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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Part Moldability with Draft

Resources>>ManufacturingDesignTips>>201601

5WaystoImprovePart
MoldabilitywithDraft
Applyproperdraftearlyandoftento
injectionmoldedpartstosave
productiontimeandmoney

Whendevelopingpartsforplasticinjectionmolding,applyingdraft(ora
taper)tothefacesofthepartiscriticaltoimprovingthemoldabilityofyour
part.Withoutit,partsruntheriskofpoorcosmeticfinishes,andmaybend,
breakorwarpduetomoldingstressescausedbytheplasticcooling.
Equallyimportant,anabsenceofdraftmaypreventpartsfromejectingfrom
themold,damagingnotonlytheparts,butpossiblythemolditselfa
costlyandtimeconsumingdetour.

Anundrafted(left)versusdrafted(right)cube.

Herearefivewaysthatdraftcanimprovepartmoldability.

1.DRAFTEARLY
Ignoringdraftearlyinthedesignprocessisacommonmistakethatoccurs
whenprototypingwith3DprintingandCNCmachiningprocesseswhere
draftisnotrequired.Duetothelayerbylayermethodinwhich3Dprinted
partsarebuilt,nearlyanydesigncanbeproducedwithlimitedconcernfor
moldability.Thesamecanbesaidformachinedpartsaspartejectionisa
purelyamoldingconsideration.

Butifaprototypedesignwilleventuallymovetoinjectionmolding,itis
befittingtodesigndraftintopartsfromtheverybeginning.Draftmayalter
theformandfitofapartduringassemblyanditsoverallaesthetic,so
designingindraft,evenwhenitsnottechnicallyneeded,canhelpyouavoid
anysurprisessuchascostlyredesignsandadditional
prototypedevelopment.

Designforthefutureneed,notthecurrentneed.Whenthepartisreadyto
movefrom3Dprintingormachiningintoinjectionmoldingwithdraftalready
integrated,designisacceleratedandproductioncanbeginsooner.Dont
printormachineyourselfintoacornerbymanufacturingaproductthat
needsmoredesignworkbeforeitcanbemolded.

2.FOLLOWTHERULES
Thetruthistheresnosingledraftanglecanbeappliedtoallpartdesigns.
Factorslikewallthickness,materialselection,ejection,shrinkrates,
finish/texture,walldepthandmanufacturingcapabilitiesallcomeintoto
play.Butfearnot,therearesomesimplerulesthatcanbefollowedthat
canhelp.

Whendesigningapart,applyasmuchdraftangleaspossibleageneral
ruleofthumbis1degreeofdraftper1inchofcavitydepth,butthatcan
changewiththeaforementionedfactors.Tryfollowingthesegeneral

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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Part Moldability with Draft
guidelines:

0.5degreesonallverticalfacesisstronglyadvised.
1to2degreesworksverywellinmostsituations.
3degreesisminimumforashutoff(metalslidingonmetal).
3degreesisrequiredforlighttexture(PMT1).
5ormoredegreesisrequiredforheavytexture(PMT2).

Whatcanbedonewhendraftmaynegativelyimpactpartperformance?
Partscanbedesignedwith0.5degreesofdraft,orevenaslittleas0.25
degrees,whichisstillanimprovementoverzerodraft.Again,thesmallest
degreeofdraftthatispossibleisdependentonmaterial,partgeometryand
manufacturerandshouldbediscussedwiththemanufacturerbefore
finalizingapartwithverylimiteddraft.

Draftanglesbasedoncavitydepthandfeaturethickness(widthof
ribbeingmachined).Whileconservativenumbersareusedtoexplain
therelationshipbetweenwallthickness,depthanddraft,usingthis
chartcandrasticallyimprovemoldability.

