design the best cooling layout in the ®rst place.
There are several rules, based on experience, to help the designer.
j Rule 1: Only moving coolant is effective for removing heat. Stagnant
coolant in ends of channels, or in any pocket, does nothing for cooling.
j Rule 2: All cavities (and cores) must be cooled with the same coolant
¯ow (quantity of coolant per unit of time) at a temperature that is little
different from cavity to cavity (or core to core). The coolant temperature
will rise as it passes through each cavity (or core), but this is the very
purpose of the coolant: to remove heat, which will raise its own
temperature. As long as the temperature difference DT between the ®rst
and the last cavity in one group of cavities (or cores) is not too largeÐon
the order of DT=1 5

C (2±9

F), depending on the jobÐthe system is
working properly. The smaller the difference, the more coolant will be
required (which is more expensive in operation). In many molds there can
be a good argument for compromise by having a greater DT and thereby
using less coolant. In some cases, however, the lowest DT value may be
necessary for quality requirements of the product. This may require
special coolant capacity and pumps.
j Rule 3: The amount of heat removed depends on the quantity (volume)
of coolant ¯owing through the channels in cavity (or core). The faster the
coolant ¯ows, the better it is, because (a) a greater volume will ¯ow
through the channels, and (b) there will be less temperature rise of the
coolant from the ®rst to the last cavity (or core).
j Rule 4: The coolant must ¯ow in a turbulent ¯ow pattern, rather than in
laminar ¯ow. Turbulence within the ¯ow causes the coolant to swirl
around as it ¯ows, thereby continuously bringing fresh, cool liquid in
contact with the hot metal walls of the cooling channels, and removing
more heat. By contrast, laminar ¯ow moves along the channel walls
4.8 Cooling 19
relatively undisturbed, so that the outer layer of the coolant in touch with
the metal will heat up, but the center of the coolant ¯ow will remain cold,
thus doing little cooling.
Turbulent ¯ow is de®ned by the Reynolds number (Re), which is calculated
as Re = (V D) n, where V is the velocity of the coolant (m/s), D is the
diameter of the channel (m), and n is the kinematic viscosity (m
2
/s). n = m r,
where m is the absolute viscosity (kg/m· s), and r is the density of the coolant
(kg/m
3
). A Reynolds number of more than 4000 (Re b4000) designates
turbulent ¯ow. The higher the number, the better the cooling ef®ciency. For good
cooling, 10,000 `Re `20,000 should be attempted. For water at 5

C (41

F),
r = 999X5 kgam
3
, m = 1X55 10
3
kgam· s, and n = 1X5508 10
÷6
m
2
as.
(More values can be found in ME, in Table 25.2.)
Thus, where cooling is importantÐin cavities, cores, inserts, side cores, and
so onÐsmall-diameter channels and fast-¯owing coolant are also important. Most
cooling lines for cavities and cores are supplied fromchannels in the underlying or
surrounding plates, and can be much larger, therefore having a much smaller Re
number. But this is usually satisfactory because these plates do not need as much
cooling as the stack parts, which come in contact with the hot plastic.
j Rule 5: Serial or parallel ¯ow? (See Fig. 4.7.) It does not matter
whether the coolant follows a serial ¯ow, that is, from cavity to cavity (or
core to core) in sequence (Fig. 4.7a), or whether the ¯ow is split so that
the coolant ¯ows in a parallel pattern (Fig. 4.7b), as long as each branch
has the same ¯ow. In many multicavity molds, the cooling channels are
arranged so that they are partly in parallel and partly in series (Fig. 4.7c).
Often, in the same mold, cavities are in one arrangement of series,
parallel, or both, and cores, inserts, or side cores, are in another
arrangement, whichever is more suitable for the layout. There is no rule
for which way to go, as long as the ¯ow rules are followed.
j Rule 6: The channel sizes (cross sections) must be calculated so that
there is always more than enough ¯ow capacity in a preceding section to
Figure 4.7 Schematic layout of (a) series cooling, (b) parallel cooling, and (c)
series±parallel cooling.
20 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
feed equally all the channels in the following split, parallel sections. For
example, if there are 4 parallel channels of 40 mm
2
cross-sectional area
each, the (preceding) feeder must have at least 4 40 mm
2
= 160 mm
2
cross-sectional area. In some molds there are 4 or more points where the
cross sections step down in the cooling system. It does not matter if the
preceding section is greater than the calculated minimum value, but it
must not be smaller, if the coolant is to ¯ow equally through all
subsequent channels. Coolant, like plastics, always takes the path of least
resistance. For example, if the preceding cross section is 3x, and each of 4
succeeding parallel cross sections are x, there will not be enough coolant,
and one of the 4 channels will see little or no ¯ow through it.
Unfortunately, this is often missed in designs and the mold does not
function properly.
j Rule 7: The dif®cult-to-cool areas in the mold must be considered ®rst.
These are, essentially, all delicate mold features, such as thin and slender
core pins, blades, and sleeves. Slender signi®es, in this context, that the
ratio of length over the narrow bottom dimension or diameter of a pin or
insert is more than 2 to 1. Remember that heat always ¯ows from the
higher toward the lower temperature; the ¯ow decreases as the length of
travel increases and as the cross-sectional area through which the heat
travels gets smaller. Dif®cult-to-cool areas limit the mold cooling
capability and seriously affect the molding cycle. There is no sense in
providing good cooling for the easy-to-cool areas of the mold if there are
poorly cooled areas elsewhere in it. Selecting materials such as
beryllium±copper alloys may help to remove the heat faster, or special
cooling methods may be used, such as blowing (cold) air at the thin
sections while the mold is open. But ®rst the designer must try to ®nd a
way of getting coolant (not necessarily water) into the thin sections, or at
least get the best cooling into the mold parts supporting these thin
projections.
j Rule 8: Study the product to locate heavy sections of the plastic. They
are always a problem, even where it is easy to provide good cooling,
because of potential shrink and sink marks. Heavy sections are
particularly bad if they are toward the end of the plastics ¯ow where
there is less pressure to ensure good ®lling. The mold designer should
discuss this problem with the product designer. There may be the
possibility of a minor alteration of the product design to avoid heavy
sections so that not only is plastic saved but also cooling time is reduced.
For example, the heavy, solid handle of a coffee mug could be redesigned
4.8 Cooling 21
by coring it from both sides. This could add to the mold cost, but would
greatly reduce the cycle time. The question is whether the customer wants
to sacri®ce design features for productivity. (See also Understanding
Product Design for Injection Molding.)
4.8.2 Plate Cooling
An often overlooked fact is that mold cooling is not only for cooling the plastic,
but also for cooling the various mold plates that are close to areas heated by the
plastic, such as the hot runner systems discussed later or, in special cases, such
as injection blow molding, where the mold cores are heated to keep the plastic
hot, for blowing immediately after injection. As is explained in Section 4.10, all
materials expand when heated. In many molds, certain plates are essential for
the alignment system because they carry the leader pins and bushings or other
alignment members. If the mold plates are at different temperatures, they will
expand differently from their original, cold state, and cause misalignment
between the alignment elements. For example, assume that the distance of two
leader pins in a mold is L = 400 mm and that a temperature difference of
DT = 10

C (18

F) exists between the two plates carrying the pins and
bushings. With an approximate heat expansion for steel of 0.000011 mm/mm/

C,
L will increase by DL. DL = L DT 0X000011 = 400 10 0X000011 =
0X044 mm (0.00173 inch). Considering that the standard diametrical clearance
between leader pins and bushings is only 0.025 mm (0.001 inch), the example
shows the pins will bend at every cycle, or bind in the bushings. This points
to the importance of ensuring in the design that both mold halves should
be kept as close as possible to the same temperature. (Compression molding,
usually employed for thermosetting materials, requires heating of the mold,
regardless of productivity. In this process, the plastic must be heated to set (or
harden); the product leaves the mold hotter than the raw material used to ®ll the
mold.)
More about cooling later. See also ME, Chapter 13.
4.9 Ejection
After the plastic in the cavity spaces has cooled suf®ciently and is rigid enough
and ready for removal, the mold halves move apart, allowing suf®cient space
22 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
between the mold halves for removal of the product. As with cooling, the
complexity of any provision for ejection from the mold is a question of the
desired productivity. Some products don't need any provision within the mold
for ejection. For example, a quick blast from an air jet applied manually by an
operator and directed at the parting line can lift a (simple) product off the core or
out of the cavity, but this would not be practical in most molds, and is rarely
used for real production. Usually, the products are ejected by one of the
following methods:
(1) Pin (and sleeve)
(2) Stripper plate or stripper ring
(3) Air alone
(4) Air assist
(5) Combination of any of the above (1), (2), (3), and (4)
(6) Unscrewing, in case of screw caps, etc.
(7) Combination of any of the above, combined with robots
The most common and oldest methods are
+ Pin (and sleeve) as shown in Fig. 4.8
+ Stripper plate or stripper ring, as shown in Fig. 4.9
These two systems can be used in most molds and for most plastics. The
problem with both these systems is that there are heavy moving parts
involved, and the upkeep of such molds is high.
+ Air ejection alone can be used for ¯at products (Fig. 4.10, left), but for
deep cup-shaped products (right) it is restricted to only certain plastics
and shapes. The main advantage is that it has no, or almost no, moving
Figure 4.8 (Left) Section through ejector pin mold: (a) backing plate, (b) ejector plate,
(c) ejector retainer plate, (d) core plate, (e) molded product, (f) ejector pin, (g) stop pin.
(Right) Section through sleeve ejector mold: (a) backing plate, (b) core pin retainer
plate, (c) ejector plate, (d) sleeve retainer plate, (e) molded product, (f) core plate, (g)
sleeve ejector, (h) core pin, (i) stop pin.
4.9 Ejection 23
parts. Air ejection alone is often used in very high production molds; the
same applies to (7), by combining any of the above ejection methods
with integrated robots.
Note that for best productivity, to reduce cycle time, the products should be
ejected as early as possible. Certain ejection methods permit earlier ejection;
others depend on the plastic to be stiffer. For example, stripping permits hotter
(softer) products to be ejected without damage to them, whereas unscrewing
requires the pieces to be more rigid.
Figure 4.10 Air ejection alone. (Left) (a) core and mounting plate, (b) molded product,
(c) air valves, (d) pressure air supply. (Right) (a) core and mounting plate, (b) core tip,
(c) circular air gap, (d) pressure air supply, (e) molded product.
Figure 4.9 (Left) Section through stripper ring mold: (a) mounting plate, (b) ejector
plate, (c) core plate, (d) stripper ring, (e) molded product, (f) machine ejector, (g)
connecting sleeve. (Right) Section through stripper plate mold: (c) core and mounting
plate, (d) stripper plate, (e) molded product, (f) machine ejectors.
24 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
4.9.1 Automatic Molding
Earlier molds were all designed to require operators (often lowly paid and
unskilled) to sit or stand at the molding machine. After every cycle they opened
the safety gate to remove the products from the molding area, reclosed the gate
and initiated the next molding cycle. They also were, in some cases, supposed to
visually inspect the products at this time and even make adjustments to the
machine if they thought it necessary. Because the molds were often not properly
®nished, by today's standards, or had unreliable injection and ejection systems,
the operator was also often required to reach into the molding area to pry loose a
stuck, possibly defective product, and from time to time had to lubricate the
molding surfaces with mold release agents. All this was not only labor intensive,
adding greatly to the cost of production, but was also very unsafe and the cause
of many serious injuries. Since much of this operation also depended on the
acquired skill of the operatorÐsome workers are faster, some slowerÐand on
the time of the day or night, or even on the day of the week, the overall molding
cycle time could vary considerably, resulting in quality differences of the
product because of different residence times of the melt in the machine; many
rejects resulted. There was also the problem of absenteeism of the personnel,
which often played havoc with production planning. Much effort was therefore
spent on eliminating operators from the actual molding process.
Fully automatic (FA) molding depends essentially on two factors:
(1) Reliable injection. The molding machine must be repetitive from cycle
to cycle in every aspect, but especially in the dosing (the amount of
plastic injected) and the melt temperature.
(2) Reliable ejection. This is 100% the responsibility of the mold designer.
Every mold (with very rare exceptions) can be designed so that there is
no chance of the product hanging up and not ejecting. The key to good
ejection is that the product always stays on the side from which it will
be ejected, usually, but not necessarily, from the core side of the mold.
The designer must select the appropriate method of ejection and make
sure that there is enough ejection stroke to clear the products from the
cores. This is frequently overlooked and can also be caused by
improper setup of the mold. Many areas must be considered in the
design; some are discussed later.
The designer must keep in mind Murphy's law, which says that if it can happen,
it will.
See also ME, Chapter 12.
4.9 Ejection 25
4.10 Shrinkage
One of the most misunderstood areas of mold design is shrinkage. Every
material (metals, plastics, gases, liquids) expands as its temperature increases
(heat expansion) and returns to its original volume if cooled down to the original
temperature. The problem with all plastics is the characteristic of compressi-
bility. All solid materials compress under load, but most not as much as plastics.
When pressure is applied to plastics (or to hydraulic oil, but not to water),
plastics will compress signi®cantly (i.e., reduce in volume) in proportion to the
amount of pressure applied. This may be (within the range of molding
operations) as high as 2% of the original volume. Thus, we now have two
conditions that work against each other: heat expansion and compressibility. As
the plastic is injected, it is both hot and therefore expanded, but also under
signi®cant pressure, which reduces its volume. This makes it very dif®cult to
arrive at a true shrinkage factor, because the actual change in volume depends
on the type of plastic, the melt temperature, the injection pressure required to
®ll the cavity space, and the temperature at which it will be ejected from the
mold.
For practical purposes, and for many products and molds, the shrinkage
factors supplied by materials suppliers can be used. However, these ®gures
indicate only a range within which to choose, usually between 0 and 5%. In
some cases, where the volume or size of a product is important, this is not
accurate enough. With crystalline plastics, such as polyethylene (PE),
polypropylene (PP), and polyamide (nylon), the shrinkage factor is much
higher than with amorphous plastics, such as polystyrene (PS) and
polycarbonate (PC). Plastics ®lled with inert substances, such as glass or
carbon ®bers or talcum, have a much lower shrinkage than that for the same but
un®lled material. Shrinkage ®gures should be obtained from materials suppliers,
for guiding purposes.
4.10.1 Variable Shrinkage
The designer must understand that the areas within the cavity spaces close to the
gate see higher pressures, so the shrinkage there will be less and will require a
smaller shrinkage factor. Conversely, near the end of the ¯ow through the
narrow cavity space, the pressure in the plastic is much lower than near the gate,
and a higher shrinkage factor will apply. In some applications, more than two
26 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
shrinkage factors may have to be selected within one cavity. It is also important
to establish at what temperature the product will be ejected. If it is ejected while
still hot, it will shrink more outside of the cavity space as it cools to room
temperature. If ejected later, when it is cooler, it will shrink less, as measured in
comparison with the steel sizes of the cavity and core.
This is sometimes, but uneconomically, used to arrive at the proper size of a
product such as a container or lid. If a molded product is too small because not
enough shrinkage value was added to the product dimensions when specifying
the mold steel dimensions, the proper product size can be achieved by ejecting it
later, when it is cooler, but this means loss in productivity. With high production,
the proper procedure is to resize the steel dimensions.
See also ME, Chapter 8.
4.11 Alignment
Various methods are used to align cavity and core plates. The method selected
depends on the shape of the product, the accuracy (or tightness of tolerances)
of the product, and even on the expected mold life. Several choices are
available:
(1) No provision for alignment within the mold
(2) Leader pins and bushings
(3) Taper lock between each cavity and core
(4) Taper lock between a group of cavities and cores
(5) Wedge locks
(6) Taper pins
(7) Combination of (2) with (3), (4), (5), or (6)
4.11.1 No Provision for Alignment
In the case of a ¯at product, without any cavity (depression) in one mold half,
and the cavity entirely in the other mold half, for example, in a mold for a ¯oor
mat, there is no need for alignment, even if there is some engraving on the ¯at
surface of the mold, because the most the dimensions can vary is by the amount
of play between the machine tie bars and the tie bar bushings.
4.11 Alignment 27
4.11.2 Leader Pins and Bushings
This common method of alignment between mold halves is shown in Fig. 4.11.
In cup-shaped products with heavy walls, there is really no need for alignment
within the mold, because the clearances between tie bars and their bushings are
usually much less than the tolerances of the product wall thickness. The main
reason to have leader pins in these cases is to protect the projecting cores from
physical damage, when handling the mold.
The protection of the cores by use of leader pins applies also to all other
mold alignment methods. Wherever leader pins are used, they should be placed
at the same mold side as the cores and be longer than the longest projection of
the cores to protect them from damage (see dimension s, in Fig. 4.11). There are
exceptions to this rule, for example, in some 3-plate molds.
What is often missed is that for most applications leader pins and bushings
are a very accurate method of alignment. Consider dimension t in Fig. 4.11, and
let's assume a wall thickness t = 1X50 mm (0.060 inch), with a tolerance of
±0X05 mm (0.002 inch), or 1.50 ±0.05 mm. With standard commercial
hardware, the leader pin is usually nominal size minus 0.025 mm (÷0X001
inch), and the bushing is nominal size plus 0.025 mm (÷0.001 inch). Therefore,
with one set of pins and bushings, the maximum clearance, in the highly
unlikely worst case, between one set of leader pins and bushings could be
0.05 mm (0.002 inch) on the diameter, so the centers would be misaligned only
half that amount. By having at least 2, but usually 4 sets, the total clearance
between the pins in all the bushings would be even less. In the worst case, the
Figure 4.11 Typical mold with leader pin and bushing alignment: (a) core plate, (b)
cavity plate, (c) leader pin, (d) leader pin bushing, (s) safety distance of pin above core,
(t) wall thickness of plastic product at parting line.
28 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
possible play and misalignment would be well within the tolerance limits
speci®ed in this example, and therefore acceptable.
It can be easily seen that this holds true as long as the product has not much
smaller wall thicknesses, as is often the case with thin-wall containers, with wall
thicknesses in the order of 0.4 mm (0.015 inch) or even less. In those special but
frequent cases, other methods of alignment must be used such as taper ®ts. We
also must not forget the in¯uence of heat expansion of the mold plates, which
will affect the alignment accuracy.
4.11.3 Taper Lock Between Each Cavity and Core
Figure 4.12 shows 3 possible con®gurations of taper or wedge locks. On the left,
the tapers in both male and female members match perfectly. Because of
manufacturing tolerances, this is impossible to achieve except, perhaps, by
individual ®tting of parts, and even then it is dif®cult. To be able to produce any
mold part without need for ®tting (center), they must be closely toleranced and
accurately machined. To solve the problem of providing proper alignment, the
matching parts are dimensioned such that the male member is slightly larger
than the female member, and the female member will be slightly expanded from
the moment the mold halves touch, until the mold is fully clamped. The amount
that the pieces stay apart before ®nal clamping (d) is called preload in Fig. 4.12.
This amount d is very, very small, and depends on the length of the taper and on
its angle. It must be greater than zero. On the right, the female member is larger
than the male member. This taper lock is useless because the tapers don't touch
(f); no force is generated to pull the mold halves into alignment.
Figure 4.12 Taper (or wedge) lock: (a) male member, (b) female member, (c) taper.
(Left) Ideal condition. (Center) Correct application. d is called preload. (Right) Useless
taper.
4.11 Alignment 29
In practice, it can be easily seen on a mold if the tapers work: If the tapers (or
wedges) are shiny all around, they work; if they are rusty, or just dirty, they don't
work, and the mold probably depends on the tie bars and tie bar bushings for
alignment, or on the mold leader pins and bushings. It is surprising how many
molds are in this category. Many times the designer (or the mold maker) thought
that by providing tapers, the mold will be more accurately aligned. In most of
these cases, the taper ®t was wasted money. Note that working tapers are subject
to severe wear and must be made from suitable, hardened steels, and even so will
have to be replaced or repaired from time to time. Any size taper is acceptable,
between 5 and 20

. (Common tapers are 7, 10, and 15

.) Too small a taper may
cause locking and separation dif®culty because of friction in the tapers; too
large a taper requires too much force to close. Obviously, to move the tapers
for the preload distance d, until they seat properly, means that the matching,
female taper will have to be spread. This requires considerable force. When
considering the clamp force of the machine, this must be considered and the
forces calculated, especially with multicavity molds in which every stack is
aligned with taper locks. If too much force is required for closing the mold, there
may not be enough clamp force left for holding the mold closed during
injection.
4.11.4 Taper Locks and Wedges
Taper locks are conical (usually round) matching mold parts, and the taper of the
cone is designed to provide the alignment between two mold parts (cavity±core,
core±stripper ring, etc.). This method is very accurate and relatively
inexpensive, but has two inherent disadvantages:
(1) The alignment of the various components depends on the accuracy of
machining and once the assembly is ®nished, there is no possibility of
adjusting the alignment.
(2) Once the tapers wear, which is unavoidable due to the very nature of
this design, which must touch and rub, they are dif®cult to repair and
reuse without changing other mold parts as well. The easiest way is
often to replace the worn elements.
Wedges are pairs of hardened, ¯at bars, with one side tapered. Four sets of
wedges are always required per alignment, either for each cavity, or for the
whole mold. The advantage is that wedges can be shimmed or ground on
30 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
opposite pairs to adjust for wear or for inaccurate manufacturing, or easily
replaced if shimming is not practical. The disadvantage of wedges is that they
require more space on the mold surface, so the mold size will be larger than
when using taper locks.
4.11.5 Taper Pins
Taper pins (and bushings) are sometimes used for the ®nal alignment of cavity
and core in addition to leader pins, where it is believed that the accuracy of
leader pins is insuf®cient. They act similarly to taper locks and are available as
standard mold hardware. It is questionable whether they do any better job than
the other methods of alignments explained here; and they are subject to the same
problems as taper locks, regarding wear and accuracy of machining the mold
and/or core plates.
4.11.6 Too Many Alignment Features
Another problem is frequently encountered in poorly designed molds. Typically,
cavities and cores can be aligned by either leader pins and bushings, or taper (or
wedge) locks. Where high accuracy in alignment is required, taper (or wedge)
locks are the preferred choice. However, they do not assure that the mold halves
will stay together when handling the mold; there is always the danger that the
cores and cavities could be damaged if the mold halves should separate and
bang together once the taper engagement is lost. It is therefore necessary to
equip the mold with leader pins (but not necessarily with leader pin bushings),
in addition to the taper locks. Since the tapers will determine the ®nal alignment,
the leader pins must ®t only loosely in their corresponding openings (or leader
pin bushings) without actually contributing to the ®nal alignment of cavities and
cores. Quite often, even for large molds, only two such pins need to be provided,
usually located at the top of the mold on the core side.
Similarly, some multicavity molds are built with small leader pins (usually
only two) and bushings for each set of cavity and core and are mounted on the
stack plates; they ensure the ®nal alignment of each stack. In addition, two or
four large leader pins are used to align the complete mold halves, but these pins
also must be ``loose'' in their bushings, to prevent ``®ghting'' between the two
4.11 Alignment 31
separate sets of alignments. An exception to this rule of loose pins is when a
more expensive but superior method is used: the cores are mounted such that
they can move slightly (¯oat) on their backing plates; as the mold closes, the
®nal alignment (tapers or pins) will move each core into position relative to its
cavity. In this case, the leader pins mounted in the mold shoe (on the core side)
will have their regular, standard clearances.
32 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold
5 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.1 Information and Documentation
Before starting to design a mold, the designer must make sure that all the
information is on hand.
5.1.1 Is the Product Design Ready?
It is frustrating and wastes valuable time to ®nd during your work that
information is missing, or when signi®cant changes are made after starting that
can affect the concept of the mold.
5.1.2 Are the Tolerances Shown?
Are the dimensional tolerances speci®ed on the drawing the same as when the
mold cost was ®rst estimated and the mold price quoted? This can have serious
implications, especially if no tolerances were shown when the job was quoted;
for example, if a molder requests an approximate mold cost so that he can
estimate the ®nal cost of the product for his customer. Unfortunately, sometimes
there is not even a drawing, just a sample or model of the product used for the
estimate.
While it is desirable that the mold designer is involved in the product design,
to ensure that the product can be easily molded and will be satisfactory for the
purpose intended, mold designers should not agree to make a product drawing,
and if they do, they must insist that it be signed by the customer as acceptable.
This will eliminate any possible unpleasantness later on, if the product does not
look or function as expected.
33
5.1.3 Are the Tolerances Reasonable?
Are the requested product tolerances feasible, in view of the size of the product
and the plastic speci®ed? This is sometimes overlooked when quoting. As we
have seen in Section 4.10, while it is nearly always possible to make the mold
parts accurately, to very close tolerances, this does not mean that the molded part
will satisfy often unreasonable and unnecessary requests for close tolerances. If
very close product tolerances are wanted, an experimental setup may be required
to determine steel sizes, a process that can be very costly and time-consuming.
This must be made clear before work is started. Note that in the case of very
stringent tolerances, production (the actual molding) can become very
expensive, requiring close inspection of the molded products and possibly
causing many rejects.
5.1.4 What are the Cycle Times?
The designer should never guarantee cycle times and must make sure that the
customer understands this. If the customer insists on any guarantee, it could
require experimental work (test molds, remaking of mold parts, etc.), which
could become very expensive. Any such anticipated costs should be brought to
the attention of the customer, and added to the mold price. However, the
designer should have some idea of the expected cycle, from past experience with
similar products, or should try to get this information from someone with
molding experience with such products.
5.1.5 What is the Expected Production?
The designer must be aware of the total production expected from the mold, and
the expected life of it. There is a signi®cant difference if the mold should be
built for 1000, 100,000, 1,000,000, or 10,000,000 or more parts. This
consideration will affect all aspects of a mold, from mold materials selection
to many mold features selected by the designer.
It cannot be repeated often enough that the mold is the most important, but
only one link in a chain of requirements to produce a molded product. The
molder, or the ®nal user, should not really be interested in the mold cost, but
34 Before Starting to Design a Mold
only in the cost of the molded product. It is the duty of the designer to advise the
customer accordingly and build the most economical mold for the intended job.
The following is also a frequent scenario: A new widget is to be marketed.
After a few hundred test samples, the customer estimates that during the next
year he could sell 10,000 pieces. He does not yet know if the widget will be
accepted at large. What size mold will be required? How will the mold cost,
divided by this quantity, affect the cost of the widget? Obviously, because of the
small quantity, the mold cost will be signi®cant in this calculation. Also, because
of the relatively small quantity, there may be only one cavity or at most 2 or 4
cavities required. This means low productivity, resulting in a higher molding
cost. A simple cold runner system could be suitable and quite inexpensive. But
what if the widget turns out to be a success and the required quantities increase
to an estimated 1,000,000 over the next 3 years? The ®rst mold probably will not
be able to produce these quantities in time. This will then require a new, much
different mold, with more cavities, a hot runner system, and so onÐin short, a
more complicated mold, which will cost much more but, despite the higher mold
cost, will result in a much lower cost of the molded piece. Which is the better
mold? They are both good, and each one is suitable for the speci®ed
requirement.
5.1.6 What are the Machine Speci®cations?
Before starting, the designer must know the machine or machines on which the
mold is to operate.
5.1.6.1 Mechanical Features
(1) Tie bar clearances and platen size, front to back, top to bottom. Will the
planned mold ®t on the platens? In some cases it is all right to have the mold
larger than these dimensions, it may even overhang the platens, as long as the
cavities are located within the area between the tie bars. In some (today rare)
cases, it may be necessary to pull one or both top tie bars to be able to install the
mold. If this is required, the designer must ®nd out if the planned machines have
provisions for easy tie bar pulling.
(2) Locating ring size, sprue bushing radius. The locating ring centers the
injection half of the mold on the stationary (or ``hot'') platen. The sprue bushing
5.1 Information and Documentation 35
radius must ®t the injection nozzle radius. There are standards, but make sure
you have the appropriate sizes. Some of the machines for which the mold is
planned may have different sizes, so more than one locating ring (or an adaptor
ring) and different sprue bushings may be required.
(3) Mold mounting holes and slot pattern (Euro, SPI, or other standard?).
How will the mold be mounted on the platens? The best method is where the
mold halves are directly screwed onto the platens, using standard mounting
holes on the platens or clearance holes on the platens with threaded holes in the
mold. With this method the full holding force of the screw is utilized. But this is
often not possible, especially if the mold must ®t several, different machines. In
these cases, mold clamps are frequently used, with the clamp screws making use
of standard mounting holes or slots in the platens. The disadvantage of this
method is that only a portion of the holding force of the screw is utilized.
(4) Quick mold change features. There are a number of commercial and
proprietary systems, and the designer must get the speci®cations to ®t the
system before starting to design the mold.
(5) Machine ejector. The ejector force is usually about 10% of the clamp
force, which is suf®cient for most molds, but there are cases where this is not
enough. The mold may have to be equipped with additional ejection means,
often built-in hydraulic or air actuators. The machine ejectors are always on the
moving platen, but their size and pattern will vary according to the builder's
standards (Euro, SPI, other standard?). If the mold will make use of the machine
ejectors it is important to know their size and location when designing the
ejection mechanism.
(6) Shut height. This is the total height of the mold, that is, the distance from
the mounting face of the cavity half to the mounting face of the moving half.
This distance must not be greater than the maximum distance of the platen
surfaces of the machine when in fully closed position. The machine
speci®cations indicate maximum and minimum shut height. If the laid-out shut
height is too great, there are several ways to reduce it: (a) Investigate whether all
the shown mold plates are really necessary. In some molds, for example, the
mounting plate under an ejector box can be omitted, by fastening the mold to the
machine using the mold parallels (see Fig. 7.3). (b) Reduce the thickness of one
or more of the mold plates. (c) If neither is possible without compromising the
quality (strength) of the mold, a different machine must be selected. This should
be discussed with the molder before proceeding.
Conversely, if the shut height is too small, plate thicknesses can be increased,
which is not always a good solution because it makes the mold unnecessarily
heavy and adds cost to the mold. Some machines are equipped with Bolster
36 Before Starting to Design a Mold
plates, or bolster blocks, which are mounted on the moving platen in order to
decrease the minimum shut height.
(7) Clamp stroke. In most machines, the mold clamp stroke is adjustable.
For many molds, the suggested minimum stroke should be about 2.5 times the
height of the product to ensure that the molded pieces have enough space to fall
free between the mold halves during ejection; however, the stroke should not be
less than about 150 mm (6 inches), so that the mold surfaces can be accessed for
servicing while the mold is open. There are exceptions to these two suggested
values, for special applications, particularly when using automatic (robotic)
product removal methods, which are outside the scope of this book.
(8) Ejector stroke. This stroke is also adjustable, within the limits of the
machine speci®cations. The designer must make sure that the available ejection
stroke is large enough to push the products completely off the cores, in cases
where little draft is speci®ed, for example, when molding deep-draw containers.
With good draft, it is usually not necessary to do more than push the products
some short distance before they fall free, or before air-assist features will blow
them away. There are again some exceptions, particularly with robotic product
removal methods.
(9) Clamping force. The designer must make sure that the total projected
areas of all cavities, plus the projected areas of any runner system in the same
parting plane, multiplied by the estimated injection pressure, will not be greater
than the available machine clamping force. As we have seen earlier, the
estimated injection pressure depends on the ease of plastic ¯ow (viscosity,
temperature) and on the wall thickness of the product. In borderline cases, it is
sometimes possible to change conditions, for example, in a very large product,
by increasing the number of gates and placing them far apart; it may then be
possible to use lower injection pressures, thereby requiring less clamp.
(10) Auxiliary controls. Some molds may require specially designed air
circuits for air ejection or for air actuators. Is the machine equipped for such
circuits, to be timed within the molding cycles? In some cases, hydraulically
actuated side cores may be required. Has the machine a provision for timed core
pulls?
5.1.6.2 Productivity Features
(1) Shot size (mass per shot). The total calculated or estimated shot size, that
is, the total mass (weight) of the products coming from all cavities, plus the mass
of the runner system (in the case of cold runners) should be within 30±90% of
5.1 Information and Documentation 37
the shot capacity of the machine. The shot capacity of a machine is given in
g/shot of PS, with a speci®c gravity of about 1.05. The speci®c gravity of
materials such as PE and PP is less (about 0.90 to 0.95); that is, the same mass
will have a greater volume. Since shot size is rated in grams (or ounces) but is
actually a volume (cross section of extruder barrel times the stroke of the
extruder), the shot size of these materials will be less than for PS, by about 10%.
These are only approximate ®gures; exact values should be checked with
materials suppliers. What are the practical implications? If, for example, an
8-cavity mold is required to run in a speci®c machine, but its shot capacity is not
large enough, it would not make sense to build it for this machine. This is
especially important with cold runner molds, where the mass of the runner can
add considerably to the mass of the sum of all molded parts, per shot. A machine
could be well suited for a hot runner mold but be unsuited for a cold runner
mold for the same number of cavities. (This is a major advantage of the hot
runner system.)
(2) Plasticizing capacity (kilograms per hour). Plasticizing capacity is the
amount (mass) of plastic a machine can plasticize per hour, that is, melt the cold
plastic pellets into a melt of a speci®c temperature (and viscosity). Plasticizing
capacity is usually given as mass for PS, in kilograms (pounds) per hour. Here,
the same applies as with shot capacity. The actual mass of other materials, such
as PE, PP, or any other, will be different, mostly smaller, sometimes greater. This
should be carefully considered before starting. But, ®rst, the designer must
estimate the molding cycle, to ®nd out how much plastic per hour will be
required. Dividing 3600 (1 hour equals 3600 seconds) by the number of the
seconds of the estimated cycle will give the number of shots per hour (N).
Multiplying the total shot weight S (g/shot) calculated in (1) above, with the
number of shots N per hour we ®nd the total mass W
t
in grams per hour required
(W
t
ˆ S  N). For best quality of the melt (and the molded piece), it is also
suggested to use only between 30 and 90% of the rated plasticizing capacity. If
W
t
is more than the rated capacity, the machine can still be used but the cycle
time will have to be lengthened; in other words, fewer shots per hour can be
produced than the mold could yield with a suitable, larger size machine.
(3) Injection speed (grams injected into the mold per second). This is an
important consideration when molding thin-walled products. Because of the
narrow gap through which the plastic must ¯ow within the cavity space, the
injected plastic will cool rapidly when in contact with the cooled cavity and core
walls. As the plastic cools, the gap narrows even more, making it more dif®cult
to ®ll the mold. To overcome this condition, the melt and/or the mold
temperatures could be increased so that the plastic will not freeze before ®lling
the mold. However, this increase in temperature will also cause an increase in
38 Before Starting to Design a Mold
the cooling cycle (and a lengthening of the molding cycle), resulting in a smaller
output from the mold. This points to two areas for possible remedy: (1) The
injection speed and (2) the injection pressure must be increased. But these two
are interrelated. The higher the pressure, the faster the melt will be pushed
through its paths, from the machine nozzle to the farthest corners of the cavity
space. The problem is now that the injection speed depends on the speed with
which the hydraulic injection cylinder is ®lled with pressure oil. Therefore, the
speed of the injection cylinder depends on the hydraulic pump outputÐoil
volume per secondÐentering the cylinder, but it also depends on the size of the
associated hardwareÐhoses, valves, and so onÐfrom the pump to the cylinder.
Most machines for conventional (not thin-wall) products are served
suf®ciently well by the output of the pump (and the motor driving it). However,
the injection speeds required for thin-wall production require the cylinder to be
®lled more rapidly than what the pump alone can provide. To remedy this, the
machine could be equipped with a much larger pump and motor, but in many
cases this would be uneconomical or impractical. The preferred solution is to
provide the machine injection system with an accumulator, which stores high-
pressure oil during the time pressure oil is not used. Additional valving and
other hardware is required, which is often sold as an ``option'' with the machine,
called an accumulator package. The accumulator releases the stored high-
pressure oil together with the pump output into the cylinder when required for
injection. The designer will need to recognize when an accumulator package is
necessary for the product for which the mold is to be designed, and must discuss
this with the molder to make sure the right machine is available to run the mold.
5.1.6.3 Additional Requirements for Some Molds
(1) Pressure air. Some molds require air pressure for their operation. In
general, the designer should be aware that compressed air, especially in large
volumes, can be very expensive, especially if it is left to blow for any length of
time.
Blow downs (air jets or air curtains) are often used to assist the products
to rapidly clear the molding area. There are several commercial air jets
on the market with low consumption of pressure air. Their initial cost is
paid back rapidly by savings from wasted air volume.
Air-operated actuators. The air volume used is usually small, compared
with a blow down. There could be problems with controlling the speed
5.1 Information and Documentation 39
and uniform motion of air actuators, but they are simple and
inexpensive.
Air required for air ejection, which is usually activated on demand, for a
very short time. Most of the time, the actuation time is controlled from
the machine control panel. The designer must make sure that the
intended machine is equipped with suf®cient controls and hardware
(timers, valves, and large enough supply lines). It may be even necessary
to add pump capacity, for the added volume of air that will be required
for the planned mold. If much air is needed for short blasts, one or
several suitable accumulators could be installed near or even on the
mold. This is similar to the hydraulic accumulators cited in Section
5.1.6.2 (3).
Where pressure air comes into contact with the molded products, for
example, in blow downs or in air ejection, the air must be ®ltered from any oil
residues, water (always present in air lines), and so on, before reaching the
outlets in or at the mold, to prevent contamination of the products if they are
used for food or pharmaceutical purposes. (Unfortunately, most air actuators
require lubricated air, unless their seals are selected for dry air.) A low-pressure,
high-volume blower with its air intake from the shop environment, or better yet,
from within an enclosure built around the molding machine when special ``clean
room'' requirements are speci®ed, is a preferred solution to ensure that there is
no oil or water contamination in the air as it comes into contact with the plastic
products. In many cases, such blower can be directly mounted on the top of the
mold. Another advantage is that the power consumption of this type blower is
low, on the order of 0.2 kW (1/4 hp) or less, and does not require timing or
valving.
(2) Auxiliary hydraulic supply. For some operations, compressed air may be
not suitable. (a) Air cylinders are often jerky in their operation, especially with
long strokes. (b) In cases where several air cylinders actuate one large mold
member, the forces can be uneven and the member can jam. (c) In most molding
shops the compressed air pressure is fairly low, usually about 600 kPa (80 psi),
and rarely 900 kPa (120 psi), so large air actuators are needed to produce large
forces. It could be dif®cult to accommodate suf®ciently large cylinders within
the available mold space, or even outside the mold. In all these cases, the much
more powerful hydraulic cylinders would be an alternative. The hydraulic
pressure could be taken from the machine system with a pressure reducing
valve, and by providing the necessary safety measures to protect against the very
high pressures in that system. A preferred method, however, is to use an
auxiliary power supply, usually at a system pressure of about 3,500 kPa
40 Before Starting to Design a Mold
(500 psi). This is much safer and requires much less expensive hardware (valves,
hoses, etc.) than that for higher pressure. The motion of hydraulic operators is
smooth and the speed can be well controlled.
Two points of caution, though. Hydraulic oil (with some special, expensive,
exceptions) is highly ¯ammable and there is always the danger of leaks,
especially if the leaks were to occur near heated areas of the mold, as, for
example, near a hot runner system. Also, products used in the food or
pharmaceutical industry could be contaminated by the oil; this is usually
speci®ed as not allowed.
(3) Cooling water supply. This is a very important area of concern. There is
not much sense in designing the mold with very sophisticated cooling circuitry
if the cooling water supply is insuf®cient in temperature, volume, and pressure.
An individual chiller unit may be the answer if the plant supply is too small or
has not enough pressure. It is also important that the coolant is clean, that is,
with a minimum of minerals or dirt, and is not corrosive. Dirty coolant could
gradually plug the water circuits or coat the channel walls with a poor heat
conducting layer of dirt and lime, thus reducing the cooling ef®ciency, and could
require frequent cleaning of the coolant channels if the mold is expected to
maintain high productivity. Corrosive action of the coolant could attack and eat
away the mold steels; rust creates insulating layers similar to lime and dirt
deposits. It is always good policy for the designer to check with the molder to
ensure that there are no such problems with the water supply, and to specify that
only clean, noncorrosive coolant is used with the mold. See ME, Chapter 13.
(4) Electric power and controls. The electric power supply in North
America and in most developed countries is usually suf®ciently stable and
uninterrupted, except during natural catastrophes, and of not much concern to
the designer. This is not the case in developing countries, where power
interruptions occur frequently; the effects of such interruptions on the operation
of a mold may cause concern. Typically, in the case of a power failure, a
machine using a cold runner mold will just stop, but can resume work as soon as
the plastic is again up to molding temperature. However, in a hot runner mold
the melt will freeze in the manifold and nozzles and it may take much more time
to restart (in small molds between 15 and 30 minutes). The expected savings
through using a hot-runner mold may become an illusion. The controls
(breakers, heat controllers) available to operate a mold on a speci®c machine
must be discussed with the molder when designing a mold that will require
additional heat controls; typically, such controls are required for hot runner
molds. For safety reasons, heaters in molds are rated at 230 VAC or less, and the
power consumption may be from as low as 40 W per heater, such as in some
nozzle heaters, and up to several thousand watts in hot runner manifold heaters.
5.1 Information and Documentation 41
Since heaters are often bundled in parallel and operated by designated controls,
it is important to ensure that adequately sized circuit breakers and so on are
available; some can be controlled with time-percentage controllers or variable
(voltage) transformers, whereas some will need thermocouples and heat
controllers.
5.2 Start of Mold Design
Now that all our preliminaries are clear, the designer must decide what kind of
mold should be designed. With the expected production in mind, the most
suitable, that is, the most economical mold for the job must be selected. As was
already stated earlier, a very expensive mold intended for high productivity will
not necessarily be the best choice. The designer must always ®nd the most cost-
effective mold, that is, the mold that will result in the lowest cost of the product.
5.2.1 Mold Shoes
A mold shoe (sometimes also called ``chase'') is the total of all mold plates
making up the mold, including screws and alignment features, but not including
the stack, which is the arrangement of all mold parts that touch the injected
plastic, typically, the cavities, cores, any inserts in either of them, ejectors,
strippers, side cores, and so on. In simple molds (not necessarily low-production
molds) the cavities and cores can be machined right into the mold plates. A
decision on which way to proceed with the mold shoe should be made only after
the product drawing is carefully studied, and never losing sight of the expected
productivity of the mold. There are several choices for the designer.
5.2.1.1 No Mold Shoe Used
The mold may consist of only one plate for the cavity and another plate for the
core, with both cavity and core machined right into these plates. Ejection is
facilitated by air valves built directly into the core plate. The entire mold, then,
consists essentially of only two parts, plus alignment features and air valves.
Cooling channels are built right into the plates.
42 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.2.1.2 Standard Mold Shoes
Mold shoes can be bought from mold maker supply houses (DME, Hasko, etc.)
from a large selection of standard sizes, with or without leader pin alignment,
and with or without ejector plates. All plates are machined and ground square,
and are ready for adding the required mold features. Many mold shops prefer to
buy these ready-made mold parts, and rather specialize in the making of the
stacks and doing the ®nal mold assembly. These plates are usually available in
several qualities of steel:
(1) The ®rst type is an inexpensive, ``mild steel,'' which is soft, with low
strength, and little wear resistance. It is suitable only where the expected forces
and wear in the mold are small enough that the steel will not be damaged, for
example, by the clamping pressure on a too small P/L, or by the hobbing effect,
which is the pushing of a supported small insert into a mild steel backing. Also,
since mild steels have a low tensile (and compressive) strength, they may
permanently deform if loaded beyond their yield point.
(2) Another common steel supplied is a type of ``machinery steel,'' typically
a steel called P20 or P20PQ (plastic mold quality). It is treated to a Rockwell
hardness of approximately Rc 30±35; P20PQ is produced especially clean, that
is without dirt enclosures, which could be detrimental if they appear on a
molding surface. These plates are more expensive but cost much less than so-
called mold steels; they are very suitable for cutting the cavity or core right into
the plates. This is of special advantage for large products where the cost of mold
steel would be very high. Mold steel is always supplied very soft (about the same
as mild steel), for easy machining; it must be hardened and ground after
machining, which represents an additional, considerable expense. In high-
quality molds, the stack parts are usually made from steels such as P20PQ for
large products, and from mold steels for smaller products.
(3) In high-quality molds, also, both the mold shoe and the stack parts are
made from stainless steels (SS). The larger mold parts are then machined from
prehardened steel, and smaller parts from SS mold steels. This is helpful in
humid climates to prevent rusting of the mold shoe, or where the plastic is
corrosive and could attack the stack parts. The higher material cost can often be
justi®ed with savings in mold maintenance. Note that for corrosive plastics (e.g.,
PVC) the stack parts made from regular mold steels must be chrome plated,
which is expensive and requires additional maintenance. Mild steel plates and
P20 plates can be protected against rust by a relatively low-cost electroless
nickel coating, or by just oiling well after use, before storing the mold. (More
about mold steels in Chapter 9.)
5.2 Start of Mold Design 43
5.2.1.3 Home-Made Mold Shoes
The mold shoes can be made in-house from raw steel plates, which the mold
maker can buy from the steel mills or dealers. The mold maker may keep certain
plate sizes and thicknesses in stock, and cut and machine them to size as needed.
This requires much plant space, heavy lifting and storage equipment, and
accurate milling and grinding machines. It is an economic decision that may be
different from shop to shopÐwhether to make the plates or buy them as
standard plates or as complete mold shoes. In any case, the same choices of steel
apply. Note that often, such in-house made mold shoes or plates are built to the
dimensions listed as standard parts by the hardware suppliers.
5.2.1.4 Special Mold Shoes
This applies mostly to special molds for which no suitable standard sizes are
commercially available, and to very high production molds, where the mold
shoe is built around the stacks, and optimum layouts are used for all mold
features, rather than the stacks being ®t into the space available in standard
molds. Some mold makers specializing in certain areas (preform molds,
unscrewing molds, etc.) create their own mold shoe standards. In high-
production molds, the mold shoe too is usually made from prehardened steel.
Also, often prehardened stainless steel is used for such molds.
5.2.1.5 Universal Mold Shoes
For low production and relatively small products, a universal mold shoe offers
another solution for making a relatively low-cost mold. Universal mold shoes
are essentially standard size chases that are constructed so that different stacks
can be easily mounted into them. The mold maker concentrates on making the
stacks, in sizes and to rules speci®ed by the maker of these universal mold
shoes. Mold features such as runners, cooling, and ejection are usually not as
ef®cient as in a mold speci®cally designed for a product, and the mold will not
cycle as fast; but, for the small quantities required this is no problem, and the
mold is much less expensive than a complete mold. This makes a lot of sense,
especially if a large number of such ``inserts'' are used or foreseen.
44 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.2.1.6 Mold Hardware
Hardware items include leader pins, bushings, ejector pins and sleeves, screws,
and many other mold parts that are required for the mold. They are all listed in
catalogues issued by the various mold maker supply houses; they are mass
produced, using high-quality materials, and machined to very close tolerances. It
is always more economical to buy these parts rather than to attempt to make
them in-house. Also, a good mold designer will never modify these products,
with only one exception: the cutting to length of the ejector pins and sleeves. A
diameter should never be modi®ed; a way can always be found to make the
design use a standard size diameter. Also, screws used in molds must never be
modi®ed, not even their length; there is always a way to make the design use a
standard size, often by just changing the depth of a counter bore for the screw
head. Any modi®cation of a screw will reduce its strength; a modi®ed screw is
also dif®cult to replace in the ®eld. Because screws should be tightened to about
60±70% of their yield strength, in good maintenance procedures all screws
should be replaced every time the mold undergoes a major overhaul.
5.2.2 Mold Drawings
5.2.2.1 Assembly and Detail Drawings
The purpose of the assembly drawing (including the Bill of Materials discussed
later) is to convey the intentions of the designer to the people involved in
purchasing hardware and materials, assembling the mold, and, ®nally, operating
the mold. The assembly drawing of the mold must contain all pertinent
information, given in plan and section views and in notes, which are used to
explain where the drawings alone could be ambivalent or misinterpreted. Once
the assembly drawing is ®nished, there must be no doubt left about how the
mold is to be built and operated. Today, most mold makers depend on
machinists specialized in their trade, such as lathe, milling machine, EDM, or
other machine tool operators. These machinists need detail drawings, complete
with tolerances and, if deemed necessary, other instructions such as hardness,
plating, and ®nishing. These detail drawings are prepared from the assembly
drawings.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 45
5.2.2.2 How Many Drawings and Views?
This question is frequently asked. The answer is simple: enough to make sure
that there is no possible misreading of a drawing. Too few views (or sections)
means that in the best case, the machinist will interrupt his work to come and
ask for explanations, which costs in lost time. In the worst case, the machinist
will not ask, but will proceed in the wrong direction. This could become very
expensive if an incorrectly made piece is not discovered until it reaches
assembly, and then has to be remade, or it could cause major interruptions until a
solution is found to use and repair the wrong part. Sometimes other mold parts
have to be altered to make it possible to use an incorrectly made but expensive
part. On the other hand, too many, often unnecessary views make more work for
the detailer and can be confusing for the user of the drawings.
5.2.2.3 Arrangement of Views
Most molds are laid out by starting from a (signi®cant) cross section and then
drawing to the right of it (as the mold would be when mounted in the molding
machine) a view into the cavity half of the mold, that is, into the injection side
(see Fig. 5.1). The assembly drawing should show above this view words such as
``Plan view into cavities.''
On the left side of the section view, the core half is shown, as if looking into
the direction of the core and the moving platen. The assembly drawing should
Figure 5.1 Arrangement of mold drawing layout: (a) cavity (plate), (b) core (plate),
(c) parallels, (d) ejector plate, (e) mounting plate, (f) ejector retainer plate, (g) stop button,
(h) ejector pin, (i) sprue bushing, (j) locating ring, (m) leader pin, (n) leader pin bushing.
46 Before Starting to Design a Mold
show above this view words such as ``Plan view into cores.'' The plan view
drawings are made so that we see the parting line (plane) as visible, and all
plates and mold features behind it as invisible lines. Additional full or partial
cross sections and/or plan views should be added (usually on separate sheets)
only when they can add information to the views already shown. Remember, the
designer is in the business of designing molds, not making pretty pictures.
However, the drawing must always be drawn to scale, so that the various parts
can be seen in proper proportion. ``To scale'' in this context means to draw to a
selected, set ratio, preferably ``to size'' (1 : 1), or if this is not practical, in case of
large products, smaller, often 1 : 2, or even 1 : 5, or larger, often 2 : 1, 5 : 1 or
10 : 1.
5.2.2.4 Notes on Drawings
Whenever it is impossible or cumbersome to specify some important
information by using standard drawing techniques, a note should be added to
express in concise but clear words what is intended. The note should be short,
but not so short that it could be open to misinterpretation. Also, the drawing
should not be cluttered with too many notes, and must show clearly what the
notes apply to.
5.2.2.5 Additional Information on the Drawings
For more complicated molds, it is good practice to show also, on another sheet if
necessary, separate schematic views of (1) all coolant circuits, (2) any air and
hydraulic circuits, (3) any special electric circuits, and (4) a sequence of
operation of the various mold functions, for example, at what point in the cycle
ejection starts, and when air should be activated. This can have legal
implications: complete and correct information will protect the designer from
any possible future litigation, in case of an accident caused by the mold not
being installed and operated as recommended by the designer. Note that the
drawings are part of the job and must be shipped to the customer together with
the mold.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 47
5.2.3 The Stack Layout
By now, the designer will probably have decided what type of mold should be
built, guided by the possibilities discussed in Section 5.2.1. This does not
necessarily mean that the designer is bound by this early decision. It may
become necessary to reconsider as the design progresses. The designer must
always keep an open mind and be ready to scrap an earlier idea for a better one.
The more time spent on thinking and rethinking the problems at this time, the
more successful will be the ®nal result; this will save time and money in the long
run.
5.2.3.1 Signi®cant Cross Section
Which type of mold shoe will be ®nally selected for the job is, at this point, of
secondary importance. The designer must now start with showing, to scale, a
signi®cant cross section of the product. This means the section that shows all the
areas that must be considered when designing the stack. (If more than one
signi®cant feature cannot be shown in the main cross section, additionalÐor
partialÐsections may have to be shown.)
The cross sections will now be examined and a number of questions will
have to be asked, step by step.
5.2.3.2 Will the Product Slide (Pull) out of the Cavity?
This point should be investigated ®rst, because it will determine the complexity
of the cavity.
(1) In the case of a simple, cup-shaped product, there is usually no
problem.
(2) Holes (cutouts) or projections in the side wall of the product may
require special attention: will it be necessary to provide side cores? If
side cores, should there be one for each hole or one for a group of holes
or projections? Should the cavity have a complete side wall moving? In
the case of beverage crates, all four walls may have to move, which will
create four vertical split (parting) lines. All this will considerably
48 Before Starting to Design a Mold
increase the complexity of the mold and increase the space required for
each cavity and for the stack in general.
(3) Are there other projections in the side wall of the product? If they are
deep, they will probably be considered like holes. If they are shallow
(for example, engraved printing or ornamentation), it will depend on
the draft angle of the side wall and the plastic injected. In some cases,
typically with draft angles over 5

