Author: Julie Hillis

How Products are made: CNC Machine Tool

How Products are made: CNC Machine Tool

We use CNC Machines a lot here at Quality Mold Shop. Read over this article to see what they are for and how they came to be!

CNC or “computer numerical controlled” machines are sophisticated metalworking tools that can create complicated parts required by modern technology. Growing rapidly with the advances in computers, CNCs can be found performing work as lathes, milling machines, laser cutters, abrasive jet cutters, punch presses, press brakes, and other industrial tools.
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How are automotive plastics manufactured?

How are automotive plastics manufactured?

Would you drive a car made out of plastic?Well, there’s a good chance you already do; that is, if you drive at all. That’s because today’s cars are an average of about 300 pounds, or approximately 8 percent, of plastic by weight

Versatile plastics inspire countless innovations that help make life better, healthier and safer every day. For example, plastics make possible bicycle helmets and child safety seats. They’re in the airbags that protect us and the cell phones that connect us. And plastics help keep the foods we eat and serve our families safer and fresher than ever before.
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Designing for Manufacturing: Accuracy, Precision and Tolerance

Designing for Manufacturing: Accuracy, Precision and Tolerance

With design projects and CAD programming now the default apparatuses for drawing product ideas, there is the threat of trusting that anything that can be designed can simply be made. Nonetheless, while exchanging a drawing from the ideal universe of the PC to the practical universe of the machine shop, certain fundamental contemplations apply that ought to give the designer pause. Knowing how to design an item for fabrication requires the comprehension of three key ideas: Accuracy, Precision and Tolerance.


Level of adjustment to a known standard or esteem.

The standard for physical measurements is the meter, and its esteem is a widespread one in light of the separation that a light emission goes in a specific settled timeframe. Along these lines, precision is how much an estimation or development in space fits in with this known standard or one of its subordinates (regularly the millimeter or micron for metric estimations.)

In this way, when a machine apparatus is touted as being exceptionally precise, it implies that when the software engineer educates the machine to cut a bit of metal 40mm long, then the machine really does that. The more precise it is, the nearer it gets to precisely 40mm, with no blunder. There are numerous different variables required in getting precisely the 40mm cut that you’re searching for, yet simply recollect that we begin with a known esteem and exactness portrays how shut the machine gets to that esteem.


Repeatability of an estimation without producing irregular mistakes.

Precision is the capacity of our machine instruments to rehash this 40mm cut, again and again, with no presented or irregular mistake. Exact machining, or exact workmanship, is a demonstration of controlling the procedure and not going amiss – paying little respect to whatever the estimation or process might be. This is regularly mistaken for exactness and to be sure the two terms are coolly utilized to some degree reciprocally however precision alludes more to repeatability.

In our feeling of precision, it likewise applies to the performance of the task, such as taking a cautious estimation or honing a cutter head or some other occupation in a machine shop whose performance eventually impacts the nature of the completed item.


Reasonable or unsurprising deviation from a standard.

Each designer realizes that there is no such thing as ensured 100% exactness. There is just a settled upon standard. All machine instruments will have a level of free play or vibration in them – they should, or else they would be solidified, inactive pieces. The tolerance in this way indicates the deviation far from a referred to esteem, communicated as a “+/ – ” number. Along these lines, in the event that we have a machine instrument that claims a tolerance of “+/ – 1 mm”, this implies the apparatus will possibly present a deviation of one millimeter with each cut or pass. Could be an additional millimeter, or too short by a millimeter or some portion thereof.

This would be considered to a great degree poor performance, and no respectable machine instrument is that messy. Taken together, this implies exact instruments approach the standard, exact apparatuses are dependably precise again and again, and tolerances are controlled to inside a little, satisfactory level of changeability.

How does this influence Designing for Manufacturing?

As mentioned above, modern CAD programs are capable of generating 3D renders which are highly accurate, maybe too accurate. You will need to consider the following when designing your product:

  • The accuracy and precision of the tools being used to make the product. In other words, what is the capability of the factory where your product is to be made? It’s good to know this in advance.
  • The natural movement of the raw materials (metal and plastic of different types) in response to environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) and mechanical stress.
  • Necessary allowance for movement. Draft angles are applied to parts which must be removed from a tooling mold, to make space for clearance without damaging the part. Other clearances must be allowed for pieces that have mechanical fittings: screws, axles, gears, etc.
  • Kerf is the amount of material removed in the process of cutting. The computer model may not account for this lost material but the machinist must.
  • More accurate is not necessarily better. Higher degrees of accuracy and precision require more effort, time and money for diminishing returns. Pursuing extreme accuracy in one feature of a design may compromise accuracy in another area. Many part features may need some free space to allow movement or room for thermal expansion/contraction between mating pieces of an assembly.