Manylowvolumeinjectiontoolsaremanufacturedfromaluminumanduse
CNCmachiningtomillnearlyallofthefeaturesinthecoreandcavitiesof
themold.Withfewermanufacturedpartsandinsertsthanasteelproduction
mold,additionaldraftandwallthicknessmayberequiredtoproducethe
samepartswithanaluminummoldduetothediameter,lengthanddraftof
theendmillsthatareusedtocreatethem.Theincreaseindraftand
thicknesstypicallywontaffecttheparts,anditmayactuallyimprovethe
performanceofeventualproductionmold.

Anundraftedwallwithpropertoolclearance(left),
undraftedtallwallwithoutpropertoolclearance(middle)
versusadraftedwallthatprovidesadequateclearancefor
theendmill(right).

3.FACTORINSURFACEFINISH
Howdoesdraftaffectpartsfinish?Simplyput,withalackofmolddraft,the
partwoulddragonthemoldedsurfacewhilethemoldopensandejectsthe
parts,creatingsurfacefinishscratches.Sinceallthermoplasticsshrinkwhile
theycoolinthemold,amassiveamountofsurfacetensioniscreated,
preventingthepartfromreleasingcleanlyduringejection.Thistension
createssmallscratchesinthepolishedsurface,anditsevenworsefor
texturedsurfacesifdraftismissing.

Textureisappliedmanydifferentways,buttheyallcreatemicroundercuts
frompittingthemoldsurface.Thetextureonthemoldwallswouldlockthe
partintoplace,ifitwerentforouroldfriend,draft.Byapplyingadegreeof
draft,thepartisallowedtomoveashortdistancebeforethemoldshrinkis
abletoclearthemicroundercuts,andultimatelytheconcernofmolddrag
orscratchesonthepartisminimized.Onfinishes,ProtoLabsrequiresa
minimumof3degreesofdraftforalightbeadblastfinish(PMT1)and5
degreesofdraftforamediumbeadblastfinish(PMT2).

ProtoLabscanapplysevendifferentfinishestothermoplasticmoldsthat
rangefromunfinishedtohighlypolishedandeventexturedsurfaces.

https://www.protolabs.com/resources/designtips/unitedstates/201601/ 2/4
2/16/2017 Design Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Part Moldability with Draft

AvailablesurfacefinishesatProtoLabs.

4.IMPLEMENTACORECAVITYAPPROACH
Addingdrafttoanenclosurecancreateissuesifitisntappliedcorrectly.
Whenapplyingdrafttotheinsideandoutsidewalls,designthesewalls
paralleltoeachothertoavoiddeepribsinthemoldthatmakeventing,
ejection,moldfinishingandmanufacturingmoredifficult.Consideracore
cavityapproachtodesignasthisopensupthemoldcavityandcorefor
polishing,acceleratesmanufacturingspeedand,ingeneral,bringsadded
easeduringthemoldingprocess.

Thedeepribapproach(left)showsaboxdesignedwith
wallsasrubs,resultinginhigheracosttomachineand
polishthemoldcavity.Withthecorecavityapproach
(right),theboxallowsfeaturestobemilledwithabigger,
fastercutter,andiseasierandfastertopolish.Thissaves
customerstimeandmoney.

5.LEVERAGE(FREE)DFMANALYSIS
OneofthemostvaluabletoolsavailableatProtoLabsisourfreedesignfor
manufacturability(DFM)analysisthatisprovidedonevery3DCADmodel
thatisuploadedtooursite.Withinafewhours,youllreceiveaquotethat
highlightsdetailedsectionsofthemodelinneedofdraftangles,andeven
offerssuggestedchangestoimprovethedraftonthosesections.Itsagood
qualitycontrolchecktohelpavoidfuturemoldabilityissues.

Chevronarrowsindicatethedirectionandsurfacesthatneeddraft
appliedtothem.Thedegreeofdraftisexplainedontheleftsideof
theimagewhiletheredlinesandblueandgreenhighlightsindicate
themoldpartinglineandmoldsides.

Uploada3DCADforacompleteanalysisatprotolabs.com.Forquestions
ondraftandtechnicalconcerns,pleasecontactoneofourknowledgeable
customerserviceengineersatcustomerservice@protolabs.com

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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Part Moldability with Draft
or877.479.3680.

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