Tooling FAQs

Structural foam molding is unique in the size, strength and versitility it provides. The range of opportunity it brings designers and engineers is just as great.

Along with the Q&As below, we’ve created a Structural Foam Molding Design Guide to help you get the most out of this valuable process.

The tools are made from what materials?

Because structural foam is a lower pressure process we make tools out of aluminum.

How long does it take to build the tools?

Generally 12-16 weeks after the CAD models are complete and the PO has been issued.

How long does a structural foam tool last?

A well built structural foam tool will produce millions of parts.

What are the tooling requirements for structural foam molding vs traditional/high pressure injection molding?

Aluminum Molds

The low pressures used in structural foam molding mean that aluminum tools can often be used. This saves money on tooling costs.

With the very large-sized molds often needed for structural foam molding, the cost savings or aluminum compared to steel molds is also significant.

Low-pressure molding is also less stressful on the tool itself compared to high-pressure molding. This extends the lifetime of the tool and saves money.

Two-Plate Molds

Structural foam molding is done using tools that are similar in design to high-pressure molding.

Two-plate molds with two halves and a core plate are commonly used.

Other than generally being much larger in size, there are other differences between structural foam and conventional injection molding tools that must be designed and built into the tool.

The most common differences are:

No Runner Systems

Hot runner systems are often not required with structural foam molding.

Multiple Gates

Multi-nozzle molding is a beneficial technology that is often used with structural foam molding. Multiple gates and the ideal gate location need to be included in the tool design.

Standard Tool Making

Just as with high-pressure molding, a top-quality tool-maker will serve the manufacturing company well when designing, building and testing your molds.

Important considerations when designing your parts and tools.

Critical considerations when designing a part and tool for any plastic injection molding and special factors for structural foam include the following:

  1. Material options and consequences
  2. Critical tolerances
  3. Minimizing sink marks
  4. Steel safe areas
  5. Gate locations
  6. Shut-off angles
  7. Draft angle orientation
  8. Texturing and draft
  9. Scheduling of critical start-up phases
  10. Secondary operations and fixtures

What are the benefits of aluminum tooling for structural foam molding?

Aluminum tools cost less, and aluminum tools cool faster, allowing for a faster cycle time.

How long do structural foam mold aluminum molds last?

With proper care aluminum tools can last much longer than steel molds used for traditional injection molding. Molds have been known to last 25 years or longer.

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