A Look At Aluminum Vs. Steel For Injection Molding Tooling

Aluminim Vs. Steel Injection Molding

Injection molding is one of the most efficient ways to produce components quickly and at a reasonable cost. One factor that influences cost, as well as the number of components that can be produced, is the material used for the injection mold itself. Injection molds are used over and over again to replicate the design of the product without error hundreds or thousands and even hundreds of thousands of times.

Due to this rigorous use, the molds must be strong enough to stand up to repeated use and the high temperatures of melted plastic. For that reason, injection molding manufacturers rely on metal tooling, most often steel or aluminum. Customers are sometimes surprised to learn that aluminum tooling is even an option for their injection molding project; for decades, steel was the preferred choice. Both metals are suitable for tooling purposes, but which one is the better choice depends on project demands.

Advantages of Aluminum Tooling

Aluminum’s lighter weight and lower cost make it an attractive tooling option, allowing for: fast heat transfer, quick machining times, and a lower risk of product defects. The first two factors influence how quickly products can be produced, reducing cycle times when compared to steel tooling. Due to aluminum’s superb heat transferability, aluminum molds reduce the risk of deformities, warping, or defects in the finished product by allowing for more uniform heating and cooling than steel allows. Aluminum’s light-weight flexible nature makes it possible to modify and repair damaged molds much easier than it would be possible for steel molds. Aluminum is best for low-volume runs since the cost of making the mold is less expensive than steel.

Advantages of Steel Tooling

Steel is best known for its strength and durability. That’s the primary reason why it has always been such a popular choice for injection molding. The strong material can stand up to repeated use without suffering any ill effects. This gives steel an advantage in high-volume runs. Even though the upfront cost may be higher than an aluminum mold, it can be counted on to last longer without sustaining damage or warping. Steel is also a better choice for composite resins, particularly those that contain additives like glass or fibers; these materials can scratch aluminum, affecting the texture and finish of the final piece. Likewise, steel is also preferred for finely detailed molds. Since the metal is so strong, it is less prone to warping over repeated use, holding those details through even the of longest runs.

Talk To An Injection Molding Expert At Baytech Plastics Before Settling On A Metal

Choosing an injection mold metal should be done in close consultation with your injection molding manufacturer. At Baytech Plastics, we help our clients choose the best tooling material for their need based on many factors, including part design and configuration, production and finishing requirements, resin selection, and more. Before settling on a design or tooling material, talk to one of our injection molding experts. We have designers and engineers on staff who can help you work through the right material and design for your needs.

Contact Baytech Plastics at (705) 526-7801 or online to discuss your needs and learn more about our services.