, shallow engraving could pull out of
the cavity, provided there are features (such as undercuts) on the core to
ensure that there is enough force on the molded piece to pull it out of
the cavity. Cases like this should be discussed with the designer of the
product for which the mold will be built. There may be a good chance
that the product design could be slightly changed such that side cores
are not necessary at all, thereby saving considerable expense.
(4) Other possibilities can be considered, especially for large openings in
the side walls, as, for example, the large cutouts in the sides of a
typical, large laundry basket, where the cavity and the core can meet at
an angle and produce additional, small parting lines, but not require
side cores or split cavities.
(5) The most common case is where the cavities split into two halves,
creating two vertical split lines.
(6) There may not always be enough space for the long side motions
required for two splits, and the cavity will split into four sections; this
is common with pail molds where four moving side cores are wedged
within the cavity block walls to contain the outward forces of the side
cores. Note that in all cases where side cores are used, they must be
preloaded and backed up against the forces generated by the injection
pressure.
5.2.3.3 Will the Product Eject Easily from the Core?
Are there any raised portions inside the product that would be molded in severe
undercuts in the core and prevent the product from being ejected easily?
(1) Snap (Fig. 5.2). A frequently used undercut is a snap feature, which is a
(usually circular) rim inside the product, shaped to snap over a similar extension
in a matching product, for example, the lid over a can. Provided the shape of the
snap rim (its cross sectionÐtapered and/or rounded suf®cientlyÐand the total
circumferential length) is suitably designed for ejection, there is no problem, and
a stripper ring will easily eject the product by forcing the rim to expand while
5.2 Start of Mold Design 49
ejecting (``stripping''). Stripping with ejector pins, located at some strategic
points, may also be used for stripping, in nonround products. To make the snap
ring easier to stretch and to come off the core without breaking, it can sometimes
be broken down into several sections, so that there will be, for example, four
sections, each covering about 60±70

of the circumference, instead of covering
the whole 360

. Of course, customer's approval must be secured before making
such a change. Note that this is more dif®cult to machine.
(2) Internal threads. If the threads are designed suitable for stripping, they
can be stripped from the core like the snap rim described above. It is better if
there is not more than one complete thread (360

). Multiple threads may cause
damage to the molded thread projections as they are dragged over the
depressions for the successive threads in the core during ejection. (In many
cases, one thread may be strong enough for its intended purpose.) It must also be
understood that there is a relationship between the amount the plastic that is
stretched radially and circumferentially. For a certain cross section of the snap
rim or thread, and if the product is small, there may not be enough length in the
circumference to stretch, and the product will tear.
(3) Unscrewing. In some cases, the product must be unscrewed from the
core, which means a much more complicated (and expensive) mold. There are
several moldmakers specializing in unscrewing molds, using standard design
mold shoes and stacks, thereby reducing the cost of such molds.
(4) Undercuts. Undercuts are used to hold the product on the core, to ensure
proper ejection, especially in cases where the product is designed so that it could
stay in the cavity while the mold opens, often held by the vacuum between
product and cavity wall. With many products, there are enough ``vertical''
surfaces in the core, such as slots for ribs, or specially shaped slots and holes as
often required in technical products, to hold the product on the core side; the
same is true for cup-shaped products with little side draft, where the product will
tend to shrink tightly onto the core. If this is not enough to hold the product on
the core, judiciously designed and placed undercuts should be speci®ed at the
time of designing; do not leave it to the molder to add undercuts after the mold
is in operation and causes ejection problems. The proper location for these
Figure 5.2 (Left) Section through a cap with snap; (Right) example of 4-section snap.
50 Before Starting to Design a Mold
undercuts (which are usually not speci®ed by the product designer) is (a) near
ejectors, or (b) preferably, especially with hot runner molds, near the tip of the
core where the undercuts are more effective because the bottom of the product is
stiffer.
(5) Two-stage ejection. Two-stage ejection (Fig. 5.3) may be a solution for
some, somewhat larger undercuts inside the core. (See ME, Chapter 12) This a
more expensive design of the core and the ejection mechanism, but it is
frequently used in products that require a snap design inside the product. It is
often used for overcaps for spray bottles that are produced in really large
quantities. The cooling is less ef®cient, but it is a well-accepted and reliable
design.
(6) Deep projection inside the product. This feature often requires very
complicated core design, possibly with moving, retractable core sections, or
``collapsible cores.'' Both systems are expensive, dif®cult to build, and hard to
maintain in operation; they are also usually dif®cult to cool adequately, and thus
run much slower than a comparable mold without these features. (See ME,
Chapter 12)
5.2.3.4 Establishing the Parting Line
(1) Primary parting line. Before proceeding, the location of the dividing
plane (parting line, P/L) between cavity and core must be decided. In cup-
shaped products, this is usually simple: it is at the widest portion of the product.
As stated earlier, a straight P/L is easiest to produce, preferably, but not
necessarily, at right angles to the direction of the mold opening, that is, the axis
Figure 5.3 Schematic of 2-stage ejection: (a) core, (b) sleeve, (c) stripper ring. During
ejection, ®rst (1) and (2) move together so that the core can slide out, then the stripper
moves up to push the product off the sleeve while the projection on the inner sleeve
moves inwards, as shown by the small arrows.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 51
of the mold. An offset (or stepped) P/L is sometimes required, due to the shape
of the rim. It is also, occasionally, used for molding a large projection, for
example, a simple handle of a mug, on the outside of the product; such an offset
P/L is preferable to a side core, which would be much more expensive to build
(see Fig. 5.4).
(2) Split cavities or side cores. At this time the designer must also determine
if the cavity needs to be split and where the split lines will be located, or if side
cores will be required. Usually, but not always, the split lines are parallel to the
axis of the mold, and side cores at right angles to it. Both split cavities and side
cores need backing up and preload against the forces created by the injection
pressure, and some method of operating mechanism, which will also require
space in the mold. Operating mechanisms can be angle pins (horn pins), or
rollers in tracks, both of which translate the opening motion of the mold into
sideways motion; they could also be timed, hydraulic actuators independent of
Figure 5.4 Schematic of mug with handle, showing offset parting line: (a) cavity,
(b) core.
Figure 5.5 Example of a louver mold: (a) cavity, (b) core, (c) round core pin, (d) side
core, (e) core pin with shaped tip.
52 Before Starting to Design a Mold
the clamp motion. The designer should also consider if a better mold layout
could be achieved by turning the product slightly, to achieve with a straight
(up-and-down) mold what would otherwise require side cores (see Fig 5.5).
In some cases, rotating the product 90

could also result in a better mold, as
shown schematically in Fig. 5.6. The right schematic shows the normally
expected mold layout, with the center line of the product parallel to the mold
axis. Because of the outside shape (e.g., deep engravings or projections) the
cavity will have to be split; the projected area (at right angles to the axis) of the
product is very small compared to the projected area of the sides of the product.
Therefore, the side cores will see considerably larger forces Fs at right angles to
the mold axis. These forces must be adequately backed up and preload provided
to prevent the splits from cracking open during injection. (See also Section 5.3.)
These backups, especially for large splits, can result in a very bulky mold.
But by turning the product by 90

