Complete Guide to Molds and Tooling
Founded in 1976, Reko Tool and Mold serves as the tooling division of Reko International Group Inc. We specialize in designing, engineering, and manufacturing tooling solutions for customers across the manufacturing sector. We specialize in molds and tooling for large component injection and compression molding. Equipped with over 40 years of industry experience and state-of-the-art machinery, we have the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to produce custom tooling for nearly any injection molding or compression molding need. Our solutions are regularly used to produce components for transportation equipment in the aerospace, agriculture, automotive, commercial, heavy trucking, and off-road vehicle industries.
Our primary product offerings are specialty molds for injection and compression molding operations. Injection molding and compression molding are two of the most common molding processes employed in the manufacturing sector. Both follow the same basic principles—using a fixed frame (i.e., a mold or matrix) to shape malleable into the desired part or product. In addition to mold manufacturing, we also offer in-house production of tooling secondaries and maintenance, repair, and other support services for existing molds.
Glossary of Terms
Our experts have compiled the following list of general industry terms to educate potential customers about the molding process so they can make informed decisions during future molding projects.
Compression molding is a manufacturing process that utilizes specialized two-part molds (i.e., compression molds) and presses (i.e., compression molding machines) to compress measured amounts of material (i.e., charges) into the desired shape. Charges are often preheated before or during the compression stage to hasten the shaping process. Compared to other molding processes, compression molding offers several advantages, such as greater structural stability in molded parts, lower equipment and production costs, and better suitability for prototyping operations.
Flash refers to the thin piece of excess material that is sometimes attached to a molded part along the area formed near the parting lines of the mold. There are several reasons why flash occurs, including excessive gapping between the mated halves of the mold, insufficient clamp tonnage, and incorrect positioning during molding operations. It also happens if the tooling employed is worn or damaged.
Gas-Assisted Injection Molding
Gas-assisted injection molding is a form of injection molding that uses pressurized gas (typically nitrogen) to force measured amounts of material (i.e., shots) into the mold cavity and, if the design calls for it, form hollow sections within the molded part. This molding process is particularly well-suited for large parts and products as it can combine several design elements of various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses into a single part with excellent dimensional stability and surface quality and without requiring extensive secondary processing.
Hydroforming is a specialized molding process that uses high-pressure hydraulic fluid to force room temperature material (typically metal) to conform to the shape of the mold (i.e., die). Compared to other molding processes, it is better suited for parts with more complex designs. It also offers the following advantages: greater material uniformity, better surface quality, and smaller need for post-forming operations.
Injection molding is a manufacturing process that employs specialized injection molds and injection molding machines to form the desired part or product. The process involves heating plastics within a heating chamber (i.e., barrel) and, once it is melted, injecting it into the mold. The mold remains at a set temperature and under a specified holding pressure while the material cools. Once the part has sufficiently hardened, the mold opens and ejects it. This process is available in variations to suit different materials, designs, and applications.
Tooling & Tooling Secondary Terms
Checking gauges—also referred to as checking fixtures—are inspection tools used to determine and/or verify whether a component meets the preestablished specifications and standards. They are available in several types to suit different industries and applications, such as CMM, digital, and automated check fixtures. Manufacturers regularly employ them during mass production operations to ensure part accuracy and precision.
The term “tooling” is an umbrella term that encompasses all of the manufacturing tools used to make the workpiece fit the design of the desired component. Examples include molds and dies.
Compression molds are the tooling used in compression molding operations to shape the material into the desired form. They can be made in several ways, including die casting, 3D printing, and CNC machining. CNC machined molds are suitable for highly detailed parts since the CNC machining technology provides mold manufacturers with greater control over the finished piece. However, due to their higher production cost, many mold manufacturers utilize a combination of die casting and CNC machining to create detailed and cost-effective molds. For larger compression-molded components, part and product manufacturers require specialized molds to ensure the finished pieces are up to spec.
The term “fixture” is generally used to refer to the devices employed by manufacturers to hold a workpiece in a specific position, orientation, or location throughout the manufacturing operation. However, fixtures are available in several specialized variations, each of which has a particular purpose. For example, assembly fixtures add other components or subassemblies to the molded part, checking fixtures allow manufacturers to determine and/or verify product quality, and cooling fixtures minimize the risk of part distortion by supporting the molded part after it is ejected from the mold.
Injection molds are the tooling used in injection molding operations to shape the material into the desired form. They are generally made from hardened steel, pre-hardened steel, and aluminum. Hardened steel molds are expensive but durable, making them best-suited for high-volume production runs and materials containing abrasive properties. Pre-hardened steel molds are less expensive but still suited for high production runs that do not contain abrasive materials. Aluminum molds are much cheaper than steel molds. Those made from high-grade aluminum with state-of-the-art equipment are durable enough to produce hundreds of thousands of parts. Beryllium-copper is generally added to areas of the mold that experience greater heat levels to promote heat dissipation.
Manufacturers employ jigs to hold the tool in a specific position and orientation. These devices are generally custom-made to fit the needs of the job. They help maintain accuracy during the manufacturing operation, which translates to better part/product quality and faster production speeds.
Molds are the fixed frames used in molding operations (e.g., injection molding or compression molding) to contain the molding material and shape it into the desired component. They are generally based on the design of the finished object and made from metal (e.g., steel or aluminum).
This product category encompasses all of the other components—other than the tooling—needed for the manufacturing operation, such as checking gauges, jigging, and fixtures.
Tooling Solutions From Reko Tool and Mold
At Reko Tool and Mold, we’ve provided high-quality tooling solutions for over four decades. In addition to our tooling and tooling secondaries, we provide design and engineering and mold repair and maintenance services to support the various mold needs of our customers. To learn more about our products and services or discuss your tooling requirements with one of our experts, contact us today.