Tooling Important First Step in Plastic Forming Processes
At ATI we have a complete tooling department which includes design and fabrication for plastic forming processes. Oftentimes we choose to sub-contract the fabrication, in order to deal with capacity constraints when presented with multi-part projects. However, ATI is always responsible for the outcome because we design the tooling. Therefore, a customer will never be told, “the part does not meet your requirements because the tooling was not built correctly”.
Tooling encompasses at least two, sometimes three processes. Those processes are molds, trim fixtures, and possibly assembly fixtures, which ensure consistent placement of additional parts.
There are three potential, important phases of manufacturing tooling:
Project Parameters To Determine Tooling Approach And Type Of Tooling Required
- We begin by defining critical aspects of part, e.g. dimensions, cosmetic features, etc.
- Next, we estimate annual volumes to determine number of cavities, and tooling construction materials.
- Then, we evaluate desired molded surface to determine male vs. female mold.
- We also evaluate required tolerances to determine fabrication techniques and trim approach.
- At this point we determine type of material that will best suit mold-shrink and temperature control requirements.
- We then determine finish requirements.
- And finally, we discuss secondary requirements, e.g. mounting blocks/standoffs, and other assembly needs.
OUTPUT OF DESIGN – 3D Solid model in Solid Works, thus defining all functional aspects of the tooling package.
What Techniques To Use
- Machined aluminum
- Cast aluminum
- Cast aluminum and machined to tolerance
- Analysis of cost considerations
OUTPUT OF FABRICATION – Molds, trim, and assembly fixtures that will produce parts to requirements, consistently over the years, regardless of operator.
Pilot Run/First Article Runs
- Process development, which techniques to optimize material distribution
- Tooling modifications for ensuring process robustness
- Process documentation, set-up and run
OUTPUT OF IMPLEMENTATION – Processing defined to ensure repeatability, regardless of machine or operators used, including inspection plans.