How Plastics Work

How Plastics Work

Ever wonder where plastics come from or how they are made? This article covers those things exactly. Find out what goes into making plastic before it can be used to make your part.

They must start with various raw materials that make up the monomers. Ethylene and propylene, for example, come from crude oil, which contains the hydrocarbons that make up the monomers. The hydrocarbon raw materials are obtained from the “cracking process” used in refining oil and natural gas.
Read how plastics are made here.

Make Your Own Injection Molding Machine

Make Your Own Injection Molding Machine

Take a look at this guy’s homemade plastic injection mold machine.

I wanted to make solid plastic parts for some of my amateur science experiments. There are a number of ways to make things out of plastic, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Often just cutting raw material to the desired shape works best. Some plastics can be cast by pouring a liquid resin with hardener into a mold
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Is 3D Printing Going to Take over Plastic Injection Molding

Is 3D Printing Going to Take over Plastic Injection Molding

Plastic injection molding has been around for more than a century. Over the years, technology has developed. Many improvements were made throughout the twentieth century that allowed molders to produce more detailed parts of a higher quality. Everything from injection molding machines to the polymers used was changed and, subsequently, parts could be better suited to their final use. A versatility was born that has largely revolutionized the uses for plastic injection molding. But in more recent years, plastic injection molding has no longer been the talk of the town for plastic part manufacturers. A lot of focus has shifted to 3D printing as a viable, affordable and versatile means of manufacturing plastic parts.

What Is 3D Printing?

With 3D printing, it’s now possible to make plastic parts almost completely from scratch. The first part of the process involves designing the part you wish to manufacture using a computer aided design. This design is usually done using 3D modeling software, or can be done using a 3D scanner. Once the 3D design is complete, plastic parts are then produced from computer file with the design. This allows for exactness in the design you make. The part is made by successively applying many thin layers of material until the part is complete. And while 3D printing is definitely a good option in some cases, plastic part manufacturers should be aware of the limitations that 3D printing still has when compared to injection molding.

Advantage Of 3D Printing

One area where 3D printing has been far superior to injection molding is when manufacturers only need a small quantity of a part. Injection molds are expensive tools, but with 3D printing, a special printer doesn’t have to be made every time a part is needed. Depending on the part that’s being produced, the point at which plastic injection molding and 3D printing breaks even will vary. Generally though, it’s safe to say that 3D printing will always be cheaper if 250-300 parts are required. The problem is that the cost per part of 3D printing will remain reasonably static, regardless of how many parts are required, while injection molding proves to be a good long-term investment. With plastic injection molding, one mold can produce more than a thousand parts. The initial investments to buy a mold will be costly, but as the mold keeps producing parts throughout its lifetime, the price per part can drop considerably. Some parts can even be manufactured for less than $2 each. If you would like to get an idea of the cheapest option in your case, there’s a quoting engines available online that are able to give you a rough estimate of where costs will break even.

Injection Molding Is Still Superior

While injection molding has only emerged in the last few centuries, the concept of molding is ancient. That’s why it might come as a surprise that a technological concept that’s so old can still be the best option in modern times. But don’t underestimate the technological advancement of the plastic injection molding industry. The concept of molding might be ancient, but the technology used to produce molds is far from primitive. Modern molds can accurately produce parts down to a fraction of a millimeter if necessary. Specialists meticulously polish molds to create smooth surfaces. Because of this, molded parts still have a smoother appearance than 3D printed ones. The other benefit of plastic injection molding is that manufacturers will have a wider range of materials to choose from. 3D printing is still developing to allow for more choice in materials. In the future there will be more materials that can effectively be used for 3D printing, but as things are now, plastic injection molding is still by far more versatile in this regard.

When to Choose 3D Printing

It’s clear that plastic injection molding is better when large quantities of a part will be made and when manufacturers need a part that will be of a higher quality. Despite this, there are still cases when 3D printing can be a good option. The technology is still developing and could become more practical for mass production in the future. Right now 3D printing is a good option if it’s the cheaper way to produce a part. Sometimes having a plastic injection mold made is unpractical, as manufacturers only want a small quantity of a certain part. However, 3D printing won’t be able to produce any part a manufacturer might wish to make. What’s clear is that 3D printing won’t be taking over injection molding in the near future. Molds still have produced more parts that are of a higher quality in less time. As mentioned, cost per part breaks even with 3D printing at only 200-350 parts, making injection molding the obvious choice for large scale industrial manufacturers. 3D printing is an exciting development in plastic part manufacturing, but it’s still got a long way to go before it can realistically compare to injection molding when manufacturing large quantities. Injection molding is still the best option in most cases. Currently 3D printing still proves not threat to the plastic injection molding industry. Without a doubt, medium to large scale manufacturers will still choose injection molding over 3D printing. The tighter tolerance and lower production cost makes it the clear choice.