(left schematic, in Fig. 5.6) the primary P/L
replaces the split line, and the cavity and core halves are clamped by the
machine clamping force Fc. The core must now be withdrawn sideways; it will
have a much smaller area exposed to the injection pressure and will need much
less backing-up force, but the stroke of such side cores will probably be much
greater than the stroke of the split cavities. This could be an undesirable feature,
but is often preferred to the alternative of split cavities. Only by laying out to
scale these alternatives, at this time of the design process, will the designer be
able to determine which is better for the contemplated mold and how to proceed.
Note that in the position shown in Fig. 5.6, the open end of the product is on top
and the product is ejected downward from the (side) core and can fall
unhindered. If the core has suf®cient draft, air pressure alone could be suf®cient
to eject the product from the core, which would make for a much simpler mold.
Figure 5.6 Illustration of a product and two possibilities of mold layout: (a) cavity,
(b) splits, (c) core, (d) core backing plate, (e) product, (Fc) clamp force, (Fs) force on
splits.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 53
5.2.3.5 Is the Cavity Balanced?
Figure 5.7 shows the elements present in every cavity shape. Within (A), the
cavity pressures are balanced; in (B) and (C), the cavity is imbalanced. It does
not matter if the side walls are at right angles to the internal pressure. There is
always a component of the pressure that will press in the direction at right angles
to the mold axis. As can be seen in Fig. 5.8, on the left, the pressures inside the
cavity push to the left and the right by the same amount, and there will be no
force to move the core relative to the cavity. The cavity is therefore balanced.
In the drawing on the right, the pressure p within the cavity tries to separate
the cavity and the core by pushing the cavity to the left and the core to the right,
as indicated with heavy arrows. This must be taken into account when designing
a mold with imbalance in the cavities. The force trying to separate cavity and
core can be balanced by placing a second, similar stack near the ®rst one so that
the forces are pushing in opposite directions. Failing this, there could be one pair
of wedges (similar to a wedge lock) located so that the imbalance is taken up
there. If this is not done, the forces of the imbalance will have to be taken up by
the leader pins and bushings, which may not be strong enough in some cases,
and wear rapidly.
5.2.3.6 Determining the Method of Cavity Construction
(1) Cavity and/or core are cut right into the mold plates. This would make
the simplest mold. Some molds have only one or a few cavities cut into the mold
Figure 5.7 Schematic of cross section of (A) cup-shaped product; (B), (C) open-sided
product.
Figure 5.8 Schematic illustration of (left) a balanced and (right) an imbalanced mold:
(a) cavity, (b) core, (p) internal injection pressure.
54 Before Starting to Design a Mold
plate, but the cores are usually separate from and mounted in or on the core
plate. For practical reasons, one-piece cavity and core plates are often selected
for single-cavity molds, mainly for very large products, but there have been
molds like this built for smaller products, with more cavities. The problem is to
provide the necessary accuracy of machining, especially in the absence of
suf®ciently large, accurate machine tools. The mold could consist of fewer parts,
and if there are no foreseeable problems with ejection, cooling, and mold life, it
is a good method, especially for very large molds. The mold steel selected
should be of ``mold quality,'' prehardened; a typical mold steel is P20PQ, or
stainless steel, prehardened. Such cavities and cores may still require inserts
(usually pins) whenever small holes and so on in the product would require
delicate projections in the molding surface. To machine such projections from
the solid steel, while possible, would be very costly to repair if they should be
damaged.
(2) Composite cavities and cores. Individual, solid cavities are cut from
mold steel, with inserts as needed; this is the most common design. These
cavities are then either mounted on top of the cavity plate or inserted into it.
Cavities can also consist of an assembly of separate pieces, arranged to form the
cavity assembly. If the outside of such an assembly is a (not necessarily round,
but suf®ciently strong) ring (or ``chase'') into which the inserts are placed, this
assembled cavity can be treated as a solid cavity and mounted on top of the
cavity plate or be inserted into it. In some cases, the inserts are directly placed
inside the cavity plate, without the need for a surrounding ring. Note that the
forces from the injection pressure on the sides of the cavities are considerable,
especially if the projected area at right angles to the mold axis is large, that is,
where the product is deep. These forces will tend to loosen the inserts and can
create gaps between them or between inserts and cavity plate, where plastic can
¯ash into. Properly designed, such inserts must be pressed into their chase (or
into the mold plate) to create a preload larger than the expected side forces.
5.2.3.7 Determining the Total Area of the Stack
The total area of the stack is the total of the space of the cavity (including the
ring discussed above, which may also include cooling channels) plus the area
(space) of any added features that may be required, such as side core
components outside the cavity or core, plus space for their motion, actuation,
and the backup. It can be seen that this total space can be much larger than the
cavity by itself, and will determine the size of the mold and affect the cavity
5.2 Start of Mold Design 55
layout. It is easily understood that a mold without side cores requires much less
space, and a much smaller layout, for the same number of cavities.
5.2.3.8 Determining the Core Construction
Cores may require quite a number of inserts and even moving parts; the
injection pressure is usually of little concern (except in some special cases)
because this pressure tends to compress the core from all directions rather than
expand it as it does the cavity, and is resisted by the compressive strength of the
core material. There is one serious problem, thoughÐthe ``core shift,''
especially with long slender cores, when the ¯ow and the pressure of the
inrushing plastic can de¯ect a core, resulting in uneven wall thicknesses around
the core. This is mostly of concern with thin-walled products, which require
higher injection pressures, and where uneven wall thicknesses can create
differential pressures on opposing sides of a core, thereby creating forces that
de¯ect (bend) the core during injection. Such de¯ected cores return to their
original shape as soon as the product is ejected, but by that time it already has
uneven walls. Problems like this can sometimes be solved by supporting the tip
of the core in a matching hole in the cavity when the mold is closed or by some
other, often patented methods. Core shift can also be affected by the location of
the gate; multiple gates are sometimes a solution. (See ME, Chapter 10.)
Cores are usually mounted on top of the core plate, either solidly (the most
common method) or ¯oating, which is better, but more expensive; they are
rarely inserted into the core plate.
5.2.4 Selection of a Suitable Runner System
We must now consider how the plastic will be channeled from the machine
nozzle to the cavity space. This could have been speci®ed with the job order,
but, nevertheless, we should understand the various systems and where they are
most appropriate.
5.2.4.1 Cold Runner, Single-Cavity Molds
The arrangement, as shown in Fig. 5.9, is simple, effective, and good for very
large products, but is also often used for smaller ones. The disadvantage is that
the gate is large and must be cut or even machined if appearance is important.
56 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.2.4.2 Cold Runner, 2-Plate Molds
The mold on the left in Fig. 5.10 has only one P/L. An edge-gated arrangement
is shown. The products and the runners stay together when ejected and must be
separated after molding. There are other methods of gating, some of which are
self-degating as the mold opens, but products and runners are still mixed
together and require separation. More about gates in ME, Chapter 10.
The advantages of this system are (1) simplicity and (2) low cost. Also,
(3) color changes are easy, and (4) the system is not sensitive to dirt in the
plastic. If a gate is blocked, it is clean again after the runner is ejected.
The disadvantages are (1) these molds usually have longer molding cycles
because of the longer time required to cool the often large runners. (2) The mass
Figure 5.10 Schematic illustrations of (left) a 2-plate mold, (center) a 3-plate mold,
and (right) a hot-runner mold: (a) cavity plate, (b) core plate, (c) third plate, (d) cold
runner, (e) hot runner, (f) hot runner manifold, (g) hot runner backing plate, (h) nozzle.
P/L, parting line.
Figure 5.9 Schematic of (large) single-cavity mold: (a) cavity, (b) core, (c) sprue,
(d) nozzle seat, (f) gate.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 57
of the runners must be added to the mass to be plasticized for the products,
therefore, energy is wasted, ®rst in plasticizing, then in cooling. In some cases,
the mass of the runners is as great as the mass of the products, or even greater.
(3) Although in many cases the runners can be reused, this requires more
handling (costs), energy is needed for regrinding, and there is always a danger of
contamination of the plastic. Also, losses of plastic (maybe 10% of the scrap) in
the course of this process are unavoidable. Even so, 2-plate molds are used in
the vast majority of multicavity molds.
5.2.4.3 Cold Runner, 3-Plate Molds
Three-plate molds are also cold runner molds, but the system is inherently self-
degating. The mold in the center of Fig. 5.10 has two P/Ls. As the clamp opens,
®rst, the cavity plate travels with the moving mold half; as soon as the cavity
plate has reached a limited distance the moving mold half (the cores, with the
products still on them) continues to move away from the cavity plate and the
products can be ejected, after P/L 1 is opened. At the moment when the product,
still on the cores, start pulling out of the cavity, the plastic in the gates is severed.
Then, by some more or less complicated mechanism, P/L 2 separates and
permits the ejection of the runner system in a separate plane.
Advantages: (1) The products can be center gated, or gated anywhere on the
top surface. (2) Due to the absence of runners in the P/L, the cavities can be
closer together and more cavities can be placed in a mold of comparable size;
see the difference between left and center (or right) illustrations in Fig. 5.10.
(3) The gate vestige is usually very small, with excellent appearance. (4) Color
changes are easy. (5) The system is not sensitive to dirt in the plastic. If a gate is
blocked, it is clean again after the runner is ejected.
Disadvantages: (1) Three-plate molds are much more complicated and
expensive. (2) It is very dif®cult to guarantee 100% automatic ejection of the
runner system. There are numerous systems, with links, chains, air actuators,
and so on to provide the necessary motions. (3) With 3-plate molds, too, the
runner mass can be greater than the total mass of the products; the same
comments regarding productivity apply as for 2-plate molds.
This system is often used for very small products, such as screw caps,
overcaps, and so on, which should be center gated for best molding ¯ow, such as
in containers, and where the appearance of the top surface of the molded piece is
important.
58 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.2.4.4 Hot Runner (HR) Molds
In the system on the right in Fig. 5.10, the plastic (melt) is kept hot, on its way
from the machine nozzle to the gate. Heaters in the sprue bushing, the HR
manifold, and (usually) the HR nozzles (which terminate at the gate) ensure that
the plastic stays at the required temperature. (Note that it is not the purpose of
the hot runner system to add to or regulate the melt temperature, but just to keep
it as it comes out of the machine nozzle.) When the mold stops operating, that is,
when the power is off, the plastic in the hot runner will freeze. To make the
plastic hot again to restart the mold in a reasonable time (15±30 minutes), the
heaters must be strong. But during operation of the mold, the heat requirements
are small, especially with a well-designed system with a minimum of heat losses
to the surrounding, cooled plates. Some molds, once ``on cycle,'' require no heat
at all or as little a 5% of the rated heater capacity of the hot runner system. The
main design problems in hot runner molds are the gate shape, the temperature
pro®le around the gate, and the materials selection.
(1) Open gates depend on their size and shape and on the operating pressure
and temperature of the plastic. At the end of the injection stroke, the gate must
freeze suf®ciently to stop the plastic from drooling into the cavity while the
mold is open for ejection of the products. When the mold recloses, the injection
pressure must push the frozen ``plug'' of plastic out of the gate into the cavity
space and thereby permit the plastic to ¯ow again.
(2) Valved gates are closed and opened by mechanical (or electrical) means,
as timed. This requires more mechanisms and controls, thus adding to the mold
cost. The size of the gates can be much larger than with open gates, which, in
some cases, can be very important for the ®lling of the cavity spaces; it also
reduces the sensitivity to dirt, because dirt can more easily pass through a large
opening. Larger gates are also of advantage for materials that are sensitive to
high stresses.
Advantages of hot runner molds: (1) The cavity spacing can be similar to a
3-plate mold, that is, closer, making good use of the available space. (2) The
mold output can be greater since all material that is plasticized is used to
produce products. (3) There is no need for regrinding, except for scrap during
start-up.
Disadvantages: (1) Higher mold cost (but not much different from a 3-plate
mold. (2) Dif®cult color changes. The plastic within the hot runner system must
be completely clean before a new color can be used. A measure of a good hot
runner system is the number of shots required to change from a darker color to a
lighter one. A good HR will do this in about 15 shots, after clean, new color is
5.2 Start of Mold Design 59
coming from the injection unit. (3) Very sensitive to dirt in the plastic. If there is
a gate blocked by dirt, the nozzles must be accessed for cleaning, which may
take anywhere from half an hour to a day; it may even be necessary to remove
the mold from the machine. A good mold design makes sure that this cleaning
can be easily performed while the mold is in the machine. (4) Cost of plastic.
The sensitivity to dirt also suggests that the molder should use virgin plastics
rather than regrinds, which are more likely to be contaminated. This will affect
the cost of the product. (5) With today's technology, there are still problems to
mold very small products, because of the long residence time of the plastic in
the runner system, which, if too long, causes the plastic to degrade.
5.2.4.5 Cold and Hot Runner Molds, in Combination
Combinations of hot and cold runner molds are usually selected for cases where
cold runner molds (edge or center gated) would have advantages over hot runner
molds. This is done sometimes for very small products, to avoid excessive
residence time in the HR system, or for very large products, to reduce the
pressure drop from machine nozzle to the gates, especially if the distances from
nozzle to gates are very large.
Two typical examples are shown in Fig. 5.11. Many such combinations are
possible.
(1) For multicavity molds (Fig. 5.11, left), the runner system could become
quite large. To prevent large pressure drops while avoiding unnecessary large
masses of plastic, the runner channels taper down from a heavy cross section
where the plastic enters the mold at the sprue, becoming gradually smaller every
Figure 5.11 Schematic of a 16-cavity mold: (Left) common cold runner mold; (Right)
combination hot and cold runner mold. (a) Cavity, (b) sprue, (c±f) cold runners, (g) hot
runner.
60 Before Starting to Design a Mold
time the runner splits, until it arrives at the gates (symbolized in Fig. 5.11 with
the line width of the runners). This will ensure that all cavities are ®lled properly.
However, the heavy runners are dif®cult to cool and add much to the plastic that
must be recycled; this is wasteful, as explained earlier.
Figure 5.11, right shows a simple, schematic example for a similar mold in
which the total runner system is divided into a (4-branch) hot runner system, and
each branch will then supply a cold runner system, 2-plate in this example.
The pressure drop in the hot runner channels is small, and the ®nal branches
of the cold runner can be kept as small as they would be with the common
runner layout shown on the left in Fig. 5.11.
(2) For very large products (Fig. 5.12) as found, for example, in the
automotive industry, the product should be edge gated. The edge gates are
located where best suited for the product, but instead of having a large cold
runner supply, these edge gates, a (usually nonstandard) hot runner manifold, or
other method of ducting the hot plastic will bring the plastic to the gates (or
group of gates), without signi®cant loss of pressure and without the need to
reprocess the heavy runners. Another advantage is that the product can be
placed approximately symmetrically around the center of the machine, for a
balanced clamp force. This is possible with standard 3-plate molds, but not with
2-plate molds because the machine nozzle is in the center of the platens.
(Exception: Special molding machines equipped with an offset extruder or one
that can be located outside the platen and injected in the side of the mold or even
into the P/L.)
Figure 5.12 Schematic of a large molding, with 6 cold runner edge gates and a hot
runner system with nozzles into each of the cold runners: (a) product, (b) sprue, (g) hot
runner branch, (h) hot runner nozzle, (i) gate, (j) cold runner.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 61
5.2.4.6 Insulated Runner Molds
Figure 5.13 (left) shows a mold similar to that in Fig. 5.9, but the sprue is an
insulated runner. The plastic within the runner will stay hot long enough that the
material injected during the next cycle will ``shoot through'' the still hot plastic,
even pushing the, by then, frozen gate out of the way, but only if the cycle is not
too long. Cycle times of up to 30 seconds can be successfully handled, and with
some materials even longer, before the plastic freezes. If the plastic freezes, the
cold ``plug'' is easily extracted after retracting the machine nozzle; as soon as
the machine nozzle is again in position, the next cycle can be started. This
method is simple, inexpensive, and reliable, and it is not sensitive to dirt. If some
dirt blocks the gate, it can be easily removed, as if the gate were frozen. The gate
can be very small but must be properly designed for shape and size.
Figure 5.13 (right) shows a mold similar to the schematics in Fig. 5.10 (right).
The hot runner is replaced with a much simpler insulated runner channel (e).
In this system, the plastic in the center of the runner remains hot, even though
the plastic close to the cooled walls will freeze; successive injected plastic will
be able to ¯ow through the hot core of the runner system without any added
heat. It works well at cycle times up to 15 seconds, and even longer, depending
on the plastic used. This system is very inexpensive, simple, and reliable, but the
start-up procedure is somewhat awkward and possibly dangerous if performed
by operators not skilled in this system; often several starts are needed before the
mold will run on cycle. If the runner freezes, the mold must be split open
between the cavity plate (a) and the backing plate (c); the, by now, frozen runner
must be removed; and the plates locked together again before restarting. Molds
with up to 16 cavities have been built and run successfully, but it is better to stay
Figure 5.13 Schematics of single and multiple insulated runner molds: (a) cavity,
(b) core, (c) backing plate, (d) nozzle seat, (e) insulated runner, (f) gate.
62 Before Starting to Design a Mold
with not more than 6 cavities. Color changes are very easy. Without ever
stopping the machine, by just changing to a new color in the extruder hopper,
after about 15 shots, pieces with the new color are produced. More about this in
IMT, p. 57.
5.2.4.7 Common Rules for Runner Systems
There are some basic rules to consider that apply to any and all runner systems.
Unfortunately, some of these requirements are contradictory, and in such cases
the best compromise must be found.
j Rule 1: Pressure drop. There should be a minimum pressure drop
between the machine nozzle and the cavity space, after the gate. This
affects selected runner lengths, runner cross sections, and gate size. The
longer the runners, the smaller the runner cross sections, and the smaller
the gates are, the higher will be the pressure drop; therefore, less pressure
is available to ®ll the cavities. This means that often the length and
thickness of runners must be increased, thereby increasing the inventory
(see rule 2) in the case of hot runner molds. This will increase the time
required for cooling the runners, in the case of cold runner systems,
because of the larger mass of the runners.
j Rule 2: Plastic inventory. In hot runners, there should be as small a
volume (inventory) of plastic as possible in the system between machine
nozzle and cavity. The larger the runners (less pressure drop, see rule 1),
the greater will be the inventory, and the longer the plastic will be
exposed to the heat in the hot runner manifold, which can degrade the
plastic within the runner system. The time for each temperature before the
plastic starts to degrade is different for each plastic and is shown in graphs
that can be obtained from plastics materials suppliers. Some plastics are
very heat sensitive; others are not. For most plastics, it is desirable to have
the inventory not larger than between 2 and 3 times the total mass of one
shot, so that the plastic within the manifold is continually replaced,
thereby reducing the length of exposure to heat. This is especially
important with slow cycles where the plastic resides for a long time in the
manifold; the same applies when molding very small products.
j Rule 3: Heat loss. There should be a minimum heat loss between
machine nozzle and cavity. Heat loss affects the melt temperature and
increases the viscosity of the plastic, making it harder to inject.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 63
j Rule 4: Cold runners only. The area around sprue and all runners should
be well cooled, for shortest molding cycles. In cold runner molds, poor
cooling of the runners (little heat loss of the melt) means longer cycles,
while waiting longer until the runners are cool (stiff) enough for ejection.
j Rule 5: Hot runner molds only. The hot runner system should be well
heat insulated from the surrounding plates. Some heat losses are
unavoidable because the hot runner manifold must be well supported
(against injection pressure) by its backing plate, and by the features
necessary to locate it within the mold. These necessary areas of contact
conduct heat away from the hot runner to the surrounding cooled plates.
Heat may have to be added through the hot runner manifold heaters to
make up any heat losses, thus increasing the electric power used. Also,
the heat loss into the surrounding plates can raise their temperature and
affect the mold alignment; good cooling is necessary for these plates.
j Rule 6: Balanced runners. In any runner system, the pressure drop
from the machine nozzle to each cavity space (gate) should be the same.
(See also rule 10.) Pressure differences from cavity to cavity will affect
the amount of plastic entering the gate before it freezes, the density of the
plastic in the cavity space, and thereby the strength and quality of the
molded piece. It will also result in differences in the surface de®nition,
and appearance of the product. It is not always possible to follow rule 6
completely, but every effort should be made to do so. In some cases,
individual adjustments to gate sizes may help to ensure more uniformity
of the products.
j Rule 7: Number of gates per cavity. Wherever possible, there should be
only one gate per cavity. There are exception to this rule: (1) where core
shift could be a serious problem, two or more gates may be located
symmetrically around a delicate core to equalize pressure and ¯ow
around the core; (2) where the ¯ow length L from the gate to the farthest
corner (or rim) of the molding is very great. This applies especially to
large moldings. See also Section 5.2.4.8.
j Rule 8: Location of gates. Gate location depends on the shape of the
product. A general rule is that the distance from the gate to the farthest
corners of the cavity space should be about the same. Ideally, gating in the
center of the product will ®ll this condition, but this is often more
expensive than edge gating. In some cases, center gating is not acceptable
if the center of the product must be clear or does not permit a gate vestige.
j Rule 9: Breaking up the plastics ¯ow. Preferably, gates should be located
so that the stream from the gate is broken up as soon as it enters the cavity
64 Before Starting to Design a Mold
space, by colliding either with an opposing wall or, at least, with some
projection (such as a pin) in the cavity space. This will prevent the effects
of jetting, that is, visible ¯ow lines of the plastic, or other surface ¯aws.
j Rule 10: Avoid reversed ¯ow (if possible). Gating into ribs or other
heavy sections may cause the plastic to ¯ow easily and quickly around
some thinner areas of the cavity space. This creates additional fronts
¯owing toward the front of the stream coming from the gate; it will trap
air, which must be vented. This occurs sometimes in heavier moldings,
and venting can often be provided by judiciously placing ejector pins or
vent pins at such locations where the plastics fronts are expected to meet.
5.2.4.8 L/t Ratio
An important characteristic of any product (and the cavity space) is the Lat (``L
over t'') ratio. This is the distance from the gate to the farthest corner (or rim) of
the product, divided by the typical wall thickness through which the plastic must
¯ow. It applies not only to cup-shaped products, such as containers, but also to
¯at products, whether they are center or edge gated. For example, a container,
center gated in the bottom, has a distance of 300 mm from the gate to the rim.
The wall thickness is 2.0 mm. In this case, the Lat ratio is 300 divided by 2,
which equals 150 (Lat ˆ 150).
From experience, it can be stated that an Lat smaller than 100 is usually easy
to ®ll and (with some exceptions) a ratio of 100 to 200 is more dif®cult to ®ll.
Any ratio above 200 is dif®cult to ®ll and may require special attention; it may
even be impossible to ®ll. In the case of large products, by increasing the
number of gates and spacing them judiciously, the Lat ratio can be reduced, and
a piece can be produced that would otherwise be impossible to mold. Reducing
the Lat ratio in this way would also allow the mold to cycle faster. Venting must
be carefully considered to ensure that any air trapped between the fronts of the
plastics ¯ow from more than one gate will be able to escape.
5.2.5 Venting
5.2.5.1 What Is a Vent?
Avent is a small gap in the molding surface, located where air is expected to be
trapped by the advancing and/or converging streams of plastic, during injection.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 65
5.2.5.2 Design Rules That Apply to all Molds
j Rule 1: How much venting? Always provide as much venting as
possible! The parting line is the ideal location for vents, but other areas
are often as important. Especially with thin-walled, typically, disposable
goods, but also with others products, the molding cycles depend on the
speed with which air can escape the cavity space.
j Rule 2: Ends of the melt ¯ow. For good ®lling of the product, provide
vents where the melt ¯ow is expected to end, and at any and all other
points where air could be trapped, thereby preventing the melt to enter
there, typically, at deep bosses or ribs. (If ribs end at the P/L, there is
usually no need for additional vents.)
j Rule 3: Weld lines. Consider locating vents at points where two or more
fronts of plastic ¯ow will meet (for example, where weld lines are
anticipated). This is important when using more than one gate into one
cavity space, or where it is expected that the melt ¯ow from one gate will
split and then reunite, for example, when large cross sections in the cavity
space cause the plastic to run around an enclosed area. Remember, all
¯uids always travel the path of least resistance.
j Rule 4: Vent gap. The gap must be large enough to let air pass, but
small enough so that the inrushing plastic cannot follow. There are
several considerations when designing the vent. Its size (the gap) will
obviously depend on the viscosity and the pressure of the plastic.
Commonly used are gaps of about 0.01 mm (0.0004 inch).
j Rule 5: Land, vent grooves, and channels (Fig. 5.14). The distance in
the gap through which the air has to squeeze is called the land. It is good
Figure 5.14 Examples of vents: (left) section through vent, vent groove, and vent
channel, (center) continuous vent, (right) spot vents. (a) Cavity, (b) core, (c) gap,
(d) land, (e) vent groove, (f) vent channel, (g) continuous vent, (h) spot vent.
66 Before Starting to Design a Mold
practice to make the land very short. The length suggested for most
molds is 1.5 to 2.0 mm (0.060 to 0.080 inch). (Longer land is, of course,
possible but will offer more resistance to the escaping air.) However, the
best-designed vent will not function if the air cannot go anywhere. As the
air escapes through the vent gap, it must be permitted to ¯ow away from
the mold; the land should end in a vent groove, running approximately
parallel to the edge of the product, and vent channels leading away from
speci®c vents or from vent grooves. For venting at the P/L, the cross
section of the vent grooves and channels should be commensurate with
the amount of air expected to ¯ow through them, at least 1 mm (0.040
inch) deep 62 mm (0.080 inch) wide. For vents not at the P/L, the land
should connect to a hole leading to the outside. This applies to ®xed vent
pins, and venting where two ®xed mold components have a vent cut, for
example, at the bottom of a deep rib.
j Rule 6: Width of gap. There are spot vents and continuous vents. Spot
vents were used commonly in earlier days of mold making. The molder
noticed spots where the plastic was burnt at the edge of the product;
where the burning occurred, a small vent at the P/L was cut into the mold,
often crudely, with hand tools. Today, the mold designer must anticipate
where spot vents will be required and specify their width. The vents can
be as narrow as 2 mm (0.080 inch) or even less, but are more often about
6 mm (0.250 inch) wide. Continuous vents on the P/L are often speci®ed
for high-speed molds where they allow air to escape quicker than through
a number of spot vents. It does not matter where the vents or channels are
located on the P/L; they can be on the core side or the cavity side of the
mold; the deciding factor is the ease of machining (grinding) them into
the mold.
j Rule 7: Cleaning of vents. Consider how vents are to be kept clean.
Most plastics exude sticky substances that over time plug the vents. The
vents in the P/L can be easily cleaned by wiping from time to time.
Ejector pins and sleeves have clearances suitable for good venting and,
because of their motion while ejecting, are considered self-cleaning.
Specially designed vent pins are ®xed in their locations and will have to
be cleaned from time to time to ensure proper functioning. Frequently, the
vent pins or other vents inside the mold are connected with drilled holes,
not to the outside, but to a permanently pressurized air supply that blows
through the vents when the mold is open. It does not affect the molding
because the injection pressure is many times greater than the air pressure.
5.2 Start of Mold Design 67
j Rule 8: Strength of P/L. The designer must not forget that the vents and
the vent channels reduce the area where cavity and core meet (the P/L).
The designer must make sure that in strength calculations referring to the
compression of this area when clamping the mold, the actual area of the
P/L is considered. This is sometimes overlooked, and after a few months
of operation, due to fatigue of the mold steels, the cavity or core surfaces
meeting at the P/L are compressed to such extent that the vent gap is
reduced or even eliminated; a mold that ran ®ne at ®rst gradually stops
producing good products and will require recutting of the vents.
5.2.6 Ejection (See also ME, Chapter 12)
This is the next step in the design of the stack. As discussed in Section 4.9, there
are many ways to eject a product. At this point in the design process, the
designer will determine which method will be most suitable for (1) the shape of
the product, (2) the type of mold, and (3) the expected productivity. The selected
method will now be shown in proper relationship to the (cavity and core) stack.
Space requirements for ejection mechanisms, including the location of the now
also selected ejector plate return features, can in¯uence the spacing of the stacks
in a multicavity mold. The designer must also consider that the core must be
backed up against excessive de¯ection of the core backing plate during
injection. This backing up is usually simple with stripper rings or plates; almost
the whole area under the core can be well supported because there are no ejector
pins or sleeves there. It is often quite dif®cult to locate the ejector pins in the
most effective locations, while allowing suf®cient space for the backing up of
the core plate and for aligning and guiding the ejector plate. Note that all ejector
plates must be guided independently; that is, these plates must not be guided by
ejector pins or return pins, because the weight of the plate will tend to bend
these pins in the (usually horizontal) molding machines. But even in molds to be
run in vertical machines it is good practice to guide the ejector plates.
If it is not possible (because of close spacing of ejector pins) to provide
direct backing support, such as support pillars, under the core plate, the only
solution is to provide very thick, heavy core backing plates to minimize
de¯ection. The plate thickness can be calculated with complicated but accurate
methods, or approximated as shown in ME, Chapter 17. The designer must also
consider that after the mold cooling has been decided, it still may be necessary
to relocate some ejector pins or some cooling channels. This may take several
attempts of layouts before settling on a ®nal solution.
68 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.2.7 Cooling
This section does not go into the details of mold cooling, but only highlights the
most important areas and principles to be considered by the designer. For more
information, the designer should consult ME, Chapter 13.
5.2.7.1 Purpose of Cooling a Mold
(1) Cooling is directly related to productivity. An injection mold could also
work without any cooling; that is, it could rely entirely on giving up the heat
energy, which was put into it during injection of the hot plastic, to the
surrounding shop (ambient) temperature. This could take a very long time,
especially with heavy sections and large masses of plastic, but it is done
occasionally if the total production is very small. Instead of water cooling, air
could be blown at the hot mold surfaces to cool them and to speed the process
up somewhat. This is sometimes done even in production molds, when it is not
possible to cool a very delicate mold part by conventional cooling means.
(2) Productivity. The higher the productivity that is expected from a mold,
the faster the mold must be brought back to its optimal operating temperature,
that is, the better must be the cooling. As should be stressed again and again, the
molder is really interested only in getting the best product at the lowest cost, and
the mold cost becomes signi®cant only if production is fairly low. This means
that, while a relatively low production mold should be well cooled, it should be
done without ``going all out''; with high production molds, there should be no
limits to ingenuity when designing the cooling channel layout or selecting the
mold materials for good conductivity and mold life. This is a typical area where
compromises may be necessary. In certain types of molds (especially molds for
intricate technical products, even for high production), the cooling of the
mounting or backing plates is often acceptable, without any intricate cooling
channels within cavities and cores. The heat must travel through cavity and core
to the surface where they are mounted, and be removed by the plates by a pattern
of simple (drilled) water channels. This method is inexpensive but will add time
to the molding cycle, when compared to complicated cooling layouts. However,
the added cost to the molding process is small compared with the possibly much
higher mold cost with intricate cooling arrangements.
(3) Heat conductivity of mold materials. The designer must understand that
there are great differences in heat conductivity in the materials commonly used
for molds. The designer must also understand that the amount of heat removed
5.2 Start of Mold Design 69
per unit of time depends on the distance the heat must travel. Dirt and corrosion
in cooling lines also act like heat barriers and affect the heat transfer from the
mold to the cooling medium. In some cases, it may be almost impossible to
provide cooling lines in small mold parts; small pins and blades, for example,
will heat up much more than the well-cooled cavity walls, and thereby control
the molding cycle. Special mold materials, such as beryllium±copper (BeCu)
alloys, provide about four times better heat conductivity than steel, and are often
used for such delicate mold parts; the heat will then move faster than in steel to
reach a well-cooled mold part or plate. Certain larger parts in high-speed molds
are also made from BeCu, wherever it is important that heat be removed fast,
even though such parts can be well cooled by cross drilling or are surrounded by
coolant channels. This method is often used in mold parts opposite the gate
where the hot plastic hits ®rst as it comes out of the gate, and in parts
surrounding the hot gate. Note that BeCu is much more expensive than mold
steel; it can be used prehardened at about Rc 35±38, which is in many
applications suf®cient. BeCu, even when hard, is not as resistant to wear as hard
mold steel; gates if made from BeCu must be replaced frequently, as the plastic
stream tends to wash out and increase the gate size. The designer will make sure
that such replacement is easy to do.
Caution: BeCu gives off poisonous gases during machining, and special
precautions, such as ventilation of the work place, are necessary.
(4) Heat conductivity of molding materials. Plastics, too, have different heat
conductivities. There is also the difference between crystalline and amorphous
plastics. Crystalline plastics (e.g., PE or PP) contain more heat and give it up
slower to the coolant than amorphous plastics (e.g., PS); without going into
details, more energy (heat) is needed to melt crystalline plastics, and more
energy (in cooling) is needed to cool it down again. In practical terms, for
example, by using the same mold, it will take longer to mold a product from PE
than from PS.
As soon as the plastic touches the walls of the cooled cavity space, it freezes,
which makes it more dif®cult for the following layers to give up heat to the mold
wall or insert. This is signi®cant for products with heavy walls and will increase
the cooling time regardless of how well the wall (or mold part) is cooled. Also,
as soon as the plastic begins to cool, it will start to shrink; this happens (in most
cases) in the direction away from the cavity. Because the shrinking plastic will
start to hug the core, there will be (a) a better contact with the core, and (b) a
space created between the plastic and the cavity wall; this space contains a
vacuum or if properly vented, will contain air. Both air or vacuum are ideal heat
insulators and reduce the heat ¯ow from the plastic to the cavity wall. In most
such molds the cavity does not need as much cooling as the core. Unfortunately
70 Before Starting to Design a Mold
for the designer, there is a problem: usually, there is much more space in the
cavityÐwhere cooling is not needed as muchÐto provide lots of cooling
circuitry, while the coreÐwhich does more of the coolingÐis much more
dif®cult to cool, especially when there are also ejectors, moving parts, and/or air
channels in it. Many existing molds have lots of unnecessary cooling in the
cavity.
With molds for thin-walled products, it is somewhat different. The injected
plastic is so thin that there is less effect of shrinkage, and the cooling of the
cavity also becomes important because the plastic stays in contact with the
cavity walls for much longer.
There are exceptions to the foregoing. For example, if a product has heavy
walls and a large gate, injection pressure can be maintained longer, the shrinking
volume is replenished during the cooling cycle, and the plastic stays in contact
with the cavity wall longer. Even so, the cavity cooling is never as important as
the core cooling.
5.2.7.2 Show Cooling Lines in Stack
The next step in the design is to show the selected cooling lines in the stack, that
is, the cavity, core, and, occasionally, the stripper plate and any side cores or
cavity splits. This may require several attempts of layouts before settling on one
solution. For very high production molds, this may take considerable design
time but it is always worth it. It may also require going back to the stack layout
and changing the ejection layout to arrive at a good compromise in locating both
ejection and cooling. As mentioned earlier, make sure that all channels are
dimensioned so that the coolant will have turbulent ¯ow and that the location of
channels from the molding surfaces is as suggested for ef®ciency and strength.
How will the coolant be supplied to the cavities and cores, in case of
multicavity molds? There are several possibilities.
(1) Each cavity or core is mounted on its respective backing plate, and each
has its own coolant connection to a central water supply (header, etc.) This is
fairly inexpensive, but not very good because of the large number of hose
connections required, especially when there are more than six cavities.
Remember that every cooling circuit has an IN and an OUT connection
(2 hoses), and often there are several cooling circuits per cavity, and, similarly,
often more than one cooling circuit per core or cavity. In addition, some plates
should also be cooled because of possible alignment problems. All this can add
5.2 Start of Mold Design 71
up to a very large number of hose connections, a possible nightmare for mold
installation.
(2) Cavities and cores receive the coolant from their underlying plate. This
method is more complicated than (1), but reduces the number of hoses required
to a minimum. The mold plates are cross drilled with channels of various
(larger) sizes to supply the coolant and to return it. These sizes should be
calculated and located so that all cavities or cores will be able to draw, as nearly
as possible, the same amount of coolant. Cross-drilled channels are more
expensive to produce than the method shown in (1), but such molds are much
less troublesome to install, or in operation. Note that the coolant should not be
used to regulate the ¯ow through some portions of the mold during the operation
of a mold. The coolant should be either ON or OFF. In exceptional cases, it may
be necessary to shut off the cooling around hot runner nozzles during start-up,
but even this is old-fashioned and unnecessary if the mold is properly designed.
(3) The cavities are often inserted (fully or partly) and therefore ®xed in
position. The cores are usually screwed on backing plates, sometimes even
allowed to ¯oat, for perfect, individual alignment. For the coolant connection,
the same applies as in (2).
Regardless of which of the above three methods are used, the designer must
now consider where the coolant connections are located in those stack members
that will be cooled. It is very desirable (for mold making and for servicing) that
all stack parts are the same; the designer should spend some time to see if all
parts can be mounted without the need for ``right'' or ``left'' parts. In cases (2)
and (3), this can often be achieved by judiciously locating the coolant channels.
To prevent leaking, O-rings will be required at all ¯uid passages from one mold
part to another. O-ring grooves and ®nishes must be properly speci®ed. In some
cases, more than one passage may be covered by one O-ring (use O-ring
manufacturers guidelines). Any leakage from one passage to another within the
O-ring (``wet'') area can be ignored, but it is important that no screws are
allowed in a wet area.
5.2.7.3 Screws
At this time only, the designer will locate the screws connecting the cavities and
cores to their plates. In some cases, where cavities or cores are inserted in plates,
they can be held in them with ``heels,'' and, therefore, do not require screws; but
if the inserts are round, they must be oriented, for example, with dowels, so that
they cannot turn. If screws are used they too should be located so that there is no
need for ``right'' and ``left'' parts. The designer should always make sure to use
72 Before Starting to Design a Mold
the lowest number of screws required to contain the expected forces that the
screws are supposed to withstand, and to select the largest screws possible in that
location. In manufacturing, as a general rule, any screw thread smaller than
8 mm diameter (while of course possible) is more costly to produce. From
experience, most molds have too many, often unnecessary, screws. Note that the
foregoing applies for all screws in the mold, not necessarily the stack. (See also
ME, Chapter 19.)
5.2.8 Alignment of Stack
This should also be decided now, before proceeding. Will the overall alignment
of the mold shoe with leader pins be enough? Should each stack be aligned by
taper locks? By a pair of leader pins? For this decision, see Section 4.11.
5.2.9 Design Review
This is a good time to sit back and contemplate what has been achieved so far. Is
it really the best thing the designer could come up with? Please note that all the
things discussed up to now in this text are, or at least should be, in the head of
the experienced designer, and all the work done up to now would normally not
take more than a few hours for an easy mold or maybe a few days for a more
complicated one. This is also the time that the designer arranges for a design
review, as discussed earlier. The result of such review will then determine
whether to proceed as shown, or to ``go back to the drawing board.'' Often, only
minor changes may be required, but frequently, as experience has shown, new
ideas come out of these meetings, and the result will be a better operating, and
maybe a lower cost, mold.
5.3 Preload
The term ``preload'' has been mentioned several times in our discussion. What is
preload? As an example, imagine two blocks that are held together by two
screws. These blocks are subjected to a force F trying to separate them. If both
screws are hand tightened, that is, tightened just enough that the blocks touch,
without any gap between them, the screws will not exert any force SF on the
5.3 Preload 73
blocks; the combined total screw force SF equals zero (SF ˆ 0). As soon as the
force F is applied, and because F is greater than FS (F b FS), the blocks will
separate and the screws will be stretched until the resistance (or force) in the
screws SF equals F (SF ˆ F). But by then, the blocks have separated and left a
gap between them. In molds, any undesired gap means ¯ashing or leaking, and
is not acceptable. To prevent such gaps, the screws must be tightened to such an
extent that they will be stretched to a desired preload. FS must be greater than
the expected force F (FS b F). When the force F is now applied, the blocks will
not separate unless F becomes greater than FS. In practice, there are two types
of preload.
(1) The preload exerted by screws. Screws must always be tightened to the
manufacturers suggested values, that is, to about 60±70% of the yield strength of
the screw. The resulting force (or holding power) of the screw can be found in all
screw tables.
(2) The preload can be provided by stretching the steel of mold parts, such
as tapers, wedges, stripper rings, and so on, or mold plates, as in the following
example, and by press ®ts, which are a kind of preload, or by shrinking of rings
or bars overÐusuallyÐcavities, for building up cavities from sections. When
specifying preload on tapers or wedges, it is common practice to indicate the
distance (which, unfortunately, is also called preload) that the tapers are allowed
to move (and thereby stretching the steel) before coming to a stop. This preload
is especially important where cavities split in two or more sections.
For example, a mold for a mug with handle (see Chapter 7) will split in a
vertical plane through the handle. If the two cavity halves are not preloaded, the
splits will open under the injection pressure and the mold will ¯ash both at the
handle side and at the side opposite the handle. In this case, the preload is
provided by having the cavity sections backed up by wedges, preferably both on
the cavity and core side, which will make contact with the cavity sections before
the mold is fully closed. As the mold closes fully (over the length of the ``other,''
calculated preload) the wedges stretch the cavity plate and (preferably) also the
core plate. The stretching of these plates provides the necessary ``real'' preload
(in kN or US tons) to hold the mold together against ¯ashing.
Preload is explained in much detail in ME, Chapter 30.
5.4 Mold Materials Selection
At this time (or maybe even earlier, while designing the stack), the designer will
think of the materials (steels, etc.) to be used for the mold. (See also Chapter 9)
74 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.4.1 Effect of Expected Production
Before making any decision, the designer must again consider the lifetime
production expected from the mold. There is no point in specifying the best
possible (and expensive) materials if the mold will be required for a small
production. Also, there is a difference whether, for example, 24 million pieces
are to be produced in a 24- or an 8-cavity mold. With 8 cavities, the mold will
operate 3 million cycles; with 24 cavities, it will operate only 1 million cycles.
This requires the designer to consider fatigue in metals, as discussed in
Section 5.4.3.3.
5.4.2 Forces in Molds
The designer must know what forces are present within the mold when deciding
on the strength of the mold component to resist these forces. The most important
forces acting within the mold affect these strengths:
(1) Tension: the forces created by the injection pressure of the plastic
inside the runner system and in the cavity space, usually requiring high
tensile strength
(2) Compression: the compressive strength required to counteract the
clamp force of the machine, typically, the forces on the P/L, and the
forces seen where inserts are supported by plates, and so on
(3) Bending (or de¯ection): the forces seen by cores, and by all plates,
especially the ejector and stripper plates
(4) Wear: the forces created by wedge action, as in stripper rings and so on,
or tapers and wedges for alignment, which create wear on the matching
surfaces
(5) Torsion: the forces seen by coil springs and in mold features, such as
unscrewing, or in some robots
(6) Shear: forces seen by dowels, or by the backup of wedges
Note that in many cases, we have combinations of any of the above forces.
5.4.3 Characteristics of Steels and Other Mold Materials
For mold steel selection, see Section 9.2.
5.4 Mold Materials Selection 75
For every mold part the following must be considered: which of these
characteristics are most important? Unfortunately, some of them are directly
opposite to each other (e.g., toughness and hardness) and compromises are
necessary.
5.4.3.1 Availability
This applies not only to selected raw materials, but also to hardware items: the
designer must make sure that any material, hardware, or standard mold
component intended to be speci®ed is also available when required. Many items
are often shown in catalogues or other listings as ``standard'' but this does not
always mean that they are readily available, on the shelf, in the desired size, and
in the quantities needed.
5.4.3.2 Strength of Material
This applies to steel, BeCu, aluminum, bronze, and so on. Strength is speci®ed
by its tensile strength; compressive strength is often but not always about the
same. Shear and torsional strength is about one-half the tensile strength. The
designer should always get the exact values from a machinery handbook or from
the supplier.
Always watch whether the values given are in ISO or in inch systems. The
strength values are given either in kPa (kilopascal) or in psi (pound/in
2
).
5.4.3.3 Fatigue (See ME, Chapter 18)
The strength ®gures for steel and other metals are arrived at from stressing a test
sample, for one cycle only. The results of such tests are satisfactory for steady
loads, such as seen, for example, by preloaded screws, but molds often operate
many, sometimes millions of cycles. If there are more cycles, the rated strength
gradually declines.
This decline is usually shown, as in Fig. 5.15, in logarithmic graphs, as a
straight line declining from the rated strength (e.g., tensile or yield strength) for
one cycle to a point where the value remains the same regardless of the
additional number of cycles; this is for all steels at about 2 million cycles. The
76 Before Starting to Design a Mold
strength of the material, after 2 million cycles (the fatigue strength) depends
very much on the material and hardness selected, but also on features such as
notches, holes drilled into it, and surface ®nish. The fatigue strength can be as
low as 15±20% of the yield strength (yield, in hardened mold steels, is only a
little less than the tensile strength; many data are given in yield rather than
tensile strength). Note that so-called machinery steels, but also the related P20 or
P20PQ, do not lose as much strength as hard mold steels.
The fatigue strength is equivalent to the safety factor often used by designers
(frequently, 5) when calculating the strength of a part. The problem is that all
force calculations depend on an assumption of the injection pressure, as
discussed in Section 4.6.1. But we know that the forces will be greater for thin-
wall molding, and since most of them are designed for a very large number of
cycles, the selection of only the very best materials with appropriate strength and
hardness is suggested.
Note that springs inside molds (sometimes speci®ed for ejector plate return)
are especially sensitive to cycling. When designing for springs, use the
manufacturer's suggested values for maximum compression and load of the
selected spring.
5.4.3.4 Wear
Some materials are better for wear than others. Lubrication (or the lack of it) can
be a decisive factor. Wear points could be steel on steel, steel on bronze, steel on
hard plastic, and so on. Hard steels are always better, but the designer must never
use the same alloy for both members rubbing against each other, as in wedges or
Figure 5.15 Typical fatigue graph for a machinery steel.
5.4 Mold Materials Selection 77
taper locks, except if the wear points can be lubricated. Each alloy has a distinct,
different grain structure, and the problem is that when using identical grain
structures, the surfaces will lock (seize) when sliding under pressure, and
damage (tear) the surfaces. Hardness differences alone are no substitute for
different grain structure, except where one of the rubbing surfaces is treated with
methods such as nitriding. In nitriding, very hard nitrogen compounds enter
between the grains and alter the surface of the steel. Lubrication in molds is
never permitted where it could contaminate the molded products, especially for
pharmaceutical and food use.
5.5 Stack Molds (See also ME, Chapter 15)
All that has been said so far applies to any mold, single-level (conventional) or
multilevel (stack). In principle, a stack mold is an arrangement where a number
of single-level molds are placed back to back in the molding machine. Here,
only the most common, two-level stack mold is discussed, although 4 levels and
more have been built. The two injection (usually cavity) halves are mounted
back to back in one moving (``¯oating'') platen between the standard machine
platens; the core halves are then mounted one each on the stationary and moving
platens. (Because these are usually also the sides where the ejectors are located,
special provisions must be made for ejector actuation on the stationary mold
side; this is sometimes built into the mold.)
The stack mold system is often used for very large production, requiring
many cavities, but often also for molds producing different parts that are paired
in assembly. Stacks for one product are in one level, and stacks for another
matching product are in the other level. The mold cost is about the same (or even
a little less) than the cost of two molds, each built for half the number of cavities.
The advantage is that one stack mold on one machine, requiring much less
plant space and investment, can have the same output as two molds, requiring
two machines, provided that the clamp has suf®cient stroke and shut height to
separate both P/Ls far enough for ejection from both sides. Also, the injection
unit must have a large enough plasticizing and shot capacity to ®ll both sides
without increasing the cycle time, which, of course, would defeat the purpose of
this system. Because the molds are stacked on top of each other, only the
projected area of one level need be considered. The forces due to injection
pressure within the center plate cancel each other; however, it is suggested to use
a machine that has a clamping force of about 10% more than would be required
for an equivalent single-stack mold. Today, in most systems, the injection unit is
78 Before Starting to Design a Mold
connected with a long sprue extension to the hot runner in the center platen with
the cavities. In some cases, the plastic is injected from the side, with a special
extruder arrangement.
A disadvantage of the stack mold system is that in case of mold or machine
trouble, with stack molds, there is no production at all, whereas with
conventional molds, half the production will continue.
5.6 Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings
Now the designer has all the basic information about the mold to be built and
can start to ®nalize the mold assembly drawing.
5.6.1 Machine Platen Layout
The platen layoutÐincluding tie bar locationsÐof the machine (or machines)
the mold will be used on should be shown ®rst. This will determine the outer
limits of the mold and where to place certain mold features. It will, for example,
specify where coolant connections must not be located, or any planned auxiliary
actuators outside the mold, latches, and so on. The mounting and ejector holes
that will probably be used for the mold must also be shown.
5.6.2 Symmetry of Layout, Balancing of Clamp
For multicavity molds, it is important that the stacks are positioned such that the
projected area of each cavity is as symmetrical as possible about the center of
the machine, to ensure that all tie bars are loaded equally as the mold is clamped,
thereby providing each cavity with the same preload to prevent ¯ashing. This
can present a problem with ``family molds,'' where several different stacks or
cavities with different projected areas are used in one mold. A small amount of
asymmetry is often acceptable. With edge-gated, single-cavity molds, to balance
the load, a pressure pad must be used opposite the stack location to simulate the
force of a second cavity. In this case, the cavity itself will see only one-half of
the clamping force of the machine. This is important for the selection of size of
clamp, for the job. There is no such problem with center-gated, single-cavity
molds.
5.6 Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings 79
5.6.3 The Views
Start with the signi®cant mold cross section or sections, but always work with all
views at the same time; that is, both the plan views of cavity and core will
``grow'' side by side with the cross section. This prevents surprises arising when
one view is far advanced and then it becomes apparent that it does not go
together because another view shows some interferences. Show the selected hot
runner hardware, if this is planned to be a hot runner mold. If it is a mold for
which the hot runner section is purchased completely assembled by the supplier,
show the interface points and dimensions only.
5.6.4 Completing the Assembly Drawing
Everything can now be shown in all views. It is not a good practice to show the
complete stack in every location, even though it is easy to do with a CAD
system. It would make it dif®cult to read the drawings, especially if there are
many other features in the stack. To facilitate the reading of the drawing, the
stack should be shown in only one location of each plan view, and just its
outlines in all other locations, for example, with heavy, dotted lines. However,
important information such as the centers of coolant connections, screws,
alignment features, and so on should be identi®ed in all locations with small
crosses and/or circles, which can then also be identi®ed with a code, such as S1,
S2 for screws and D1, D2 for dowels. Such codes will make it easier to read the
drawing; they will be also important when completing the cooling lines layout in
the plates and the location of plate supports and large screws holding together
the various mold plates, where applicable. Show now also the alignment
features, the ejection system, the method of mold mounting and any connection
(®xed or loose) with machine ejectors, and everything else needed by the
detailers to produce the shop (detail) drawings.
At this time, show also where the outside of the mold must be marked
(preferably die stamped) to identify coolant and air connections. There would be
a 1 IN, 1 OUT, 2 IN, 2 OUT, and so on, and AIR 1, AIR 2, and so on. The IN
and OUT can be important for cooling because in many cases it does make a
difference where the cold coolant should go ®rst (IN). For example, in the core
of a container mold, it should ®rst hit the area opposite the gate.
80 Before Starting to Design a Mold
5.6.5 Bill of Materials (BoM) and ``Ballooning''
This is also the time to specify the BoM so that all materials can now be ordered
and be available when required for the machining operations and the ®nal
assembly. The BoM should specify not only the ®nal sizes of steels and so on,
but also the hardness of the ®nished mold part. This is important not only for the
buyer, but also for the detailer of the shop drawings.
``Ballooning'' is the identi®cation of each mold part on the assembly
drawing. Several methods are used, but the preferred one is to show balloons
(circles or ellipses about 12±15 mm in size) outside around the drawings. Each
balloon contains a number identifying each mold component, but only once,
from stack parts to plates to screws, and so on. This number corresponds to a
line in the BoM. Each balloon has a leader (line) connecting it with the part
identi®ed. Preferably, the balloons should be shown around the main cross
section of the mold or near partial sections; only if these locations would not be
clear enough and could cause errors should they be shown in other sections or in
the appropriate plan view.
5.6.6 Finishing Touches
Finishing information of the molding surfaces should also be shownÐ
preferably with standard symbolsÐon the assembly drawing, for future
reference, and to be used by the detailer when making the shop drawings.
Cross hatching should be used sparingly, only where it really helps to make the
assembly drawing clearer. This also applies to detail drawings. This is also the
time to show any notes on the drawing. (See also Section 5.2.2.4)
Usually one ``main'' title block is shown, preferably on the drawing with the
main cross section; additional, smaller title blocks are on all other drawings. The
title blocks identify the mold design of®ce or the mold maker, the project
number and drawing numbers, the designer (by name and initials), the checker,
and the detailer, if applicable. It will also show any other information pertinent
to the product and will specify for which machines the mold was designed, the
types of plastic, and any other information that deserves to be recorded for
future use. Tolerances are not shown on the assembly drawings. They are strictly
limited to the detail drawings. However, it is a good practice to show ®ts and
clearances where they apply, but only if they are different from standard ®ts and
clearances.
5.6 Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings 81
6 Review and Follow-Up
After the drawings and the ®nal BoM have been released for production, there is
usually a quiet time for the designer, as far as this mold is concerned. Hopefully,
there are no problems in buying and machining. If there are problems in the
shop, for example errors in machining orÐheaven forbidÐerrors in the
drawings, any corrective action must be approved and recorded by the designer
or his delegate. There is always the possibility that the same mold will be
required again maybe in a year, or much later, and it would be embarrassing if
the same errors would then be repeated. After the mold is ®nally ready for
testing, the designer must be present and see that the installation and setup
procedures are in accordance with the speci®cations on the assembly drawings.
The designer must also approve any changes required to make the mold work as
expected and record what was done to make the mold work before it is shipped.
A complete report, specifying the test machine, all temperatures, times, pressure
settings, and plastics speci®cations should be supplied to the customer, together
with the mold.
A good designer will then follow up the mold with the molder, especially in
case the designer has not heard from the molder ®rst, to see how the mold works
in production. Unfortunately, frequently, a mold goes into the customer's
molding shop, and if there is any problem, the shop people cannot be bothered
to go back to the mold maker but make adjustments that may not have been
necessary if they had followed the instructions received with the mold. Any later
problems experienced by the customer should also be recorded for future
reference.
82
7 Typical Examples
A few examples are provided of typical molded products and how they should
be approached. These examples are used to illustrate material discussed earlier
in the text.
7.1 Containers or Other Cup-Shaped Products
Containers are not necessarily drinking cups, but any container, round or of any
other shape, such as boxes or many technical housings. The main characteristics
of container molds are as follows: (1) Although they can be edge gated, they are
usually outside center gated; they may have more than one gate. (2) Core
cooling is usually easily accomplished, which is the basis of higher productivity.
There are all kinds of shapes, too many to show in one book, but there are some
signi®cant typical differences. Some examples are shown here.
Figure 7.1 depicts two very similar cups: on the left is a typical cup (or
container) with a plain bottom, and on the right is a cup with a reentrant bottom.
Note that the bottom is preferably domed, as shown. While shrinking, the
curvature of the dome will change somewhat but it will not pull inward and
thereby deform the side wall of the container. It is always quite dif®cult to mold
any straight surface, especially from high-shrinkage plastics, unless the cooling
cycle is greatly extended to permit the product to reach the mold temperature
before ejection. A typical mold for such a product is illustrated in Fig. 7.2. The
gating can be a hot runner, 3-plate, insulated runner or through shooting.
Note that Fig. 7.2 shows a conventional mounting plate (17). As discussed in
Section 5.1.6.1 (shut height), this illustrates a typical example where this plate
can easily be omitted. The mold on the left in Fig. 7.3 uses a stripper plate, and
the ejector plate comes to a stop when the stripper taper seats on the core taper,
so the ejector plate does not need a stop. In the case of an ejector plate using
83
ejector pins (right illustration), solid stops (shoulder bolts, etc.) must be
provided; they can be mounted on the underside of the core backing plate.
In Fig. 7.3, the parallels and the supports under the cores (supporting pillars)
will sit directly on the machine platen. The designer must make sure that when
the mold is mounted in the machine, all pillars are fully supported; that is, they
must sit on the machine platen but should not sit solely on top of any weak areas
of the platen such as T-slots.
Note that in any mold, all the outside edges of mold plates, or any other area
where sharp edges could cause personal injury during handling, should be
properly broken (rounded or chamfered). However, in some areas, especially in
the path of plastic ¯ow, especially on inserts, sharp corners must be kept sharp;
the designer must indicate this on the drawings.
The right illustration in Fig. 7.1 shows a typical cup with a reentrant bottom.
Here, too, the bottom is preferably domed, as shown. But because of the
reentrant, especially if the depth of the dimension f is greater than twice the
thickness of the plastic at that spot, it will be dif®cult or even impossible to ®ll
this portion of the bottom; also, if a piece of plastic breaks off in that narrow
section and remains there, it would be very dif®cult to remove it without
dismantling the mold. Therefore, special measures must be provided in the
mold: the cavity of the mold must follow the core as the mold opens, for a short
distance (about for the distance f ) until the mold part that forms the inside of the
reentrant, which usually also contains the gate, is completely withdrawn from
the molded plastic piece. Only after this happens is the mold allowed to separate
at the regular parting line. This method also facilitates good venting at the
bottom, as indicated; otherwise, the thin section would be a ``dead pocket'' and
not ®ll, as already discussed Section 5.2.5.2, rule 2. Note that this method is
Figure 7.1 Schematic illustration of two typical cups: (left) a simple cup shape; (right)
a similar cup but with a reentrant bottom.
84 Typical Examples
called moving cavity (Fig. 7.4); it is, in principle, similar to the two-stage
ejection illustrated in Section 5.2.3.3.
The cavity plate is guided on a separate set of guide pins to control its
location relative to the gate retainer plate (or hot runner plate or cavity backing
plate, as should be the case). Its stroke is limited to be only slightly larger than
Figure 7.2 Schematic illustration of a section through portion of a simple cup mold:
1, back plate or hot runner plate; 2, gate pad with cooling; 3, cavity; 4, stripper ring;
5, core; 6, guide bushing for ejector sleeve; 7, O-rings; 8, ejector sleeve; 9, support
under core; 10, ejector plate; 11, cavity retainer plate; 12, leader pin bushing; 13, leader
pin; 14, locking ring (for alignment of cavity and core); 15, core backing plate; 16,
parallel; 17, mounting plate; A, cavity cooling; B, gate pad cooling; C, core cooling.
7.1 Containers or Other Cup-Shaped Products 85
Figure 7.4 Typical construction of a moving cavity feature to release deep reentrants in
the cavity. The left half shows the mold in the closed position, whereas the right half
shows the mold at the point of opening when the cavity stops; the core continues to open
until the mold is fully open. The product is ejected as soon as the cavity is suf®ciently
distant from the cavity half. Note the venting arrangement.
Figure 7.3 The elimination of the mounting plate of the mold assembly. Mounting
slots 18 have been added to permit the use of mounting clamps. (Left) A variation to
Fig. 7.2. (Right) This application for a mold with ejector pins. There must be always a
clearance (g) where shown.
86 Typical Examples
dimension f. Air actuators (usually four) built right into the backing plate push
the cavity plate so that it follows the mold opening motion until the set limit is
reached. The product is now easily ejected from the core, and there is no danger
that the ``foot'' gets trapped between the gate pad and the cavity. There must be
ample venting provided where the alignment ring meets the gate pad.
7.2 Technical Products
When designing molds for technical products, consider ®rst: (1) gating and
runners, (2) core cooling, and (3) alignment of cavities and cores.
(1) As discussed earlier, 2-plate molds with edge (or tunnel) gating are
simpler and much less complicated and expensive than 3-plate molds or hot
runner molds. They can be, and still are today, used in the majority of all molds,
especially if the production is fairly low. The problem with edge gating is that
any runner, leading from the sprue to the ®nal branch runner (with the gates),
must never be located so that it will have to cross an open space. This makes it
necessary that all cavities and cores must be inserted in the cavity and/or core
plate, with a perfectly smooth (but not necessarily ¯at) surfaceÐthe parting
lineÐbetween them, without any gap into which plastic could ¯ow. This also
applies to any stripper plate with inserted stripper rings. Such rings, even though
of great advantage for better alignment with the cores and ease of replacement,
must not ¯oat in the stripper plate because of the obvious gap between ring and
plate, a gap over which the runner would have to pass. The designer must decide
whether to make rectangular or round pockets (or cutouts) into the plates, and
(a) insert the complete cavities or cores with tight ®t into them, or (b) cut the
cavities (or even the cores) right into the plates and just place inserts, if required,
into them. A round pocket will contain just one cavity or core; in a rectangular
pocket, one or more can be packed (see Fig. 7.6). Many molds, from 2-cavity to
multicavity molds, are built this way. This decision will also affect the choice of
materials for the plates. Mild steels would be acceptable in one case (a) but
usually not in the other (b).
The alternative is to gate into the top (outside) of the product, from the
cavity, as with 3-plate, insulated or hot runner molds, where the runners are not
in the parting line. With this choice, the cavities are frequently inserted into the
cavity (or cavity retainer) plate or as individual units. The cores are usually
individual units mounted on top of a core backing plate with gaps between them.
(2) The core cooling for technical products is usually not as simple as for
containers, because of the often large number of inserts within the core or cavity.
7.2 Technical Products 87
There is most often only one choice: to forget about intensive cooling with
channels right into the cores or the inserts, and to depend on the heat conducted
from the hot plastic, through the inserts and core or cavity, to the supporting,
cooled plates (see Fig. 7.6). In some cases, better conducting materials, such as
beryllium±copper, are used to make inserts or even complete cores or cavities.
Note: Every gap (clearance), but even every area of changeover from one part to
another, even when ®tting tightly and without any gap, constitutes a heat barrier
and slows down the heat ¯ow. For this reason, most molds for technical products
will cycle slower than the well-cooled molds for containers of similar weight and
wall thickness.
(3) Multicavity, 2-plate molds with inserted cavities and cores (or where
they are cut right into the plates) require high accuracy in the location of cavity
and core, because there is no possibility of adjusting their relative position once
the mold is ®nished. There is also the problem of heat expansion of the plates,
which can shift the relative positions if the plates are not of the same
temperature. For this reason, this type of mold should not be selected for thin-
wall products where the wall thickness can be greatly affected by any
misalignment. If high accuracy is required, it is best to have the cavities ®xed in
the cavity plate, and the cores mounted ¯oating on the core backing plate, with
individual method of alignment either with tapers as shown for a container, or,
as is most commonly done, with additional, small leader pins and bushings in
each stack. This will, of course, make it impossible to use runners in the P/L,
and will require a mold with gating into the top of the product, as shown in (1)
above.
A typical, technical product is shown in Fig. 7.5.
7.3 Mold with Fixed Cores
If a rib ends in a side wall as in section z±z (Fig. 7.5), venting of such rib is no
problem since the sidewall ends at the well-vented parting line. If, however, the
Figure 7.5 Schematic of a technical product, with inside ribs. One rib is as shown in
section x±x, the other as in section z±z.
88 Typical Examples
rib is ``closed'' as shown in section x±x, venting becomes very important,
especially if the rib is ``thin,'' that is, if the ratio of depth over thickness is greater
than about 2±3.
The illustration in Fig. 7.6 could be a section through a 4-cavity mold. Both
cavities A and C and cores B and D are set into pockets in the mold plates.
Inserts (cross hatched) are located either in cutouts (core, left side), which is
better for cooling, or in pockets (core, right side). Note, in the left portion of the
illustration, that the venting channels for those ribs do not end in the side wall of
the product. Note also that the runners sit on top of the line where two mold
parts meet; they will not leak. Both cavities and cores are cooled from their
underlying plates, as indicated by the circles, representing drilled holes for
cooling. Note that the inserts in the left core are better cooled because there are
fewer heat barriers.
7.4 Mold with Floating Cores
Figure 7.7 shows portion of a mold for a product similar to that in Fig. 7.5, but
the requirements for accuracy are high, so the cores are mounted ¯oating on the
Figure 7.6 A schematic of an edge-gated mold, with two of more cavities shown. One
cavity (right) has ribs as shown in Fig. 7.5, section x±x, the other (left) has ribs as shown
in section z±z.
7.4 Mold with Floating Cores 89
core backing plate (see ME, Section 14.4.2). The leader pins (1)Ðusually 2 per
stackÐare shown here with a bushing (2) in the cavity, but the bushing is often
omitted, since the cavity itself is usually made from hardened steel.
Note that in these applications, with or without ¯oating cores, the cavity is
usually easier to cool, by cross drilling, than the core; however, as mentioned
earlier in this book, there is not much gained by it because the core cooling
usually controls the molding cycle. Much more can be gained by carefully
considering where to gate, and providing ample venting in any area of the stack
where air could be trapped.
7.5 Molds with Side Cores or Splits
For all molds with side cores or where the cavity splits into two or more
sections, these sections must be preloaded against the forces from the injection
pressure to prevent ¯ashing along the split lines. Refer to Fig. 7.8. As the mold
opens, the cavity ``splits'' move for a short distance with the core, while the
splits open sideways. Only then can the cup be ejected. With the closed mold,
Figure 7.7 Schematic of a mold portion with ¯oating cores. (A) Cavity plate with
runner system (R) indicated with broken line. (B) Core backing plate. 1, Leader pin; 2,
bushing; F, ¯oating core mounting.
90 Typical Examples
during injection, the injection pressure p inside the cavity acts on the projected
area of the sides of the cup, F ˆ p ÂD ÂH. In mold B, the force F pushes
against the wedge, which is part of the cavity plate and is counteracted by the
steel of the cavity plate, with a cross section of b ÂW. There are now two
problems to consider: (1) the force F will stretch the portion of the plate with a
length L, and create an undesired gap at the split line. The wedges must therefore
be preloaded as explained in Section 5.3 of this book. (2) Because of the
distance m between the forces and reaction forces, there will be a bending
moment m ÂF which will force the wedge to bend outward as indicated
(arrow d). This system is therefore only suitable for shallow products. For deep
products, the side forces must be taken up on both the cavity and core sides of
the mold. This is illustrated by mold C, which has wedges both in the cavity and
the core side. The forces F trying to push the halves apart are thereby divided,
and both cavity and core plates will provide reaction forces. The preload must be
calculated and provided for each set of wedges.
Figure 7.8 Schematics of a mold for a cup with handle: (A) plan view into the cavity,
(B) section through a mold with wedges on the cavity half only, (C) a similar mold, but
with wedges on both cavity and core sides. W, width of the plates; L, length of stretched
cavity plate; b, thickness of cavity plate along L; H, height of cup; D, cup diameter;
F, the forces to be contained.
7.5 Molds with Side Cores or Splits 91
8 Estimating Mold Cost
One of the most dif®cult jobs in the mold making business is to determine as
accurately as possible the cost of the mold for the product for which it is to be
built. The estimator should be an experienced mold designer who can visualize
from the product drawing submitted (and occasionally from a sample) what kind
of mold will be most suitable to produce the product economically.
8.1 Need for Estimate
Before estimating, the designer (and the person negotiating with the client for an
order) should ®rst establish if the ``request for quotation,'' that is, to quote a
price for such a mold, is serious and how the outlook is for getting the order.
This is an important consideration: in the author's experience, many molders are
often approached by their customers solely to ®nd out how much it would cost,
approximately, to start a new product line; they need a mold price to determine
their own costs before proceeding. In some cases, the customer approaches not
only one, but possibly three or more molders for mold prices, and each of these
molders may in turn approach three or more mold makers for estimates of the
necessary molds. One mold maker may then get the same inquiry from several
molders, for the same product. In fact, only one of all these requests for
estimates can result in an order. This means that the estimator, faced with all
these requests, cannot spend too much time with each one, or the cost of
estimating would become excessive. In many cases, the ``boss'' of the mold shop
will decide whether it is really necessary to quote at all, or he or she may decide
to just give a ballpark ®gure and skip the formal estimating process altogether.
From the author's experience, with such multiple requests, the lowest price is
often based on errors in quoting; with clients who habitually select the lowest
bidder, the mold maker is bound to lose money. Any smart buyer of molds,
before placing an order, should consider ®rst the background and reputation of
92
the mold maker and his or her expertise in building the particular type of mold
requested. Only then should the price be considered. As has been said here
repeatedly, only the best-suited mold for the planned production will result in the
lowest product cost, which is really what the client needs. This often leads to
specialization by the mold maker, which is bene®cial to both customers and
mold makers. Requests for molds that are outside the mold maker's expertise
should be declined, unless the mold maker intends to enter this new ®eld. If the
request for quotation is considered serious, the estimator will ®rstÐin his or her
mindÐcompare the product with other jobs of similar products and then search
for precedents in personal (or the shop's) records, such as old drawings, book
illustrations, or electronic ®les.
8.2 Precedents
If there are close similarities (precedents), the estimating process is relatively
simple, because there is a good basis from which to extrapolate what will be
required for the new mold. For example, the precedent can be a mold with only a
few cavities for a product with a shape similar to the one for which the mold is
to be estimated, for the same number or for more or fewer cavities. In this case it
is up to the estimator to ®nd out from records, if possible, how good the mold
performed in operation, and if the hours estimated to produce the mold were
adequate; in other words, was the customer happy and did the shop make money
with this mold? This process is easy if proper records are kept, as was suggested
in Chapter 6. The estimator should consult with the people who actually made
that mold to ®nd out if there were any problems during manufacture or testing of
the mold, and then adjust for it when pricing the mold. With the absence of good
records, unfortunately, this is possible only if there was little turnover in
personnel in the shop.
8.3 No Precedents
If molds for a similar product have never been made before or the estimator is
not familiar with the type of mold requested, there are, in general, two
possibilities to be considered.
8.3 No Precedents 93
(1) The estimator will make sketches using previous experience as a mold
designer and show at least one method as to how the product could best be
made. These sketches will then be the basis for the estimate. (The problem with
this method is that it will take much estimating time, and even so, the estimator
cannot devote as much time to it as the mold designer will have after the order
for this mold has been booked. It is important that any such preliminary sketches
are made available to the mold designer, who then may (or may not) follow them
for the ®nal design. From the estimator's sketches it is then fairly easy to prepare
an estimate. The main problem with this method of estimating is that the
estimator makes a bad mistake, typically by not seeing, underestimating, or even
ignoring any dif®culties that may arise due to a peculiar product shape. The
mold designer will then not use these sketches, but will come up with a proper
mold design, which could be more (sometimes much more) expensive to build
than was ®rst estimated. In this case, any responsible mold maker (whose
reputation is at stake) will have no choice but to build this mold, even if it will
result in a ®nancial loss. Such losses can then be written off as learning
experience or as research and development expenses.
(2) A good alternative is to invite the participation of the client to share in
advance the cost of designing the new mold before estimating. This is often very
useful if the product is completely new and the projected quantities are
extremely large, or where the product is considered very complicated to mold.
For a certain quoted price, the mold maker will offer to design either concepts of
the mold, or a complete mold. This is also often done for a whole system, that is,
not only a mold but including any product handling and postmolding operation
of the product. After agreeing with the client that the proposed mold and/or the
whole system will do what is needed, the mold and related equipment cost can
be fairly easily estimated on the basis of this preliminary design, and there is
much less risk of too low or too high an estimate. Traditionally, mold makers
add an often quite high safety factor when quoting unfamiliar molds, to cover
the unexpected. If the mold is fully designed, there is no need for such
insurance; this will result in a lower mold and system price, which bene®ts the
client. The cost of the design paid in advance is then considered in the ®nal mold
price. If the client decides not to proceed with the project, at least the mold
maker will have the sometimes considerable design expenses paid.
8.4 Methods of Estimating
(1) One method is to actually break down each and every mold part into its
estimated cost: material, the cost of the various machining steps (milling,
94 Estimating Mold Cost
turning, grinding, EDM, polishing, etc.), the cost of heat treating and other
expenditures for ®nishing in house or by suppliers, the cost of standard
hardware, and the costs of assembling and testing the mold. Include also the cost
of any ®xtures or special tools required in the manufacture of the mold parts.
While some of the costs are usually quite simple to establish from price lists and
records, this method expects that the estimator or assistants have intimate
knowledge of the machining operations involved and the operating times
required for each step. Since molds consist of many different parts, this is
obviously a slow, time-consuming process; however, as long as the estimator
really knows the business well it can yield quite accurate estimates.
(2) The method used most often is to base an estimate on experience from
precedents. If, for example, the mold considered has 8 cavities and there is a
suitable precedent of a 4-cavity mold, it is fairly easy to extrapolate, by
calculating the cost of the new total number of stacks plus the proportional
increase of the cost of the larger mold shoe. Many estimators then add a risk
factor, which, depending on the difference from the precedent and the general
familiarity with the type of mold, may be anywhere up to 50% (or even more) on
top of the estimated cost, depending on the mold maker's practice and policies.
It is best if the estimator works from a ®nished product drawing, with all
dimensions, and where all tolerances are shown. There is usually little risk if the
same mold has been built before, and much risk if there are many unknowns.
This method is good if there are good records of many similar molds made over
the years; there is less risk of repeating earlier mistakes.
(3) ``Ballparking'' should be used with care. It requires real experience and
solid background in mold making. It should also have the proviso that the
quoted price is only a rough estimate and must be con®rmed at a later date when
all data are ready (including tolerances) and after the order is received.
8.5 Mold Cost and Mold Price
The estimator, in essence, prepares only the foreseen cost to be incurred when
building the mold. The cost is the basis for quoting the actual price to the
customer. There will be a standard markup on top of the estimated cost, in
percentage over the cost, or whatever the company's policy is to cover overhead,
expenses, risk (with this mold), and pro®t. Since every mold is different in size,
number of cavities, complexity, and so on, it is usually dif®cult to create a
standard price list for molds, except if many identical molds based on standard
mold components are built on a regular basis.
8.5 Mold Cost and Mold Price 95
There is another management consideration: The plastics mold business is
traditionally up and down, seasonally. In times of low sales, molds may be
quoted at prices lower than the costs determined by the estimator, solely to get
the job, and to keep the shop busy to avoid layoffs. One unfortunate result of this
method is that as soon as the shop is ®lled with such money-losing molds, as the
business picks up again, well-paying jobs may have to wait because the shop is
busy.
96 Estimating Mold Cost
9 Machining, Mold Materials, and
Heat Treatment
9.1 Machining of Mold Components
This section is not meant to be a guide for the actual machining operations, but
gives some descriptions of the evolution of machining in mold making. Earliest
mold components and plates were produced by ®rst sawing the raw blanks from
steel plates of the appropriate thickness bought from the steel mill, with
reciprocating or (endless) band saws. The next step was then squaring and/or
rough machining these blanksÐmostly plates, but also blanks for cavitiesÐon
shapers, with the blank held solidly and a single cutting tool moving back and
forth over the surface. This slow method was abandoned in favor of rough
grinding with special, large grinding machines or milling with large cutting
heads in vertical or horizontal milling machines. Both these methods are now
used extensively. Since this requires large, expensive machines, which smaller
mold makers cannot usually justify economically, a service industry developed,
specializing in the machining of theÐoften largeÐplates; this was the origin of
the mold supply houses such as DME, National, Hasco, and others. While they
made (and still make) any requested size within a certain range, the biggest
advance came with the standardization of sizes (length, width, thickness), which
permitted listing them in catalogues, available for fast delivery. These supply
houses rapidly widened their lines by adding other items that, up to then, the
molders had made themselves, such as leader pins and bushings, ejector pins
and sleeves, and many other mold components and accessories and hardware
that have come into use as the industry expanded.
By standardizing designs of these hardware items it became possible to mass
produce such parts, using the best-suited materials and ®nishes, often using
specialized machines, thereby making parts not only of better quality, but also at
a much lower cost than would be possible in most mold shops, with their limited
equipment. Today hardly any mold maker makes mold hardware, but it took
97
quite a while for some to realize the advantages of the quality, the ready
availability, and the low cost of these mass-produced parts. (Standard sized
screws and nuts have been used for many years.) The supply houses also provide
a service to machine large cutouts and openings in standard plates (and mold
sets) and the bores for leader pins and bushings to their own standard or the
customer's speci®cation, which is very convenient if the mold maker lacks the
large and accurate machines to do it in-house.
For the manufacture of the large mold parts, mostly plates, and large cavity
blocks, there have also been signi®cant changes. Blank plates are usually
purchased, ready rough ground, ¯at and square to standard or special sizes. They
should be somewhat thicker (maybe 0.1 mm, depending on the size of the plate)
than the ®nal dimension, to permit regrinding to the ®nal size, if necessary. This
is especially important after roughing out large volumes of steel, which may
release stresses in the plates, which can result in warpage. The plates (or large
cavity blocks) are machined with common machine tools such as lathes, drilling
and milling machines, and jig bores. These machines have also improved over
the years, becoming much more rigid, allowing the use of better cutting tools,
multiple cutting heads, carbide cutters, higher cutting speeds, and the
introduction of computerized, numerical controls (CNC). This last advance
became possible only after the mold designs improved and began to provide
mold part detail drawings. This also necessitated another manufacturing step,
the introduction of specialists (production planners or engineers), usually
persons with all around experience in machining, to prepare the logical steps in
the machining of the parts, that is, the sequence of operations and the tools to
use. Up to then, this was usually left to the machinist operating the machine
tools; in fact, the old but still widely used practice was that the machinists move
with the work pieces from one machine tool to the next until the mold part is
®nished.
The next step in modernization was to provide the milling machines and so
on with automatic tool changers. The responsibility of the machinists became
mainly the mounting of the work pieces in the machine tool, seeing that all tools
are prepared as speci®ed before installing them in the tool changer, and
generally observing the machine to prevent trouble. This gradually eliminated
the need for the operator to actually work ``hands on'' during the cutting process,
and even allowed the use of one operator for more than one machine tool. The
setup of the work piece in the machine is always critical to ensure the proper
reference to speci®ed edges or tooling holes of the work piece. Some of the
modern machines don't even require this step in the setup: the machine ®rst feels
(reads) the position of the work piece as it is mounted in a jig or ®xture, and then
automatically adjusts all coordinates to this position.
98 Machining, Mold Materials, and Heat Treatment
For smaller stack parts, blanks are still cut from bars or rods and machined
with machine tools such as lathes, drilling and milling machines, and jig bores.
These machines, too, have improved over the years, by becoming more rigid,
using better cutting tools, carbide cutters, higher cutting speeds, and the
introduction of CNC. The ®nish surface and cylindrical grinding of these parts
(where required) have also greatly improved over the years with higher cutting
speeds and by pro®le grinding odd ¯at or round shapes.
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) and later the wire EDM have been
major advances; both permit the shaping or cutting of odd or otherwise dif®cult-
to-machine (or even ``impossible'') shapes. A main disadvantage of these
methods is that they are very slow, that is, they remove much less steel than any
chip-removing machine tool, in any given time. They should be used only if
there is no other way to cut a shape. These machines usually run automatically.
The cutting electrodes for EDM are made from special copper alloys, or from
some carbon/graphite composition. They are machined on conventional
machine tools; the problem is that they are wearing and getting smaller during
operation, and two or more electrodes are required from roughing to ®nal sizing.
There are methods of reducing the cost of machining these electrodes, for
example, by casting or molding them to shape; these castings are made to order
by specialists in this ®eld. Note that the ®nished surface created by EDM
depends largely on the amount of steel removal. (The higher the current through
the electrodes, the faster will be the cutting speed.) To produce a ®ne ®nish, the
operation becomes very slow. But even a rough EDM ®nish is often good
enough for some molding surfaces; the type of ®nish must always be speci®ed.
EDM can be used regardless of the hardness of a work piece; the very ®rst EDM
machines were used mainly to remove broken, very hard tools, such as drills and
taps, from a work piece. Since the EDM process may take many hours, one
operator can usually look after a number of machines.
The increasing specialization of the mold-making business had another
impact on the machining methods used. As a result of specialization, and an
increase in demand for multicavity molds, the quantity of similar, often
standardized components (cavities, cores, stripper rings, etc.) can become so
large as to make it possible to introduce fully automatic machines such as
automatic (CNC) lathes combined with other operations, with automatic tool
changing; such parts can now be produced from steel blanks or rods right up to
their pre®nished shape (turning inside and outside, drilling, milling, tapping,
etc.) ready for the next step, such as heat treatment, in minutes rather than hours,
for each part.
Jig grinding, another machining operation, provides precision grinding, both
for location and size, of holes (dowels, etc.), or even nonround shapes in cavity
9.1 Machining of Mold Components 99
work, from diameters as small as 2 mm (0.060 inch). Large, cylindrical shapes
can be honed, a practice used for many years in accurate machine building. Both
these operations require special, expensive equipment and are often subcon-
tracted to specialists.
Deep hole drilling, also called gun drilling, is a relatively late addition to the
mold-making business; it originated in the manufacture of long bores in guns.
Special drill bits are used either in attachments to lathes or in special deep hole
drilling machines. The process allows the drilling of straight, very deep holes,
without the problems of ``wandering'' encountered with the conventional twist
drills. The cutting face of the drill bit is lubricated with pressurized coolant
through the center of the bit, and the chips are ¯ushed out along the outside of
the bit. (See also ME, Chapter 22.) Holes as long as 2 m or even longer, and
diameters as small as 8 mm can be drilled fast, and without any signi®cant
deviations from the intended straight path. This is of particular importance when
drilling cooling and pressure±air channels in large plates, but it is also important
for much shorter and smaller-diameter holes often required in cavity and core
cooling circuits or in side cores.
Polishing is an important phase in the mold making process. Traditionally, it
is done by hand, which is a long, tedious, and therefore expensive process. In the
early days, polishing was sometimes farmed out, usually low-paid women who
did the polishing at home. Later on, the speci®cations for polishing were closely
scrutinized: is it really necessary to polish this surface? Is the ®nish as it comes
from the milling machine or grinder good enough? Some plastics require good
polish, others not. Often, only some areas need good or even exceptional polish,
for appearance or for the intended use of the product. By being critical, much
time can been saved in this operation. It is up to the mold designer to specify
where and how ®ne to polish. Some of the polishing operations that used to be
done manually are now done by automatic machines; the operator mounts the
work piece and the machine does the rest. Other, handheld machines, do the
reciprocating motion required for the polishing stone or diamond paste. Flat
faces are very dif®cult to polish while maintaining their true ¯atness, which is
especially important if the product requires optical clarity without refraction. In
such cases, the use of lapping equipment may be required, in-house or at a
specialist, and the mold must then be designed so that the ¯at surface (of the
cavity or core) can be accessed when using a lapping machine. This usually
means providing the cavity or core with inserts that can be easily lapped.
Hobbing is another method of making small cavities, such as for bottle caps
or other, often odd-shaped forms. A male punch in the shape of the outside of
the molded product (including shrinkage allowance for the plastic) is pushed
with great force into a soft steel blank. Obviously, the punch must be very hard
and strong; the force is on the order of thousands of tons. The making of the
100 Machining, Mold Materials, and Heat Treatment
hobs and the actual hobbing is done by hobbing specialists, who have the
necessary skills and equipment. Around the middle of the 20th century, and
later, it was quite common to use this method for multicavity molds. The main
advantage is that one punch, while dif®cult to make, can be used for as many
cavities as 30±60, which are then all identical. If, for example, the product has a
dif®cult shape, ornamental ribs or embossings, and even lettering and
escutcheons, it is easier to do it once on the outside of a male part, rather
than inside of many cavities. Also, the polish on the hob is always perfectly
reproduced. If the hob is well polished, so will be the cavities made from it, and
will not require additional polishing. By necessity, the steel of the blank must be
soft enough to permit the process; but this is too soft to serve for a high-
production mold. The blank, after hobbing, must be rough machined on the
outside and then carburized and hardened. Because the steel will slightly grow
and possibly move in the hardening process, the hard blank must then be ground
to ®t the bores in the cavity plate. These are all long and expensive operations;
with better machining methods, and especially with the advent of EDM, where
the ®nal shape of the product can be easily created in the already hardened but
otherwise ®nished cavity blank, the hobbing process is rarely used today.
Electroforming is another method of making cavities, usually for small and
long shapes, such as fountain pen barrels. A mandrel of the shape of the cavity
wall acts as the electrode in a nickel electrolyte bath. Nickel is slowly deposited
on the mandrel until it reaches a desired thickness of about 2 to 3 mm (0.080 to
0.120 inch); the blank is then stripped off the mandrel. The ®nish of the cavity
wall is an exact replica of the ®nish of the mandrel, so no further polishing is
required. The blank must then be machined on the outside to ®t a cavity retainer.
This method is best done by specialists in this ®eld. It is slow and quite
expensive, but sometimes the only way to produce a cavity.
Computerized molecular build-up is a new electrochemical approach to
building small, intricate cavities or cores. A computer reads the mold part
drawings three dimensionally and builds up, layer by layer, the molecules of the
desired mold material until the complete shape is created. This process is still in
development and the author knows of no actual molds built, to date.
9.2 Materials Selection
Production molds are almost always made from steel, both for the mold shoe
and the cavities, except for certain mold parts where requirements for better heat
conductivity suggests the use of beryllium±copper alloys. Sometimes bronzes or
9.2 Materials Selection 101
even rigid plastics are used for cams and areas where moving parts cannot be
lubricated, or must not be for sanitary reasons. Experimental molds may use
softer materials such as aluminum, copper alloys, or even special, metal-®lled
epoxy-type mixtures, or other materials; they will not be discussed further.
The types of steels used depend on the requirements for each application.
Throughout this text it has often been said that the designer must always keep
costs and planned productivity of the mold in mind. This will often determine
the selection of the right steel for each mold component. There are two points to
be aware of: (1) the material (mostly steel) represents about 10±15% of the total
mold cost and (2) steel costs vary widely, depending on the annual requirement
of the mold makerÐthe higher the requirements, or at least, the more volume is
contracted to purchase over a certain period, typically, one year, the lower the
base cost of the steel. Also, the blank size has signi®cant bearing on the cost. Per
unit of mass, large pieces are cheaper than small ones. In addition, there are
weight, cutting, and other charges, so that even though the base price may
appear to be low, by the time the piece is cut and delivered, the price is much
higher. It is always worthwhile to contact a steel sales person and get all the
details about steel pricing. In general, steels, particularly mold and tool steels,
are sold by brand names, different for each steel mill, but it is better to specify
steels by their generic names or numbers. In general, there is little or no
difference between steels of the same speci®cation originating from different
suppliers. However, new mold steels are constantly developed for ``better''
characteristics, and it may become necessary to reevaluate and update the lists of
steels used by the designers from time to time.
9.2.1 Steel Properties
Earlier molds used mild steels even for stack parts, but they did not last for long
production runs. Mold makers were gradually switching to the types of hardened
steels that were used in tool and die making; however, these steels were often too
brittle or otherwise unsuitable for mold applications, so the steel industry began
to develop steels speci®cally designed for the plastics industry. The important
features for mold makers are essentially as shown below.
(1) Tensile (or compressive) strength. This is important for long life of the
components as they are subjected to high stresses within the mold,
particularly those created by high injection pressures and large
clamping forces.Tensile strength Compressive strength
102 Machining, Mold Materials, and Heat Treatment
(2) Toughness. This is especially important for long, slender cores and
inserts subjected to side forces de¯ecting them during injection.
(3) Wear resistance. Wear results from plastic abrasion during injection,
and mostly wear from mold parts rubbing against each other.
(4) Hot hardness. This is of special importance for hot runner
components, but also for molds for some plastics that are molded
at high temperatures. Note that many hardened tool steels start to
anneal at temperatures lower than the melt temperatures sometimes
required for injection.
(5) Corrosion resistance. Some plastics attack (corrode) steels and other
mold materials. In a high-humidity environment, molds corrode (rust)
because of the high water content in the air. In all such circumstances,
the mold parts and plates should be chrome or nickel plated, which
can be quite expensive, especially when considering the often high
handling costs where the plating is performed by outside suppliers.
These stack parts and plates can also be made from stainless steel,
which is more expensive than other steels, butÐconsidering the
overall cost connected with chrome platingÐthe difference may not
be that big, especially if the stainless steels can be bought in large
volume.Chromie plated Nickel plated
(6) Thermal conductivity. This can be important with high-speed molds.
However, keep in mind that, in many cases, good cooling can also be
achieved with steel by using a better layout of the cooling channels,
and thus avoiding the use of the softer copper alloys, which require
more upkeep than steel.
(7) Ease of hobbing. See Section 9.1 about hobbing. Hobbing is not
much used today.
(8) Ease of machining. This is an important consideration. The addition
of certain alloying elements to the steel makes it much easier to cut
chips; this can make a big difference in the time and the cost of
machining.
(9) Ease of polishing. Some steels are not well suited for polishing and
will not permit or maintain the high surface polish often required.
Don't forget, however, that high polish is often not required.
(10) Ease of nitriding. Nitriding is a surface treatment applied on top of an
already well-hardened and otherwise ®nished part to provide a very
hard surface. It is used mostly to improve the wear characteristic of
the steel. To nitride on top of a soft base does not make any sense: the
hard (nitrided) surface will collapse under any heavy load because the
supporting steel is soft.
9.2 Materials Selection 103
(11) Ease of welding. In some cases, it may be important to be able to
repair a worn mold part by welding. While this, in general, is not a
good practice and should be done only in exceptional cases, it may
permit a ``quick ®x'' to keep a mold running until it can be properly
repaired.
(12) Cost. We stated earlier that material constitutes a substantial portion
of the mold cost, but cost alone must never be the reason to select any
steel. There is only one goal for the mold maker and designer: to
produce the best mold for the speci®ed purpose, that is, the mold that
will produce the lowest cost of the product for the speci®ed
production requirements.
Tables 9.1 and 9.2 are intended to give the designer an overview of some
common mold materials. The data are approximate, and may vary somewhat
from one manufacturer to another. More about molds steels and application
examples can be found in ME, Chapter 16.
Table 9.2 shows the average of some of the properties of the above materials
that are of interest to the mold designer.
By studying the various steels, it can be seen that all steels have only a few
of the characteristics required for a certain purpose; typically, a steel may be
Table 9.1 Comparison Chart of a Few Selected Mold Materials
Item Type AISI
Designation
DIN
Material
No.
Steel Code Recommended
Hardness
(Rc)
1 Prehardened 4140 1.7225 42CrMo4 30±35
2 P20 1.2330 40CrMnMo7 30±35
3 Stainless steel
Prehardened 420SS 1.2083 X42Cr13 30±35
4 Carburizing steels P5 59±61
5 P6 1.2735 58±60
6 Oil hardening O1 1.2510 106WCr6 58±62
7 Air hardening H13 1.2344 X40CrMoV5 1 49±51
8 A2 1.2363 X100CrMoV5 1 56±60
9 D2 1.2379 X155CrVMo12 1 56±58
10 Stainless steel (SS) 420SS 1.2083 X42Cr13 50±52
11 High-speed M2 1.3343 S-6-5-2 60±62
12 Beryllium±copper BeCu 28±32
a
a
It is customary to indicate hardness of machinery steels and bronzes in the Brinell scale. The
above chart, however, uses equivalent Rockwell ``C'' values to give a better comparison with the
hardness of tool steels.
104 Machining, Mold Materials, and Heat Treatment
Table 9.2 Comparison of the Properties of Different Mold Materials
Item Wear
Resistance
Toughness Compressive
Strength
Hot
Hardness
Corrosion
Resistance
Thermal
Conductivity
Hobbability Machinability Polishability Nitriding
ability
Weldability
1 F VG F F P G P G G F F
2 F E F F F G P G VG G F
3 F E F F G F P F E VG F
4 VG G G G F F E E VG VG E
5 VG VG G G F F VG E VG VG VG
6 VG F E G P G G VG VG F F
7 G VG VG VG F F G E VG E G
8 E F E VG F F F VG VG VG F
9 E F VG VG F F F F G E P
10 G G G VG VG F F VG E VG G
11 E P E E F F F F G E F
12 F P P F G E E E E N/A VG
Note. Item numbers 1±12 refer to the material types in Table 9.1. P, poor; F, fair; G, good; VG, very good; E, excellent.
9
.
2
M
a
t
e
r
i
a
l
s
S
e
l
e
c
t
i
o
n
1
0
5
very tough but not be very hard or it may not readily accept nitriding. Therefore,
the designer will always have to ®nd the most suitable compromise when
selecting a steel for a mold part. Some very expensive steels are occasionally
used in molds: tungsten carbides are very hard and three times as stiff as steel,
but also very brittle and dif®cult to produce mold parts; and ``maraging'' steels
are tough, hard, and very stable steels that do not move in the hardening process.
New steels are constantly being developed by steel manufacturers, with better
properties than before, for general mold making and for new applications, to
keep pace with the development of new plastics and with new methods of use in
mold making.
9.3 Heat Treatment
We will not go into details of the metallurgy and the behavior of steels during
heat treatment and the various hardening methods. Basically, the steel structure
of certain steels can be changed by heating and subsequent chilling of the work
piece to increase the hardness of the steel from a hardness (usually soft) suitable
for machining to the hardness that will provide good working life of the steel
under repeated exposure to heat, high pressure, and wear. In general, only steels
with a carbon content of at least 0.35% can be hardened. So-called mild steels,
with lower carbon content (usually in the range of 0.1±0.3%), cannot be
hardened. However, to use these relatively inexpensive steels for mold parts that
need good hardness, the surface of such mild steels canÐafter machining to
their shapeÐbe provided with a carbon-rich skin by the process of
``carburizing,'' that is, subjecting the work piece at high heat, for about 24 to
48 hours, to a carbon-rich atmosphere. This causes the surface to absorb carbon
to a depth of usually between 0.5 and 1.5 mm (0.020 and 0.060 inch). The work
piece can then be hardened like through-hardening tool steels, by heating to a
high-temperature, quenching in water or oil, and then tempering (reheating to a
lower temperature than before quenching) and ®nally cooling in air.
At the beginning of the ``plastics revolution,'' most molds were made from
these mild steels, and special alloys were designed to provide better
polishability. The advantage of these steels is their relatively low cost, ease of
machining, and availability. The disadvantages are the costs for carburizing and
the subsequent heat treatment: during carburizing, the steel often distorts and
even grows slightly. The art in using these steels is to foresee such changes and
to allow enough material for grinding after heat treatment to arrive at the ®nal
106 Machining, Mold Materials, and Heat Treatment
mold dimensions. Since the carbon content diminishes with its depth, which is
dependent on the time required for carburizing, the danger is that too much
grinding allowance can make the hardened skin disappear during grinding, and
in such areas the surface hardness is then as soft as the base steel. Tool and mold
steels are ``through-hardened,'' and the amount of grinding to size will not affect
the surface hardness. For these reasons, over the years, mild mold steels have
been used less and less.
Today, with the development of better machining methods and more rugged
machine tools, larger mold stack parts are made mostly from prehardened mold
steels, which are supplied from the steel mills and the supply houses at a
hardness of about Rc 30±33. This allows the ®nish machining of most parts
without the need for any heat treatment after machining. Note that very large
mold parts may require three steps for ®nishing: (1) premachining to remove the
bulk of the outside and any large openings or cutouts, which may cause stresses
within the steel to distort the work piece; (2) the piece should then be stress
relieved, before (3) ®nish machining to the desired close dimensions. Smaller
mold stack parts are also often made from prehardened blanks, or, for high
production molds, from through-hardened mold or tool steels. After hardening,
it may still be necessary to grind or otherwise machine the work piece to the
®nal shape before polishing. Heat treatment is usually done by specialists, thus
requiring shipping of the parts to and from them, adding time and cost to the
heat treatment. By standardizing a small number of different mold steels
requiring hardening, costs can be reduced; for larger mold makers, this may
make it economical to provide in-house heat treatment.
9.3 Heat Treatment 107
Appendix 1 CAD/CAM (Computer-
Assisted Design±Computer-
Assisted Manufacturing)
As stated before, this book is not about the actual technique of designing
(delineating) molds, but about the logic and reasons behind a successful mold
design and the questions the designer must consider and answer at every step of
the design process. Computers now play an important part in this process,
especially if there are many precedents accessible to the designer to be used for
new designs and if there is a large collection of standards that can be accessed
from computer memories without the need for tediously drawing and redrawing,
from simple parts to complicated subassemblies. Also, by using special
programs, many calculations can be performed rapidly and accurately, and
newly created mold designs can be easily checked for ef®ciency of plastics ¯ow,
cooling, strength of materials, cam motions, and so on.
Because there are so many design programs, the designer usually starts by
redrawing the customer's information, which may have been submitted as hard
copy (prints) or electronically, but originating from a different system than the
one used by the designer. Once the to be molded part (the product) is drawn and
dimensioned to the designer's shop rules, a program will be used to add the mold
shrinkage to established rules. A constant factor may be used for the product, or
different shrinkages may be applicable, as explained earlier in this book.
The designer will now go through the motions as explained earlier, either
designing ``from scratch,'' or searching the ®les for a suitable precedent. If a
good precedent is found, it can now be merged with the new product drawing
and the mold can be designed. Once completed in principle, various programs
can be used to check selected areas (plates, cavities, etc.) for physical strength
and to check with other programs the expected ef®ciency of ®lling the mold
cavities, gate location and sizes, runner sizes, the cooling layout, and so on. Note
that all results from using these programs depend on the accuracy of the data
108
provided, such as reasonable assumptions as to temperatures, pressures, times,
and so on.
Once the mold drawings are ®nished, they are transferred to the
manufacturing group. By using related, compatible CAM programs, which are
often developed in-house, and the input of experienced machinist/programmers,
the manufacturing group will determine the best tools to use for the selected
machine tools and the appropriate tool paths for each mold part for each tool and
for each machine tool.
The following is a list of better known and widely used CAD and CAM
programs.
CAD/CAM Programs
Autocad, Autodesk Canada Inc. (mostly for PCs)
90 Allstate Parkway, Suite 201, Markham, ON, Canada L3R 6H3
905-946-0928
Unigraphics, Unigraphics Solutions
2550 Matheson Blvd., Mississauga, ON, Canada L4W 4Z1
905-212-4500
Proengineer, Parametric Technologies Co.
128 Technology Dr., Waltham, MA 02453, USA
781-398-5000
Fluid Flow Programs
CADMOULD, Simcon Inc. (mold¯ow, cooling, shrinking and warpage)
10914 N 39th. St., Suite B-4, Vancouver, WA 98682
888-754-8628
MOLDFLOW, Mold¯ow Corp. (mold ¯ow, cooling)
91 Hartwell Ave., Lexington, MA 02421, USA
781-674-0085
FEMAP Enterprise (¯uid ¯ow, all ¯uids)
PO 1172, Exton, PA 19341, USA
610-458-3660
CAD/CAM (Computer-Assisted Design±Computer-Assisted Manufacturing) 109
FIDAP, SPRC (¯uid ¯ow)
1155 North Service Rd., Suite 11, Oakville, ON, Canada L6M 3E3
905-465-1733
(partner for Fluid Dynamics International, 708-491-0200)
Mechanical Stresses
ANSIS Mechanical Dynamics Ltd.
400 Carlingview Dr. Toronto, ON, Canada M9W 5X9
416-674-2144
AL GOR
150 Beta Dr., Pittsburg, PA 15288, USA
412-967-2700
110 CAD/CAM (Computer-Assisted Design±Computer-Assisted Manufacturing)


