Aluminum vs. steel tooling: Which material is right, and how to design and maintain?


With OEMs hammering their mold suppliers for ways to reduce cycle times, aluminum tooling offers one answer. With its ability to transfer heat from the mold much faster, many OEMs are choosing aluminum. Another benefit is faster machining times, which can reduce the mold-build time by 10-15% in some instances, according to Darcy King, president of Unique Tool & Gauge Inc. (Windsor, ON).

However, there are a number of criteria to consider when determining if an aluminum mold is the right tool for the job. According to King, the first thing that Unique looks at is whether or not the molder that will be producing the parts has experience with aluminum molds. "If the molder is experienced in running aluminum molds, that means an aluminum mold won't be challenging," King told PlasticsToday. "If they haven't had any experience with aluminum-only steel molds-they need some education in the process."
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