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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 6 Ways to Achieve Undercut Success in Molded Parts

Resources>>ManufacturingDesignTips>>201612

6WaystoAchieveUndercut
SuccessinMoldedParts
Ifyourpartdesignrequiresundercuts,
considersideactioncams,bumpoffs,
inserts,andothercomplexinjection
moldingtechniques.


Undercutsarethosefeaturesinaninjectionmoldedpartthatpreventits
ejectionfromthemold.Withstraightpullmoldssuchastheonesusedby
ProtoLabs,theseareanyprotrusions,holes,cavities,orrecessedareasin
thepartwherealignmentisnotperpendiculartothemoldspartingline.


Someexamplesincludethethreadsonaninjectionmoldedfastener,the
holerunningdownthelengthofaplastichosebarb,theslotforthepower
switchinthesideofasmartphonecase,anangledbossontheexteriorof
ahydraulicmanifold,andthelockingtabsonthebaseofataillightlens.


Therearemany
moresuch
parts,allof
whichrequirea
littlemolding
legerdemain
orminorpart
design
modifications
Theleftimageillustratesaclipwithundercutfeature.Ontheright
to image,anaccessholebeneaththeundercutallowsthemoldto
accommodate. protrudethroughthepartandprovidetheneededlatch
Thismonths shutoffgeometry.
designtip
coversthesetechniques:

Partinglines
Sideactions
Bumpoffs
Handloadedinserts
Partdesignandsecondaryoperations

1.Partinglines
Sometimesthe
easiestwayto
dealwithan
undercutisto
movethemolds
partinglineto
intersectit.
Needasquare
orround
standoffasa
locatingor
lockingfeature
onamotor
housing?
Becauseofthe
draftonthe
Thetopimageshowsthepartinglinecreatinganundercut.
outsideofthe
Thebottomimageshiftsthepartinglineinordertoavoida
part,youmight challengingundercutfeature.
beabletomove
thepartinglineandadjustthedraftanglestointersectthesestandoffs.In
somecases,multiplefeaturescanbedealtwithinthismanner,by
zigzaggingthepartinglinetointersecteachfeature.However,mold
orientationandpartinglineplacementisalsodictatedbypartgeometry,
materialflow,andahostofotherfactors,sobepreparedforPlanB

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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 6 Ways to Achieve Undercut Success in Molded Parts
perpendicularsideactions.


2.Sideactions
Consideratubularshapedpart,asinthehosebarbexample.Thisisa
greatcaseforaperpendicularsideaction,whichcanbeusedtoformthe
holerunninglengthwiseintheseandsimilarpartssuchascontrolknobs
andscrewdriverhandles.Here,themoldhalvesaresplithorizontallyalong
thelongaxisofthepart.Whenthemoldingcyclebegins,themoldcloses
andthesideactionslidesonanangledpinatthesameratesotheyare
seatedshutattheexactsametime.Moltenplasticisshotintothemold,
andheldforashorttimetocool.Asthemoldopens,thesideactionagain
slidesontheangledpinatthesamerateuntilthesideactionisretracted
farenoughfortheundercuttobefreefromthepartwhenitisejected.


Sideactionsare
limitedto8.419
in.(213.84mm)
wideby2.377
in.(60.38mm)
high,andthe
maximumtravel
cannotexceed
2.900in.
(73.66mm).
Thesearethe
requirementsfor
thesideactions
tobe
automated,but
alternativesto
these
dimensionsmay
bepossible
usinga
combinationof
sideactionand
pickoutthatwill
bediscussed
later.Proto Inordertomoldatesttubeusingjustacoreandcavity(top),the
Labshas moldmightrequireadditionaldraftandwallthicknesstopermitit
producedmany tobemilledandtoallowforejection.Ontheotherhand,ifyou
moldswith laythetesttubedown,placingthepartinglinedownthelength
multipleside ofthetesttube(bottom),andformtheinsidecoreofthetubewith
asideaction,youcanejectthepartonitssideandreducethe
actionssoyou requireddraft.
arenotlimited
toonlyoneper
mold,butlikealways,partsize,complexity,andmulticavitymoldsmay
limitthenumberofsideactionsandsizeofsideaction.Thecosts
associatedwithusingsideactionsmayincreaseyourtooling,butareeasily
justifiableinordertoreceivethefeaturesyourequireinyourparts.


Itsalsoimportanttonotethatsideactionsworkbestwithrigidmaterials
likenylon,polycarbonate,acetal,andsoon,especiallyforverydeep
features.Rubbery,flexiblematerialsarenotthebestbet,astheymight
sticktothecylinderuponretractionandinadvertentlygetyankedoutofthe
cavity.Forthesematerials,abumpoffmightbebest.

3.Bumpoffs
Bumpoffsareaneasywaytomoldlenscovers,containercaps,andsimilar
partswithfunctionsthatcallforthemtosnapintoplace.Ratherthanusea
sideactioncam,aninsertismachinedsotheundercutcanbeappliedand
isboltedintothemoldwhereapocketmatchestheinsertdimensions.
Duringejection,werelyontheplasticmaterialtocompressreleasingthe
materialfromtheundercut.


Thebumpoffshouldbesmoothandwellradiused,haveanottooradical
shape,andthematerialflexibleenoughthatitcanslippastthebump
withouttearing.Lowdensitypolyethylene(LDPE)isanexcellentchoice,as
arethermoplasticelastomer(TPE)andthermoplasticpolyurethane(TPU).