111
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Index


Index Terms Links

2-plate molds 14 57 87
3-plate molds 58 87
accessories 97
accumulator 39 40
- package 39
accuracy 27
adaptor ring 36
air assist 23 37
air ejection 23 37
air-operated actuators 39
alignment 27 64 73
- features 80
amorphous plastics 26
angle pins 52
appearance 58 64
assembly drawing 2 45 80
assembly drawings 2
assumptions 109
automatic molding 25
auxiliary actuators 79
auxiliary controls 37
availability 76
backing up 52
backup 55
balanced cavity 54
balanced runners 64
ballooning 81
bending 75
beryllium-copper 70 101
beverage crates 48
Bill of Materials 45 81
blades 21
blow downs 39
blower 40
bosses 66
breakers 41
bushings 27 45 97
CAD 2 109
CAM 109
carburizing 106
cavity 11
- construction 54
- shape 11
- space 9 16 38


112
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Index Terms Links

- spacing 59
- walls 16
center gated 58 79
chase 42 44 55
chrome plated 103
circuit breakers 42
clamp stroke 37
clamping force 13 15 16 37
CNC 98 99
cold and hot runner molds 41 60
cold runner 14 38 56 57 63
64
collapsible cores 51
color changes 57 59
composite cavities 55
composite cones 55
compressibility 26
compression 75
compressive strength 102
computer 5 19 108
conductivity 70
containers 83
contamination 40 58
continuous vents 67
coolant connections 72 79 80
cooling 18 19 69
- channels 68 103
- circuit 72
- lines 71
- lines layout 80
- water supply 41
copper alloys 103
core 11 55
- backing plate 87
- construction 56
- cooling 87 90
- shift 56 64
corrosion resistance 103
cost-effective 42
counter bore 45
cross hatching 81
crystalline plastics 26
cup-shaped product 48
cycle times 34
deep hole drilling 100
deep-draw containers 37
deflection 75
degrade 63


113
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Index Terms Links

design 6
- review 73
- rules 9
detail drawings 45 80 98
diamond paste 100
die casting 3
dowels 72 75
draft 37
- angles 49
drawings 46
drinking cups 83
drooling 59
economics 3
EDM 99
ejection 22 68 78
ejector pins 45 67 97
ejector plate return 68 77
ejector stroke 37
electric power 41
electrical discharge machining (EDM) 99
electroforming 101
electroless nickel 43
electronic drafting 5
estimator 92
Euro 36
experimental molds 102
experimental setup 34
expertise 93
family molds 79
fatigue 68 75 76
Filtered air 40
Fitting 2
Flash 13 74
Flashing 74
Floating mounting 56
Floating platen 78
Flow capacity 20
forces 75
gate 14
- location 64
- retainer plate 85
- size 63
grain structure 78
grinding allowance 107
guide pins 85
gun drilling 100
handling the mold 31
hardness 76


114
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Index Terms Links

hardware 76 97
heat 69
- barrier 89
- controllers 41
- expansion 88
- loss 63 64
- losses 59
- treatment 97 106 107
heaters 41 59
high shrinking plastics 83
hobbing 100 103
holes 48 77
horn pins 52
hose connections 72
hot hardness 103
hot runner 38 63 79
- molds 41 59 64 87
- manifold 63
housings 83
hydraulic supply 40
in-house testing 2
injection blow molding 22
injection molding machine 7
injection pressure 13 15 17 37 39
55 59 74 75
injection speed 38 39
injection unit 78
insulated runner 62
insulated runner molds 62
interface points 80
internal threads 50
jig grinding 99
L/t ratio 65
laminar 19
land 16 66
lapping 100
large production 78
latches 79
leader pins 27 45 97
leaking 74
learning experience 94
legal implications 47
locating ring 35
low-cost mold 44
lubrication 77
machine ejector 36
machine nozzle 14
machine platen layout 79


115
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Index Terms Links

machine specifications 35
machinery steel 43
machining 97 103
machinists 45
manifold 59 64
- heaters 41 64
maximum clamp force 17
melt 38
- Flow 66
- temperature 17 25 59
- temperatures 103
mold 9
- clamps 36
- cost 4 92 95
- designers 1
- drawings 45
- hardware 45
- maker 1
- materials 69 74 97
- mounting 36 80
- plates 74
- price 92 95
- release agents 25
- shoes 42 44
- steels 43 102
- supply houses 97
molding cycle 38 70
molecular build-up 101
mounting plate 83
moving cavity 85
moving platens 78
multicavity molds 11 30 31 71
multilevel 78
multiple gates 56
nameplate 17
nickel plated 103
nitriding 103
notches 77
notes on drawings 47
nozzle radius 36
number of cavities 10
number of gates 37
number of screws 73
open gates 59
overcaps 58
parallel 20 84
parting line 12 51
path of least resistance 21 66


116
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Index Terms Links

plain bottom 83
plastic fronts 18
plastic inventory 63
plasticizing capacity 38 78
plastics Flow 64
plate cooling 22
plate deflection 68
plate thickness 68
plate supports 80
platen size 35
plates 76 97
polishing 100 103
polishing stone 100
postmolding operations 3
power consumption 41
power failure 41
precedents 2 93 108
preferred number 11
prehardened mold steels 107
preload 29 49 52 55 73
79 91
press fits 74
pressure air 39
pressure drop 16 63
product design 33
product drawing 95
production 34 75 87
productivity 18 37 42 68 69
projected area 15 37 78
projections 48
protection of the cores 28
quenching 106
quick mold change 36
quotation 92
reentrant bottom 83 84
records 93
regrinding 58 60
requirements 34
residence time 25 60
retractable core 51
reversed Flow 65
ribs 50 66
risk factor 95
robots 23 75
rollers 52
runner 14
- mold 80
- systems 56 63


117
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Index Terms Links

safety factor 77 94
safety gate 25
screw caps 58
screws 45 72 80
self-cleaning 68
self-degating 57 58
sequence of operation 47
serial 20
shallow engraving 49
shot capacity 38 78
shot size 37
shrinkage 11 26 108
shrinking 70
shut height 36 78
side cores 3 13 37 48 49
52 55 90
side forces 13
side wall 48
significant cross section 46 48
single-cavity molds 56
single-level 78
sink marks 21
sketches 94
sketching 5
sleeves 21 45 67 97
slender core pins 21
slender cores 56 103
slots 50
snap 49
specialists 4 107
specialization 93
SPI 36
split cavities 49 52
split molds 13
splits 90
spot vents 67
springs 78
sprue 14 64
- bushing 35 59
- extension 79
stack 42 55 71 80
- layout 48
- molds 78
stainless steels 43 103
standard hardware 2
standard mold components 95
standard mold shoes 43
standardizing 107


118
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Index Terms Links

standards 108
start-up 72
stationary platen 78
steel sizes 34
steels 74 101
strength of material 76
stress relieved 107
stripper plate 23 87
stripper rings 23 68 74 75 87
stripping 50
stroke 78
support pillars 68 84
surface definition 17 18 64
surface finish 77
symmetry 10
taper lock 27 29 30
taper pins 27 31
tapers 74
technical products 87
tensile strength 102
tension 75
test machines 2
test report 2 82
thermal conductivity 103
thermocouples 42
thin-wall molding 77
thin-walled 56 71
tie bar 79
- clearances 35
title block 81
tolerances 2 27 33 34 95
torsion 75
toughness 76 103
T-slots 84
turbulent 19 71
two-stage ejection 51
undercuts 49 50
universal mold shoes 44
unscrewing 50 75
valved gates 59
variable shrinkage 26
vent 65
- channels 66
- gap 66
- grooves 66
- pins 67
venting 18 65
vertical split 48


119
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Index Terms Links

views 46 80
virgin plastics 60
viscosity 16 17
wall thickness 17
wear 30 75 77 103
wedge 30 74 76
- action 75
weld lines
welding 66
wet area 104
wire EDM 72
yield strength 99
77

The Author: Herbert Rees, 248386-5 Sideroad (moro), RR#5 Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, L9W 2Z2 Distributed in the USA and in Canada by Hanser Gardner Publications, Inc. 6915 Valley Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244-3029, USA Fax: (513) 527-8950 Phone: (513) 527-8977 or 1-800-950-8977 Internet: http://www.hansergardner.com Distributed in all other countries by Carl Hanser Verlag Postfach 86 04 20, 81631 Munchen, Germany È Fax: ‡49 (89) 98 12 64 Internet: http:aawww.hanser.de The use of general descriptive names, trademarks, etc., in this publication, even if the former are not especially identi®ed, is not to be taken as a sign that such names, as understood by the Trade Marks and Merchandise Marks Act, may accordingly be used freely by anyone. While the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of going to press, neither the authors nor the editors nor the publisher can accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may be made. The publisher makes no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rees, Herbert, 1915± Understanding injection mold designaHerbert Rees. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-56990-311-5 (softback) 1. Injection molding of plastics. I. Title. TP1150.R45 2001 668.4'12±dc21 00-054085

Die Deutsche Bibliothek - CIP-Einheitsaufnahme Rees, Herbert: Understanding injection mold designaHerbert Rees, -Munich : Hanser; Cincinnati:Hanser Gardner, 2001 (Hanser understanding books) ISBN 3-446-21587-5 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. # Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 2001 Typeset in the U.K. by Techset Composition Ltd., Salisbury Printed and bound in Germany by Druckhaus ``Thomas Muntzer'', Bad Langensalza È

v

Introduction to the Series
In order to keep up in today's world of rapidly changing technology we need to open our eyes and ears and, most importantly, our minds to new scienti®c ideas and methods, new engineering approaches and manufacturing technologies and new product design and applications. As students graduate from college and either pursue academic polymer research or start their careers in the plastics industry, they are exposed to problems, materials, instruments and machines that are unfamiliar to them. Similarly, many working scientists and engineers who change jobs must quickly get up to speed in their new environment. To satisfy the needs of these ``newcomers'' to various ®elds of polymer science and plastics engineering, we have invited a number of scientists and engineers, who are experts in their ®eld and also good communicators, to write short, introductory books which let the reader ``understand'' the topic rather than to overwhelm himaher with a mass of facts and data. We have encouraged our authors to write the kind of book that can be read pro®tably by a beginner, such as a new company employee or a student, but also by someone familiar with the subject, who will gain new insights and a new perspective. Over the years this series of Understanding books will provide a library of mini-tutorials on a variety of fundamental as well as technical subjects. Each book will serve as a rapid entry point or ``short course'' to a particular subject and we sincerely hope that the readers will reap immediate bene®ts when applying this knowledge to their research or work-related problems. E.H. Immergut Series Editor

vii Preface During the last ®fty years I have been almost continuously working with molders. by just following the prompts of the computer. and in doing so learning the intricacies of designing of molds for many different products. but also in Europe and Japan. rather than understanding that the job expected of a mold designer is to consider possible alternatives of how the planned mold could look. and especially in the last 15 years. and expanding on it. for the same plastic. With the advent of computer aided designing (CAD). regardless of whether the molds used as ``precedents'' were for comparable conditions. I have worked with them not only in North America. If you are brought up in this environment. for similar molding machines. and ®nally supply all pertinent information to the mold maker. then make a practical and most suitable layout of a mold to produce the best quality product. During my discussions with these newcomers to the ®eld. at the lowest cost. you may be able to produce good . and why they were doing it. and creating a new mold by just changing some dimensions. from the early. it has become often so simple that the mold design can be performed almost automatically. the technique of making mold designs and drawings has become much easier to handle. and in some cases where products are similar. simple compression molds to highly sophisticated injection molds. Another problem I saw was that in many mold making shops. here and everywhere. or for a similar production requirement. by recalling older complete or partial designs from the CAD memory. as consultant to those in developing countries who only recently started to seriously compete in the huge ®eld of manufacturing molded plastic products. In many cases I believe they took simply ``the easy way out'' by just imitating what they saw in other molds. I have often wondered how many of them really understood what they were doing when it comes to planning for and designing a new mold. some designers were more intent on making ``pretty pictures''. mold makers and mold designers. when talking to ``old hands'' in this ®eld. and asssemblers. but also in earlier years. in the shortest posssible time. the machinists.

best suitable for the application. I undertook to write this book ``Understanding Injection Mold Design'' essentially to explain what is really important in the design of an injection mold. how. It is meant to be used to guide the designer to think. so that a good mold. based on the available good precedents. than to change (re-machine or modify) a poorly designed but already built mold. when. where.viii Preface designs.. and to frequently ask why. ON . The designer must never forget. the greatest obstacle to creating a good design has always been the reluctance of the designer to acknowledge the possibility that he or she may be wrong. Also. can be created even if there is no precedent. etc. in my experience. when considering the many possible choices before settling on a ®nal concept. it is always cheaper to change a design layout even if it adds some design time. Herbert Rees. Orangeville. and that there may be a better way than the ®rst one proposed. but you will be hard pressed to generate a good mold for which there is no precedent on ®le.

at that time. the materials suppliers were not always knowledgeable enough. The designers and sometimes the molders attended meetings and . Gradually. They were skilled in building accurate steel tools and dies. These were usually suitable for the. and the plastics suppliers. also. the mold shop.). The molder sketched. After the Second World War. to relieve the boss from these time-consuming chores. both for the use of machinists in the shop and for assembling of the mold. and the boss of such shops often worked closely with the molder. by closely supervising the machinists as they built the mold components. and quite satisfactory for the (by today's standards. many new and better plastics were developed. These increased demands of the traditional tool and die maker generated high specialization. The mold maker was still essentially an expert in machining and assembling. The molder was instrumental in the operating features the mold should have. who understood better what was required. and was often involved even in the selection of mold materials (steels. But over the years.1 1 Introduction I believe that a short history of injection molding will help in the understanding of what is required from a mold designer. few existing plastics molding materials. and depended on the input from plastics materials suppliers on how to process these materials. when plastics technology was beginning. and the boss. who were trying to expand into new ®elds. then by assembling and testing the molds himself (at the molder). each often requiring different molding parameters. etc. all this information required to build a mold had to be shown on paper. there were no ``mold designers. low) productivity expected from such molds. often crudely. and depended on feedback from the molders regarding performance of the plastics they supplied. more suitable for the ever increasing variety of products. Eventually. the demand for increases in productivity became a high priority. and the ``mold maker'' was born. The services of draftsmen or designers now became necessary. how the mold should look. built well-functioning molds. mold designers became the middlemen between the molder (the customer). At the same time.'' When a mold was needed. it was produced by artisans in tool and die maker shops.

ideally. At ®rst. It may have been the right . but gradually. with the more important dimensions shown. The investment in test machines proved not an expense but a saving for all parties involved. following designs or methods used before. designers do not really understand why they copied what they did. every mold part was detailed (except standard hardware items). complete with appropriate tolerances. It focuses on the ``why. especially if the new mold does not function or perform as wanted. The mold was then ready for testing and production. The mold designer must be involved in the testing of every mold. The mechanical approach can be useful and time saving as long as the precedent (the earlier example) is similar to the current job. quite often. the ``how. The molds could then be assembled by strictly following the assembly drawing. many mold makers acquired molding machines of various sizes for in-house testing. and the mold maker reverted to just building the mold. molds would be tested only at the molder. This book provides the designer student. and then shipping the mold back for adjustments if required. But often. often interrupting his production if he had no suitable machine available at the time. Eventually. In earlier days.'' Quite often designers do things mechanically (especially with a CAD [computer-assisted design] program). and revisions are necessary. rather than shipping the molds to the molder. only assembly drawings were produced. comprehensive test report issued before the mold is shipped will greatly assist the molder when starting up the new mold. in addition to complete assembly drawings. who became solely responsible for the construction and functioning of the molds. but. it had to be done not only once but several times. everything depended on the mold designer. without need for adjustments (``®tting''). the only way future designs can bene®t from these experiences is if the problems and solutions are properly recorded and the changes are documented on the drawings before they are made. so that any skilled machinist would be able to produce these components. per instructions given by the designer and as shown on drawings. with some ground rules for designing injection molds. and to apply their newly learned knowledge to the design of all molds. without questioning whether they are using the best approach to the problem. gradually. A complete.2 Introduction seminars to learn about new plastics and their expected processing requirements. and perhaps even the advanced designer.'' rather than going into the details of the design. even though the cost of testing is added to the mold cost. and the boss returned to running the shop and was rarely involved in design problems. This shipping back and forth was costly and time-consuming. It is important for the designer to insist that the molding technician not make any changes to the mold while it is being tested unless the designer is present. because this is where the most experience is needed.

especially where large quantities are required. such as compression and injection molding. without all the ``bells and whistles'' will be less expensive. Some plastics can be shaped by more than one process. a mold is required to give the product the required form. farming and aircraft components. but not for another. and stamping. a simple mold. similarly. electronics. Molds for low-pressures processing are easier to build than molds for high pressures. it may have been suitable for a small production. In some cases. What designers often do not see is that this is only relative. furniture. Some of these plastics may require different production methods to arrive at the shapes required. It is more important to produce the lowest cost of the ®nished molded part. stamping of side wall could avoid a ``split'' mold. (There is very little difference between injection molds for plastics and molds for die casting. injection molding seems to be the most common and economical method to produce plastic products. molding cost.. Numerous new plastics have been developed over the last few years for speci®c applications. where many many millions of parts are expected to be produced. but not for a large one. The designer must always consider the overall picture. cameras. On the other hand. and housing. such as toys. holes could be drilled after molding at an angle to the mold axis rather than designing and building complicated side cores.1. For example. and including the cost of any postmolding equipment. thermoforming. ®lms.1 Economics of Mold Design 3 thing for one plastic material. Certainly. blowing. and so on. packaging. such as drilling ®xtures. in real mass production. Every designer knows that the mold is a large expenditure and that its cost will affect the cost of the molded product. clothing. it may be even of economic advantage not to mold a product completely as designed. extruding.1 Economics of Mold Design Economics is often overlooked when this subject is taught. but at the present time. electrical equipment. 1. automotive. but in most cases. such as injection molds. i. other plastics and other methods of processing and shaping them will be developed. but do some postmolding operations for those areas in the design that would require expensive features in the mold. housewares. the molding of liquid metals such as zinc. and cost of direct labor involved in ®nishing the molded product.e. taking into account the cost of material.) In the future. the mold should be built with the best mold . if the anticipated production run with the mold is relatively small.

will have a negligible effect on the cost per unit. This does not mean that pictures of molds cannot be helpful. preforms for PET bottles. specialize in certain areas. It should also be clear that there is a difference between mold making as part of the molder's operation and mold making as a business. making molds for selling to a molder or end user. The molder will also be more aware of the expected production requirements and may take shortcuts that the mold maker in business would not. Mold Engineering (ME). but will learn instead the many things that must be considered when designing a mold. But regardless of what size and type product is injection molded or who designs or builds the mold. that is. most molders. but every mold is different and some may require a better approach than the older mold depicted.4 Introduction materials and the best mold design features. I will refer occasionally to three of my earlier books: Understanding Injection Molding Technology (IMT). This leads to the specialization of designers for the molds for these applications. Today. the designer should not look for pictures (drawings) of existing molds. small gears. . The molder may forgo some of the ``appearance'' features that would be expected from a reputable mold-making business. and Understanding Product Design for Injection Molding (PD). even though higher. There are specialists for thin-wall molding. always keeping in mind that the actual mold cost. but also many mold makers. large beverage container crates. In this book. the basic mold design principles as explained in this book are always the same. screw-cap making. and many others.

(2) An up-to-date library of standard mold components and hardware can be established. This often necessitates sketching. the quality of a design depends entirely on how well the designer understands what is required and what can be made. whether it is done electronically on a computer (with programs like Autocad) or on the drawing board with pencil. the designer must also be familiar with some areas of basic arithmetic and trigonometry. of earlier built molds can be easily used again by simply copying or modifying some existing design features from the program's memory. the designer uses the eraser. (4) The computer permits easy transmission of designs to other locations. erasing. (3) The quality of the drawings produced by a computer printout does not depend on the skilled hand of the designer. ultimately. Of course. and redrawing part or all of the picture. both are required to put dimensions on the mold parts so they can be machined. without the need for tedious redrawing.5 2 Starting New in the Mold Design Field The only prerequisite for the beginner is some knowledge of mechanical drawing delineation. which can be easily and quickly accessed and reproduced in new designs without the need for redrawing them every time they are needed. such as in-house manufacturing centers or manufacturers at other addresses. which is much easier to do electronically. Some of the advantages of electronic drafting are the following: (1) Designs of entire. the designer made his drawings on paper without much care for the . or portions. but will try out different ideas in the course of the design job.'' In the old days. There is a saying about the difference between a draftsman and a designer: ``the draftsman uses the pencil. Also be aware that even the most experienced designer will not always come up with the best design on the ®rst attempt. Note the computer is only a tool to the designer.