Injection Molding Solutions For The Automotive Industry

Injection Molding Solutions For The Automotive Industry

If you’re in the automotive industry, you’ll know how important it is to produce high quality parts to create your final product. Automotive manufacturers require good molds to make various parts.

A part of automotive manufacturing that cannot be overlooked is the production of plastic parts. Plastic parts can be used for everything from simple buttons, to side panels that finish off doors on the inside and even bumpers. It’s remarkable how many plastic parts are needed to manufacture just a single vehicle.

As you’ll know, the standard process for manufacturing many automotive parts is through injection molding. Injection molding is meant to be a reliable process for manufacturing many identical parts within the shortest amount of time possible. The aim of those who make a mold, is to rapidly produce parts without having to compromise on the quality of the parts they produce.

Most molders are aware of the inherent limitations that slow down production and depending on the polymer and mold process that’s being used, cooling times can limit the amount of parts a single mold will reasonably be able to manufacture within a set amount of time. But even though there are obvious limitations on the capacity of your plastic injection molds, you should still be aiming to get the most out of them.

Like in any industry producing plastic parts, your injection molds are vital in order for you to keep manufacturing your product. But what distinguishes the automotive industry from many other industries is that the quality of plastic parts produced by automotive manufacturers is expected to be of a higher standard than many. Your final product is expected to last many years.

To produce high quality parts, you’ll need to use durable plastics that posses qualities that make them suitable for their various applications. You’ll also need to monitor the process and the quality of every part that’s produced carefully so that you can pick up problems as soon as they occur. But before you can start to work your magic, you need to see to it that your molds will be able to perform.

Bad Molds Make Bad Parts

No amount of expertise in molding can correct faulty parts if a mold isn’t functioning properly. In the automotive industry, the materials used for plastic parts tend to be expensive and a faulty mold can end up costing a company a lot of money.

There’s a good chance that your plastic injection molds are subjected to high temperatures and pressure levels on a daily basis. After all, that’s how they’re meant to work. But even though molds are technically meant to function under these conditions, they aren’t always able to do so.

For a mold to function as it supposed to, two things have to be done right.

Choose Your Mold Manufacturer Carefully

The first of step to getting a mold to function as it’s supposed to, is to adhere to high quality standards while manufacturing the mold. Plastic molds should be made with technical precision and care. A highly skilled team of qualified professionals is needed to do this.

There’s a reason why plastic molds still tend to be expensive pieces of equipment, molds are meticulously engineered to perform adequately under the conditions in which they operate. Many things have to be accounted for in both the design and construction of every mold. If the initial design and production of a mold isn’t next to flawless, it can easily break down before expected.

The lifetime of a single mold should warrant its cost, but unfortunately that won’t happen if the right process wasn’t implemented to manufacture the mold. It’s important that automotive manufactures know what the estimated lifetime will be of every mold they acquire. If you know how long a mold should ideally last, you can get an idea of the quality of molds produced by different mold manufactures by asking them about the estimated lifetime of the molds they specifically produce.

Stick To A Mold Maintenance Schedule

The second part of having molds that operate optimally is to see to it that they are regularly maintained according to a realistic maintenance schedule. Some mold owners work their molds until they break down, but that can harm the mold irreparably.

Because of the conditions molds have to operate in, wear and tear is a normal issue that will occur whenever injection molds are used. This can’t be avoided, and even the best mold money can buy will eventually need to be sent off for maintenance.

What mold owners should understand, is that parts produced with a mold will gradually be of a lower and lower quality. The last few parts produced before a mold breaks down are much more likely to be flawed than the ones that were made when the mold was still new. This can lead to an inconsistent quality from one part to the next, leading to an inconsistency in the quality of your product as a whole.

On the other hand, molds that are maintained properly will keep producing parts that you can rely on. The life expectancy of a well-maintained mold is also considerably higher. So much in the same way automotive manufacturers recommend a service plan for their vehicles, mold manufacturers highly recommend a maintenance schedule for their injection molds.

At Quality Mold Shop, we specialize in designing, manufacturing and maintaining molds. Precision equipment allows us to offer a wide range of solutions to customers in the automotive industry and we’re able to manufacture and maintain molds of almost any size or shape.