Anotherconsiderationwhenlookingatabumpoffwouldbepartejection.
Youneedtohaveadequatepartejectionsothepartsarenotdamagedby
theejectorsystempokingthroughorintothepartssurface.Youmaybe

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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 6 Ways to Achieve Undercut Success in Molded Parts
requiredtoaddanejectorplatetothemolddesignsothatwehave
additionalmoldsurfaceareatoejectfrom.


Aslongaswereonthesubjectofflexiblematerialsandbumpoffs,dont
forgetaboutliquidsiliconerubber(LSR)molding,athermosetprocess
similartoplasticinjectionmolding.Itisespeciallywellsuitedtoseals,
gaskets,andotherpartsrequiringhighflexibility,andoffersfewer
constraintsonundercutsandcomplexpartgeometriesthandoesplastic
injectionmolding.


4.HandloadedInserts
Howaboutasnaptogetherplasticcaseforamedicaldevice,saya
handheldmeterfordiabeticbloodanalysis?Itsaboutthesizeofadeckof
cards,andsplitintotwoequalhalves.Thebottomhalfcontainsalipthat
runsalongtheinnerperimeterformountingacircuitboardandother
electronics.Thelipistootallandsharpforabumpoff,andthepartingline
cannotbeadjustedduetoaseriesofholesalongtheoutsideofthecase.
Whattodo?


Inthisinstance,moldinsertsmightbejusttheticket.Amachinedpieceof
metalorinthiscase,multiplepiecesarehandloadedintothemold
cavity,thuspreventingplasticfromflowingintotheseareas.Oncethe
moldingcycleiscomplete,theinsertsareejectedalongwiththepart,
whereuponanoperatorpicksthemoutforreuseonthenextpart.


Thismanualinterventiondoesincreasecycletimeslightly,unlikeside
actionsthatcanstillrunonautomatic.Forprototypesandlowvolume
productionparts,however,handloadedinsertsareagoodalternativeto
liftersorcollapsiblecores.Becausetheoperatorishandlingtheinsertand
partsthatareathightemperatures,theyarerequiredtowearprotective
glovesthatcanimpactthesizeoftheinsert.Theinsertsshouldnotbe
smallenoughthattheyaredifficulttohandle,generally0.500in.square
andlargerareacceptableaslongastheydontexceedtheapproximate
sizeofadeckofcards.Thelargertheinsert,theheavierthepartmaybe
wheretheoperatorneedstoreachoutwardtwotimesacycleandthiscan
addadditionalstrainontheoperator.


5.TelescopingShutoffs
Theplasticcasementionedabovebringsupanothercommonmolding
technique.Telescopingshutoffs(akaslidingshutoffs)areoftenusedto
createclipandhookstylemechanisms.Thesearecommonlyusedfor
lockingtogetherthetwohalvesofamoldedproduct,andinmanycases
caneliminatetheneedforsideactions,inserts,andbumpoffsthatadd
morecomplexitytoamold.Thetelescopeismachinedintoonehalfof
themoldandextendsintotheoppositesideduringmoldoperation,
shuttingoffcertainpartfeatures.


Shutoffsofferanelegantwaytosimplifymolddesignandreduceproduct
costs.Justbesurethepartandmoldhavesufficientdraftaddaminimum
of3degreesfromvertical,ifpossibleorelsemetalonmetalrubbing
mightoccur,creatingflashorprematuretooldamage.


6.PartDesignandSecondaryOperations
WhenyouuploadyourCADmodeltoprotolabs.com,youllreceiveafree
designformanufacturability(DFM)analysisofyourmoldedpartdesign.
Undercutareaswillbeclearlydefined,alongwithothermoldability
concerns.Partsshouldhavesufficientdraftanglestoassureeasypart
ejectionfromthemold.Wallthicknessesshouldbeuniformandcomply
withtheresinmanufacturersmin./max.thicknessrecommendations.Ribs
shouldbeusedtosupportlargeflatareas.Internalcornersshouldbe
radiused,thicksectioncoredouttopreventsink,andfinefinishesused
onlywhereneeded.


Afewfinalundercuttips:

Beawareoftheimpactthatundercutsmighthaveonupfrontmold
investmentandlongtermproductcosts.Itsnotalwayspossibleto
eliminatethem,butourapplicationengineerswillhavesomeideason
howtominimizetheirimpact.
Itsalsoimportanttodiscusslongtermproductplans,soastodesign
themostefficientmoldforyourapplication.
Dontdiscountsecondaryoperations.Usingadrillpressormilling

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2/16/2017 Design Tip: 6 Ways to Achieve Undercut Success in Molded Parts
machinetoputaholeinamoldedpartissometimesmorecost
effectivethandesignacomplexpartinneedofadoeverythingmold,
especiallyduringtheprototypingandlowvolumeproductionphases
ofyourproject.

Learnmoreaboutcomplexinjectionmoldingtechniquesforundercutswith
ourwhitepaper:DesigningforMoldability.


Asalways,feelfreetocontactuswithanyquestions,at877.479.3680or
customerservice@protolabs.com.Togetdesignfeedbackonyourpart
today,simplyuploada3DCADmodelatprotolabs.comforaninteractive
quotewithinhours.

https://www.protolabs.com/resources/designtips/unitedstates/201612/ 4/4

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