The important thing is the thought that goes into the design of the mold. but the time (and emotions) invested in such peer critique are usually outweighed by the bene®ts of arriving at a better mold. this prevents a design of mold parts that may be dif®cult (or even impossible) to produce economically or to put together at assembly. even worse. of course. It is also bene®cial to have someone who knows the actual molding process look at a new layout. when the mold is completed. To take advantage of various ideas. readable drawing. in general. the less time is wasted during machining and assembly of the mold. or to arrange a design meeting of peers to discuss the proposed design. When estimating the total time to build a mold. Time and money can be saved by spending more time during the design stage to consider alternatives and to get the designer involved in the manufacturing process of the mold.) And remember that the better the drawings are when given to the shop (or an outside source). depends on the shape of the product and the complexity of the mold. about 60±70% for machining. mold designers (especially beginners) may not be familiar with machining and assembly practices. These alternatives should then be discussed.6 Starting New in the Mold Design Field appearance of the resulting picture. and 15±20% for assembling the mold. . to ensure the best possible design. it is good practice for the designer. In many cases it is even better to provide two or more different layouts. after creating a mold layout. (This. to consult with a colleague. It may appear to be time-consuming. This procedure is standard practice in all major design of®ces around the world. and to arrive at the best mold. Since. it was then usually left to draftpersons to produce a good. allocate approximately 15±20% of the total time for designing and detailing. It is much less expensive to catch an error while it is still in the designing stage. all mold designers have their own ideas on how to solve certain design problems. in fact. and the best design or a composite of the various ideas should then be agreed upon. than to ®nd out about it later when steel has been cut or. someone who is familiar in these areas should be included at such design meetings. than by rushing a job through the design of®ce to save a few hours there. Different solutions are always possible to achieve the same end.

.) The injection molding machine (Fig.000 kN Figure 3.1 Schematic of an injection molding machine (top view). from small machines with a few kilonewtons (tons) of clamping force.7 3 The Basics of an Injection Molding Machine (See also IMT. which contains much basic information on injection molding.1) provides         A safe support for the mold The opening and closing motion of the mold halves The clamping force to keep the mold closed while injecting The melted (plasticized) plastic to be injected The injection force to ®ll the mold cavity space The ejection force All necessary sequencing and temperature controls Any additional functions as may be required Molding machines come in many different sizes. to giant machines with 80. 3. molding machines. and molds.

8 The Basics of an Injection Molding Machine (8800 US tons). we will not go further into the functions of the molding machine. At this point. . we will explain. suitable for the mold size and output required. When discussing the injection mold. how the functions of the machine and the mold are interrelated. when required. for very large products. All machines can be equipped with a choice of standard injection units.

past experience. Such molds. 4. Molds have been used to make tools. bells. which are still used today in foundries. and economy. statues. But occasionally. we are looking for permanent molds that can be used over and .2.9 4 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold Design Rules 4. and household articles. and molding.1 The Basic Mold Mold Cavity Space The mold cavity space is a shape inside the mold. the plastic) is forced into this space it will take on the shape of the cavity space and.1 There are many rules for designing molds. mold making.2 4. The principle of a mold is almost as old as human civilization. it may work out better if a rule is ignored and an alternative way is selected. therefore. convenience. The designer must ever be open to new ideas and methods.1). 4. it is usually of advantage to follow the rules. Today. but the designer will learn only from experience which way to go. weapons. the most common rules are noted. to new molding and mold materials that may affect these rules. In this text. bronze) into sand forms. by pouring liquid metals (iron. the desired product (Fig. For designing. ``excavated'' (by machining the mold material) in such a manner that when the molding material (in our case. can be used only once because the mold is destroyed to release the product after it has solidi®ed. These rules and standard practices are based on logic.

. the production increases in proportion to the number of cavities. Now molds are made from strong. but (as in our example) not necessarily 4 times as much as a single-cavity mold. are built with 2 or more cavities (Fig. The reason for this is purely economical. 4.1 Illustration of basic mold. such as steel.2 Number of Cavities Many molds. over. A mold with more cavities is more expensive to build than a single-cavity mold. a 4-cavity mold requires only (approximately) one-fourth of the machine time of a single-cavity mold. so the mold must be strong enough to resist the injection pressure without deforming. or from softer aluminum or metal alloys and even from certain plastics where a long mold life is not required because the planned production is small. especially large production molds. with one cavity space. are built for only 1 cavity space (a single-cavity mold).2). durable materials. In injection molding the (hot) plastic is injected into the cavity space with high pressure. For example.2. but many molds. particularly molds for larger products. Conversely.10 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold Figure 4.2 Illustration of basic mold with two cavity spaces. It takes only little more time to inject several cavities than to inject one. But it may also require a Figure 4. 4.

This does not mean that they look like a cup.4. 12. 9. or by any new method that may be available to remove metal or build it up. These numbers are selected because the cavities can be easily arranged in a rectangular pattern. It may also be created by casting (and then machining) certain metals (usually copper or zinc alloys) in plaster molds created from models of the product to be made. which is highly desirable to ensure equal clamping force for each cavity. 96. 64. with dimensional allowances added to allow for shrinking of the plastic.2. and . it may need a larger injection unit. often raised (or convex) portion of the cavity space is called the core. with chemical etching. Today. or with electric discharge machining (EDM). most multicavity molds are built with a preferred number of cavities: 2. The alternative to the cup shape is the ¯at shape. for manufacturing. and for symmetry around the center of the machine. It is also possible to make cavity layouts for any number of cavities. The fundamentals of shrinkage are discussed later. 7. provided such rules as symmetry of the projected areas around the machine centerline (as explained later) are observed. In this case. 16. 4. or by casting (and then machining) some suitable hard plastics (e. such as galvanic processes. and because it will use (in this example) 4 times the amount of plastic.3 Cavity Shape and Shrinkage The shape of the cavity is essentially the ``negative'' of the shape of the desired product.3 Cavity and Core 11 larger machine with larger platen area and more clamping capacity. 32. even with odd numbers of cavities. The matching. 5. 4. The shape of the cavity is usually created with chip-removing machine tools. so the machine hour cost will be higher than for a machine large enough for the smaller mold.3 Cavity and Core By convention. 48. 6. 128. A smaller number of cavities can also be laid out in a circular pattern. 4.. there is no speci®c convex portion. but they do have an inside and an outside. the hollow (concave) portion of the cavity space is called the cavity. epoxy resins). 24.g. the inside by the core. The outside of the product is formed by the cavity. 8. The cavity shape can be either cut directly into the mold plates or formed by putting inserts into the plates. such as 3. which is easier for designing and dimensioning. Most plastic products are cup-shaped.

by convention. 4. we must have at least two separate mold halves. it is preferable to have it in one plane. in this context it is referred to as a line. from where they are then ejected. To be able to produce a mold (and to remove the molded pieces). with the cavity in one side and the core in the other. this area is actually seen as a line (Fig.4 The Parting Line In illustrations Figs. Usually. this is a parting area or plane. . Most injection molding machines do not provide ejection mechanisms on the injection (``hot'') side.2 we showed the cavity space inside a mold. or round disks such as records. but for ease of mold manufacturing. or to have it at Figure 4. they often present serious molding problems for ejection of the product. to make ejection of the product from the mold possible. Typical examples for this are plastic knives. The parting line can have any shape.3). the cavities are placed in the mold half that is mounted on the injection side. While these items are simple in appearance.3 Illustration of schematic mold. now we consider the other basic elements of the mold. the core looks like a mirror image of the cavity. Actually. The parting line is always at the widest circumference of the product. In a side view or cross section through the mold. With some shapes it may be necessary to offset the P/L. The reason for this is that all injection molding machines provide an ejection mechanism on the moving platen and the products tend to shrink onto and cling to the core.1 and 4. We have seen how the cavity spaces are inside the mold. The separation between these plates is called the parting line. 4. game chips. and designated P/L. but. 4.12 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold sometimes. showing the parting line. while the cores are placed in the moving half of the mold.

Cavity is split. to ensure that it shuts off tightly when the mold is clamped during injection. 4. Figure 4. and often ground. . the product could be unusable. but is preferred as in (B). (D) Simple product but with rim and projection. P/L can be either as in (B) or in (C). (B and C) Product with rim but still simple. This force also exists in the other examples.4.4 Schematic illustrations of location of parting lines (P/L) (only one half of mold shown): (a) core. (b) cavity. between the two positions shown. or ``¯ash. the parting line could be anywhere on the outside of the rim. If the parting line is poorly ®nished the plastic will escape.4.4 The Parting Line 13 an angle. which do slightly expand during injection and then return to their original shape once the injection cycle is completed. the mold plates (the ``mold shoe'') must be suf®ciently solid to Figure 4. (In (B) and (C). (A) Simplest case: P/L at right angles to axis of mold.'' which must then be removed. The machine clamping force holds the mold closed at the P/L. otherwise. which will force the two cavity halves in the direction of the the large arrow m. which shows up on the product as an unsightly sharp projection. There is even a danger that the plastic could squirt out of the mold and do personal damage. creating an additional P/L 2. Since these side forces can be considerable (see Section 4.1 Split Molds and Side Cores There are other parting (or split) lines than those that separate the cavity and core halves.6).) In (D) we must consider the injection pressure p (as shown with small arrows inside the cavity space). but in any event it is best to have is so that it can be easily machined.4 shows simple ``up and down'' molds. These are the separating lines between two or more cavity sections if the cavity must separate (split or retract) to make it possible to eject the molded product as the mold opens for ejection. but is resisted by the strength of the solid cavity walls.

This is a frequently used method. We discuss the great variety of sprues. It is inexpensive. The ¯ow passages are the sprue. These side cores.1) contacts the mold. or even only small pins to create holes in the side of the products. can represent just small parts of the cavity. Figure 4. or split portions of the cavities. we must add provisions for bringing the plastic into these cavity spaces. 4. which distribute the plastic to the individual cavities. there can be any number of cavities supplied by the cold runners. with the plastic injected directly from the sprue into the cavity space. The right drawing is of a typical (2-plate) cold runner system. Instead of the 2 cavities as shown here.3. and the gates. 4. as. runners. which break off easily after ejection. for example. which are (usually) small openings leading from the runner into the cavity space. from where the machine nozzle (see Fig. Illustration of schematic mold. cools so much that the plastic cannot ¯ow anymore. We illustrate here only two methods of so-called cold runners (see Fig.5). with the plastic ¯owing through the sprue and the runner and entering the cavity space through relatively small gates. with beverage crates or large pails. mostly with large products. 4.5 shows the simplest case of a single-cavity mold. 4.'' that is.5 Runners and Gates In Fig. but requires the clipping or machining of the relatively large (sprue) gate. but they could also be sections molding whole sides of a product. This must be done with enough pressure so that the cavity spaces are ®lled completely before the plastic ``freezes. showing cold sprue (left) and cold runner . 3.5 (right). Now. These and other runner methods are explained later. we showed molds with cavity spaces and parting lines. The left part of Fig. the runners. and gates later.14 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold contain these forces and provide the necessary preload to prevent opening of the mold during injection.

is adjustable between any low values. We can easily calculate the injection pressure inside the machine nozzle. as delineated in this section view of the mold. which is the area of the largest projection of the product at the parting line.6 Portion of a schematic mold. This pressure. in the direction of the mold (and machine) axisÐin other words.000 psi). The arrow describing projected area in Fig. . must be at least as great as the force F to keep the mold from opening (cracking open) during injection.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure 15 4. which is directly related to the size of the injection cylinder of the machine and the hydraulic (oil) pressure supplying the injection cylinder. 4. 4. From this it becomes clear that the clamping force. The injection pressure at the machine nozzle. As the plastic ®lls the cavity space under high pressure p. in most molding machines. showing a cavity ®lled with plastic under pressure acting in all directions. to a high of about 140 MPa (20.6). The dif®culty is how to determine the value of the injection pressure p. the pressure.4. Figure 4. and in some machines can be as high as 200 MPa (29. in general.6 really describes an area not a line.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure At this point we digress and consider injection pressure and how it affects mold design (see Fig. in the direction of the motion of the clampÐwill tend to open the cavity at the parting line.000 psi) or even higher. The actual area can be seen (and measured) in a plan view of the mold cavity. The separating force F created by the pressure p is equal to the product of the pressure p times the projected area A. the force exerted on the mold by the molding machine.

16

Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold

however, is greatly reduced (by the pressure drop) by the time the plastic passes through the machine nozzle ori®ce, the runners, and the gates, and as it ¯ows through the narrow passages of the cavity space. The ¯ow also depends largely on the viscosity (de®ning the ease of ¯ow) of the plastic, which depends on its chemistry and on its temperature (the higher the temperature, the lower the viscosity). This area is the subject of much research and experimentation, and computer programs are available to calculate the pressures and the ¯ow inside the cavity space (see Appendix). A good working assumption is a cavity pressure p of approximately 30±40 MPa (4000±5000 psi) for average product wall thicknesses of about 2±3 mm or more, and 40±50 MPa (5000±6000 psi) or even higher for thin-wall products. For example, a disk of 100 mm (10 cm) diameter, with a thickness of 2 mm, will generate an opening force of (102  p Ä 4) cm2  30 MPa ˆ 235 kN (approx. 26 US tons) per cavity.

4.6.1

Clamping Force

From the above example we see that a clamping force of at least 235 kN (26 US tons) per cavity should be used to ensure that the mold will not crack open. If the average wall of the product is thinner, or if the de®nition, that is, the accuracy and clarity of reproduction of details in the cavity wall, is important, then the pressure must be higher and a larger clamping force will be required.

4.6.2

Strength of the Mold

There are two other serious effects of the injection pressure p. First, as can be seen in Fig. 4.6, the pressure also acts in the direction at right angles to the axis of the mold. These forces, which are the product of the projection of the cavity in this direction times the pressure p, will tend to stretch and de¯ect the cavity walls outward. The greater the height H of the product, the greater will be this force and the stronger must be the walls surrounding the cavity. Second, the clamping force is applied as soon as the mold closes. At this moment, the whole clamp force is resisted (``taken up'') by the area of the land, which is the area surrounding the cavity that touches the core side. If this area is

4.6 Projected Area and Injection Pressure

17

too small, the land will be crushed and damage the sealing-off surfaces of the parting line, eventually ruining the mold. Proper sizing of the land and correct materials and hardness (steel, etc.), or other measures to counteract the clamping forces are the solution to this problem. Also, the mold setup technician should be informed by a nameplate attached to the mold that the recommended maximum clamp force for the mold must not be exceeded during mold setup or during operation.

4.6.3

Why Are High Injection Pressures Needed?

High injection pressures are needed to ensure that the mold is completely ®lled during the injection cycle, with the desired clear surface de®nition. There are several problems to consider. (1) The thinner the wall thickness of the product, the more dif®cult it is to push the plastic through the gap between cavity and core, thus requiring higher pressures. Since material (the plastic) usually accounts for 50±80% of the total cost of a molded product, it is highly desirable to reduce the weight (mass) of plastic injected to a bare minimum. This usually means reducing the wall thickness as far as possible without affecting the usefulness of the product. Over the years, many products have been redesigned just to reduce the plastic mass of a product. This is also why many modern injection molding machines provide higher injection pressures than older ones. (2) The colder the injected plastic, the higher its viscosity, and the more dif®cult it becomes to ®ll the mold. The cost of the product depends directly on the cycle time required to mold a product. The higher the melt temperature of the plastic, the easier it will ¯ow and ®ll the mold. However, higher melt temperatures also require increasing the cooling cycle time to bring the temperature of the injected plastic down to a level where the product can be safely ejected without distorting or otherwise damaging it. This means more power (for heating and cooling), longer cycles, and therefore higher costs. It is often better to inject at the lowest possible temperatures, even if more pressure is needed to ®ll the mold. Note that higher injection pressures will require greater clamping forces and a stronger, possibly larger, machine. Another solution to the problem might be to select a plastic that ¯ows more easily. Such plastics, however, are usually more expensive and may not be as strong as desired. (3) High injection forces are needed for good surface de®nition. Typically, this is important when molding articles such as compact discs, where the clarity

18

Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold

and precision of the surface de®nition is in direct relation to the quality of the sound reproduction of the recording.

4.7

Venting

As the plastic ¯ows from the gate into the cavity space, the air trapped in it as the mold closed must be permitted to escape. Typically, the trapped air is being pushed ahead by the rapidly advancing plastic front, toward all points farthest away from the gate. The faster the plastic entersÐwhich is usually desirableÐ the more the trapped air is compressed if it is not permitted to escape, or vented. This rapidly compressed air heats up to such an extent that the plastic in contact with the air will overheat and possibly be burnt. Even if the air is not hot enough to burn the plastic, it may prevent the ®lling of any small corners where air is trapped and cause incomplete ®lling of the cavity. Most cavity spaces can be vented successfully at the parting line, but often additional vents, especially in deep recesses or in ribs, are necessary. Another venting problem arises when plastic fronts ¯owing from two or more directions collide and trap air between them. Unless vents are placed there the plastic will not ``knit'' and may even leave a hole in the wall of the product. This can be the case when more than one gate feeds one cavity space, or when the plastic ¯ow splits in two after leaving the gate, due to the shape of the product or the location of the gate. Within the cavity space, plastic always ¯ows along the path of least resistance, and if there are thinner areas, they will ®ll only after the thicker sections are full. Venting is discussed more thoroughly in ME, Chapter 11.

4.8

Cooling

Cooling and productivity are closely tied. In injection molding, the plastic is heated in the molding machine to its processing (melt) temperature by adding energy in the form of heat, which is mostly generated by the rotation (work) of the extruder screw. After injection, the plastic must be cooled; in other words, the heat energy in the plastic must be removed by cooling, so that the molded piece becomes rigid enough for ejection. Cooling may proceed slowly, by just letting the heat dissipate into the mold and from there into the environment. This is not suitable for large production, but for very short runs ``arti®cial'' cooling of a mold is not always required. However, for a production mold, good cooling to remove the heat ef®ciently is very important.

As long as the temperature difference DT between the ®rst and the last cavity in one group of cavities (or cores) is not too largeÐon the order of DT ˆ 1 5  C (2±9  F). which will raise its own temperature. and (b) there will be less temperature rise of the coolant from the ®rst to the last cavity (or core). depending on the jobÐthe system is working properly.4.8. but this is the very purpose of the coolant: to remove heat. The smaller the difference. because (a) a greater volume will ¯ow through the channels. By contrast. and removing more heat. Rule 4: The coolant must ¯ow in a turbulent ¯ow pattern. Rule 2: All cavities (and cores) must be cooled with the same coolant ¯ow (quantity of coolant per unit of time) at a temperature that is little different from cavity to cavity (or core to core). In many molds there can be a good argument for compromise by having a greater DT and thereby using less coolant. This may require special coolant capacity and pumps. cool liquid in contact with the hot metal walls of the cooling channels. In some cases.8 Cooling 19 4. ¯ow patterns and sizes of the cooling channels. rather than in laminar ¯ow. Turbulence within the ¯ow causes the coolant to swirl around as it ¯ows. The coolant temperature will rise as it passes through each cavity (or core). thereby continuously bringing fresh. and based on assumed temperatures of melt and coolant. The faster the coolant ¯ows. This means that a computer program can determine the best planned cooling layout for a mold only after the mold is designed. the lowest DT value may be necessary for quality requirements of the product.1 Basics of Cooling The physics and mathematics of cooling are quite complicated. Rule 3: The amount of heat removed depends on the quantity (volume) of coolant ¯owing through the channels in cavity (or core). and other variables. or in any pocket. j j Rule 1: Only moving coolant is effective for removing heat. Computer programs can determine the appropriate means of cooling a particular mold. after input of the geometry of the product and the mold. There are several rules. to help the designer. the better it is. does nothing for cooling. however. such as heat characteristics of the coolant and the mold materials. laminar ¯ow moves along the channel walls j j . But the designer wants to know how to design the best cooling layout in the ®rst place. the more coolant will be required (which is more expensive in operation). based on experience. Stagnant coolant in ends of channels.

7. that is. 4. where cooling is importantÐin cavities. are in another arrangement. Figure 4. Most cooling lines for cavities and cores are supplied from channels in the underlying or surrounding plates. A Reynolds number of more than 4000 (Re b 4000) designates turbulent ¯ow. cores. therefore having a much smaller Re number.) Thus. r ˆ 999X5 kgam3 . the better the cooling ef®ciency. In many multicavity molds. and r is the density of the coolant (kg/m3 ). and n is the kinematic viscosity (m2 /s). parallel. Turbulent ¯ow is de®ned by the Reynolds number (Re). For water at 5  C …41 F). and so onÐsmall-diameter channels and fast-¯owing coolant are also important. as long as the ¯ow rules are followed. (More values can be found in ME. which is calculated as Re ˆ …V  D† Ä n.7b). j Rule 5: Serial or parallel ¯ow? (See Fig. 10. whichever is more suitable for the layout. where V is the velocity of the coolant (m/s). Often. but the center of the coolant ¯ow will remain cold. n ˆ m Ä r. or both. and cores. 4. and (c) series±parallel cooling.7a). where m is the absolute viscosity (kg/m Á s). in the same mold. or side cores. 4. But this is usually satisfactory because these plates do not need as much cooling as the stack parts. inserts.7 Schematic layout of (a) series cooling. in Table 25. m ˆ 1X55  103 kgam Á s.000 should be attempted.7c). There is no rule for which way to go. D is the diameter of the channel (m). For good cooling. and n ˆ 1X5508  10À6 m2 as. as long as each branch has the same ¯ow.20 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold relatively undisturbed.) It does not matter whether the coolant follows a serial ¯ow. The higher the number. side cores.2. the cooling channels are arranged so that they are partly in parallel and partly in series (Fig. 4. and can be much larger. from cavity to cavity (or core to core) in sequence (Fig. cavities are in one arrangement of series.000 ` Re ` 20. j Rule 6: The channel sizes (cross sections) must be calculated so that there is always more than enough ¯ow capacity in a preceding section to . so that the outer layer of the coolant in touch with the metal will heat up. thus doing little cooling. (b) parallel cooling. which come in contact with the hot plastic. or whether the ¯ow is split so that the coolant ¯ows in a parallel pattern (Fig. inserts.

But ®rst the designer must try to ®nd a way of getting coolant (not necessarily water) into the thin sections. There is no sense in providing good cooling for the easy-to-cool areas of the mold if there are poorly cooled areas elsewhere in it.4. There may be the possibility of a minor alteration of the product design to avoid heavy sections so that not only is plastic saved but also cooling time is reduced. or at least get the best cooling into the mold parts supporting these thin projections. if the coolant is to ¯ow equally through all subsequent channels. Dif®cult-to-cool areas limit the mold cooling capability and seriously affect the molding cycle. For example. For example. They are always a problem. always takes the path of least resistance.8 Cooling 21 feed equally all the channels in the following split. the heavy. but it must not be smaller. such as thin and slender core pins. solid handle of a coffee mug could be redesigned j . because of potential shrink and sink marks. and one of the 4 channels will see little or no ¯ow through it. Rule 8: Study the product to locate heavy sections of the plastic. essentially. if the preceding cross section is 3x. the (preceding) feeder must have at least 4  40 mm2 ˆ 160 mm2 cross-sectional area. like plastics. or special cooling methods may be used. if there are 4 parallel channels of 40 mm2 cross-sectional area each. that the ratio of length over the narrow bottom dimension or diameter of a pin or insert is more than 2 to 1. the ¯ow decreases as the length of travel increases and as the cross-sectional area through which the heat travels gets smaller. such as blowing (cold) air at the thin sections while the mold is open. all delicate mold features. in this context. In some molds there are 4 or more points where the cross sections step down in the cooling system. The mold designer should discuss this problem with the product designer. and sleeves. Coolant. For example. this is often missed in designs and the mold does not function properly. and each of 4 succeeding parallel cross sections are x. j Rule 7: The dif®cult-to-cool areas in the mold must be considered ®rst. Selecting materials such as beryllium±copper alloys may help to remove the heat faster. Remember that heat always ¯ows from the higher toward the lower temperature. there will not be enough coolant. blades. Slender signi®es. These are. parallel sections. Heavy sections are particularly bad if they are toward the end of the plastics ¯ow where there is less pressure to ensure good ®lling. even where it is easy to provide good cooling. Unfortunately. It does not matter if the preceding section is greater than the calculated minimum value.

2 Plate Cooling An often overlooked fact is that mold cooling is not only for cooling the plastic. all materials expand when heated.10. This points to the importance of ensuring in the design that both mold halves should be kept as close as possible to the same temperature.000011 mm/mm/ C. cold state.22 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold by coring it from both sides. See also ME. they will expand differently from their original. such as injection blow molding. In many molds. assume that the distance of two leader pins in a mold is L ˆ 400 mm and that a temperature difference of DT ˆ 10  C (18  F) exists between the two plates carrying the pins and bushings. in special cases. and cause misalignment between the alignment elements.) More about cooling later. For example. (Compression molding. Considering that the standard diametrical clearance between leader pins and bushings is only 0. L will increase by DL.00173 inch).) 4. the plastic must be heated to set (or harden). such as the hot runner systems discussed later or. the product leaves the mold hotter than the raw material used to ®ll the mold. If the mold plates are at different temperatures. where the mold cores are heated to keep the plastic hot. This could add to the mold cost. regardless of productivity. but would greatly reduce the cycle time. requires heating of the mold.9 Ejection After the plastic in the cavity spaces has cooled suf®ciently and is rigid enough and ready for removal. but also for cooling the various mold plates that are close to areas heated by the plastic. In this process. (See also Understanding Product Design for Injection Molding. or bind in the bushings. allowing suf®cient space . for blowing immediately after injection. The question is whether the customer wants to sacri®ce design features for productivity. With an approximate heat expansion for steel of 0. DL ˆ L  DT  0X000011 ˆ 400  10  0X000011 ˆ 0X044 mm (0.025 mm (0. the mold halves move apart.8. As is explained in Section 4.001 inch). usually employed for thermosetting materials. 4. certain plates are essential for the alignment system because they carry the leader pins and bushings or other alignment members. the example shows the pins will bend at every cycle. Chapter 13.

a quick blast from an air jet applied manually by an operator and directed at the parting line can lift a (simple) product off the core or out of the cavity. (h) core pin. (b) ejector plate. As with cooling.9 These two systems can be used in most molds and for most plastics. The problem with both these systems is that there are heavy moving parts involved. (Right) Section through sleeve ejector mold: (a) backing plate. The main advantage is that it has no. (g) sleeve ejector. etc. (2). in case of screw caps.4.10. (e) molded product. the products are ejected by one of the following methods: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) Pin (and sleeve) Stripper plate or stripper ring Air alone Air assist Combination of any of the above (1).  Air ejection alone can be used for ¯at products (Fig. (f) ejector pin. (c) ejector plate. For example. (b) core pin retainer plate. (f) core plate. . but this would not be practical in most molds.8 (Left) Section through ejector pin mold: (a) backing plate. and the upkeep of such molds is high. 4. or almost no. (d) sleeve retainer plate. Usually. and (4) Unscrewing. (c) ejector retainer plate. but for deep cup-shaped products (right) it is restricted to only certain plastics and shapes. (e) molded product. (d) core plate.8  Stripper plate or stripper ring. left). 4. moving Figure 4. (3). Combination of any of the above. (i) stop pin. Some products don't need any provision within the mold for ejection. the complexity of any provision for ejection from the mold is a question of the desired productivity. 4. (g) stop pin. combined with robots The most common and oldest methods are  Pin (and sleeve) as shown in Fig.9 Ejection 23 between the mold halves for removal of the product. and is rarely used for real production. as shown in Fig.

(Right) (a) core and mounting plate. . the products should be ejected as early as possible. (d) pressure air supply. parts. (d) pressure air supply. Note that for best productivity.24 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold Figure 4. (Right) Section through stripper plate mold: (c) core and mounting plate. (c) air valves. whereas unscrewing requires the pieces to be more rigid. Figure 4. (e) molded product. (Left) (a) core and mounting plate. Air ejection alone is often used in very high production molds. (b) molded product. stripping permits hotter (softer) products to be ejected without damage to them. (c) circular air gap. (b) core tip. others depend on the plastic to be stiffer. (e) molded product. (c) core plate. (d) stripper plate. (e) molded product. (f) machine ejectors. (g) connecting sleeve. Certain ejection methods permit earlier ejection. the same applies to (7). by combining any of the above ejection methods with integrated robots. (f) machine ejector. (b) ejector plate. (d) stripper ring.9 (Left) Section through stripper ring mold: (a) mounting plate. For example. to reduce cycle time.10 Air ejection alone.

Since much of this operation also depended on the acquired skill of the operatorÐsome workers are faster. but was also very unsafe and the cause of many serious injuries. some are discussed later. The designer must select the appropriate method of ejection and make sure that there is enough ejection stroke to clear the products from the cores. See also ME. . but especially in the dosing (the amount of plastic injected) and the melt temperature. (2) Reliable ejection. There was also the problem of absenteeism of the personnel. This is frequently overlooked and can also be caused by improper setup of the mold. The key to good ejection is that the product always stays on the side from which it will be ejected. and from time to time had to lubricate the molding surfaces with mold release agents. usually.9 Ejection 25 4. the operator was also often required to reach into the molding area to pry loose a stuck. Every mold (with very rare exceptions) can be designed so that there is no chance of the product hanging up and not ejecting. The molding machine must be repetitive from cycle to cycle in every aspect. reclosed the gate and initiated the next molding cycle. supposed to visually inspect the products at this time and even make adjustments to the machine if they thought it necessary. the overall molding cycle time could vary considerably. or even on the day of the week. but not necessarily.4. resulting in quality differences of the product because of different residence times of the melt in the machine. They also were.1 Automatic Molding Earlier molds were all designed to require operators (often lowly paid and unskilled) to sit or stand at the molding machine. The designer must keep in mind Murphy's law. All this was not only labor intensive. which says that if it can happen. After every cycle they opened the safety gate to remove the products from the molding area. Much effort was therefore spent on eliminating operators from the actual molding process. or had unreliable injection and ejection systems. which often played havoc with production planning. many rejects resulted. it will. adding greatly to the cost of production. Chapter 12. by today's standards. some slowerÐand on the time of the day or night. possibly defective product. This is 100% the responsibility of the mold designer. Fully automatic (FA) molding depends essentially on two factors: (1) Reliable injection. Many areas must be considered in the design. in some cases. from the core side of the mold. Because the molds were often not properly ®nished.9.

near the end of the ¯ow through the narrow cavity space. In some cases.10. the injection pressure required to ®ll the cavity space. it is both hot and therefore expanded. which reduces its volume. When pressure is applied to plastics (or to hydraulic oil. As the plastic is injected. and for many products and molds..10 Shrinkage One of the most misunderstood areas of mold design is shrinkage. This makes it very dif®cult to arrive at a true shrinkage factor. and the temperature at which it will be ejected from the mold. the shrinkage factor is much higher than with amorphous plastics. such as polyethylene (PE). but not to water). Plastics ®lled with inert substances. where the volume or size of a product is important. plastics will compress signi®cantly (i. In some applications. However. more than two . and a higher shrinkage factor will apply. so the shrinkage there will be less and will require a smaller shrinkage factor. 4.26 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold 4.e. we now have two conditions that work against each other: heat expansion and compressibility. and polyamide (nylon). The problem with all plastics is the characteristic of compressibility. but also under signi®cant pressure. All solid materials compress under load. Shrinkage ®gures should be obtained from materials suppliers. this is not accurate enough. but most not as much as plastics. Every material (metals.1 Variable Shrinkage The designer must understand that the areas within the cavity spaces close to the gate see higher pressures. such as polystyrene (PS) and polycarbonate (PC). reduce in volume) in proportion to the amount of pressure applied. such as glass or carbon ®bers or talcum. polypropylene (PP). these ®gures indicate only a range within which to choose. the melt temperature. usually between 0 and 5%. the pressure in the plastic is much lower than near the gate. For practical purposes. for guiding purposes. With crystalline plastics. plastics. the shrinkage factors supplied by materials suppliers can be used. gases. Thus. This may be (within the range of molding operations) as high as 2% of the original volume. have a much lower shrinkage than that for the same but un®lled material. Conversely. liquids) expands as its temperature increases (heat expansion) and returns to its original volume if cooled down to the original temperature. because the actual change in volume depends on the type of plastic.

4.11 Alignment

27

shrinkage factors may have to be selected within one cavity. It is also important to establish at what temperature the product will be ejected. If it is ejected while still hot, it will shrink more outside of the cavity space as it cools to room temperature. If ejected later, when it is cooler, it will shrink less, as measured in comparison with the steel sizes of the cavity and core. This is sometimes, but uneconomically, used to arrive at the proper size of a product such as a container or lid. If a molded product is too small because not enough shrinkage value was added to the product dimensions when specifying the mold steel dimensions, the proper product size can be achieved by ejecting it later, when it is cooler, but this means loss in productivity. With high production, the proper procedure is to resize the steel dimensions. See also ME, Chapter 8.

4.11

Alignment

Various methods are used to align cavity and core plates. The method selected depends on the shape of the product, the accuracy (or tightness of tolerances) of the product, and even on the expected mold life. Several choices are available: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 4.11.1 No provision for alignment within the mold Leader pins and bushings Taper lock between each cavity and core Taper lock between a group of cavities and cores Wedge locks Taper pins Combination of (2) with (3), (4), (5), or (6) No Provision for Alignment

In the case of a ¯at product, without any cavity (depression) in one mold half, and the cavity entirely in the other mold half, for example, in a mold for a ¯oor mat, there is no need for alignment, even if there is some engraving on the ¯at surface of the mold, because the most the dimensions can vary is by the amount of play between the machine tie bars and the tie bar bushings.

28

Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold

4.11.2

Leader Pins and Bushings

This common method of alignment between mold halves is shown in Fig. 4.11. In cup-shaped products with heavy walls, there is really no need for alignment within the mold, because the clearances between tie bars and their bushings are usually much less than the tolerances of the product wall thickness. The main reason to have leader pins in these cases is to protect the projecting cores from physical damage, when handling the mold. The protection of the cores by use of leader pins applies also to all other mold alignment methods. Wherever leader pins are used, they should be placed at the same mold side as the cores and be longer than the longest projection of the cores to protect them from damage (see dimension s, in Fig. 4.11). There are exceptions to this rule, for example, in some 3-plate molds. What is often missed is that for most applications leader pins and bushings are a very accurate method of alignment. Consider dimension t in Fig. 4.11, and let's assume a wall thickness t ˆ 1X50 mm (0.060 inch), with a tolerance of Æ0X05 mm (0.002 inch), or 1.50 Æ 0.05 mm. With standard commercial hardware, the leader pin is usually nominal size minus 0.025 mm (À0X001 inch), and the bushing is nominal size plus 0.025 mm (‡0.001 inch). Therefore, with one set of pins and bushings, the maximum clearance, in the highly unlikely worst case, between one set of leader pins and bushings could be 0.05 mm (0.002 inch) on the diameter, so the centers would be misaligned only half that amount. By having at least 2, but usually 4 sets, the total clearance between the pins in all the bushings would be even less. In the worst case, the

Figure 4.11 Typical mold with leader pin and bushing alignment: (a) core plate, (b) cavity plate, (c) leader pin, (d) leader pin bushing, (s) safety distance of pin above core, (t) wall thickness of plastic product at parting line.

4.11 Alignment

29

possible play and misalignment would be well within the tolerance limits speci®ed in this example, and therefore acceptable. It can be easily seen that this holds true as long as the product has not much smaller wall thicknesses, as is often the case with thin-wall containers, with wall thicknesses in the order of 0.4 mm (0.015 inch) or even less. In those special but frequent cases, other methods of alignment must be used such as taper ®ts. We also must not forget the in¯uence of heat expansion of the mold plates, which will affect the alignment accuracy.

4.11.3

Taper Lock Between Each Cavity and Core

Figure 4.12 shows 3 possible con®gurations of taper or wedge locks. On the left, the tapers in both male and female members match perfectly. Because of manufacturing tolerances, this is impossible to achieve except, perhaps, by individual ®tting of parts, and even then it is dif®cult. To be able to produce any mold part without need for ®tting (center), they must be closely toleranced and accurately machined. To solve the problem of providing proper alignment, the matching parts are dimensioned such that the male member is slightly larger than the female member, and the female member will be slightly expanded from the moment the mold halves touch, until the mold is fully clamped. The amount that the pieces stay apart before ®nal clamping (d) is called preload in Fig. 4.12. This amount d is very, very small, and depends on the length of the taper and on its angle. It must be greater than zero. On the right, the female member is larger than the male member. This taper lock is useless because the tapers don't touch (f); no force is generated to pull the mold halves into alignment.

Figure 4.12 Taper (or wedge) lock: (a) male member, (b) female member, (c) taper. (Left) Ideal condition. (Center) Correct application. d is called preload. (Right) Useless taper.

and the taper of the cone is designed to provide the alignment between two mold parts (cavity±core. or for the whole mold. they are dif®cult to repair and reuse without changing other mold parts as well. or on the mold leader pins and bushings. In most of these cases. between 5 and 20  . core±stripper ring. Note that working tapers are subject to severe wear and must be made from suitable. Wedges are pairs of hardened. When considering the clamp force of the machine. and 15  . The easiest way is often to replace the worn elements. and the mold probably depends on the tie bars and tie bar bushings for alignment. with one side tapered. to move the tapers for the preload distance d. there is no possibility of adjusting the alignment. they don't work. If too much force is required for closing the mold. they work.). It is surprising how many molds are in this category. Four sets of wedges are always required per alignment. Many times the designer (or the mold maker) thought that by providing tapers. there may not be enough clamp force left for holding the mold closed during injection. especially with multicavity molds in which every stack is aligned with taper locks. which must touch and rub. 10. which is unavoidable due to the very nature of this design. until they seat properly. (Common tapers are 7. the mold will be more accurately aligned. Any size taper is acceptable. (2) Once the tapers wear. female taper will have to be spread.4 Taper Locks and Wedges Taper locks are conical (usually round) matching mold parts. too large a taper requires too much force to close. this must be considered and the forces calculated. the taper ®t was wasted money. This method is very accurate and relatively inexpensive. 4. etc. hardened steels. means that the matching. if they are rusty. but has two inherent disadvantages: (1) The alignment of the various components depends on the accuracy of machining and once the assembly is ®nished. either for each cavity. it can be easily seen on a mold if the tapers work: If the tapers (or wedges) are shiny all around. and even so will have to be replaced or repaired from time to time.30 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold In practice.11. or just dirty. Obviously.) Too small a taper may cause locking and separation dif®culty because of friction in the tapers. ¯at bars. The advantage is that wedges can be shimmed or ground on . This requires considerable force.

5 Taper Pins Taper pins (and bushings) are sometimes used for the ®nal alignment of cavity and core in addition to leader pins. taper (or wedge) locks are the preferred choice. regarding wear and accuracy of machining the mold and/or core plates.11 Alignment 31 opposite pairs to adjust for wear or for inaccurate manufacturing. to prevent ``®ghting'' between the two . It is questionable whether they do any better job than the other methods of alignments explained here. It is therefore necessary to equip the mold with leader pins (but not necessarily with leader pin bushings).11. where it is believed that the accuracy of leader pins is insuf®cient. they do not assure that the mold halves will stay together when handling the mold. but these pins also must be ``loose'' in their bushings. and they are subject to the same problems as taper locks. usually located at the top of the mold on the core side. Typically. Since the tapers will determine the ®nal alignment. cavities and cores can be aligned by either leader pins and bushings. or taper (or wedge) locks. so the mold size will be larger than when using taper locks. there is always the danger that the cores and cavities could be damaged if the mold halves should separate and bang together once the taper engagement is lost. Similarly. the leader pins must ®t only loosely in their corresponding openings (or leader pin bushings) without actually contributing to the ®nal alignment of cavities and cores.11. Quite often.6 Too Many Alignment Features Another problem is frequently encountered in poorly designed molds. even for large molds. in addition to the taper locks. they ensure the ®nal alignment of each stack. They act similarly to taper locks and are available as standard mold hardware. In addition. only two such pins need to be provided. 4. 4. Where high accuracy in alignment is required. two or four large leader pins are used to align the complete mold halves. However.4. or easily replaced if shimming is not practical. some multicavity molds are built with small leader pins (usually only two) and bushings for each set of cavity and core and are mounted on the stack plates. The disadvantage of wedges is that they require more space on the mold surface.

In this case. the ®nal alignment (tapers or pins) will move each core into position relative to its cavity. standard clearances. An exception to this rule of loose pins is when a more expensive but superior method is used: the cores are mounted such that they can move slightly (¯oat) on their backing plates. the leader pins mounted in the mold shoe (on the core side) will have their regular. as the mold closes. .32 Understanding the Basics of the Injection Mold separate sets of alignments.

or when signi®cant changes are made after starting that can affect the concept of the mold. Unfortunately.1.1 Before Starting to Design a Mold Information and Documentation Before starting to design a mold. just a sample or model of the product used for the estimate.1. mold designers should not agree to make a product drawing. if a molder requests an approximate mold cost so that he can estimate the ®nal cost of the product for his customer. especially if no tolerances were shown when the job was quoted. to ensure that the product can be easily molded and will be satisfactory for the purpose intended. This will eliminate any possible unpleasantness later on. . for example. While it is desirable that the mold designer is involved in the product design. 5. 5. they must insist that it be signed by the customer as acceptable. sometimes there is not even a drawing. and if they do.1 Is the Product Design Ready? It is frustrating and wastes valuable time to ®nd during your work that information is missing.33 5 5. if the product does not look or function as expected. the designer must make sure that all the information is on hand.2 Are the Tolerances Shown? Are the dimensional tolerances speci®ed on the drawing the same as when the mold cost was ®rst estimated and the mold price quoted? This can have serious implications.

1.10. or the ®nal user. Note that in the case of very stringent tolerances. 100. but only one link in a chain of requirements to produce a molded product. and the expected life of it. It cannot be repeated often enough that the mold is the most important. However. If very close product tolerances are wanted. from past experience with similar products. and added to the mold price. If the customer insists on any guarantee. from mold materials selection to many mold features selected by the designer. which could become very expensive.3 Are the Tolerances Reasonable? Are the requested product tolerances feasible. while it is nearly always possible to make the mold parts accurately. 5.1. Any such anticipated costs should be brought to the attention of the customer. 5. This consideration will affect all aspects of a mold. a process that can be very costly and time-consuming.000. There is a signi®cant difference if the mold should be built for 1000.000. it could require experimental work (test molds. or 10.4 What are the Cycle Times? The designer should never guarantee cycle times and must make sure that the customer understands this. should not really be interested in the mold cost. to very close tolerances. requiring close inspection of the molded products and possibly causing many rejects. or should try to get this information from someone with molding experience with such products. an experimental setup may be required to determine steel sizes. this does not mean that the molded part will satisfy often unreasonable and unnecessary requests for close tolerances. The molder. but . production (the actual molding) can become very expensive.000. As we have seen in Section 4. the designer should have some idea of the expected cycle.34 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5.). 1.5 What is the Expected Production? The designer must be aware of the total production expected from the mold.1. etc. This must be made clear before work is started.000 or more parts. in view of the size of the product and the plastic speci®ed? This is sometimes overlooked when quoting. remaking of mold parts.000.