What makes a quality mold?

What makes a quality mold?

Tightest Tolerance And Highest Level Of Detail Make Quality Molds

Since the invention of the first plastic molds, both the synthesizing of better polymers and manufacturing of better plastic injection mold machines made plastic a much better, more versatile material that could be shaped for a broader range of uses. However, there are still factors that contribute to the ease with which plastic components can be created. One of these factors is the quality and precision of the mold itself, another is how well the mold is maintained.

Plastic Mold Making – Micro Laser Technology

With micro laser technology, many mold makers are now able to create, repair and maintain molds to with more attention to detail than ever before. This is especially useful for the production and maintenance of molds that have small detailing.

QMS_BladeImageLongThe results that mold makers are able to attain using micro lasers can be accurate to 0.025 of an inch. This means that mold makers who use micro lasers will often be able to both repair and create molds that are much more accurate than those without a micro laser.

The use of a micro laser also makes repairing slots, contours, and angles easier, and makes it possible to repair thin walls of a mold without warping them even slightly. In addition, micro laser technology can be used for mold components that are from various alloys, such as steel, aluminum, copper and titanium.

Because of the exactness of the work that can be performed using a micro laser, mold makers who own such a machine can occasionally repair molds that other mold makers have been unable to. When choosing a company to work with for creating and maintaining your molds, you should look to choose a company that gives you the most benefits and can repair even the finest details on your molds. By working with a company that owns a micro laser machine, you can be certain that your mold is in good hands.

Buying A Mold

When buying, the quality and precision of a mold is definitely the biggest factor to consider and shouldn’t be overlooked. While even the best plastic molds need to be maintained properly, maintenance won’t improve molds that weren’t properly designed and made with the necessary precision to start with.

For this reason, buyers need to consider the quality of a mold before purchasing it. Important factors include the quality of the materials used to make the mold and the precision with which the mold itself was made. Precision is especially important for plastic molders needing more than one mold for producing a single plastic part so that all of their molds will produce identical parts.

In most cases, plastic molds are designed and made according to the specific needs of every buyer. Many buyers are interested in producing plastic components with a high level of detailing, and while exact design isn’t always equally crucial, it’s better to know how precise the mold manufacturer is able to detail molds. Better molds always make for better parts.

Why You Should Choose Your Mold Manufacturer Wisely

When you buy a new mold from a manufacturer, your business relationship with that company has only begun. In the future, you will most probably still be working with that same company whenever a mold breaks down and has to be sent for repairs.

But for the best results, plastic molds need to be maintained properly to prevent damages that could ruin them entirely and some manufacturers will assist their clients by keeping track of molds and their due maintenance dates. This is especially useful for plastic molders so that they’re able to know exactly when a certain mold won’t be operating rather than to wait till it breaks down, in which case a mold might be gone for weeks without any prior notice – a very harmful scenario to any plastic molder’s production of a certain part.

It should be noted that plastic molds are very expensive pieces of equipment and they should be properly taken care of to prolong their longevity. No manufacturer of plastic components likes to find out that a mold is irreparable. To a company that produces plastic goods, optimally functioning plastic injection molds are the most indispensable part of creating their molded product.

And despite the fact that most mold owners send molds to the manufacturer for repairs and maintenance, many mold manufacturers are completely able to help plastic molders fix broken molds even if it wasn’t made by that specific mold manufacturer. And advanced technologies might even enable certain mold manufacturers to repair molds that the original manufacturer wouldn’t have been able to.

Ultimately, choosing to work with an injection mold manufacturer that’s better equipped can save you money, as they might be able to fix a mold that otherwise would’ve needed to be entirely replaced.

But of course, it takes more than advances machinery to deliver good results. Professionals who are dedicated to doing good work that yields the desired results can make or break the quality a repair on a mold.

At Quality Mold Shop, we’ve been building, maintaining and repairing plastic molds for many years. Our team of engineers and tool makers are highly qualified professionals, insuring that every mold we make and repair live up to our customer’s expectations.

Plastic Injection Mold Making

The History of Plastic Injection Mold Making

The manufacturing process of plastic goods has come a long way since the first plastics were synthesized during the industrial revolution. One vitally important part of the process, the production of accurate molds to shape plastics into almost any thinkable form, has also developed and changed considerably.

The Development of Plastic

The word plastic is derived from the Greek word plastikos, which means both “able to be molded” and “pertaining to molding”. Hence, the word was in use long before plastic, as the synthesized material known today, was around. The very word we use to refer to plastic, points back to how capable it is of being molded into various shapes.