The following is also a frequent scenario: A new widget is to be marketed. This will then require a new. it may be necessary to pull one or both top tie bars to be able to install the mold. He does not yet know if the widget will be accepted at large. Will the planned mold ®t on the platens? In some cases it is all right to have the mold larger than these dimensions. because of the small quantity. a more complicated mold. The sprue bushing . the designer must know the machine or machines on which the mold is to operate. and each one is suitable for the speci®ed requirement.000 over the next 3 years? The ®rst mold probably will not be able to produce these quantities in time. front to back. the designer must ®nd out if the planned machines have provisions for easy tie bar pulling. Also.6 What are the Machine Speci®cations? Before starting. and so onÐin short. (2) Locating ring size.1 Mechanical Features (1) Tie bar clearances and platen size. affect the cost of the widget? Obviously. 5. divided by this quantity.1 Information and Documentation 35 only in the cost of the molded product. which will cost much more but. a hot runner system.1. The locating ring centers the injection half of the mold on the stationary (or ``hot'') platen. If this is required. the customer estimates that during the next year he could sell 10. This means low productivity. it may even overhang the platens. there may be only one cavity or at most 2 or 4 cavities required. 5. In some (today rare) cases. with more cavities. A simple cold runner system could be suitable and quite inexpensive. the mold cost will be signi®cant in this calculation. top to bottom.1.000. as long as the cavities are located within the area between the tie bars.6. It is the duty of the designer to advise the customer accordingly and build the most economical mold for the intended job. Which is the better mold? They are both good. What size mold will be required? How will the mold cost. After a few hundred test samples. sprue bushing radius. much different mold.5. because of the relatively small quantity. resulting in a higher molding cost. But what if the widget turns out to be a success and the required quantities increase to an estimated 1. will result in a much lower cost of the molded piece.000 pieces. despite the higher mold cost.

using standard mounting holes on the platens or clearance holes on the platens with threaded holes in the mold. which is not always a good solution because it makes the mold unnecessarily heavy and adds cost to the mold.36 Before Starting to Design a Mold radius must ®t the injection nozzle radius. other standard?). (c) If neither is possible without compromising the quality (strength) of the mold. (6) Shut height. The ejector force is usually about 10% of the clamp force. there are several ways to reduce it: (a) Investigate whether all the shown mold plates are really necessary. (3) Mold mounting holes and slot pattern (Euro. and the designer must get the speci®cations to ®t the system before starting to design the mold. the mounting plate under an ejector box can be omitted. In these cases. How will the mold be mounted on the platens? The best method is where the mold halves are directly screwed onto the platens. This is the total height of the mold. (5) Machine ejector. SPI. SPI. The disadvantage of this method is that only a portion of the holding force of the screw is utilized. if the shut height is too small. Some machines are equipped with Bolster . With this method the full holding force of the screw is utilized. 7. with the clamp screws making use of standard mounting holes or slots in the platens. This distance must not be greater than the maximum distance of the platen surfaces of the machine when in fully closed position. This should be discussed with the molder before proceeding. mold clamps are frequently used. There are a number of commercial and proprietary systems. Conversely. The machine ejectors are always on the moving platen. the distance from the mounting face of the cavity half to the mounting face of the moving half. especially if the mold must ®t several. or other standard?). by fastening the mold to the machine using the mold parallels (see Fig. so more than one locating ring (or an adaptor ring) and different sprue bushings may be required. for example. but there are cases where this is not enough. (4) Quick mold change features.3). In some molds. a different machine must be selected. that is. If the mold will make use of the machine ejectors it is important to know their size and location when designing the ejection mechanism. which is suf®cient for most molds. but their size and pattern will vary according to the builder's standards (Euro. There are standards. But this is often not possible. Some of the machines for which the mold is planned may have different sizes. often built-in hydraulic or air actuators. The mold may have to be equipped with additional ejection means. The machine speci®cations indicate maximum and minimum shut height. (b) Reduce the thickness of one or more of the mold plates. but make sure you have the appropriate sizes. plate thicknesses can be increased. different machines. If the laid-out shut height is too great.

for special applications. within the limits of the machine speci®cations.1 Information and Documentation 37 plates. when molding deep-draw containers. the stroke should not be less than about 150 mm (6 inches). the mold clamp stroke is adjustable. This stroke is also adjustable. particularly with robotic product removal methods.6. the suggested minimum stroke should be about 2. in a very large product. will not be greater than the available machine clamping force.5.5 times the height of the product to ensure that the molded pieces have enough space to fall free between the mold halves during ejection. The designer must make sure that the total projected areas of all cavities. or bolster blocks. it is sometimes possible to change conditions. (8) Ejector stroke. As we have seen earlier. There are again some exceptions. plus the mass of the runner system (in the case of cold runners) should be within 30±90% of . (10) Auxiliary controls. There are exceptions to these two suggested values. for example. plus the projected areas of any runner system in the same parting plane. Has the machine a provision for timed core pulls? 5. it may then be possible to use lower injection pressures. however. (7) Clamp stroke. (9) Clamping force. Some molds may require specially designed air circuits for air ejection or for air actuators. The designer must make sure that the available ejection stroke is large enough to push the products completely off the cores. by increasing the number of gates and placing them far apart.1.2 Productivity Features (1) Shot size (mass per shot). that is. thereby requiring less clamp. hydraulically actuated side cores may be required. temperature) and on the wall thickness of the product. in cases where little draft is speci®ed. With good draft. The total calculated or estimated shot size. to be timed within the molding cycles? In some cases. for example. so that the mold surfaces can be accessed for servicing while the mold is open. it is usually not necessary to do more than push the products some short distance before they fall free. In borderline cases. For many molds. which are outside the scope of this book. Is the machine equipped for such circuits. or before air-assist features will blow them away. particularly when using automatic (robotic) product removal methods. the total mass (weight) of the products coming from all cavities. multiplied by the estimated injection pressure. In most machines. which are mounted on the moving platen in order to decrease the minimum shut height. the estimated injection pressure depends on the ease of plastic ¯ow (viscosity.

90 to 0. but its shot capacity is not large enough. with a speci®c gravity of about 1. it is also suggested to use only between 30 and 90% of the rated plasticizing capacity. This is especially important with cold runner molds. the machine can still be used but the cycle time will have to be lengthened. the injected plastic will cool rapidly when in contact with the cooled cavity and core walls. in kilograms (pounds) per hour. Multiplying the total shot weight S (g/shot) calculated in (1) above. Dividing 3600 (1 hour equals 3600 seconds) by the number of the seconds of the estimated cycle will give the number of shots per hour (N). If Wt is more than the rated capacity. (3) Injection speed (grams injected into the mold per second). Here. PP. Plasticizing capacity is usually given as mass for PS. the same applies as with shot capacity. with the number of shots N per hour we ®nd the total mass Wt in grams per hour required (Wt ˆ S  N ). To overcome this condition. Because of the narrow gap through which the plastic must ¯ow within the cavity space. These are only approximate ®gures. for example. to ®nd out how much plastic per hour will be required. that is. an 8-cavity mold is required to run in a speci®c machine. Plasticizing capacity is the amount (mass) of plastic a machine can plasticize per hour. The speci®c gravity of materials such as PE and PP is less (about 0. The actual mass of other materials. that is.38 Before Starting to Design a Mold the shot capacity of the machine. mostly smaller. making it more dif®cult to ®ll the mold. fewer shots per hour can be produced than the mold could yield with a suitable. Since shot size is rated in grams (or ounces) but is actually a volume (cross section of extruder barrel times the stroke of the extruder).) (2) Plasticizing capacity (kilograms per hour). This should be carefully considered before starting. the same mass will have a greater volume. larger size machine. by about 10%. the designer must estimate the molding cycle. the shot size of these materials will be less than for PS. this increase in temperature will also cause an increase in . But. For best quality of the melt (and the molded piece). it would not make sense to build it for this machine. sometimes greater. the melt and/or the mold temperatures could be increased so that the plastic will not freeze before ®lling the mold. (This is a major advantage of the hot runner system. where the mass of the runner can add considerably to the mass of the sum of all molded parts. The shot capacity of a machine is given in g/shot of PS.05. What are the practical implications? If.95). As the plastic cools. will be different. This is an important consideration when molding thin-walled products. A machine could be well suited for a hot runner mold but be unsuited for a cold runner mold for the same number of cavities. However. melt the cold plastic pellets into a melt of a speci®c temperature (and viscosity). such as PE. exact values should be checked with materials suppliers. the gap narrows even more. in other words. or any other. ®rst. per shot.

However. and so onÐfrom the pump to the cylinder. There could be problems with controlling the speed . The air volume used is usually small. the faster the melt will be pushed through its paths. In general. the machine could be equipped with a much larger pump and motor. the designer should be aware that compressed air. Additional valving and other hardware is required. There are several commercial air jets on the market with low consumption of pressure air. can be very expensive. This points to two areas for possible remedy: (1) The injection speed and (2) the injection pressure must be increased. The preferred solution is to provide the machine injection system with an accumulator. compared with a blow down. The problem is now that the injection speed depends on the speed with which the hydraulic injection cylinder is ®lled with pressure oil. called an accumulator package. especially if it is left to blow for any length of time.1 Information and Documentation 39 the cooling cycle (and a lengthening of the molding cycle). Some molds require air pressure for their operation. But these two are interrelated.6.  Blow downs (air jets or air curtains) are often used to assist the products to rapidly clear the molding area. The higher the pressure. the speed of the injection cylinder depends on the hydraulic pump outputÐoil volume per secondÐentering the cylinder.1.  Air-operated actuators. which is often sold as an ``option'' with the machine. but it also depends on the size of the associated hardwareÐhoses. but in many cases this would be uneconomical or impractical. which stores highpressure oil during the time pressure oil is not used. valves. especially in large volumes. The designer will need to recognize when an accumulator package is necessary for the product for which the mold is to be designed. 5. To remedy this. Most machines for conventional (not thin-wall) products are served suf®ciently well by the output of the pump (and the motor driving it). from the machine nozzle to the farthest corners of the cavity space. The accumulator releases the stored highpressure oil together with the pump output into the cylinder when required for injection. resulting in a smaller output from the mold. Their initial cost is paid back rapidly by savings from wasted air volume.3 Additional Requirements for Some Molds (1) Pressure air. Therefore. the injection speeds required for thin-wall production require the cylinder to be ®lled more rapidly than what the pump alone can provide.5. and must discuss this with the molder to make sure the right machine is available to run the mold.

and so on. in blow downs or in air ejection. (b) In cases where several air cylinders actuate one large mold member. usually at a system pressure of about 3. most air actuators require lubricated air. the much more powerful hydraulic cylinders would be an alternative.500 kPa . The designer must make sure that the intended machine is equipped with suf®cient controls and hardware (timers.6. (c) In most molding shops the compressed air pressure is fairly low. For some operations. In all these cases. to prevent contamination of the products if they are used for food or pharmaceutical purposes. so large air actuators are needed to produce large forces. In many cases.) A low-pressure.2 (3). Where pressure air comes into contact with the molded products. A preferred method. (2) Auxiliary hydraulic supply. (a) Air cylinders are often jerky in their operation. high-volume blower with its air intake from the shop environment. which is usually activated on demand. on the order of 0. Most of the time. however. especially with long strokes. the actuation time is controlled from the machine control panel. from within an enclosure built around the molding machine when special ``clean room'' requirements are speci®ed. unless their seals are selected for dry air. This is similar to the hydraulic accumulators cited in Section 5. It may be even necessary to add pump capacity.1. before reaching the outlets in or at the mold. for example.  Air required for air ejection. It could be dif®cult to accommodate suf®ciently large cylinders within the available mold space. valves.40 Before Starting to Design a Mold and uniform motion of air actuators. and large enough supply lines).2 kW (1/4 hp) or less. compressed air may be not suitable. for a very short time. such blower can be directly mounted on the top of the mold. or better yet. is to use an auxiliary power supply. is a preferred solution to ensure that there is no oil or water contamination in the air as it comes into contact with the plastic products. for the added volume of air that will be required for the planned mold. (Unfortunately. one or several suitable accumulators could be installed near or even on the mold. The hydraulic pressure could be taken from the machine system with a pressure reducing valve. the air must be ®ltered from any oil residues. or even outside the mold. and rarely 900 kPa (120 psi). and by providing the necessary safety measures to protect against the very high pressures in that system. If much air is needed for short blasts. water (always present in air lines). usually about 600 kPa (80 psi). but they are simple and inexpensive. Another advantage is that the power consumption of this type blower is low. the forces can be uneven and the member can jam. and does not require timing or valving.

that is. except during natural catastrophes. the effects of such interruptions on the operation of a mold may cause concern. rust creates insulating layers similar to lime and dirt deposits. It is also important that the coolant is clean. This is not the case in developing countries. However. An individual chiller unit may be the answer if the plant supply is too small or has not enough pressure. near a hot runner system. this is usually speci®ed as not allowed. For safety reasons. and could require frequent cleaning of the coolant channels if the mold is expected to maintain high productivity. The controls (breakers. in a hot runner mold the melt will freeze in the manifold and nozzles and it may take much more time to restart (in small molds between 15 and 30 minutes). volume. though. The motion of hydraulic operators is smooth and the speed can be well controlled. Two points of caution. (4) Electric power and controls. such as in some nozzle heaters. especially if the leaks were to occur near heated areas of the mold. noncorrosive coolant is used with the mold. such controls are required for hot runner molds. heaters in molds are rated at 230 VAC or less.5. in the case of a power failure. as. and to specify that only clean. and the power consumption may be from as low as 40 W per heater. Corrosive action of the coolant could attack and eat away the mold steels. expensive. It is always good policy for the designer to check with the molder to ensure that there are no such problems with the water supply. The expected savings through using a hot-runner mold may become an illusion. hoses. This is much safer and requires much less expensive hardware (valves. heat controllers) available to operate a mold on a speci®c machine must be discussed with the molder when designing a mold that will require additional heat controls. This is a very important area of concern. exceptions) is highly ¯ammable and there is always the danger of leaks. Chapter 13. . where power interruptions occur frequently. a machine using a cold runner mold will just stop. etc. and is not corrosive. Dirty coolant could gradually plug the water circuits or coat the channel walls with a poor heat conducting layer of dirt and lime.1 Information and Documentation 41 (500 psi). for example. See ME. (3) Cooling water supply. and of not much concern to the designer. There is not much sense in designing the mold with very sophisticated cooling circuitry if the cooling water supply is insuf®cient in temperature. typically.) than that for higher pressure. Hydraulic oil (with some special. products used in the food or pharmaceutical industry could be contaminated by the oil. and up to several thousand watts in hot runner manifold heaters. thus reducing the cooling ef®ciency. but can resume work as soon as the plastic is again up to molding temperature. The electric power supply in North America and in most developed countries is usually suf®ciently stable and uninterrupted. and pressure. with a minimum of minerals or dirt. Also. Typically.

typically.2. A decision on which way to proceed with the mold shoe should be made only after the product drawing is carefully studied. that is. the designer must decide what kind of mold should be designed. the most suitable. The entire mold. the mold that will result in the lowest cost of the product.2 Start of Mold Design Now that all our preliminaries are clear. In simple molds (not necessarily low-production molds) the cavities and cores can be machined right into the mold plates. With the expected production in mind.1 Mold Shoes A mold shoe (sometimes also called ``chase'') is the total of all mold plates making up the mold. 5. side cores. Cooling channels are built right into the plates. The designer must always ®nd the most costeffective mold. that is. the cavities. it is important to ensure that adequately sized circuit breakers and so on are available. . consists essentially of only two parts. whereas some will need thermocouples and heat controllers. 5. with both cavity and core machined right into these plates. plus alignment features and air valves. Ejection is facilitated by air valves built directly into the core plate. then.1 No Mold Shoe Used The mold may consist of only one plate for the cavity and another plate for the core.2. and so on. There are several choices for the designer. some can be controlled with time-percentage controllers or variable (voltage) transformers. any inserts in either of them. a very expensive mold intended for high productivity will not necessarily be the best choice. strippers. the most economical mold for the job must be selected. including screws and alignment features. but not including the stack. cores. 5. ejectors.1. As was already stated earlier.42 Before Starting to Design a Mold Since heaters are often bundled in parallel and operated by designated controls. which is the arrangement of all mold parts that touch the injected plastic. and never losing sight of the expected productivity of the mold.

also.2 Start of Mold Design 43 5. These plates are usually available in several qualities of steel: (1) The ®rst type is an inexpensive.2 Standard Mold Shoes Mold shoes can be bought from mold maker supply houses (DME.g. or by the hobbing effect. Many mold shops prefer to buy these ready-made mold parts. ``mild steel. (3) In high-quality molds. etc.) from a large selection of standard sizes. PVC) the stack parts made from regular mold steels must be chrome plated. The higher material cost can often be justi®ed with savings in mold maintenance. for example. and rather specialize in the making of the stacks and doing the ®nal mold assembly. This is of special advantage for large products where the cost of mold steel would be very high. or by just oiling well after use. (More about mold steels in Chapter 9. they may permanently deform if loaded beyond their yield point.) . both the mold shoe and the stack parts are made from stainless steels (SS). These plates are more expensive but cost much less than socalled mold steels.. with low strength. which is the pushing of a supported small insert into a mild steel backing. before storing the mold. This is helpful in humid climates to prevent rusting of the mold shoe. that is without dirt enclosures. All plates are machined and ground square.'' which is soft.1. It is suitable only where the expected forces and wear in the mold are small enough that the steel will not be damaged. and smaller parts from SS mold steels. Hasko. In highquality molds. with or without leader pin alignment. since mild steels have a low tensile (and compressive) strength.2. The larger mold parts are then machined from prehardened steel. Also. the stack parts are usually made from steels such as P20PQ for large products. and little wear resistance.'' typically a steel called P20 or P20PQ (plastic mold quality). or where the plastic is corrosive and could attack the stack parts. and are ready for adding the required mold features. It is treated to a Rockwell hardness of approximately Rc 30±35. which represents an additional. it must be hardened and ground after machining. considerable expense. by the clamping pressure on a too small P/L. which is expensive and requires additional maintenance. P20PQ is produced especially clean. (2) Another common steel supplied is a type of ``machinery steel.5. which could be detrimental if they appear on a molding surface. and with or without ejector plates. Note that for corrosive plastics (e. Mild steel plates and P20 plates can be protected against rust by a relatively low-cost electroless nickel coating. Mold steel is always supplied very soft (about the same as mild steel). and from mold steels for smaller products. they are very suitable for cutting the cavity or core right into the plates. for easy machining.

unscrewing molds.2. In highproduction molds. in sizes and to rules speci®ed by the maker of these universal mold shoes.4 Special Mold Shoes This applies mostly to special molds for which no suitable standard sizes are commercially available.1. and to very high production molds. and the mold is much less expensive than a complete mold. the mold shoe too is usually made from prehardened steel. such in-house made mold shoes or plates are built to the dimensions listed as standard parts by the hardware suppliers. especially if a large number of such ``inserts'' are used or foreseen. Universal mold shoes are essentially standard size chases that are constructed so that different stacks can be easily mounted into them. cooling. In any case. where the mold shoe is built around the stacks. The mold maker concentrates on making the stacks. which the mold maker can buy from the steel mills or dealers.3 Home-Made Mold Shoes The mold shoes can be made in-house from raw steel plates.1. heavy lifting and storage equipment. often prehardened stainless steel is used for such molds. and ejection are usually not as ef®cient as in a mold speci®cally designed for a product. etc. and accurate milling and grinding machines. rather than the stacks being ®t into the space available in standard molds. It is an economic decision that may be different from shop to shopÐwhether to make the plates or buy them as standard plates or as complete mold shoes.44 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. 5. Also. a universal mold shoe offers another solution for making a relatively low-cost mold.5 Universal Mold Shoes For low production and relatively small products.) create their own mold shoe standards. Mold features such as runners.2. but. This requires much plant space. for the small quantities required this is no problem. the same choices of steel apply. . The mold maker may keep certain plate sizes and thicknesses in stock. and cut and machine them to size as needed.2. This makes a lot of sense. 5. and optimum layouts are used for all mold features.1. Note that often. Some mold makers specializing in certain areas (preform molds. and the mold will not cycle as fast.

if deemed necessary. not even their length.2. 5. a modi®ed screw is also dif®cult to replace in the ®eld. there is always a way to make the design use a standard size. other instructions such as hardness. operating the mold. Also. they are mass produced. ejector pins and sleeves. Also. It is always more economical to buy these parts rather than to attempt to make them in-house. Any modi®cation of a screw will reduce its strength. and many other mold parts that are required for the mold. or other machine tool operators. often by just changing the depth of a counter bore for the screw head. assembling the mold. They are all listed in catalogues issued by the various mold maker supply houses. milling machine. most mold makers depend on machinists specialized in their trade. a way can always be found to make the design use a standard size diameter. a good mold designer will never modify these products.2 Start of Mold Design 45 5. A diameter should never be modi®ed.2. such as lathe. EDM. with only one exception: the cutting to length of the ejector pins and sleeves. which are used to explain where the drawings alone could be ambivalent or misinterpreted. ®nally. plating.6 Mold Hardware Hardware items include leader pins. there must be no doubt left about how the mold is to be built and operated. and machined to very close tolerances. These machinists need detail drawings. bushings.2.2. .1. Today.1 Mold Drawings Assembly and Detail Drawings The purpose of the assembly drawing (including the Bill of Materials discussed later) is to convey the intentions of the designer to the people involved in purchasing hardware and materials. Once the assembly drawing is ®nished. Because screws should be tightened to about 60±70% of their yield strength. The assembly drawing of the mold must contain all pertinent information. complete with tolerances and. in good maintenance procedures all screws should be replaced every time the mold undergoes a major overhaul. and. and ®nishing. screws. using high-quality materials. given in plan and section views and in notes.5. These detail drawings are prepared from the assembly drawings. screws used in molds must never be modi®ed.2 5.

but will proceed in the wrong direction. that is. The answer is simple: enough to make sure that there is no possible misreading of a drawing. or it could cause major interruptions until a solution is found to use and repair the wrong part. (f) ejector retainer plate. On the other hand. (h) ejector pin.1 Arrangement of mold drawing layout: (a) cavity (plate). the machinist will interrupt his work to come and ask for explanations. (m) leader pin.2.1). the machinist will not ask. The assembly drawing should Figure 5. 5. (i) sprue bushing.'' On the left side of the section view. the core half is shown. (j) locating ring. This could become very expensive if an incorrectly made piece is not discovered until it reaches assembly. 5. often unnecessary views make more work for the detailer and can be confusing for the user of the drawings.3 Arrangement of Views Most molds are laid out by starting from a (signi®cant) cross section and then drawing to the right of it (as the mold would be when mounted in the molding machine) a view into the cavity half of the mold. (d) ejector plate. (g) stop button. into the injection side (see Fig. Too few views (or sections) means that in the best case.2. which costs in lost time.2 How Many Drawings and Views? This question is frequently asked. too many. .46 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. In the worst case. (e) mounting plate. (b) core (plate). Sometimes other mold parts have to be altered to make it possible to use an incorrectly made but expensive part. as if looking into the direction of the core and the moving platen. (n) leader pin bushing. The assembly drawing should show above this view words such as ``Plan view into cavities.2. and then has to be remade. (c) parallels.2.

the drawing must always be drawn to scale. or if this is not practical. or even 1 : 5. (2) any air and hydraulic circuits. (3) any special electric circuits. The note should be short. Also. set ratio. a note should be added to express in concise but clear words what is intended. and must show clearly what the notes apply to.2. at what point in the cycle ejection starts. in case of an accident caused by the mold not being installed and operated as recommended by the designer. 5 : 1 or 10 : 1. in case of large products. often 2 : 1.4 Notes on Drawings Whenever it is impossible or cumbersome to specify some important information by using standard drawing techniques. However. . ``To scale'' in this context means to draw to a selected. the designer is in the business of designing molds. Remember. not making pretty pictures.2. or larger. it is good practice to show also.5. and all plates and mold features behind it as invisible lines. so that the various parts can be seen in proper proportion. This can have legal implications: complete and correct information will protect the designer from any possible future litigation.2. separate schematic views of (1) all coolant circuits. often 1 : 2. preferably ``to size'' (1 : 1).5 Additional Information on the Drawings For more complicated molds. the drawing should not be cluttered with too many notes. Note that the drawings are part of the job and must be shipped to the customer together with the mold. and (4) a sequence of operation of the various mold functions. 5. 5.'' The plan view drawings are made so that we see the parting line (plane) as visible. and when air should be activated. on another sheet if necessary. for example.2 Start of Mold Design 47 show above this view words such as ``Plan view into cores. smaller. but not so short that it could be open to misinterpretation. Additional full or partial cross sections and/or plan views should be added (usually on separate sheets) only when they can add information to the views already shown.2.

2. The more time spent on thinking and rethinking the problems at this time. the designer will probably have decided what type of mold should be built. (1) In the case of a simple. cup-shaped product.3 The Stack Layout By now.) The cross sections will now be examined and a number of questions will have to be asked. the more successful will be the ®nal result. The designer must now start with showing.48 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. (2) Holes (cutouts) or projections in the side wall of the product may require special attention: will it be necessary to provide side cores? If side cores. guided by the possibilities discussed in Section 5.2 Will the Product Slide (Pull) out of the Cavity? This point should be investigated ®rst. 5. because it will determine the complexity of the cavity. all four walls may have to move.1 Signi®cant Cross Section Which type of mold shoe will be ®nally selected for the job is.1. there is usually no problem. which will create four vertical split (parting) lines. this will save time and money in the long run. This does not necessarily mean that the designer is bound by this early decision.2. additionalÐor partialÐsections may have to be shown. to scale. a signi®cant cross section of the product. of secondary importance. should there be one for each hole or one for a group of holes or projections? Should the cavity have a complete side wall moving? In the case of beverage crates. All this will considerably .3. This means the section that shows all the areas that must be considered when designing the stack. at this point.3. It may become necessary to reconsider as the design progresses. 5. The designer must always keep an open mind and be ready to scrap an earlier idea for a better one.2. (If more than one signi®cant feature cannot be shown in the main cross section. step by step.2.

small parting lines. There may be a good chance that the product design could be slightly changed such that side cores are not necessary at all. the large cutouts in the sides of a typical. In some cases. where the cavity and the core can meet at an angle and produce additional. and the cavity will split into four sections.3. If they are shallow (for example. which is a (usually circular) rim inside the product. Cases like this should be discussed with the designer of the product for which the mold will be built. creating two vertical split lines. A frequently used undercut is a snap feature. shaped to snap over a similar extension in a matching product. Note that in all cases where side cores are used. typically with draft angles over 5. there is no problem. this is common with pail molds where four moving side cores are wedged within the cavity block walls to contain the outward forces of the side cores. it will depend on the draft angle of the side wall and the plastic injected. for example. especially for large openings in the side walls.2 Start of Mold Design 49 (3) (4) (5) (6) increase the complexity of the mold and increase the space required for each cavity and for the stack in general. for example.2. There may not always be enough space for the long side motions required for two splits. Provided the shape of the snap rim (its cross sectionÐtapered and/or rounded suf®cientlyÐand the total circumferential length) is suitably designed for ejection. they will probably be considered like holes. Are there other projections in the side wall of the product? If they are deep. The most common case is where the cavities split into two halves. large laundry basket. and a stripper ring will easily eject the product by forcing the rim to expand while . 5. as. the lid over a can. provided there are features (such as undercuts) on the core to ensure that there is enough force on the molded piece to pull it out of the cavity.3 Are there any raised portions inside the product that would be molded in severe undercuts in the core and prevent the product from being ejected easily? (1) Snap (Fig. shallow engraving could pull out of the cavity. they must be preloaded and backed up against the forces generated by the injection pressure. engraved printing or ornamentation).5. Other possibilities can be considered. Will the Product Eject Easily from the Core? 5. thereby saving considerable expense. but not require side cores or split cavities.2).

each covering about 60±70 of the circumference. Of course. the product must be unscrewed from the core. especially in cases where the product is designed so that it could stay in the cavity while the mold opens. so that there will be. In some cases. For a certain cross section of the snap rim or thread. it can sometimes be broken down into several sections. It is better if there is not more than one complete thread (360 ). (4) Undercuts. often held by the vacuum between product and cavity wall. do not leave it to the molder to add undercuts after the mold is in operation and causes ejection problems. where the product will tend to shrink tightly onto the core. or specially shaped slots and holes as often required in technical products. Stripping with ejector pins. Note that this is more dif®cult to machine. the same is true for cup-shaped products with little side draft. using standard design mold shoes and stacks. judiciously designed and placed undercuts should be speci®ed at the time of designing. one thread may be strong enough for its intended purpose. may also be used for stripping.50 Before Starting to Design a Mold Figure 5. The proper location for these . customer's approval must be secured before making such a change. Multiple threads may cause damage to the molded thread projections as they are dragged over the depressions for the successive threads in the core during ejection. (In many cases. ejecting (``stripping''). There are several moldmakers specializing in unscrewing molds. To make the snap ring easier to stretch and to come off the core without breaking. Undercuts are used to hold the product on the core. and the product will tear. to ensure proper ejection.2 (Left) Section through a cap with snap. (2) Internal threads. (Right) example of 4-section snap. they can be stripped from the core like the snap rim described above. for example. four sections. there are enough ``vertical'' surfaces in the core. With many products. which means a much more complicated (and expensive) mold. If the threads are designed suitable for stripping.) It must also be understood that there is a relationship between the amount the plastic that is stretched radially and circumferentially. in nonround products. to hold the product on the core side. If this is not enough to hold the product on the core. such as slots for ribs. thereby reducing the cost of such molds. (3) Unscrewing. located at some strategic points. there may not be enough length in the circumference to stretch. and if the product is small. instead of covering the whole 360 .

retractable core sections. preferably. as shown by the small arrows. Chapter 12) This a more expensive design of the core and the ejection mechanism. especially with hot runner molds. but it is frequently used in products that require a snap design inside the product. (6) Deep projection inside the product. but not necessarily. or ``collapsible cores. It is often used for overcaps for spray bottles that are produced in really large quantities.2 Start of Mold Design 51 undercuts (which are usually not speci®ed by the product designer) is (a) near ejectors.3) may be a solution for some. P/L) between cavity and core must be decided. Two-stage ejection (Fig. then the stripper moves up to push the product off the sleeve while the projection on the inner sleeve moves inwards. at right angles to the direction of the mold opening. This feature often requires very complicated core design. a straight P/L is easiest to produce.2.3 Schematic of 2-stage ejection: (a) core. dif®cult to build. In cupshaped products.'' Both systems are expensive. they are also usually dif®cult to cool adequately. 5. ®rst (1) and (2) move together so that the core can slide out. this is usually simple: it is at the widest portion of the product. . but it is a well-accepted and reliable design. (c) stripper ring.3. As stated earlier. (b) sleeve. the location of the dividing plane (parting line. and hard to maintain in operation. During ejection. the axis Figure 5. Before proceeding.5.4 Establishing the Parting Line (1) Primary parting line. that is. Chapter 12) 5. (5) Two-stage ejection. (See ME. The cooling is less ef®cient. and thus run much slower than a comparable mold without these features. near the tip of the core where the undercuts are more effective because the bottom of the product is stiffer. somewhat larger undercuts inside the core. (See ME. possibly with moving. or (b) preferably.

hydraulic actuators independent of Figure 5. and side cores at right angles to it. Operating mechanisms can be angle pins (horn pins). Both split cavities and side cores need backing up and preload against the forces created by the injection pressure. . occasionally.5 Example of a louver mold: (a) cavity.4 (b) core. of the mold. It is also. due to the shape of the rim. for example. An offset (or stepped) P/L is sometimes required. (d) side core. Schematic of mug with handle. which will also require space in the mold. a simple handle of a mug.4). which would be much more expensive to build (see Fig. on the outside of the product. the split lines are parallel to the axis of the mold. (b) core. Usually. such an offset P/L is preferable to a side core. and some method of operating mechanism. showing offset parting line: (a) cavity. used for molding a large projection. both of which translate the opening motion of the mold into sideways motion. or rollers in tracks. (2) Split cavities or side cores. but not always. 5. (c) round core pin.52 Before Starting to Design a Mold Figure 5. At this time the designer must also determine if the cavity needs to be split and where the split lines will be located. (e) core pin with shaped tip. or if side cores will be required. they could also be timed.

air pressure alone could be suf®cient to eject the product from the core. Figure 5. These forces must be adequately backed up and preload provided to prevent the splits from cracking open during injection. 5. 5.) These backups.5). in Fig. (Fs) force on splits. In some cases. it will have a much smaller area exposed to the injection pressure and will need much less backing-up force. The designer should also consider if a better mold layout could be achieved by turning the product slightly. deep engravings or projections) the cavity will have to be split. Only by laying out to scale these alternatives. If the core has suf®cient draft. The core must now be withdrawn sideways. and the cavity and core halves are clamped by the machine clamping force Fc.5.3. will the designer be able to determine which is better for the contemplated mold and how to proceed. the projected area (at right angles to the axis) of the product is very small compared to the projected area of the sides of the product. But by turning the product by 90 (left schematic. with the center line of the product parallel to the mold axis. Note that in the position shown in Fig. (c) core. Therefore. as shown schematically in Fig. This could be an undesirable feature. (b) splits..6) the primary P/L replaces the split line. 5.g.2 Start of Mold Design 53 the clamp motion. especially for large splits. but is often preferred to the alternative of split cavities. at this time of the design process. (e) product. (See also Section 5. Because of the outside shape (e. to achieve with a straight (up-and-down) mold what would otherwise require side cores (see Fig 5. The right schematic shows the normally expected mold layout. the open end of the product is on top and the product is ejected downward from the (side) core and can fall unhindered. can result in a very bulky mold.6 Illustration of a product and two possibilities of mold layout: (a) cavity. but the stroke of such side cores will probably be much greater than the stroke of the split cavities. the side cores will see considerably larger forces Fs at right angles to the mold axis. which would make for a much simpler mold. . (Fc) clamp force.6. (d) core backing plate.6. rotating the product 90 could also result in a better mold.

5. 5. In the drawing on the right. and wear rapidly.3. The force trying to separate cavity and core can be balanced by placing a second. If this is not done. and there will be no force to move the core relative to the cavity. (b) core. Schematic of cross section of (A) cup-shaped product. There is always a component of the pressure that will press in the direction at right angles to the mold axis.8. similar stack near the ®rst one so that the forces are pushing in opposite directions. This must be taken into account when designing a mold with imbalance in the cavities. (B).2. the pressures inside the cavity push to the left and the right by the same amount. Within (A). as indicated with heavy arrows. the pressure p within the cavity tries to separate the cavity and the core by pushing the cavity to the left and the core to the right.3. Figure 5.5 Is the Cavity Balanced? Figure 5. there could be one pair of wedges (similar to a wedge lock) located so that the imbalance is taken up there.8 Schematic illustration of (left) a balanced and (right) an imbalanced mold: (a) cavity.6 Determining the Method of Cavity Construction (1) Cavity and/or core are cut right into the mold plates. This would make the simplest mold. the cavity pressures are balanced. on the left. As can be seen in Fig. The cavity is therefore balanced. (p) internal injection pressure.7 shows the elements present in every cavity shape. in (B) and (C). Some molds have only one or a few cavities cut into the mold . It does not matter if the side walls are at right angles to the internal pressure. (C) open-sided Figure 5. the cavity is imbalanced. the forces of the imbalance will have to be taken up by the leader pins and bushings.2.54 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. which may not be strong enough in some cases.7 product. Failing this.

Individual. but suf®ciently strong) ring (or ``chase'') into which the inserts are placed. that is. and the backup. Such cavities and cores may still require inserts (usually pins) whenever small holes and so on in the product would require delicate projections in the molding surface. or stainless steel. arranged to form the cavity assembly.5. with inserts as needed. Note that the forces from the injection pressure on the sides of the cavities are considerable. without the need for a surrounding ring. one-piece cavity and core plates are often selected for single-cavity molds. It can be seen that this total space can be much larger than the cavity by itself. In some cases. The mold steel selected should be of ``mold quality.3. The problem is to provide the necessary accuracy of machining. To machine such projections from the solid steel. where the product is deep. a typical mold steel is P20PQ. and will determine the size of the mold and affect the cavity . the inserts are directly placed inside the cavity plate. 5. For practical reasons. especially if the projected area at right angles to the mold axis is large. These forces will tend to loosen the inserts and can create gaps between them or between inserts and cavity plate. and if there are no foreseeable problems with ejection. plus space for their motion. this assembled cavity can be treated as a solid cavity and mounted on top of the cavity plate or be inserted into it.7 Determining the Total Area of the Stack The total area of the stack is the total of the space of the cavity (including the ring discussed above. it is a good method. with more cavities. These cavities are then either mounted on top of the cavity plate or inserted into it. such as side core components outside the cavity or core. especially in the absence of suf®ciently large.2.2 Start of Mold Design 55 plate. If the outside of such an assembly is a (not necessarily round. such inserts must be pressed into their chase (or into the mold plate) to create a preload larger than the expected side forces. while possible. where plastic can ¯ash into. Cavities can also consist of an assembly of separate pieces. but the cores are usually separate from and mounted in or on the core plate. prehardened. this is the most common design. especially for very large molds. which may also include cooling channels) plus the area (space) of any added features that may be required. but there have been molds like this built for smaller products. mainly for very large products. and mold life. solid cavities are cut from mold steel. (2) Composite cavities and cores. The mold could consist of fewer parts. cooling. accurate machine tools. would be very costly to repair if they should be damaged.'' prehardened. actuation. Properly designed.

Single-Cavity Molds The arrangement. It is easily understood that a mold without side cores requires much less space. and a much smaller layout. they are rarely inserted into the core plate.) Cores are usually mounted on top of the core plate. This could have been speci®ed with the job order.3. and good for very large products. often patented methods. but.56 Before Starting to Design a Mold layout.8 Determining the Core Construction Cores may require quite a number of inserts and even moving parts. which is better. either solidly (the most common method) or ¯oating. the injection pressure is usually of little concern (except in some special cases) because this pressure tends to compress the core from all directions rather than expand it as it does the cavity. Core shift can also be affected by the location of the gate. Such de¯ected cores return to their original shape as soon as the product is ejected.4. There is one serious problem. 5. but is also often used for smaller ones. resulting in uneven wall thicknesses around the core. but more expensive. .2. when the ¯ow and the pressure of the inrushing plastic can de¯ect a core. and is resisted by the compressive strength of the core material. which require higher injection pressures. and where uneven wall thicknesses can create differential pressures on opposing sides of a core. 5.'' especially with long slender cores.2. (See ME. but by that time it already has uneven walls. multiple gates are sometimes a solution.4 Selection of a Suitable Runner System We must now consider how the plastic will be channeled from the machine nozzle to the cavity space. thereby creating forces that de¯ect (bend) the core during injection. This is mostly of concern with thin-walled products. nevertheless. is simple. 5. for the same number of cavities. Chapter 10. effective. thoughÐthe ``core shift.2. as shown in Fig.1 Cold Runner. 5. Problems like this can sometimes be solved by supporting the tip of the core in a matching hole in the cavity when the mold is closed or by some other. we should understand the various systems and where they are most appropriate. The disadvantage is that the gate is large and must be cut or even machined if appearance is important.9.

P/L. (b) core plate. (d) cold runner. 2-Plate Molds The mold on the left in Fig.5. (b) core. . some of which are self-degating as the mold opens. but products and runners are still mixed together and require separation. (f) hot runner manifold. (2) The mass Figure 5. If a gate is blocked. Also.9 Schematic of (large) single-cavity mold: (a) cavity. and (4) the system is not sensitive to dirt in the plastic. Chapter 10. More about gates in ME. (c) third plate.2 Cold Runner. and (right) a hot-runner mold: (a) cavity plate. The products and the runners stay together when ejected and must be separated after molding. (e) hot runner. (h) nozzle. (3) color changes are easy.10 Schematic illustrations of (left) a 2-plate mold.2 Start of Mold Design 57 Figure 5. (g) hot runner backing plate.2. (c) sprue. 5.4. (d) nozzle seat. (f) gate. (center) a 3-plate mold. An edge-gated arrangement is shown.10 has only one P/L. The advantages of this system are (1) simplicity and (2) low cost. The disadvantages are (1) these molds usually have longer molding cycles because of the longer time required to cool the often large runners. 5. parting line. There are other methods of gating. it is clean again after the runner is ejected.

(3) Although in many cases the runners can be reused. or even greater.3 Cold Runner. which should be center gated for best molding ¯ow. At the moment when the product. 5. chains. There are numerous systems. the cavity plate travels with the moving mold half. such as screw caps. 3-Plate Molds Three-plate molds are also cold runner molds. energy is needed for regrinding. this requires more handling (costs). with links. the same comments regarding productivity apply as for 2-plate molds. the mass of the runners is as great as the mass of the products. therefore. as soon as the cavity plate has reached a limited distance the moving mold half (the cores. (5) The system is not sensitive to dirt in the plastic. Then. P/L 2 separates and permits the ejection of the runner system in a separate plane. 5. ®rst. 2-plate molds are used in the vast majority of multicavity molds. the runner mass can be greater than the total mass of the products. Also. The mold in the center of Fig. Advantages: (1) The products can be center gated. . or gated anywhere on the top surface. and there is always a danger of contamination of the plastic. (3) The gate vestige is usually very small. (2) It is very dif®cult to guarantee 100% automatic ejection of the runner system. In some cases. If a gate is blocked. and so on to provide the necessary motions. 5. but the system is inherently selfdegating. As the clamp opens. (3) With 3-plate molds. overcaps. too. then in cooling. such as in containers. (2) Due to the absence of runners in the P/L. the plastic in the gates is severed. (4) Color changes are easy. by some more or less complicated mechanism. it is clean again after the runner is ejected. after P/L 1 is opened. Even so. still on the cores.2. and so on. with the products still on them) continues to move away from the cavity plate and the products can be ejected. ®rst in plasticizing.10 has two P/Ls. and where the appearance of the top surface of the molded piece is important. air actuators. losses of plastic (maybe 10% of the scrap) in the course of this process are unavoidable.58 Before Starting to Design a Mold of the runners must be added to the mass to be plasticized for the products.10. start pulling out of the cavity. energy is wasted. with excellent appearance. the cavities can be closer together and more cavities can be placed in a mold of comparable size. This system is often used for very small products. see the difference between left and center (or right) illustrations in Fig.4. Disadvantages: (1) Three-plate molds are much more complicated and expensive.

(1) Open gates depend on their size and shape and on the operating pressure and temperature of the plastic. (2) The mold output can be greater since all material that is plasticized is used to produce products. (3) There is no need for regrinding. The main design problems in hot runner molds are the gate shape. The plastic within the hot runner system must be completely clean before a new color can be used. When the mold recloses. and the materials selection. Some molds.2. the plastic (melt) is kept hot. it also reduces the sensitivity to dirt. which. the injection pressure must push the frozen ``plug'' of plastic out of the gate into the cavity space and thereby permit the plastic to ¯ow again. that is.2 Start of Mold Design 59 5. (Note that it is not the purpose of the hot runner system to add to or regulate the melt temperature.4. because dirt can more easily pass through a large opening. This requires more mechanisms and controls. Advantages of hot runner molds: (1) The cavity spacing can be similar to a 3-plate mold. But during operation of the mold.5. A good HR will do this in about 15 shots.4 Hot Runner (HR) Molds In the system on the right in Fig.10. as timed. that is. the HR manifold. when the power is off.'' require no heat at all or as little a 5% of the rated heater capacity of the hot runner system. the temperature pro®le around the gate. cooled plates. on its way from the machine nozzle to the gate. after clean. (2) Valved gates are closed and opened by mechanical (or electrical) means. The size of the gates can be much larger than with open gates. 5. especially with a well-designed system with a minimum of heat losses to the surrounding. the heat requirements are small. new color is . making good use of the available space. but just to keep it as it comes out of the machine nozzle. except for scrap during start-up. closer. the plastic in the hot runner will freeze. in some cases. once ``on cycle. thus adding to the mold cost. Larger gates are also of advantage for materials that are sensitive to high stresses. At the end of the injection stroke. (2) Dif®cult color changes. Disadvantages: (1) Higher mold cost (but not much different from a 3-plate mold. the heaters must be strong. the gate must freeze suf®ciently to stop the plastic from drooling into the cavity while the mold is open for ejection of the products. Heaters in the sprue bushing.) When the mold stops operating. A measure of a good hot runner system is the number of shots required to change from a darker color to a lighter one. can be very important for the ®lling of the cavity spaces. and (usually) the HR nozzles (which terminate at the gate) ensure that the plastic stays at the required temperature. To make the plastic hot again to restart the mold in a reasonable time (15±30 minutes).

5. This is done sometimes for very small products. to reduce the pressure drop from machine nozzle to the gates. left). in Combination Combinations of hot and cold runner molds are usually selected for cases where cold runner molds (edge or center gated) would have advantages over hot runner molds. 5. the runner system could become quite large. to avoid excessive residence time in the HR system. which. becoming gradually smaller every Figure 5. To prevent large pressure drops while avoiding unnecessary large masses of plastic. causes the plastic to degrade. If there is a gate blocked by dirt. or for very large products. The sensitivity to dirt also suggests that the molder should use virgin plastics rather than regrinds. This will affect the cost of the product. (4) Cost of plastic. (b) sprue. (3) Very sensitive to dirt in the plastic. (c±f) cold runners. Two typical examples are shown in Fig. it may even be necessary to remove the mold from the machine. Many such combinations are possible. which are more likely to be contaminated. A good mold design makes sure that this cleaning can be easily performed while the mold is in the machine.5 Cold and Hot Runner Molds. there are still problems to mold very small products.11. (5) With today's technology. the nozzles must be accessed for cleaning. (1) For multicavity molds (Fig.4. which may take anywhere from half an hour to a day.60 Before Starting to Design a Mold coming from the injection unit. the runner channels taper down from a heavy cross section where the plastic enters the mold at the sprue. because of the long residence time of the plastic in the runner system. (a) Cavity.11 Schematic of a 16-cavity mold: (Left) common cold runner mold. 5. (Right) combination hot and cold runner mold.11. . especially if the distances from nozzle to gates are very large. if too long.2. (g) hot runner.

11. Figure 5.) Figure 5. but not with 2-plate molds because the machine nozzle is in the center of the platens. However.11. this is wasteful. as explained earlier.12) as found. the product should be edge gated. This will ensure that all cavities are ®lled properly. 5. until it arrives at the gates (symbolized in Fig. but instead of having a large cold runner supply. (i) gate. with 6 cold runner edge gates and a hot runner system with nozzles into each of the cold runners: (a) product.12 Schematic of a large molding. The pressure drop in the hot runner channels is small. right shows a simple.11 with the line width of the runners). 5. The edge gates are located where best suited for the product. This is possible with standard 3-plate molds. a (usually nonstandard) hot runner manifold. the heavy runners are dif®cult to cool and add much to the plastic that must be recycled. (2) For very large products (Fig. (b) sprue. (j) cold runner. or other method of ducting the hot plastic will bring the plastic to the gates (or group of gates). for example.2 Start of Mold Design 61 time the runner splits. schematic example for a similar mold in which the total runner system is divided into a (4-branch) hot runner system.5. these edge gates. in the automotive industry. (h) hot runner nozzle. without signi®cant loss of pressure and without the need to reprocess the heavy runners. and each branch will then supply a cold runner system. for a balanced clamp force. (Exception: Special molding machines equipped with an offset extruder or one that can be located outside the platen and injected in the side of the mold or even into the P/L. and the ®nal branches of the cold runner can be kept as small as they would be with the common runner layout shown on the left in Fig. . 2-plate in this example. 5. (g) hot runner branch. Another advantage is that the product can be placed approximately symmetrically around the center of the machine.

frozen runner must be removed. . If the runner freezes. and it is not sensitive to dirt. by then. even pushing the. (e) insulated runner. If some dirt blocks the gate. The plastic within the runner will stay hot long enough that the material injected during the next cycle will ``shoot through'' the still hot plastic.10 (right). and reliable. but only if the cycle is not too long. If the plastic freezes.13 (left) shows a mold similar to that in Fig. but it is better to stay Figure 5. The gate can be very small but must be properly designed for shape and size. successive injected plastic will be able to ¯ow through the hot core of the runner system without any added heat. but the sprue is an insulated runner. Molds with up to 16 cavities have been built and run successfully.4. but the start-up procedure is somewhat awkward and possibly dangerous if performed by operators not skilled in this system. and reliable. as if the gate were frozen. It works well at cycle times up to 15 seconds. This system is very inexpensive. the next cycle can be started. and the plates locked together again before restarting. the mold must be split open between the cavity plate (a) and the backing plate (c).13 Schematics of single and multiple insulated runner molds: (a) cavity. the cold ``plug'' is easily extracted after retracting the machine nozzle. (f) gate. it can be easily removed. and with some materials even longer. This method is simple. The hot runner is replaced with a much simpler insulated runner channel (e).13 (right) shows a mold similar to the schematics in Fig. 5. depending on the plastic used. Figure 5. often several starts are needed before the mold will run on cycle. the. even though the plastic close to the cooled walls will freeze.6 Insulated Runner Molds Figure 5. by now. simple.2. inexpensive.9. before the plastic freezes. Cycle times of up to 30 seconds can be successfully handled. 5. and even longer. (b) core. the plastic in the center of the runner remains hot. (d) nozzle seat.62 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. (c) backing plate. as soon as the machine nozzle is again in position. In this system. frozen gate out of the way.

Heat loss affects the melt temperature and increases the viscosity of the plastic. by just changing to a new color in the extruder hopper. after about 15 shots. therefore. This is especially important with slow cycles where the plastic resides for a long time in the manifold. see rule 1). thereby increasing the inventory (see rule 2) in the case of hot runner molds. The longer the runners. There should be a minimum pressure drop between the machine nozzle and the cavity space. less pressure is available to ®ll the cavities. This affects selected runner lengths. The time for each temperature before the plastic starts to degrade is different for each plastic and is shown in graphs that can be obtained from plastics materials suppliers. and in such cases the best compromise must be found.2 Start of Mold Design 63 with not more than 6 cavities. This will increase the time required for cooling the runners. Rule 3: Heat loss. the higher will be the pressure drop. Rule 2: Plastic inventory. thereby reducing the length of exposure to heat. pieces with the new color are produced. More about this in IMT. In hot runners. which can degrade the plastic within the runner system. the smaller the runner cross sections.7 Common Rules for Runner Systems There are some basic rules to consider that apply to any and all runner systems. some of these requirements are contradictory. there should be as small a volume (inventory) of plastic as possible in the system between machine nozzle and cavity. so that the plastic within the manifold is continually replaced. in the case of cold runner systems.2.4. it is desirable to have the inventory not larger than between 2 and 3 times the total mass of one shot. j j . and the longer the plastic will be exposed to the heat in the hot runner manifold. 5.5. the same applies when molding very small products. There should be a minimum heat loss between machine nozzle and cavity. after the gate. and gate size. the greater will be the inventory. 57. Some plastics are very heat sensitive. j Rule 1: Pressure drop. others are not. because of the larger mass of the runners. Color changes are very easy. The larger the runners (less pressure drop. runner cross sections. Unfortunately. This means that often the length and thickness of runners must be increased. For most plastics. and the smaller the gates are. p. making it harder to inject. Without ever stopping the machine.

(2) where the ¯ow length L from the gate to the farthest corner (or rim) of the molding is very great.64 Before Starting to Design a Mold j Rule 4: Cold runners only. This applies especially to large moldings. Gate location depends on the shape of the product. There are exception to this rule: (1) where core shift could be a serious problem. In some cases. Preferably. there should be only one gate per cavity. gating in the center of the product will ®ll this condition. good cooling is necessary for these plates.) Pressure differences from cavity to cavity will affect the amount of plastic entering the gate before it freezes. gates should be located so that the stream from the gate is broken up as soon as it enters the cavity j j j j j . Heat may have to be added through the hot runner manifold heaters to make up any heat losses. In any runner system. It is not always possible to follow rule 6 completely. Rule 8: Location of gates. In some cases. These necessary areas of contact conduct heat away from the hot runner to the surrounding cooled plates. Some heat losses are unavoidable because the hot runner manifold must be well supported (against injection pressure) by its backing plate. the density of the plastic in the cavity space. Wherever possible. The hot runner system should be well heat insulated from the surrounding plates. Ideally.2. and thereby the strength and quality of the molded piece. while waiting longer until the runners are cool (stiff) enough for ejection. but this is often more expensive than edge gating. two or more gates may be located symmetrically around a delicate core to equalize pressure and ¯ow around the core. Also. but every effort should be made to do so.8. It will also result in differences in the surface de®nition. Rule 7: Number of gates per cavity. individual adjustments to gate sizes may help to ensure more uniformity of the products. The area around sprue and all runners should be well cooled. Rule 6: Balanced runners. and by the features necessary to locate it within the mold. Rule 9: Breaking up the plastics ¯ow. and appearance of the product. for shortest molding cycles. A general rule is that the distance from the gate to the farthest corners of the cavity space should be about the same.4. poor cooling of the runners (little heat loss of the melt) means longer cycles. See also Section 5. center gating is not acceptable if the center of the product must be clear or does not permit a gate vestige. (See also rule 10. thus increasing the electric power used. the pressure drop from the machine nozzle to each cavity space (gate) should be the same. Rule 5: Hot runner molds only. the heat loss into the surrounding plates can raise their temperature and affect the mold alignment. In cold runner molds.

by increasing the number of gates and spacing them judiciously. such as containers. it can be stated that an Lat smaller than 100 is usually easy to ®ll and (with some exceptions) a ratio of 100 to 200 is more dif®cult to ®ll. and a piece can be produced that would otherwise be impossible to mold. and venting can often be provided by judiciously placing ejector pins or vent pins at such locations where the plastics fronts are expected to meet.4. 5. located where air is expected to be trapped by the advancing and/or converging streams of plastic. It applies not only to cup-shaped products.5 5. j Rule 10: Avoid reversed ¯ow (if possible).2. Gating into ribs or other heavy sections may cause the plastic to ¯ow easily and quickly around some thinner areas of the cavity space. . but also to ¯at products. has a distance of 300 mm from the gate to the rim.8 An important characteristic of any product (and the cavity space) is the Lat (``L over t'') ratio.0 mm. The wall thickness is 2. For example. by colliding either with an opposing wall or. From experience. at least.5. the Lat ratio can be reduced.5. it may even be impossible to ®ll.2 Start of Mold Design 65 space. L/t Ratio 5. with some projection (such as a pin) in the cavity space.1 Venting What Is a Vent? A vent is a small gap in the molding surface. This occurs sometimes in heavier moldings. or other surface ¯aws. which equals 150 (Lat ˆ 150). Reducing the Lat ratio in this way would also allow the mold to cycle faster.2. This is the distance from the gate to the farthest corner (or rim) of the product. which must be vented.2. it will trap air. visible ¯ow lines of the plastic. This creates additional fronts ¯owing toward the front of the stream coming from the gate. divided by the typical wall thickness through which the plastic must ¯ow. This will prevent the effects of jetting. that is. In this case. during injection. the Lat ratio is 300 divided by 2. center gated in the bottom. Venting must be carefully considered to ensure that any air trapped between the fronts of the plastics ¯ow from more than one gate will be able to escape. whether they are center or edge gated. In the case of large products. a container. Any ratio above 200 is dif®cult to ®ll and may require special attention.

0004 inch). Remember. (b) core. (a) Cavity. typically. (If ribs end at the P/L.) Rule 3: Weld lines.5. and vent channel. For good ®lling of the product. Rule 2: Ends of the melt ¯ow. but also with others products. (center) continuous vent. disposable goods. 5. Rule 5: Land. there is usually no need for additional vents. provide vents where the melt ¯ow is expected to end.2. It is good j j j j Figure 5. (g) continuous vent.2 j Design Rules That Apply to all Molds Rule 1: How much venting? Always provide as much venting as possible! The parting line is the ideal location for vents. and channels (Fig. typically. (h) spot vent. Rule 4: Vent gap. but other areas are often as important. but small enough so that the inrushing plastic cannot follow. vent groove. all ¯uids always travel the path of least resistance. Its size (the gap) will obviously depend on the viscosity and the pressure of the plastic. at deep bosses or ribs. (f) vent channel. The gap must be large enough to let air pass. when large cross sections in the cavity space cause the plastic to run around an enclosed area. the molding cycles depend on the speed with which air can escape the cavity space.66 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. where weld lines are anticipated).01 mm (0.14). vent grooves. and at any and all other points where air could be trapped. for example.14 Examples of vents: (left) section through vent. There are several considerations when designing the vent. This is important when using more than one gate into one cavity space. (d) land. . or where it is expected that the melt ¯ow from one gate will split and then reunite. (e) vent groove. (right) spot vents. (c) gap. Consider locating vents at points where two or more fronts of plastic ¯ow will meet (for example. Commonly used are gaps of about 0. The distance in the gap through which the air has to squeeze is called the land. thereby preventing the melt to enter there. Especially with thin-walled.

a small vent at the P/L was cut into the mold. and venting where two ®xed mold components have a vent cut. the land should end in a vent groove.5 to 2. Consider how vents are to be kept clean. often crudely.2 Start of Mold Design 67 practice to make the land very short. The vents in the P/L can be easily cleaned by wiping from time to time.040 inch) deep 6 2 mm (0. where the burning occurred. For vents not at the P/L. Rule 7: Cleaning of vents.5. It does not matter where the vents or channels are located on the P/L. running approximately parallel to the edge of the product. Continuous vents on the P/L are often speci®ed for high-speed molds where they allow air to escape quicker than through a number of spot vents. it must be permitted to ¯ow away from the mold. j . at the bottom of a deep rib. For venting at the P/L.060 to 0.080 inch) or even less. The length suggested for most molds is 1. the best-designed vent will not function if the air cannot go anywhere. not to the outside. and vent channels leading away from speci®c vents or from vent grooves.080 inch) wide. but are more often about 6 mm (0. j Rule 6: Width of gap. Spot vents were used commonly in earlier days of mold making. the vent pins or other vents inside the mold are connected with drilled holes. (Longer land is.) However. the cross section of the vent grooves and channels should be commensurate with the amount of air expected to ¯ow through them. The molder noticed spots where the plastic was burnt at the edge of the product. but to a permanently pressurized air supply that blows through the vents when the mold is open.0 mm (0. the land should connect to a hole leading to the outside.080 inch). Today. Most plastics exude sticky substances that over time plug the vents. possible but will offer more resistance to the escaping air. at least 1 mm (0.250 inch) wide. the mold designer must anticipate where spot vents will be required and specify their width. of course. because of their motion while ejecting. Ejector pins and sleeves have clearances suitable for good venting and. are considered self-cleaning. the deciding factor is the ease of machining (grinding) them into the mold. with hand tools. It does not affect the molding because the injection pressure is many times greater than the air pressure. This applies to ®xed vent pins. for example. The vents can be as narrow as 2 mm (0. There are spot vents and continuous vents. As the air escapes through the vent gap. Specially designed vent pins are ®xed in their locations and will have to be cleaned from time to time to ensure proper functioning. Frequently. they can be on the core side or the cavity side of the mold.

the only solution is to provide very thick. The designer must make sure that in strength calculations referring to the compression of this area when clamping the mold.6 Ejection (See also ME. Space requirements for ejection mechanisms. . or approximated as shown in ME. and after a few months of operation. (2) the type of mold. This backing up is usually simple with stripper rings or plates. almost the whole area under the core can be well supported because there are no ejector pins or sleeves there. there are many ways to eject a product. the actual area of the P/L is considered. including the location of the now also selected ejector plate return features. The selected method will now be shown in proper relationship to the (cavity and core) stack. can in¯uence the spacing of the stacks in a multicavity mold. The designer must not forget that the vents and the vent channels reduce the area where cavity and core meet (the P/L).9. because the weight of the plate will tend to bend these pins in the (usually horizontal) molding machines. while allowing suf®cient space for the backing up of the core plate and for aligning and guiding the ejector plate. But even in molds to be run in vertical machines it is good practice to guide the ejector plates. The plate thickness can be calculated with complicated but accurate methods. This is sometimes overlooked. heavy core backing plates to minimize de¯ection. due to fatigue of the mold steels. Note that all ejector plates must be guided independently. such as support pillars. the cavity or core surfaces meeting at the P/L are compressed to such extent that the vent gap is reduced or even eliminated. It is often quite dif®cult to locate the ejector pins in the most effective locations. Chapter 17.68 Before Starting to Design a Mold j Rule 8: Strength of P/L. under the core plate. these plates must not be guided by ejector pins or return pins. If it is not possible (because of close spacing of ejector pins) to provide direct backing support. As discussed in Section 4. that is. 5. The designer must also consider that after the mold cooling has been decided. Chapter 12) This is the next step in the design of the stack. At this point in the design process. the designer will determine which method will be most suitable for (1) the shape of the product.2. The designer must also consider that the core must be backed up against excessive de¯ection of the core backing plate during injection. This may take several attempts of layouts before settling on a ®nal solution. and (3) the expected productivity. it still may be necessary to relocate some ejector pins or some cooling channels. a mold that ran ®ne at ®rst gradually stops producing good products and will require recutting of the vents.

it should be done without ``going all out''.2. that is. the added cost to the molding process is small compared with the possibly much higher mold cost with intricate cooling arrangements. but it is done occasionally if the total production is very small. As should be stressed again and again. This means that. the cooling of the mounting or backing plates is often acceptable.5. when compared to complicated cooling layouts. This method is inexpensive but will add time to the molding cycle. the molder is really interested only in getting the best product at the lowest cost.2 Start of Mold Design 69 5. which was put into it during injection of the hot plastic. Chapter 13. to the surrounding shop (ambient) temperature.7. This is a typical area where compromises may be necessary. the better must be the cooling. with high production molds. and the mold cost becomes signi®cant only if production is fairly low. In certain types of molds (especially molds for intricate technical products. when it is not possible to cool a very delicate mold part by conventional cooling means. However. even for high production). but only highlights the most important areas and principles to be considered by the designer. while a relatively low production mold should be well cooled. (3) Heat conductivity of mold materials. that is.2.1 Purpose of Cooling a Mold (1) Cooling is directly related to productivity. This is sometimes done even in production molds. For more information. especially with heavy sections and large masses of plastic. The higher the productivity that is expected from a mold. the designer should consult ME. and be removed by the plates by a pattern of simple (drilled) water channels. Instead of water cooling. The heat must travel through cavity and core to the surface where they are mounted. it could rely entirely on giving up the heat energy. The designer must also understand that the amount of heat removed . 5. the faster the mold must be brought back to its optimal operating temperature. This could take a very long time.7 Cooling This section does not go into the details of mold cooling. (2) Productivity. An injection mold could also work without any cooling. air could be blown at the hot mold surfaces to cool them and to speed the process up somewhat. without any intricate cooling channels within cavities and cores. The designer must understand that there are great differences in heat conductivity in the materials commonly used for molds. there should be no limits to ingenuity when designing the cooling channel layout or selecting the mold materials for good conductivity and mold life.

are necessary. Dirt and corrosion in cooling lines also act like heat barriers and affect the heat transfer from the mold to the cooling medium. for example. In most such molds the cavity does not need as much cooling as the core. even when hard. and special precautions.g.g. (4) Heat conductivity of molding materials. the heat will then move faster than in steel to reach a well-cooled mold part or plate. as soon as the plastic begins to cool. There is also the difference between crystalline and amorphous plastics. for example. which makes it more dif®cult for the following layers to give up heat to the mold wall or insert. Note that BeCu is much more expensive than mold steel. provide about four times better heat conductivity than steel. it will start to shrink. without going into details. PS). Crystalline plastics (e. gates if made from BeCu must be replaced frequently. Both air or vacuum are ideal heat insulators and reduce the heat ¯ow from the plastic to the cavity wall. which is in many applications suf®cient. it may be almost impossible to provide cooling lines in small mold parts. by using the same mold. Unfortunately . and more energy (in cooling) is needed to cool it down again. is not as resistant to wear as hard mold steel. such as beryllium±copper (BeCu) alloys. such as ventilation of the work place.. wherever it is important that heat be removed fast. In some cases. The designer will make sure that such replacement is easy to do. Special mold materials. and (b) a space created between the plastic and the cavity wall. it freezes. As soon as the plastic touches the walls of the cooled cavity space. BeCu. and in parts surrounding the hot gate. Also.70 Before Starting to Design a Mold per unit of time depends on the distance the heat must travel. This is signi®cant for products with heavy walls and will increase the cooling time regardless of how well the wall (or mold part) is cooled. Certain larger parts in high-speed molds are also made from BeCu. In practical terms. and thereby control the molding cycle. this space contains a vacuum or if properly vented. even though such parts can be well cooled by cross drilling or are surrounded by coolant channels. PE or PP) contain more heat and give it up slower to the coolant than amorphous plastics (e. it can be used prehardened at about Rc 35±38. small pins and blades. Caution: BeCu gives off poisonous gases during machining. there will be (a) a better contact with the core. will heat up much more than the well-cooled cavity walls. it will take longer to mold a product from PE than from PS. This method is often used in mold parts opposite the gate where the hot plastic hits ®rst as it comes out of the gate. Plastics. as the plastic stream tends to wash out and increase the gate size. will contain air.. Because the shrinking plastic will start to hug the core. and are often used for such delicate mold parts. this happens (in most cases) in the direction away from the cavity. too. more energy (heat) is needed to melt crystalline plastics. have different heat conductivities.

In addition. but not very good because of the large number of hose connections required. that is. if a product has heavy walls and a large gate. some plates should also be cooled because of possible alignment problems.2 Start of Mold Design 71 for the designer. especially when there are also ejectors. there is much more space in the cavityÐwhere cooling is not needed as muchÐto provide lots of cooling circuitry. occasionally. the cavity.2. moving parts. This may require several attempts of layouts before settling on one solution. injection pressure can be maintained longer. and often there are several cooling circuits per cavity. The injected plastic is so thin that there is less effect of shrinkage.2 Show Cooling Lines in Stack The next step in the design is to show the selected cooling lines in the stack. and/or air channels in it. 5. there is a problem: usually. How will the coolant be supplied to the cavities and cores. make sure that all channels are dimensioned so that the coolant will have turbulent ¯ow and that the location of channels from the molding surfaces is as suggested for ef®ciency and strength.5. (1) Each cavity or core is mounted on its respective backing plate. the stripper plate and any side cores or cavity splits. and the plastic stays in contact with the cavity wall longer. and each has its own coolant connection to a central water supply (header. it is somewhat different. the cavity cooling is never as important as the core cooling. For very high production molds. and the cooling of the cavity also becomes important because the plastic stays in contact with the cavity walls for much longer. especially when there are more than six cavities. With molds for thin-walled products. often more than one cooling circuit per core or cavity. It may also require going back to the stack layout and changing the ejection layout to arrive at a good compromise in locating both ejection and cooling.7. There are exceptions to the foregoing. For example. All this can add . this may take considerable design time but it is always worth it. while the coreÐwhich does more of the coolingÐis much more dif®cult to cool. similarly. Many existing molds have lots of unnecessary cooling in the cavity. and.) This is fairly inexpensive. Remember that every cooling circuit has an IN and an OUT connection (2 hoses). and. etc. As mentioned earlier. in case of multicavity molds? There are several possibilities. core. the shrinking volume is replenished during the cooling cycle. Even so.

but reduces the number of hoses required to a minimum. In some cases. so that they cannot turn. do not require screws. (2) Cavities and cores receive the coolant from their underlying plate. The cores are usually screwed on backing plates. the designer must now consider where the coolant connections are located in those stack members that will be cooled. the designer will locate the screws connecting the cavities and cores to their plates. the designer should spend some time to see if all parts can be mounted without the need for ``right'' or ``left'' parts. For the coolant connection. It is very desirable (for mold making and for servicing) that all stack parts are the same. The mold plates are cross drilled with channels of various (larger) sizes to supply the coolant and to return it. more than one passage may be covered by one O-ring (use O-ring manufacturers guidelines).72 Before Starting to Design a Mold up to a very large number of hose connections. this can often be achieved by judiciously locating the coolant channels. The coolant should be either ON or OFF. sometimes even allowed to ¯oat. The designer should always make sure to use . where cavities or cores are inserted in plates. they must be oriented. for perfect. but if the inserts are round. but even this is old-fashioned and unnecessary if the mold is properly designed. they can be held in them with ``heels. In cases (2) and (3).'' and. O-ring grooves and ®nishes must be properly speci®ed. If screws are used they too should be located so that there is no need for ``right'' and ``left'' parts. Any leakage from one passage to another within the O-ring (``wet'') area can be ignored. To prevent leaking. as nearly as possible. individual alignment. 5. This method is more complicated than (1). In exceptional cases.2. therefore. the same applies as in (2). These sizes should be calculated and located so that all cavities or cores will be able to draw. or in operation. a possible nightmare for mold installation. In some cases.7. but it is important that no screws are allowed in a wet area. with dowels. the same amount of coolant. it may be necessary to shut off the cooling around hot runner nozzles during start-up. O-rings will be required at all ¯uid passages from one mold part to another. Regardless of which of the above three methods are used. for example. (3) The cavities are often inserted (fully or partly) and therefore ®xed in position. Note that the coolant should not be used to regulate the ¯ow through some portions of the mold during the operation of a mold. but such molds are much less troublesome to install.3 Screws At this time only. Cross-drilled channels are more expensive to produce than the method shown in (1).

If both screws are hand tightened. often unnecessary. new ideas come out of these meetings. 5.) 5.8 Alignment of Stack This should also be decided now. From experience. tightened just enough that the blocks touch. What is preload? As an example. only minor changes may be required. screws. and the result will be a better operating. but frequently.'' Often. most molds have too many. before proceeding. as discussed earlier. Chapter 19. the screws will not exert any force SF on the . without any gap between them.3 Preload The term ``preload'' has been mentioned several times in our discussion. as a general rule. see Section 4. in the head of the experienced designer. or at least should be. as experience has shown. The result of such review will then determine whether to proceed as shown.11.5. and maybe a lower cost. mold. Note that the foregoing applies for all screws in the mold. and to select the largest screws possible in that location.2. 5. any screw thread smaller than 8 mm diameter (while of course possible) is more costly to produce. In manufacturing. (See also ME.9 Design Review This is a good time to sit back and contemplate what has been achieved so far. These blocks are subjected to a force F trying to separate them. and all the work done up to now would normally not take more than a few hours for an easy mold or maybe a few days for a more complicated one. Will the overall alignment of the mold shoe with leader pins be enough? Should each stack be aligned by taper locks? By a pair of leader pins? For this decision. imagine two blocks that are held together by two screws.2. that is. Is it really the best thing the designer could come up with? Please note that all the things discussed up to now in this text are.3 Preload 73 the lowest number of screws required to contain the expected forces that the screws are supposed to withstand. not necessarily the stack. or to ``go back to the drawing board. This is also the time that the designer arranges for a design review.

the blocks will not separate unless F becomes greater than FS. that is. The resulting force (or holding power) of the screw can be found in all screw tables. the blocks have separated and left a gap between them. If the two cavity halves are not preloaded. and is not acceptable. is also called preload) that the tapers are allowed to move (and thereby stretching the steel) before coming to a stop. preferably both on the cavity and core side. This preload is especially important where cavities split in two or more sections. such as tapers. (See also Chapter 9) . as in the following example. it is common practice to indicate the distance (which. which will make contact with the cavity sections before the mold is fully closed. But by then. or by shrinking of rings or bars overÐusuallyÐcavities. unfortunately. etc. which are a kind of preload. As the mold closes fully (over the length of the ``other. The stretching of these plates provides the necessary ``real'' preload (in kN or US tons) to hold the mold together against ¯ashing. any undesired gap means ¯ashing or leaking. there are two types of preload. In practice. To prevent such gaps. Preload is explained in much detail in ME. (2) The preload can be provided by stretching the steel of mold parts. and so on.4 Mold Materials Selection At this time (or maybe even earlier. the combined total screw force SF equals zero (SF ˆ 0). In molds. For example. the screws must be tightened to such an extent that they will be stretched to a desired preload. As soon as the force F is applied. wedges. stripper rings. When specifying preload on tapers or wedges. (1) The preload exerted by screws. for building up cavities from sections. and because F is greater than FS (F b FS). In this case. 5. or mold plates.74 Before Starting to Design a Mold blocks.) to be used for the mold. while designing the stack). and by press ®ts. Screws must always be tightened to the manufacturers suggested values. to about 60±70% of the yield strength of the screw. the splits will open under the injection pressure and the mold will ¯ash both at the handle side and at the side opposite the handle. the preload is provided by having the cavity sections backed up by wedges. a mold for a mug with handle (see Chapter 7) will split in a vertical plane through the handle. FS must be greater than the expected force F (FS b F).'' calculated preload) the wedges stretch the cavity plate and (preferably) also the core plate. Chapter 30. the designer will think of the materials (steels. When the force F is now applied. the blocks will separate and the screws will be stretched until the resistance (or force) in the screws SF equals F (SF ˆ F).

3. or in some robots (6) Shear: forces seen by dowels. there is a difference whether.4. and the forces seen where inserts are supported by plates. and so on (3) Bending (or de¯ection): the forces seen by cores.4. usually requiring high tensile strength (2) Compression: the compressive strength required to counteract the clamp force of the machine. 5.or an 8-cavity mold. . especially the ejector and stripper plates (4) Wear: the forces created by wedge action. This requires the designer to consider fatigue in metals. 5.4 Mold Materials Selection 75 5.3. as in stripper rings and so on.3 Characteristics of Steels and Other Mold Materials For mold steel selection. see Section 9. as discussed in Section 5.4.2. or by the backup of wedges Note that in many cases. with 24 cavities. the forces on the P/L. we have combinations of any of the above forces. the designer must again consider the lifetime production expected from the mold. for example.2 Forces in Molds The designer must know what forces are present within the mold when deciding on the strength of the mold component to resist these forces. and by all plates.4. such as unscrewing. typically. Also. it will operate only 1 million cycles. which create wear on the matching surfaces (5) Torsion: the forces seen by coil springs and in mold features.5. The most important forces acting within the mold affect these strengths: (1) Tension: the forces created by the injection pressure of the plastic inside the runner system and in the cavity space. With 8 cavities. 24 million pieces are to be produced in a 24. or tapers and wedges for alignment. the mold will operate 3 million cycles.1 Effect of Expected Production Before making any decision. There is no point in specifying the best possible (and expensive) materials if the mold will be required for a small production.

If there are more cycles. aluminum. as in Fig. The strength values are given either in kPa (kilopascal) or in psi (pound/in2 ).g. toughness and hardness) and compromises are necessary. as a straight line declining from the rated strength (e. by preloaded screws.2 Strength of Material This applies to steel.3. such as seen. but also to hardware items: the designer must make sure that any material. 5.. The results of such tests are satisfactory for steady loads. hardware. for one cycle only. some of them are directly opposite to each other (e. but molds often operate many. BeCu. on the shelf.g. or standard mold component intended to be speci®ed is also available when required. Shear and torsional strength is about one-half the tensile strength.3. 5.4. sometimes millions of cycles. in the desired size. the rated strength gradually declines. for example.4. in logarithmic graphs. and in the quantities needed.1 Availability This applies not only to selected raw materials. and so on. The .15. Strength is speci®ed by its tensile strength. Always watch whether the values given are in ISO or in inch systems. 5. bronze.76 Before Starting to Design a Mold For every mold part the following must be considered: which of these characteristics are most important? Unfortunately. tensile or yield strength) for one cycle to a point where the value remains the same regardless of the additional number of cycles. compressive strength is often but not always about the same. 5.4. The designer should always get the exact values from a machinery handbook or from the supplier. this is for all steels at about 2 million cycles.3 Fatigue (See ME.3. Many items are often shown in catalogues or other listings as ``standard'' but this does not always mean that they are readily available. This decline is usually shown.. Chapter 18) The strength ®gures for steel and other metals are arrived at from stressing a test sample.

5.4 Mold Materials Selection

77

Figure 5.15

Typical fatigue graph for a machinery steel.

strength of the material, after 2 million cycles (the fatigue strength) depends very much on the material and hardness selected, but also on features such as notches, holes drilled into it, and surface ®nish. The fatigue strength can be as low as 15±20% of the yield strength (yield, in hardened mold steels, is only a little less than the tensile strength; many data are given in yield rather than tensile strength). Note that so-called machinery steels, but also the related P20 or P20PQ, do not lose as much strength as hard mold steels. The fatigue strength is equivalent to the safety factor often used by designers (frequently, 5) when calculating the strength of a part. The problem is that all force calculations depend on an assumption of the injection pressure, as discussed in Section 4.6.1. But we know that the forces will be greater for thinwall molding, and since most of them are designed for a very large number of cycles, the selection of only the very best materials with appropriate strength and hardness is suggested. Note that springs inside molds (sometimes speci®ed for ejector plate return) are especially sensitive to cycling. When designing for springs, use the manufacturer's suggested values for maximum compression and load of the selected spring.

5.4.3.4

Wear

Some materials are better for wear than others. Lubrication (or the lack of it) can be a decisive factor. Wear points could be steel on steel, steel on bronze, steel on hard plastic, and so on. Hard steels are always better, but the designer must never use the same alloy for both members rubbing against each other, as in wedges or

78

Before Starting to Design a Mold

taper locks, except if the wear points can be lubricated. Each alloy has a distinct, different grain structure, and the problem is that when using identical grain structures, the surfaces will lock (seize) when sliding under pressure, and damage (tear) the surfaces. Hardness differences alone are no substitute for different grain structure, except where one of the rubbing surfaces is treated with methods such as nitriding. In nitriding, very hard nitrogen compounds enter between the grains and alter the surface of the steel. Lubrication in molds is never permitted where it could contaminate the molded products, especially for pharmaceutical and food use.

5.5

Stack Molds (See also ME, Chapter 15)

All that has been said so far applies to any mold, single-level (conventional) or multilevel (stack). In principle, a stack mold is an arrangement where a number of single-level molds are placed back to back in the molding machine. Here, only the most common, two-level stack mold is discussed, although 4 levels and more have been built. The two injection (usually cavity) halves are mounted back to back in one moving (``¯oating'') platen between the standard machine platens; the core halves are then mounted one each on the stationary and moving platens. (Because these are usually also the sides where the ejectors are located, special provisions must be made for ejector actuation on the stationary mold side; this is sometimes built into the mold.) The stack mold system is often used for very large production, requiring many cavities, but often also for molds producing different parts that are paired in assembly. Stacks for one product are in one level, and stacks for another matching product are in the other level. The mold cost is about the same (or even a little less) than the cost of two molds, each built for half the number of cavities. The advantage is that one stack mold on one machine, requiring much less plant space and investment, can have the same output as two molds, requiring two machines, provided that the clamp has suf®cient stroke and shut height to separate both P/Ls far enough for ejection from both sides. Also, the injection unit must have a large enough plasticizing and shot capacity to ®ll both sides without increasing the cycle time, which, of course, would defeat the purpose of this system. Because the molds are stacked on top of each other, only the projected area of one level need be considered. The forces due to injection pressure within the center plate cancel each other; however, it is suggested to use a machine that has a clamping force of about 10% more than would be required for an equivalent single-stack mold. Today, in most systems, the injection unit is

5.6 Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings

79

connected with a long sprue extension to the hot runner in the center platen with the cavities. In some cases, the plastic is injected from the side, with a special extruder arrangement. A disadvantage of the stack mold system is that in case of mold or machine trouble, with stack molds, there is no production at all, whereas with conventional molds, half the production will continue.

5.6

Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings

Now the designer has all the basic information about the mold to be built and can start to ®nalize the mold assembly drawing. 5.6.1 Machine Platen Layout

The platen layoutÐincluding tie bar locationsÐof the machine (or machines) the mold will be used on should be shown ®rst. This will determine the outer limits of the mold and where to place certain mold features. It will, for example, specify where coolant connections must not be located, or any planned auxiliary actuators outside the mold, latches, and so on. The mounting and ejector holes that will probably be used for the mold must also be shown. 5.6.2 Symmetry of Layout, Balancing of Clamp

For multicavity molds, it is important that the stacks are positioned such that the projected area of each cavity is as symmetrical as possible about the center of the machine, to ensure that all tie bars are loaded equally as the mold is clamped, thereby providing each cavity with the same preload to prevent ¯ashing. This can present a problem with ``family molds,'' where several different stacks or cavities with different projected areas are used in one mold. A small amount of asymmetry is often acceptable. With edge-gated, single-cavity molds, to balance the load, a pressure pad must be used opposite the stack location to simulate the force of a second cavity. In this case, the cavity itself will see only one-half of the clamping force of the machine. This is important for the selection of size of clamp, for the job. There is no such problem with center-gated, single-cavity molds.

If it is a mold for which the hot runner section is purchased completely assembled by the supplier. even though it is easy to do with a CAD system. There would be a 1 IN. screws. For example. which can then also be identi®ed with a code. such as S1. alignment features. To facilitate the reading of the drawing. S2 for screws and D1. the method of mold mounting and any connection (®xed or loose) with machine ejectors. dotted lines. the stack should be shown in only one location of each plan view. it should ®rst hit the area opposite the gate. show also where the outside of the mold must be marked (preferably die stamped) to identify coolant and air connections. This prevents surprises arising when one view is far advanced and then it becomes apparent that it does not go together because another view shows some interferences. where applicable. and everything else needed by the detailers to produce the shop (detail) drawings. The IN and OUT can be important for cooling because in many cases it does make a difference where the cold coolant should go ®rst (IN). 5. important information such as the centers of coolant connections. .6. show the interface points and dimensions only. for example.3 The Views Start with the signi®cant mold cross section or sections. and so on should be identi®ed in all locations with small crosses and/or circles.6. It is not a good practice to show the complete stack in every location. However. D2 for dowels. that is. It would make it dif®cult to read the drawings. Show the selected hot runner hardware. AIR 2. Show now also the alignment features. if this is planned to be a hot runner mold. especially if there are many other features in the stack.80 Before Starting to Design a Mold 5. Such codes will make it easier to read the drawing. 2 IN. and just its outlines in all other locations. in the core of a container mold. and AIR 1. but always work with all views at the same time. 1 OUT. with heavy. the ejection system. they will be also important when completing the cooling lines layout in the plates and the location of plate supports and large screws holding together the various mold plates. and so on.4 Completing the Assembly Drawing Everything can now be shown in all views. 2 OUT. At this time. both the plan views of cavity and core will ``grow'' side by side with the cross section. and so on.

However.6.2. Each balloon contains a number identifying each mold component. if applicable. 5. and to be used by the detailer when making the shop drawings. . but the preferred one is to show balloons (circles or ellipses about 12±15 mm in size) outside around the drawings. but only if they are different from standard ®ts and clearances. the types of plastic. It will also show any other information pertinent to the product and will specify for which machines the mold was designed. The BoM should specify not only the ®nal sizes of steels and so on. Preferably.4) Usually one ``main'' title block is shown. the project number and drawing numbers. and the detailer. The title blocks identify the mold design of®ce or the mold maker. it is a good practice to show ®ts and clearances where they apply. Each balloon has a leader (line) connecting it with the part identi®ed. but also for the detailer of the shop drawings. smaller title blocks are on all other drawings.2. Several methods are used. and any other information that deserves to be recorded for future use.6. This is important not only for the buyer. the checker. Cross hatching should be used sparingly. This is also the time to show any notes on the drawing.6 Mold Layout and Assembly Drawings 81 5. the balloons should be shown around the main cross section of the mold or near partial sections.6 Finishing Touches Finishing information of the molding surfaces should also be shownÐ preferably with standard symbolsÐon the assembly drawing. This also applies to detail drawings. for future reference. and so on. from stack parts to plates to screws. but only once. only where it really helps to make the assembly drawing clearer.5.5 Bill of Materials (BoM) and ``Ballooning'' This is also the time to specify the BoM so that all materials can now be ordered and be available when required for the machining operations and the ®nal assembly. ``Ballooning'' is the identi®cation of each mold part on the assembly drawing. only if these locations would not be clear enough and could cause errors should they be shown in other sections or in the appropriate plan view. additional. the designer (by name and initials). preferably on the drawing with the main cross section. They are strictly limited to the detail drawings. (See also Section 5. but also the hardness of the ®nished mold part. Tolerances are not shown on the assembly drawings. This number corresponds to a line in the BoM.

The designer must also approve any changes required to make the mold work as expected and record what was done to make the mold work before it is shipped. especially in case the designer has not heard from the molder ®rst. or much later. A complete report. . any corrective action must be approved and recorded by the designer or his delegate. for example errors in machining orÐheaven forbidÐerrors in the drawings. the designer must be present and see that the installation and setup procedures are in accordance with the speci®cations on the assembly drawings. After the mold is ®nally ready for testing. and if there is any problem. the shop people cannot be bothered to go back to the mold maker but make adjustments that may not have been necessary if they had followed the instructions received with the mold. to see how the mold works in production. A good designer will then follow up the mold with the molder. and it would be embarrassing if the same errors would then be repeated. a mold goes into the customer's molding shop.82 6 Review and Follow-Up After the drawings and the ®nal BoM have been released for production. together with the mold. Any later problems experienced by the customer should also be recorded for future reference. and plastics speci®cations should be supplied to the customer. Hopefully. frequently. There is always the possibility that the same mold will be required again maybe in a year. If there are problems in the shop. there is usually a quiet time for the designer. pressure settings. there are no problems in buying and machining. Unfortunately. times. as far as this mold is concerned. specifying the test machine. all temperatures.

3 uses a stripper plate. As discussed in Section 5.83 7 Typical Examples A few examples are provided of typical molded products and how they should be approached. While shrinking. as shown. such as boxes or many technical housings. and on the right is a cup with a reentrant bottom. It is always quite dif®cult to mold any straight surface. In the case of an ejector plate using . round or of any other shape. they are usually outside center gated. and the ejector plate comes to a stop when the stripper taper seats on the core taper.1 Containers or Other Cup-Shaped Products Containers are not necessarily drinking cups. Figure 7. this illustrates a typical example where this plate can easily be omitted. The main characteristics of container molds are as follows: (1) Although they can be edge gated. Some examples are shown here. 7. the curvature of the dome will change somewhat but it will not pull inward and thereby deform the side wall of the container. but there are some signi®cant typical differences.2. insulated runner or through shooting. Note that the bottom is preferably domed. especially from high-shrinkage plastics.1 (shut height). they may have more than one gate. 7. (2) Core cooling is usually easily accomplished. These examples are used to illustrate material discussed earlier in the text.1. 7. which is the basis of higher productivity. The gating can be a hot runner. so the ejector plate does not need a stop. but any container.1 depicts two very similar cups: on the left is a typical cup (or container) with a plain bottom. unless the cooling cycle is greatly extended to permit the product to reach the mold temperature before ejection. 3-plate. A typical mold for such a product is illustrated in Fig. too many to show in one book. The mold on the left in Fig. 7. Note that Fig. There are all kinds of shapes.2 shows a conventional mounting plate (17).6.

which usually also contains the gate. But because of the reentrant. they must sit on the machine platen but should not sit solely on top of any weak areas of the platen such as T-slots. Note that this method is . Therefore. Note that in any mold. they can be mounted on the underside of the core backing plate.2. as shown. 7. as indicated. in some areas. 7. especially in the path of plastic ¯ow. is completely withdrawn from the molded plastic piece. ejector pins (right illustration). the designer must indicate this on the drawings. The right illustration in Fig. it would be very dif®cult to remove it without dismantling the mold. This method also facilitates good venting at the bottom. the parallels and the supports under the cores (supporting pillars) will sit directly on the machine platen. especially if the depth of the dimension f is greater than twice the thickness of the plastic at that spot. Only after this happens is the mold allowed to separate at the regular parting line. it will be dif®cult or even impossible to ®ll this portion of the bottom. or any other area where sharp edges could cause personal injury during handling. In Fig. rule 2. the bottom is preferably domed.2. etc.5. all the outside edges of mold plates. should be properly broken (rounded or chamfered). otherwise.) must be provided. all pillars are fully supported. that is.1 shows a typical cup with a reentrant bottom. solid stops (shoulder bolts. if a piece of plastic breaks off in that narrow section and remains there. for a short distance (about for the distance f ) until the mold part that forms the inside of the reentrant.84 Typical Examples Figure 7. especially on inserts. too.1 Schematic illustration of two typical cups: (left) a simple cup shape. as already discussed Section 5. Here.3. the thin section would be a ``dead pocket'' and not ®ll. also. The designer must make sure that when the mold is mounted in the machine. sharp corners must be kept sharp. However. (right) a similar cup but with a reentrant bottom. special measures must be provided in the mold: the cavity of the mold must follow the core as the mold opens.

7. B. The cavity plate is guided on a separate set of guide pins to control its location relative to the gate retainer plate (or hot runner plate or cavity backing plate. 9.2. core cooling. gate pad cooling. 15. 14. called moving cavity (Fig. 16. 13. leader pin. 5. leader pin bushing. in principle. guide bushing for ejector sleeve. cavity retainer plate. stripper ring. Its stroke is limited to be only slightly larger than .7. A. core backing plate. ejector sleeve.1 Containers or Other Cup-Shaped Products 85 Figure 7. 4.4).3. support under core. 8. cavity. back plate or hot runner plate. as should be the case). it is. 17.3. mounting plate. 12. 3. 6. gate pad with cooling. 7. 10. 2. core. 11. C. similar to the two-stage ejection illustrated in Section 5. locking ring (for alignment of cavity and core). parallel. O-rings. ejector plate.2 Schematic illustration of a section through portion of a simple cup mold: 1. cavity cooling.

There must be always a clearance (g) where shown. (Left) A variation to Fig. (Right) This application for a mold with ejector pins.4 Typical construction of a moving cavity feature to release deep reentrants in the cavity. 7. the core continues to open until the mold is fully open. The left half shows the mold in the closed position. The product is ejected as soon as the cavity is suf®ciently distant from the cavity half. Figure 7.2.86 Typical Examples Figure 7. Mounting slots 18 have been added to permit the use of mounting clamps.3 The elimination of the mounting plate of the mold assembly. whereas the right half shows the mold at the point of opening when the cavity stops. Note the venting arrangement. .