Charles Goodyear’s discovery of the vulcanization to process rubber, greatly helped to further the development of plastics as we know them today. So much so that, four years before Goodyear’s death in 1860, Alexander Parkes had already developed what is considered to be the first man-made plastic, Parkesine. Parkes patented this discovery in 1862.

Parkesine was easy to mold, but unfortunately the material was also highly flammable and expensive to produce.

This discovery – that later developed significantly, and that still continues to develop today – was the first step towards the modernization of molds. Plastic soon became one of the most versatile and easily molded materials available, able to produce an incredibly wide variety of everyday goods.

When the first plastic injection molds were made that could easily mass produce goods, there was an estimated 18,000 materials available for injection molding. Today, the amount of new polymers used for the plastic injection molding process is estimated to expand with approximately 750 new polymers yearly.

The Rise of Plastic Injection Mold Making

In 1872, American inventor, John Wesley Hyatt and his brother Isaiah, patented the first injection mold. It was a very simple machine compared to what would later follow. Working by means of a hypodermic needle and a plunger, which injected plastic through a cylinder into a mold.

Although this invention wasn’t very widely used to mass produce everyday goods, things that had previously been made with materials such as ivory, were now mass-produced by molding plastic. Billiard balls, dice and piano keys were among some the first items that could now be manufactured using this discovery.

German chemists, Arthur Eichengrün and Theodore Becker, further expanded on this discovery . In 1903 they invented the first soluble forms of cellulose acetate. The substance was later made available in a powder that was easy to mold using injection molding processes.

In 1919, Eichengrün went on to develop the first injection molding press. And in 1939 he patented the molding of plasticized cellulose acetate.

Mass Production Through Injection Molding

During World War II, demand for new technologies in various fields, like aviation and transportation, greatly increased. Plastic injection mold making was another field of technology that expanded during this time because of a high demand for inexpensive, mass-produced goods.

American inventor, James Watson Hendry, built the first injection screw machine in 1946. Materials could now be mixed thoroughly before being injected, which enabled Hendry’s invention to mix colored or recycled plastic to virgin materials. Screw injection machines are still in use today, accounting for approximately 95% of plastic injection machines used in modern manufacturing methods.

Hendry later also developed the first gas-assisted injection molding machines in the 1970s. The invention – which allowed for production of hollow, more complex items that cooled quickly – broadened the scope of plastic goods that could be manufactured through injection molding while also ensuring a process that was considerably more efficient on almost every level. Time, cost and waste were all reduced.

Modern Plastic injection mold Making

Plastic injection molds are now made using a highly advanced process, capable of producing molds accurate to a hundredth of a millimeter. This is remarkably precise, as a millimeter is only 0.254 of an inch, meaning plastic molds are now produced accurately within 0.00254 of an inch.

Molds are made from chromium steel, a high durability metal that can withstand repeated high-pressure injection of plastic. Several bars of chromium steel are assembled into a block, called a mold base, and are then mounted on a milling machine to shave the bars to the right dimension.

Strategically positioned holes are drilled in the bases for guide pins and bushings to hold together the two halves of which most molds consist. Following this step, a grinder is used to smooth all the surfaces, preparing the base for the high-precision machining operations necessary to shape it into a mold component.

A computer-guided machine, called a CNC, wears the base slowly to create the mold component’s shape. The CNC machine works at a painstakingly slow pace in order to insure precise accuracy, taking several hours, often more than twenty, to complete a single mold component.

We offer the best Innovative Technology Solutions. Injection molding works best for functional prototyping, pilot runs, bridge tooling and low-volume production of on-demand parts. More than 100 different production-grade thermoplastic, liquid silicone rubber, steel, stainless steel and magnesium materials are available. See our full tool list, we are confident we can help you meet your projects needs with ease.

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Most mold components, but especially ones with fine detailing, will then go on to a second tooling machine. The second machine, called the EDM, is outfitted with a copper electrode in the shape of the plastic part. The electrode is polished to ensure faultless casting and measured with a highly sophisticated measuring device.

On the EDM, strong electric currents are passed through the electrode to penetrate the mold formed by the CNC machine in the first part of the production process, leaving a cavity, or imprint, shaped like the electrode itself.

The surface of the cavity is polished smoothly to even out any roughness still left after the initial tooling is done.

Very specialized skills are needed to produce plastic molds and, although Plastic injection mold making still remains time-consuming and costly, when the expense is viewed in terms of what is achieved, impeccable part design combined with low-cost mass production of goods, the process is well worth the investment made.