The alternative is to gate into the top (outside) of the product. and (3) alignment of cavities and cores. 7. A round pocket will contain just one cavity or core. This makes it necessary that all cavities and cores must be inserted in the cavity and/or core plate. There must be ample venting provided where the alignment ring meets the gate pad. (2) The core cooling for technical products is usually not as simple as for containers. and there is no danger that the ``foot'' gets trapped between the gate pad and the cavity.6). 2-plate molds with edge (or tunnel) gating are simpler and much less complicated and expensive than 3-plate molds or hot runner molds. must never be located so that it will have to cross an open space. Mild steels would be acceptable in one case (a) but usually not in the other (b). Such rings. The product is now easily ejected from the core. without any gap into which plastic could ¯ow. The problem with edge gating is that any runner. This also applies to any stripper plate with inserted stripper rings. a gap over which the runner would have to pass. consider ®rst: (1) gating and runners. The cores are usually individual units mounted on top of a core backing plate with gaps between them. from 2-cavity to multicavity molds. and (a) insert the complete cavities or cores with tight ®t into them.2 Technical Products When designing molds for technical products. leading from the sprue to the ®nal branch runner (with the gates). (2) core cooling. . from the cavity. This decision will also affect the choice of materials for the plates. because of the often large number of inserts within the core or cavity. (1) As discussed earlier. 7. one or more can be packed (see Fig. even though of great advantage for better alignment with the cores and ease of replacement. where the runners are not in the parting line. in a rectangular pocket. They can be. insulated or hot runner molds. especially if the production is fairly low. Many molds. with a perfectly smooth (but not necessarily ¯at) surfaceÐthe parting lineÐbetween them. The designer must decide whether to make rectangular or round pockets (or cutouts) into the plates. or (b) cut the cavities (or even the cores) right into the plates and just place inserts. used in the majority of all molds. the cavities are frequently inserted into the cavity (or cavity retainer) plate or as individual units. into them. are built this way.2 Technical Products 87 dimension f.7. and still are today. if required. must not ¯oat in the stripper plate because of the obvious gap between ring and plate. Air actuators (usually four) built right into the backing plate push the cavity plate so that it follows the mold opening motion until the set limit is reached. as with 3-plate. With this choice.

For this reason. the . There is also the problem of heat expansion of the plates. If high accuracy is required. as shown in (1) above. One rib is as shown in section x±x.5 Schematic of a technical product. to the supporting. 2-plate molds with inserted cavities and cores (or where they are cut right into the plates) require high accuracy in the location of cavity and core. it is best to have the cavities ®xed in the cavity plate. of course. through the inserts and core or cavity. In some cases. A typical. (3) Multicavity. small leader pins and bushings in each stack. with individual method of alignment either with tapers as shown for a container. which can shift the relative positions if the plates are not of the same temperature.88 Typical Examples Figure 7. For this reason.5.3 Mold with Fixed Cores If a rib ends in a side wall as in section z±z (Fig. are used to make inserts or even complete cores or cavities.5). but even every area of changeover from one part to another. or. such as beryllium±copper. This will. with inside ribs.6). 7. 7. 7. better conducting materials. and the cores mounted ¯oating on the core backing plate. most molds for technical products will cycle slower than the well-cooled molds for containers of similar weight and wall thickness. with additional. as is most commonly done. There is most often only one choice: to forget about intensive cooling with channels right into the cores or the inserts. and will require a mold with gating into the top of the product. 7. and to depend on the heat conducted from the hot plastic. however. constitutes a heat barrier and slows down the heat ¯ow. cooled plates (see Fig. If. Note: Every gap (clearance). because there is no possibility of adjusting their relative position once the mold is ®nished. technical product is shown in Fig. make it impossible to use runners in the P/L. even when ®tting tightly and without any gap. the other as in section z±z. this type of mold should not be selected for thinwall products where the wall thickness can be greatly affected by any misalignment. venting of such rib is no problem since the sidewall ends at the well-vented parting line.

Note also that the runners sit on top of the line where two mold parts meet. right side). which is better for cooling.4 Mold with Floating Cores 89 Figure 7. 7.6 A schematic of an edge-gated mold. 7. The illustration in Fig. representing drilled holes for cooling.7 shows portion of a mold for a product similar to that in Fig. Note that the inserts in the left core are better cooled because there are fewer heat barriers. 7. as indicated by the circles. with two of more cavities shown. left side).6 could be a section through a 4-cavity mold. so the cores are mounted ¯oating on the . especially if the rib is ``thin. One cavity (right) has ribs as shown in Fig. Inserts (cross hatched) are located either in cutouts (core. or in pockets (core. 7.4 Mold with Floating Cores Figure 7. that the venting channels for those ribs do not end in the side wall of the product. rib is ``closed'' as shown in section x±x. Both cavities and cores are cooled from their underlying plates. but the requirements for accuracy are high. section x±x.5. Both cavities A and C and cores B and D are set into pockets in the mold plates.7.'' that is. the other (left) has ribs as shown in section z±z. if the ratio of depth over thickness is greater than about 2±3. they will not leak. venting becomes very important. Note. in the left portion of the illustration.5.

since the cavity itself is usually made from hardened steel.90 Typical Examples Figure 7. (A) Cavity plate with runner system (R) indicated with broken line. 7. (B) Core backing plate. Much more can be gained by carefully considering where to gate. With the closed mold. 2. and providing ample venting in any area of the stack where air could be trapped. Only then can the cup be ejected. As the mold opens. 1. there is not much gained by it because the core cooling usually controls the molding cycle.8. these sections must be preloaded against the forces from the injection pressure to prevent ¯ashing along the split lines. while the splits open sideways. bushing.7 Schematic of a mold portion with ¯oating cores. with or without ¯oating cores. F. as mentioned earlier in this book. than the core. core backing plate (see ME. the cavity ``splits'' move for a short distance with the core.5 Molds with Side Cores or Splits For all molds with side cores or where the cavity splits into two or more sections. however. The leader pins (1)Ðusually 2 per stackÐare shown here with a bushing (2) in the cavity. but the bushing is often omitted. ¯oating core mounting. . Refer to Fig.4.2). by cross drilling. Note that in these applications. the cavity is usually easier to cool. 7. Section 14. Leader pin.

cup diameter. (C) a similar mold. L. the injection pressure p inside the cavity acts on the projected area of the sides of the cup. In mold B. The forces F trying to push the halves apart are thereby divided. W. This is illustrated by mold C. width of the plates. during injection. but with wedges on both cavity and core sides. F. thickness of cavity plate along L. and create an undesired gap at the split line. length of stretched cavity plate. (2) Because of the distance m between the forces and reaction forces. with a cross section of b  W .3 of this book. H.7. the side forces must be taken up on both the cavity and core sides of the mold. height of cup. there will be a bending moment m  F which will force the wedge to bend outward as indicated (arrow d). . which has wedges both in the cavity and the core side. This system is therefore only suitable for shallow products. For deep products. b. (B) section through a mold with wedges on the cavity half only. D.5 Molds with Side Cores or Splits 91 Figure 7. There are now two problems to consider: (1) the force F will stretch the portion of the plate with a length L. F ˆ p  D  H. the forces to be contained. the force F pushes against the wedge. and both cavity and core plates will provide reaction forces.8 Schematics of a mold for a cup with handle: (A) plan view into the cavity. The wedges must therefore be preloaded as explained in Section 5. The preload must be calculated and provided for each set of wedges. which is part of the cavity plate and is counteracted by the steel of the cavity plate.

should consider ®rst the background and reputation of . cannot spend too much time with each one. only one of all these requests for estimates can result in an order. is serious and how the outlook is for getting the order. many molders are often approached by their customers solely to ®nd out how much it would cost. the ``boss'' of the mold shop will decide whether it is really necessary to quote at all. the mold maker is bound to lose money. This means that the estimator. In many cases. approximately. or the cost of estimating would become excessive. One mold maker may then get the same inquiry from several molders.'' that is. Any smart buyer of molds. and each of these molders may in turn approach three or more mold makers for estimates of the necessary molds. or he or she may decide to just give a ballpark ®gure and skip the formal estimating process altogether. 8. to quote a price for such a mold. In fact. the lowest price is often based on errors in quoting. with clients who habitually select the lowest bidder. before placing an order. This is an important consideration: in the author's experience. From the author's experience. In some cases.1 Need for Estimate Before estimating. the customer approaches not only one. they need a mold price to determine their own costs before proceeding. for the same product. the designer (and the person negotiating with the client for an order) should ®rst establish if the ``request for quotation. The estimator should be an experienced mold designer who can visualize from the product drawing submitted (and occasionally from a sample) what kind of mold will be most suitable to produce the product economically. but possibly three or more molders for mold prices.92 8 Estimating Mold Cost One of the most dif®cult jobs in the mold making business is to determine as accurately as possible the cost of the mold for the product for which it is to be built. with such multiple requests. faced with all these requests. to start a new product line.

This often leads to specialization by the mold maker. 8. As has been said here repeatedly. only the best-suited mold for the planned production will result in the lowest product cost. . In this case it is up to the estimator to ®nd out from records. and if the hours estimated to produce the mold were adequate. The estimator should consult with the people who actually made that mold to ®nd out if there were any problems during manufacture or testing of the mold. the estimating process is relatively simple. unfortunately. the precedent can be a mold with only a few cavities for a product with a shape similar to the one for which the mold is to be estimated. the estimator will ®rstÐin his or her mindÐcompare the product with other jobs of similar products and then search for precedents in personal (or the shop's) records. unless the mold maker intends to enter this new ®eld.3 No Precedents If molds for a similar product have never been made before or the estimator is not familiar with the type of mold requested. or electronic ®les. such as old drawings. as was suggested in Chapter 6. was the customer happy and did the shop make money with this mold? This process is easy if proper records are kept. which is really what the client needs. how good the mold performed in operation.2 Precedents If there are close similarities (precedents). in general. 8. For example. for the same number or for more or fewer cavities. two possibilities to be considered. If the request for quotation is considered serious. book illustrations. there are. which is bene®cial to both customers and mold makers. in other words. and then adjust for it when pricing the mold. Requests for molds that are outside the mold maker's expertise should be declined. With the absence of good records. Only then should the price be considered. because there is a good basis from which to extrapolate what will be required for the new mold.3 No Precedents 93 the mold maker and his or her expertise in building the particular type of mold requested. this is possible only if there was little turnover in personnel in the shop. if possible.8.

or where the product is considered very complicated to mold. not only a mold but including any product handling and postmolding operation of the product. typically by not seeing. any responsible mold maker (whose reputation is at stake) will have no choice but to build this mold. underestimating. the mold and related equipment cost can be fairly easily estimated on the basis of this preliminary design. which could be more (sometimes much more) expensive to build than was ®rst estimated. The cost of the design paid in advance is then considered in the ®nal mold price. If the client decides not to proceed with the project. and there is much less risk of too low or too high an estimate. or even ignoring any dif®culties that may arise due to a peculiar product shape. (2) A good alternative is to invite the participation of the client to share in advance the cost of designing the new mold before estimating. After agreeing with the client that the proposed mold and/or the whole system will do what is needed. there is no need for such insurance. but will come up with a proper mold design. (The problem with this method is that it will take much estimating time. or a complete mold. It is important that any such preliminary sketches are made available to the mold designer. the cost of the various machining steps (milling. at least the mold maker will have the sometimes considerable design expenses paid. even if it will result in a ®nancial loss. From the estimator's sketches it is then fairly easy to prepare an estimate. to cover the unexpected. These sketches will then be the basis for the estimate. The mold designer will then not use these sketches. and even so. Such losses can then be written off as learning experience or as research and development expenses. that is. the estimator cannot devote as much time to it as the mold designer will have after the order for this mold has been booked. For a certain quoted price. which bene®ts the client. the mold maker will offer to design either concepts of the mold.94 Estimating Mold Cost (1) The estimator will make sketches using previous experience as a mold designer and show at least one method as to how the product could best be made. Traditionally. This is often very useful if the product is completely new and the projected quantities are extremely large. In this case. mold makers add an often quite high safety factor when quoting unfamiliar molds. . who then may (or may not) follow them for the ®nal design. this will result in a lower mold and system price. 8. The main problem with this method of estimating is that the estimator makes a bad mistake.4 Methods of Estimating (1) One method is to actually break down each and every mold part into its estimated cost: material. If the mold is fully designed. This is also often done for a whole system.

the cost of standard hardware. there is less risk of repeating earlier mistakes. however. There will be a standard markup on top of the estimated cost. in percentage over the cost. which. expenses. depending on the difference from the precedent and the general familiarity with the type of mold.8. polishing. 8. (2) The method used most often is to base an estimate on experience from precedents. Since every mold is different in size. with all dimensions. it is fairly easy to extrapolate. It should also have the proviso that the quoted price is only a rough estimate and must be con®rmed at a later date when all data are ready (including tolerances) and after the order is received. time-consuming process. this is obviously a slow. depending on the mold maker's practice and policies. prepares only the foreseen cost to be incurred when building the mold. There is usually little risk if the same mold has been built before. EDM. it is usually dif®cult to create a standard price list for molds. complexity.5 Mold Cost and Mold Price The estimator.5 Mold Cost and Mold Price 95 turning. While some of the costs are usually quite simple to establish from price lists and records. may be anywhere up to 50% (or even more) on top of the estimated cost. and much risk if there are many unknowns. and the costs of assembling and testing the mold. This method is good if there are good records of many similar molds made over the years.). this method expects that the estimator or assistants have intimate knowledge of the machining operations involved and the operating times required for each step. (3) ``Ballparking'' should be used with care. in essence. the mold considered has 8 cavities and there is a suitable precedent of a 4-cavity mold. If. or whatever the company's policy is to cover overhead. as long as the estimator really knows the business well it can yield quite accurate estimates. etc. . risk (with this mold). It requires real experience and solid background in mold making. Since molds consist of many different parts. Many estimators then add a risk factor. number of cavities. except if many identical molds based on standard mold components are built on a regular basis. The cost is the basis for quoting the actual price to the customer. grinding. Include also the cost of any ®xtures or special tools required in the manufacture of the mold parts. for example. by calculating the cost of the new total number of stacks plus the proportional increase of the cost of the larger mold shoe. and so on. It is best if the estimator works from a ®nished product drawing. and where all tolerances are shown. and pro®t. the cost of heat treating and other expenditures for ®nishing in house or by suppliers.

well-paying jobs may have to wait because the shop is busy.96 Estimating Mold Cost There is another management consideration: The plastics mold business is traditionally up and down. molds may be quoted at prices lower than the costs determined by the estimator. seasonally. One unfortunate result of this method is that as soon as the shop is ®lled with such money-losing molds. and to keep the shop busy to avoid layoffs. In times of low sales. . as the business picks up again. solely to get the job.

up to then. but gives some descriptions of the evolution of machining in mold making. Since this requires large. thickness). ejector pins and sleeves. and Heat Treatment Machining of Mold Components 9. National. thereby making parts not only of better quality. specializing in the machining of theÐoften largeÐplates. expensive machines. the molders had made themselves. While they made (and still make) any requested size within a certain range. such as leader pins and bushings. which permitted listing them in catalogues. often using specialized machines.97 9 Machining. available for fast delivery. but it took . but also blanks for cavitiesÐon shapers. with reciprocating or (endless) band saws. Earliest mold components and plates were produced by ®rst sawing the raw blanks from steel plates of the appropriate thickness bought from the steel mill. but also at a much lower cost than would be possible in most mold shops. large grinding machines or milling with large cutting heads in vertical or horizontal milling machines. with the blank held solidly and a single cutting tool moving back and forth over the surface. Hasco. and many other mold components and accessories and hardware that have come into use as the industry expanded. using the best-suited materials and ®nishes. Today hardly any mold maker makes mold hardware. These supply houses rapidly widened their lines by adding other items that. this was the origin of the mold supply houses such as DME. By standardizing designs of these hardware items it became possible to mass produce such parts.1 This section is not meant to be a guide for the actual machining operations. width. and others. The next step was then squaring and/or rough machining these blanksÐmostly plates. This slow method was abandoned in favor of rough grinding with special. Both these methods are now used extensively. with their limited equipment. which smaller mold makers cannot usually justify economically. a service industry developed. Mold Materials. the biggest advance came with the standardization of sizes (length.

The responsibility of the machinists became mainly the mounting of the work pieces in the machine tool. which may release stresses in the plates. multiple cutting heads. For the manufacture of the large mold parts. and even allowed the use of one operator for more than one machine tool. depending on the size of the plate) than the ®nal dimension. . They should be somewhat thicker (maybe 0. mostly plates. that is.98 Machining.1 mm. These machines have also improved over the years. in fact. this was usually left to the machinist operating the machine tools.) The supply houses also provide a service to machine large cutouts and openings in standard plates (and mold sets) and the bores for leader pins and bushings to their own standard or the customer's speci®cation. Some of the modern machines don't even require this step in the setup: the machine ®rst feels (reads) the position of the work piece as it is mounted in a jig or ®xture. and the low cost of these mass-produced parts. This gradually eliminated the need for the operator to actually work ``hands on'' during the cutting process. The plates (or large cavity blocks) are machined with common machine tools such as lathes. the introduction of specialists (production planners or engineers). the ready availability. This last advance became possible only after the mold designs improved and began to provide mold part detail drawings. The next step in modernization was to provide the milling machines and so on with automatic tool changers. seeing that all tools are prepared as speci®ed before installing them in the tool changer. which can result in warpage. This is especially important after roughing out large volumes of steel. and generally observing the machine to prevent trouble. and Heat Treatment quite a while for some to realize the advantages of the quality. the sequence of operations and the tools to use. allowing the use of better cutting tools. drilling and milling machines. ¯at and square to standard or special sizes. and large cavity blocks. (Standard sized screws and nuts have been used for many years. Mold Materials. and jig bores. Up to then. ready rough ground. Blank plates are usually purchased. to prepare the logical steps in the machining of the parts. carbide cutters. higher cutting speeds. numerical controls (CNC). there have also been signi®cant changes. and then automatically adjusts all coordinates to this position. usually persons with all around experience in machining. the old but still widely used practice was that the machinists move with the work pieces from one machine tool to the next until the mold part is ®nished. to permit regrinding to the ®nal size. becoming much more rigid. if necessary. This also necessitated another manufacturing step. which is very convenient if the mold maker lacks the large and accurate machines to do it in-house. and the introduction of computerized. The setup of the work piece in the machine is always critical to ensure the proper reference to speci®ed edges or tooling holes of the work piece.

with automatic tool changing. for each part. the faster will be the cutting speed. and jig bores. Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) and later the wire EDM have been major advances. using better cutting tools. the problem is that they are wearing and getting smaller during operation. the type of ®nish must always be speci®ed. both permit the shaping or cutting of odd or otherwise dif®cultto-machine (or even ``impossible'') shapes. and an increase in demand for multicavity molds. often standardized components (cavities. such parts can now be produced from steel blanks or rods right up to their pre®nished shape (turning inside and outside. They should be used only if there is no other way to cut a shape. these castings are made to order by specialists in this ®eld.). for example. another machining operation.9. But even a rough EDM ®nish is often good enough for some molding surfaces. There are methods of reducing the cost of machining these electrodes. drilling and milling machines. and the introduction of CNC. As a result of specialization. that is. or even nonround shapes in cavity .1 Machining of Mold Components 99 For smaller stack parts. The cutting electrodes for EDM are made from special copper alloys.) ready for the next step. The ®nish surface and cylindrical grinding of these parts (where required) have also greatly improved over the years with higher cutting speeds and by pro®le grinding odd ¯at or round shapes. such as heat treatment. EDM can be used regardless of the hardness of a work piece. The increasing specialization of the mold-making business had another impact on the machining methods used. both for location and size. stripper rings. from a work piece. and two or more electrodes are required from roughing to ®nal sizing. by casting or molding them to shape. the operation becomes very slow. they remove much less steel than any chip-removing machine tool. one operator can usually look after a number of machines. etc. such as drills and taps. A main disadvantage of these methods is that they are very slow. Note that the ®nished surface created by EDM depends largely on the amount of steel removal. in any given time. etc. Since the EDM process may take many hours. milling. in minutes rather than hours. These machines usually run automatically. tapping. higher cutting speeds. have improved over the years. the quantity of similar. provides precision grinding. too. (The higher the current through the electrodes.) can become so large as to make it possible to introduce fully automatic machines such as automatic (CNC) lathes combined with other operations. very hard tools. carbide cutters. the very ®rst EDM machines were used mainly to remove broken. They are machined on conventional machine tools. cores. of holes (dowels. These machines. etc.) To produce a ®ne ®nish. blanks are still cut from bars or rods and machined with machine tools such as lathes. or from some carbon/graphite composition. Jig grinding. by becoming more rigid. drilling.

expensive equipment and are often subcontracted to specialists. and diameters as small as 8 mm can be drilled fast. which is especially important if the product requires optical clarity without refraction. Some of the polishing operations that used to be done manually are now done by automatic machines. the punch must be very hard and strong. Hobbing is another method of making small cavities. also called gun drilling.100 Machining. much time can been saved in this operation. which is a long. A male punch in the shape of the outside of the molded product (including shrinkage allowance for the plastic) is pushed with great force into a soft steel blank. tedious. do the reciprocating motion required for the polishing stone or diamond paste. the speci®cations for polishing were closely scrutinized: is it really necessary to polish this surface? Is the ®nish as it comes from the milling machine or grinder good enough? Some plastics require good polish. The process allows the drilling of straight. Chapter 22. Obviously. is a relatively late addition to the mold-making business. Often. and Heat Treatment work.) Holes as long as 2 m or even longer. such as for bottle caps or other. In such cases. cylindrical shapes can be honed. in-house or at a specialist. The cutting face of the drill bit is lubricated with pressurized coolant through the center of the bit. and therefore expensive process. often odd-shaped forms. a practice used for many years in accurate machine building. handheld machines. it originated in the manufacture of long bores in guns. Flat faces are very dif®cult to polish while maintaining their true ¯atness. Deep hole drilling. the use of lapping equipment may be required. It is up to the mold designer to specify where and how ®ne to polish. By being critical. Traditionally. for appearance or for the intended use of the product. Special drill bits are used either in attachments to lathes or in special deep hole drilling machines. and the chips are ¯ushed out along the outside of the bit. (See also ME. only some areas need good or even exceptional polish. without the problems of ``wandering'' encountered with the conventional twist drills. the force is on the order of thousands of tons. This usually means providing the cavity or core with inserts that can be easily lapped. Both these operations require special. but it is also important for much shorter and smaller-diameter holes often required in cavity and core cooling circuits or in side cores. and the mold must then be designed so that the ¯at surface (of the cavity or core) can be accessed when using a lapping machine. the operator mounts the work piece and the machine does the rest. from diameters as small as 2 mm (0. Polishing is an important phase in the mold making process. Other. usually low-paid women who did the polishing at home. others not. This is of particular importance when drilling cooling and pressure±air channels in large plates. In the early days. very deep holes. Mold Materials. The making of the . it is done by hand. Later on.060 inch). polishing was sometimes farmed out. Large. and without any signi®cant deviations from the intended straight path.

who have the necessary skills and equipment. This method is best done by specialists in this ®eld. By necessity. the hard blank must then be ground to ®t the bores in the cavity plate. The blank. while dif®cult to make. and later. the polish on the hob is always perfectly reproduced. If the hob is well polished. intricate cavities or cores. which are then all identical. and even lettering and escutcheons.080 to 0.2 Materials Selection Production molds are almost always made from steel. The ®nish of the cavity wall is an exact replica of the ®nish of the mandrel. the product has a dif®cult shape. Sometimes bronzes or .120 inch). except for certain mold parts where requirements for better heat conductivity suggests the use of beryllium±copper alloys. the blank is then stripped off the mandrel. Also. ornamental ribs or embossings. Electroforming is another method of making cavities. where the ®nal shape of the product can be easily created in the already hardened but otherwise ®nished cavity blank. Nickel is slowly deposited on the mandrel until it reaches a desired thickness of about 2 to 3 mm (0.2 Materials Selection 101 hobs and the actual hobbing is done by hobbing specialists. A mandrel of the shape of the cavity wall acts as the electrode in a nickel electrolyte bath. the molecules of the desired mold material until the complete shape is created. It is slow and quite expensive. This process is still in development and the author knows of no actual molds built. 9. and especially with the advent of EDM.9. the steel of the blank must be soft enough to permit the process. usually for small and long shapes. rather than inside of many cavities. layer by layer. Because the steel will slightly grow and possibly move in the hardening process. to date. the hobbing process is rarely used today. with better machining methods. A computer reads the mold part drawings three dimensionally and builds up. it is easier to do it once on the outside of a male part. Around the middle of the 20th century. can be used for as many cavities as 30±60. for example. must be rough machined on the outside and then carburized and hardened. If. The main advantage is that one punch. both for the mold shoe and the cavities. and will not require additional polishing. such as fountain pen barrels. after hobbing. so will be the cavities made from it. it was quite common to use this method for multicavity molds. Computerized molecular build-up is a new electrochemical approach to building small. The blank must then be machined on the outside to ®t a cavity retainer. but this is too soft to serve for a highproduction mold. These are all long and expensive operations. so no further polishing is required. but sometimes the only way to produce a cavity.

one year. Throughout this text it has often been said that the designer must always keep costs and planned productivity of the mold in mind. different for each steel mill. In general. Also. In general. or other materials. new mold steels are constantly developed for ``better'' characteristics. copper alloys. are sold by brand names. by the time the piece is cut and delivered. In addition. the lower the base cost of the steel. typically. and it may become necessary to reevaluate and update the lists of steels used by the designers from time to time. This is important for long life of the components as they are subjected to high stresses within the mold. and other charges. (1) Tensile (or compressive) strength. but they did not last for long production runs. depending on the annual requirement of the mold makerÐthe higher the requirements. the price is much higher. particularly mold and tool steels. steels. large pieces are cheaper than small ones. The types of steels used depend on the requirements for each application.1 Steel Properties Earlier molds used mild steels even for stack parts. Mold makers were gradually switching to the types of hardened steels that were used in tool and die making. these steels were often too brittle or otherwise unsuitable for mold applications. the blank size has signi®cant bearing on the cost. and Heat Treatment even rigid plastics are used for cams and areas where moving parts cannot be lubricated. so the steel industry began to develop steels speci®cally designed for the plastics industry. Per unit of mass. Mold Materials. or must not be for sanitary reasons. there are weight. however. This will often determine the selection of the right steel for each mold component. they will not be discussed further. or even special. There are two points to be aware of: (1) the material (mostly steel) represents about 10±15% of the total mold cost and (2) steel costs vary widely.102 Machining. metal-®lled epoxy-type mixtures. but it is better to specify steels by their generic names or numbers.Tensile strength Compressive strength . However. The important features for mold makers are essentially as shown below. so that even though the base price may appear to be low. Experimental molds may use softer materials such as aluminum. particularly those created by high injection pressures and large clamping forces. cutting.2. It is always worthwhile to contact a steel sales person and get all the details about steel pricing. the more volume is contracted to purchase over a certain period. or at least. there is little or no difference between steels of the same speci®cation originating from different suppliers. 9.

Hobbing is not much used today. Some steels are not well suited for polishing and will not permit or maintain the high surface polish often required. especially when considering the often high handling costs where the plating is performed by outside suppliers. which is more expensive than other steels. . See Section 9. (4) Hot hardness.1 about hobbing. This is of special importance for hot runner components. (7) Ease of hobbing. and mostly wear from mold parts rubbing against each other. This is especially important for long.9. especially if the stainless steels can be bought in large volume. This can be important with high-speed molds. These stack parts and plates can also be made from stainless steel. However. The addition of certain alloying elements to the steel makes it much easier to cut chips. Nitriding is a surface treatment applied on top of an already well-hardened and otherwise ®nished part to provide a very hard surface. this can make a big difference in the time and the cost of machining. the mold parts and plates should be chrome or nickel plated. In all such circumstances. butÐconsidering the overall cost connected with chrome platingÐthe difference may not be that big. but also for molds for some plastics that are molded at high temperatures. (5) Corrosion resistance. keep in mind that. Don't forget. Wear results from plastic abrasion during injection. in many cases. It is used mostly to improve the wear characteristic of the steel. that high polish is often not required.Chromie plated Nickel plated (6) Thermal conductivity. Note that many hardened tool steels start to anneal at temperatures lower than the melt temperatures sometimes required for injection. To nitride on top of a soft base does not make any sense: the hard (nitrided) surface will collapse under any heavy load because the supporting steel is soft. and thus avoiding the use of the softer copper alloys. In a high-humidity environment. (8) Ease of machining. (3) Wear resistance. This is an important consideration. slender cores and inserts subjected to side forces de¯ecting them during injection. which require more upkeep than steel.2 Materials Selection 103 (2) Toughness. (10) Ease of nitriding. good cooling can also be achieved with steel by using a better layout of the cooling channels. which can be quite expensive. Some plastics attack (corrode) steels and other mold materials. molds corrode (rust) because of the high water content in the air. (9) Ease of polishing. however.

.2363 1.2 shows the average of some of the properties of the above materials that are of interest to the mold designer. There is only one goal for the mold maker and designer: to produce the best mold for the speci®ed purpose. While this. typically. Table 9.1 Item Type Comparison Chart of a Few Selected Mold Materials AISI DIN Designation Material No. and Heat Treatment (11) Ease of welding. however. More about molds steels and application examples can be found in ME.2083 1.3343 Steel Code Recommended Hardness (Rc) 30±35 30±35 30±35 59±61 58±60 58±62 49±51 56±60 56±58 50±52 60±62 28±32a 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 a Prehardened Stainless steel Prehardened Carburizing steels Oil hardening Air hardening Stainless steel (SS) High-speed Beryllium±copper 42CrMo4 40CrMnMo7 X42Cr13 106WCr6 X40CrMoV5 1 X100CrMoV5 1 X155CrVMo12 1 X42Cr13 S-6-5-2 It is customary to indicate hardness of machinery steels and bronzes in the Brinell scale.1 and 9. the mold that will produce the lowest cost of the product for the speci®ed production requirements.2083 1.2510 1. uses equivalent Rockwell ``C'' values to give a better comparison with the hardness of tool steels. but cost alone must never be the reason to select any steel.7225 1. In some cases.2 are intended to give the designer an overview of some common mold materials. is not a good practice and should be done only in exceptional cases. The above chart. Mold Materials. We stated earlier that material constitutes a substantial portion of the mold cost. and may vary somewhat from one manufacturer to another. in general. a steel may be Table 9. The data are approximate.2379 1. By studying the various steels. (12) Cost. Tables 9.104 Machining.2344 1.2735 1. Chapter 16. it can be seen that all steels have only a few of the characteristics required for a certain purpose. it may permit a ``quick ®x'' to keep a mold running until it can be properly repaired. 4140 P20 420SS P5 P6 O1 H13 A2 D2 420SS M2 BeCu 1. that is. it may be important to be able to repair a worn mold part by welding.2330 1.

E. . P.2 Item 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Comparison of the Properties of Different Mold Materials Wear Toughness Compressive Hot Corrosion Thermal Hobbability Machinability Polishability Nitriding Weldability Resistance Strength Hardness Resistance Conductivity ability F F F VG VG VG G E E G E F VG E E G VG F VG F F G P P F F F G G E VG E VG G E P F F F G G G VG VG VG VG E F P F G F F P F F F VG F G G G F F F G F F F F F E P P P E VG G G F F F F E G G F E E VG E VG F VG F E G VG E VG VG VG VG VG G E G E F G VG VG VG F E VG E VG E N/A F F F E VG F G F P G F VG Note. very good. poor.Table 9. G. F. good. fair.1. excellent. VG. Item numbers 1±12 refer to the material types in Table 9.

At the beginning of the ``plastics revolution. the surface of such mild steels canÐafter machining to their shapeÐbe provided with a carbon-rich skin by the process of ``carburizing. but also very brittle and dif®cult to produce mold parts. by heating to a high-temperature. and very stable steels that do not move in the hardening process. with lower carbon content (usually in the range of 0. However. the steel often distorts and even grows slightly.'' most molds were made from these mild steels. for about 24 to 48 hours. the designer will always have to ®nd the most suitable compromise when selecting a steel for a mold part. Mold Materials. cannot be hardened.3 Heat Treatment We will not go into details of the metallurgy and the behavior of steels during heat treatment and the various hardening methods. The art in using these steels is to foresee such changes and to allow enough material for grinding after heat treatment to arrive at the ®nal . and Heat Treatment very tough but not be very hard or it may not readily accept nitriding. ease of machining.5 mm (0. The advantage of these steels is their relatively low cost. to use these relatively inexpensive steels for mold parts that need good hardness.3%).060 inch). subjecting the work piece at high heat.'' that is. The work piece can then be hardened like through-hardening tool steels. quenching in water or oil. This causes the surface to absorb carbon to a depth of usually between 0.35% can be hardened. Basically. New steels are constantly being developed by steel manufacturers. In general. So-called mild steels. for general mold making and for new applications. with better properties than before. and special alloys were designed to provide better polishability. and wear.1±0. and then tempering (reheating to a lower temperature than before quenching) and ®nally cooling in air. Some very expensive steels are occasionally used in molds: tungsten carbides are very hard and three times as stiff as steel. 9. and ``maraging'' steels are tough. to a carbon-rich atmosphere.5 and 1. hard. and availability. only steels with a carbon content of at least 0.020 and 0. high pressure. The disadvantages are the costs for carburizing and the subsequent heat treatment: during carburizing. Therefore. the steel structure of certain steels can be changed by heating and subsequent chilling of the work piece to increase the hardness of the steel from a hardness (usually soft) suitable for machining to the hardness that will provide good working life of the steel under repeated exposure to heat. to keep pace with the development of new plastics and with new methods of use in mold making.106 Machining.

which are supplied from the steel mills and the supply houses at a hardness of about Rc 30±33. it may still be necessary to grind or otherwise machine the work piece to the ®nal shape before polishing. before (3) ®nish machining to the desired close dimensions. and in such areas the surface hardness is then as soft as the base steel. larger mold stack parts are made mostly from prehardened mold steels.9. the danger is that too much grinding allowance can make the hardened skin disappear during grinding. mild mold steels have been used less and less. costs can be reduced. After hardening. For these reasons. Since the carbon content diminishes with its depth. . adding time and cost to the heat treatment. this may make it economical to provide in-house heat treatment. thus requiring shipping of the parts to and from them. with the development of better machining methods and more rugged machine tools. This allows the ®nish machining of most parts without the need for any heat treatment after machining. for larger mold makers.'' and the amount of grinding to size will not affect the surface hardness. which is dependent on the time required for carburizing. (2) the piece should then be stress relieved. Smaller mold stack parts are also often made from prehardened blanks. Heat treatment is usually done by specialists. which may cause stresses within the steel to distort the work piece. Note that very large mold parts may require three steps for ®nishing: (1) premachining to remove the bulk of the outside and any large openings or cutouts. for high production molds. By standardizing a small number of different mold steels requiring hardening.3 Heat Treatment 107 mold dimensions. from through-hardened mold or tool steels. or. Tool and mold steels are ``through-hardened. over the years. Today.

cavities. many calculations can be performed rapidly and accurately. A constant factor may be used for the product. Once completed in principle. The designer will now go through the motions as explained earlier. the designer usually starts by redrawing the customer's information. etc. cooling. and so on. cam motions. various programs can be used to check selected areas (plates. If a good precedent is found. as explained earlier in this book.'' or searching the ®les for a suitable precedent. by using special programs. and newly created mold designs can be easily checked for ef®ciency of plastics ¯ow. but originating from a different system than the one used by the designer. strength of materials. which may have been submitted as hard copy (prints) or electronically. Because there are so many design programs. runner sizes.108 Appendix 1 CAD/CAM (ComputerAssisted Design±ComputerAssisted Manufacturing) As stated before. Also. especially if there are many precedents accessible to the designer to be used for new designs and if there is a large collection of standards that can be accessed from computer memories without the need for tediously drawing and redrawing. Once the to be molded part (the product) is drawn and dimensioned to the designer's shop rules. but about the logic and reasons behind a successful mold design and the questions the designer must consider and answer at every step of the design process. a program will be used to add the mold shrinkage to established rules. and so on. Note that all results from using these programs depend on the accuracy of the data . the cooling layout. gate location and sizes.) for physical strength and to check with other programs the expected ef®ciency of ®lling the mold cavities. this book is not about the actual technique of designing (delineating) molds. either designing ``from scratch. or different shrinkages may be applicable. from simple parts to complicated subassemblies. Computers now play an important part in this process. it can now be merged with the new product drawing and the mold can be designed.

Unigraphics Solutions 2550 Matheson Blvd. Autodesk Canada Inc. Mississauga. Markham. (mold¯ow.. which are often developed in-house.. all ¯uids) PO 1172. WA 98682 888-754-8628 MOLDFLOW. Waltham. Parametric Technologies Co. MA 02421.. times. 128 Technology Dr. USA 610-458-3660 . Once the mold drawings are ®nished. they are transferred to the manufacturing group. Lexington. Suite B-4. USA 781-674-0085 FEMAP Enterprise (¯uid ¯ow. Exton. such as reasonable assumptions as to temperatures. and the input of experienced machinist/programmers. (mold ¯ow. PA 19341. cooling. (mostly for PCs) 90 Allstate Parkway. Vancouver. MA 02453. Canada L3R 6H3 905-946-0928 Unigraphics. ON.. Suite 201. Canada L4W 4Z1 905-212-4500 Proengineer. St. ON. The following is a list of better known and widely used CAD and CAM programs.CAD/CAM (Computer-Assisted Design±Computer-Assisted Manufacturing) 109 provided. USA 781-398-5000 Fluid Flow Programs CADMOULD. cooling) 91 Hartwell Ave. and so on. the manufacturing group will determine the best tools to use for the selected machine tools and the appropriate tool paths for each mold part for each tool and for each machine tool. pressures. compatible CAM programs. By using related. Mold¯ow Corp. shrinking and warpage) 10914 N 39th. Simcon Inc. CAD/CAM Programs Autocad.

Toronto. Oakville.. ON. PA 15288. Suite 11. USA 412-967-2700 . Canada L6M 3E3 905-465-1733 (partner for Fluid Dynamics International. Canada M9W 5X9 416-674-2144 AL GOR 150 Beta Dr. 400 Carlingview Dr.110 CAD/CAM (Computer-Assisted Design±Computer-Assisted Manufacturing) FIDAP. ON. SPRC (¯uid ¯ow) 1155 North Service Rd. Pittsburg.. 708-491-0200) Mechanical Stresses ANSIS Mechanical Dynamics Ltd.

features amorphous plastics angle pins appearance assembly drawing assembly drawings assumptions automatic molding auxiliary actuators auxiliary controls availability backing up backup balanced cavity balanced runners ballooning bending beryllium-copper beverage crates Bill of Materials blades blow downs blower bosses breakers bushings CAD CAM carburizing cavity .space 111 Links 14 58 97 39 39 27 36 23 23 39 27 80 26 52 58 2 2 109 25 79 37 76 52 55 54 64 81 75 70 48 45 21 39 40 66 41 27 2 109 106 11 54 11 9 57 87 40 87 37 37 64 73 64 45 80 101 81 45 109 97 16 38 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation. .construction .shape .package accuracy adaptor ring air assist air ejection air-operated actuators alignment .Index Index Terms 2-plate molds 3-plate molds accessories accumulator .

.lines layout .circuit .spacing .cooling .construction .backing plate .water supply copper alloys core .Index Terms .lines .walls center gated chase chrome plated circuit breakers clamp stroke clamping force CNC cold and hot runner molds cold runner collapsible cores color changes composite cavities composite cones compressibility compression compressive strength computer conductivity containers contamination continuous vents coolant connections cooling .shift corrosion resistance cost-effective counter bore cross hatching crystalline plastics cup-shaped product cycle times deep hole drilling deep-draw containers deflection degrade Links 59 16 58 42 103 42 37 13 98 41 14 64 51 57 55 55 26 75 102 5 70 83 40 67 72 18 68 72 71 80 41 103 11 87 56 87 56 103 42 45 81 26 48 34 100 37 75 63 112 79 44 55 15 99 60 38 16 37 56 57 63 59 19 108 58 79 19 103 80 69 55 90 64 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.channels .

review . .angles drawings drinking cups drooling economics EDM ejection ejector pins ejector plate return ejector stroke electric power electrical discharge machining (EDM) electroforming electroless nickel electronic drafting estimator Euro experimental molds experimental setup expertise family molds fatigue Filtered air Fitting Flash Flashing Floating mounting Floating platen Flow capacity forces gate .rules detail drawings diamond paste die casting dowels draft .retainer plate .size grain structure grinding allowance guide pins gun drilling handling the mold hardness Links 6 73 9 45 100 3 72 37 49 46 83 59 3 99 22 45 68 37 41 99 101 43 5 92 36 102 34 93 79 68 40 2 13 74 56 78 20 75 14 64 85 63 78 107 85 100 31 76 113 80 98 75 68 67 77 78 97 75 76 74 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.Index Terms design .location .

controllers .barrier .expansion .losses . .manifold housings hydraulic supply in-house testing injection blow molding injection molding machine injection pressure injection speed injection unit insulated runner insulated runner molds interface points internal threads jig grinding L/t ratio laminar land lapping large production latches leader pins leaking learning experience legal implications locating ring low-cost mold lubrication machine ejector machine nozzle machine platen layout Links 76 69 89 41 88 63 59 97 41 83 100 48 52 72 103 38 41 63 83 40 2 22 7 13 55 38 78 62 62 80 50 99 65 19 16 100 78 79 27 74 94 47 35 44 77 36 14 79 97 114 64 106 59 103 77 107 63 59 79 64 87 15 59 39 17 74 37 75 39 66 45 97 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.treatment heaters high shrinking plastics hobbing holes horn pins hose connections hot hardness hot runner .Index Terms hardware heat .loss .molds .

plates .clamps .heaters maximum clamp force melt .drawings .shoes .materials .hardware .price .supply houses molding cycle molecular build-up mounting plate moving cavity moving platens multicavity molds multilevel multiple gates nameplate nickel plated nitriding notches notes on drawings nozzle radius number of cavities number of gates number of screws open gates overcaps parallel parting line path of least resistance Links 35 43 97 45 59 41 17 38 66 17 103 9 36 4 1 45 45 1 69 36 74 92 25 42 43 97 38 101 83 85 78 11 78 56 17 103 103 77 47 36 10 37 73 59 58 20 12 21 115 103 64 64 25 59 92 95 74 80 95 44 102 70 97 30 31 71 84 51 66 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.cost .release agents .Index Terms machine specifications machinery steel machining machinists manifold . .designers .Flow .maker .temperature .temperatures mold .steels .mounting .

systems Links 83 18 63 38 64 22 68 68 80 35 76 100 100 3 41 41 2 11 107 29 79 74 39 16 33 95 34 18 15 48 28 106 36 92 83 93 58 34 25 51 65 50 95 23 52 14 80 56 116 78 97 103 93 108 49 91 52 55 73 63 75 37 37 87 42 78 68 69 84 60 60 66 75 63 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation. .Index Terms plain bottom plastic fronts plastic inventory plasticizing capacity plastics Flow plate cooling plate deflection plate thickness plate supports platen size plates polishing polishing stone postmolding operations power consumption power failure precedents preferred number prehardened mold steels preload press fits pressure air pressure drop product design product drawing production productivity projected area projections protection of the cores quenching quick mold change quotation reentrant bottom records regrinding requirements residence time retractable core reversed Flow ribs risk factor robots rollers runner .mold .

extension stack .layout .molds stainless steels standard hardware standard mold components standard mold shoes standardizing Links 77 25 58 45 68 57 47 20 49 38 37 11 70 36 3 52 13 48 46 56 78 21 94 5 21 21 56 50 49 4 93 36 49 13 90 67 78 14 35 79 42 48 78 43 2 95 43 107 94 117 72 58 80 78 26 78 13 55 108 37 90 48 49 48 45 103 67 97 107 52 64 59 55 71 80 103 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.bushing .Index Terms safety factor safety gate screw caps screws self-cleaning self-degating sequence of operation serial shallow engraving shot capacity shot size shrinkage shrinking shut height side cores side forces side wall significant cross section single-cavity molds single-level sink marks sketches sketching sleeves slender core pins slender cores slots snap specialists specialization SPI split cavities split molds splits spot vents springs sprue . .

.grooves .Index Terms standards start-up stationary platen steel sizes steels strength of material stress relieved stripper plate stripper rings stripping stroke support pillars surface definition surface finish symmetry taper lock taper pins tapers technical products tensile strength tension test machines test report thermal conductivity thermocouples thin-wall molding thin-walled tie bar .gap .clearances title block tolerances torsion toughness T-slots turbulent two-stage ejection undercuts universal mold shoes unscrewing valved gates variable shrinkage vent .pins venting vertical split Links 108 72 78 34 74 76 107 23 23 50 78 68 17 77 10 27 27 74 87 102 75 2 2 103 42 77 56 79 35 81 2 75 76 84 19 51 49 44 50 59 26 65 66 66 66 67 18 48 118 101 87 68 74 75 87 84 18 64 29 31 30 82 71 27 103 71 50 75 33 34 95 65 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.channels .

.Index Terms views virgin plastics viscosity wall thickness wear wedge .action weld lines welding wet area wire EDM yield strength Links 46 60 16 17 30 30 75 66 104 72 99 77 80 17 75 74 77 76 103 119 This page has been reformatted by Knovel to provide easier navigation.

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